Maximilian Wiedemann – ‘Obsession Of Society’ at COYA Mayfair

Maximilian Wiedemann is, by his own admission, a graffiti artist for internal walls. The founder of Imitate Modern Gallery and former advertising strategist has an eye for bold, imposing imagery that strikes a chord with the Instagram generation. Is his work cynical? To some, perhaps, but it’s hard to argue with Wiedemann that even a basic grasp (or even exposure to) advertising gives tremendous insight into how society – in a truly global sense – is being warped and seduced by brand culture and raw materialism.

It’s Wiedemann’s position that art – even while using the same consumer tactics to attracting more attention, likes, shares and purchases – can be the antidote to that simply by forcing people to confront the fact actively, as opposed to being passively complicit.

After interviewing him back in 2016 ahead of his collaboration with Collier Bristow, we had the pleasure of speaking to Max at the launch of his latest London exhibition – ‘Obsession of Society‘ –  at COYA Mayfair about the intersection of contemporary art and advertising, his approach to juggling creativity and consumerism, and his wider thoughts on the artistic community.

 

Maximilian Wiedemann

 

FAULT: How does your background in advertising influence your work? 

Maximilian Wiedemann: Advertising was my education. My idea was to take the false seduction that revolves around advertising and turn it into art. The art of seduction. Advertising gave us the opportunity to find the key to address materialism and address status in Society via brand culture. Drip until you drop. Full stop.

I got into this by coincidence. Philosophy writes. Art draws. It’s up to each one to read the signs. My signs are in the walls. I love life and would like to inspire every one who is working on a canvas right now. Just move the muscle. Eventually dreams are reality. Just keep painting. Just keep going on.

 

Your work draws on a range of sources – inspired by your international upbringing. In a world that seems to be hurtling towards the enforcement of borders and nationalism, what message does your work carry in terms of internationalism and globalisation?

Maximilian Wiedemann: My source is Biggie Smalls.

 

What was your breakthrough moment as an artist?

Maximilian Wiedemann: VH 1 / MTV Divas campaign, 2009. It was the moment when I quit my job, in a bar with my boss. I had a job as new business strategy director in a boutique agency in London . Elle Macpherson had just commissioned me to her campaign and I had to call a status meeting with my boss. He said, “Be good at one thing in you life. New business for branding agencies or art.” I quit. But I choose both. In essence, I am new business. Art-vertising.

Maximilian Wiedemann

 

 

What do you consider ‘beauty’ to be?

Maximilian Wiedemann: Nice one. I would rather marry my soul mate than beauty. Beauty is replaceable. Souls are not…

Wait – what was the question again? I think life is the biggest gift. The ‘wake up in the morning and be able to perform’. To wake up and follow your mission. Heath is key to perform. So watch your ‘Bildzeitung’ and your body.

 

Your work seems very much a comment on commodity culture – how does this square with your own position within the art market?

Maximilian Wiedemann: What you buy to is who you are.

 

How do you see the art world evolving in the next decade?

Maximilian Wiedemann: Money makes the market. The big players evolve. I do think it’s all fucked, as my messages are so relevant. I’m just in this business to have fun and communicate current zeitgeist messages.

 

Your work seems to make much reference to online culture, where images are both widely available and widely spread. How does this generation, and the connectedness of the internet, influence your work?

Maximilian Wiedemann: My art aims to connect irony and sustainability. I have no connection.

 

Maximilian Wiedemann

 

If you had to give advice to young artists, what would it be?

Maximilian Wiedemann: Paint!! Move the muscle!!! It will all evolve. The main key is movement!

 

How would you like to be remembered?

Maximilian Wiedemann: If I am worth it.

 

Do you consider your work cynical or optimistic? 

Maximilian Wiedemann: It’s real. Relevant. It’s just a brutal reflection on how messed up society is right now. I don’t have to explain that. Just look at what works on Instagram.

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COYA Collective

Enhancing each individual gastronomic experience is the COYA Collective – a schedule of diverse genres of artistic and cultural expressions, setting the rhythm for an unmistakably Latin American ambience. COYA Mayfair honours both traditional and contemporary cultural offerings, ensuring that the heart of Latin American culture is experienced throughout the venue. In addition to the vivacious music scene, COYA Mayfair also showcases a variety of established and upcoming photographers, artists, illustrators, sculptors and immerging talent alike with year-round hosted events. 

 The COYA Collective is a signature movement that defines COYA’s ethos and beliefs. It has pushed against tradition to create a multi-dimensional platform for guests to not only dine but feel the entire experience with all the senses. Combining the elements of vibrant live music, home to a showcase of compelling art and an array of the city’s most colourful festivities, the COYA Collective creates an altruistic, cultural experience uniquely COYA. 

Each COYA property has the opportunity to welcome various artists to adorn the walls of the COYA Members’ Club and in some cases, the restaurant and Pisco Bar & Lounge with each special exhibition lasting 6-8 weeks. The singular relationship that all global COYA properties have with each artist is special. The COYA properties curate and build their own very special collection through the memento pieces left behind by each artist as a gifted symbol. 

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For more of Max’s work, visit his page on Imitate Modern

To see more of COYA’s exclusive art launches, visit their website

FAULT Focus: Remembering Corinne Day

“I’ve always known what I’ve liked and I’ve always gone in the opposite direction of everyone else. I get bored easily of seeing the same thing over and over.” – Corrine Day

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Few women have changed the face of fashion like the late, great Corrine Day. Beginning her 20 year career as a self-taught photographer in the eighties, Day grew to become one of fashion’s most celebrated, prominent and well-loved characters – not only for her groundbreaking work with publications such as Vogue, i-D and The Face, but for her gritty, personal documentary photographs which captured a frank and disarming snapshot of nineties post-rave London from the clubs and council estates where they transpired. Four years on from her untimely death in 2010, the anti-glamour photographer’s unquestionable nous for capturing glimpses of happiness, sadness and incredible beauty in everyday, kitchen sink situations remain as seminal now as the day they were taken.

A one-time international model, Day begun to toy with cameras in the mid-eighties whilst bored on set in the company of Mark Szaszy – the former male model who would later become her husband and treasured life partner. With no formal training, she began shooting her surroundings with a natural instinct that would follow her throughout her career. In 1989, Day had an interview with Phil Bicker, art director of The Face. Through Bicker, Day met stylists Anna Cockburn and Melanie Ward, with whom she was to create some of her most iconic images. Photographing an unknown 14-year-old Kate Moss, plucked from the fringes of Croydon, the unlikely cockney duo shot the notorious ‘Third Summer Of Love’ editorial (had the second really ended?) for The Face whilst having a lark together in Cambersands. The eight-page shoot saw a rambunctious Moss frolicking on the beach clad in Romeo Gigli, Joseph Tricot, battered Birkenstocks and the most magnificent (albeit impractical) feather head-dress from the now defunct Covent Garden boutique World.

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“I was just having a laugh,” Moss is quoted saying of the shoot. “Corinne just wanted to bring out everything I hated when I was 15. My bow legs, the mole on my breast, the way I laughed.”

She would then take Moss with her to Vogue, subsequently forming a formidable friendship that would last until Corrine’s untimely death (Corrine is credited with being the first photographer to shoot Moss for a Vogue cover.) In 1993, Day was commissioned by newly appointed editor, Alexandra Shulman, to inject some much needed reality into proceedings. In the UK, Bjork’s debut portrayed the Icelandic songstress messy haired and clad in an oversized grunge knit, Blur had just released their seminal album Modern Life Is Rubbish and acid house raves were evolving into darker jungle and happy hardcore all-nighters. Cool Britannia was just around the corner, magazines like i-D, Penthouse and RayGun were reporting from the counter-culture underbelly whilst Vogue still touted the impossible and antiquated beauty of supermodels Cindy, Naomi, and Michelle.

Shulman was to receive the much-needed injection of gritty realism that Condé Nast so desired. A waifish and milky-limbed Moss posed nonchalantly in the scruffy Brewer St flat Day occupied at the time for Under-Exposure. Grubby carpets, visible pubic hair, an uncovered duvet, tan tights pulled halfheartedly over sheer underwear. This was the first anti-glamour shoot Vogue had displayed of its kind. The on-paper lingerie shoot took a life of it’s own, paying homage to Day’s haunting personal photography style outside of the fashion world. Corinne Day later said that she took the famous ‘fairy lights’ shot on a day when Kate had been crying after a fight with her then-boyfriend, resulting in the vulnerability that turned this into one of the most iconic and controversial images produced in the ’90s. It’s the most reproduced image of the entire editorial, but the clothes (pink Liza Bruce vest and Hennes chiffon knickers) are rarely remembered, or credited.

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The strapline on the March issue of Vogue that year read ‘London style…London Girls!’, but upon its release, the tabloids whirred into a frenzy, proclaiming the shoot promoted ‘heroin chic’ and ‘bordered on paedophilic’. In the wake of controversy, Day retreated from fashion, choosing instead to tour America with genre band Pusherman, documenting her travels in her lo-fi, grunge aesthetic. The result was her celebrated tome and exhibition of works of works, Diary. Released in 2000, the book contained graphic, raw and honest photos of Day and her friends – most prominently unlikely muse Tara St. James.

Shot amongst the shabby sofas and peeling wallpaper of run-down tenements of Soho and its surrounding areas, the collection documented the sex, drugs and squatting of her bohemian circle of young dreamers. We see Tara crying, smoking, nursing her baby, running around the flat in a string of tinsel, laughing amongst a grotty 3-piece bathroom. The photographs would be deemed voyeuristic were it not for Day’s proximity to and involvement with her subjects; in a harrowing few entries she documents her own brain-tumor diagnosis in 1996, preparal for surgery, and later recovery. By then she was extremely ill and no grizzly details were spared, omitted, censored, a true testament to her unquestionable skill for spotting beauty amongst ruins and diamonds in the rough.

 

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Corinne was diagnosed with a slow growing, grade 2 brain tumor called in November 1996, during which time she was given a prognosis of 8 years to live. Despite her sudden death in 2010, Day’s presence is still felt in the industry today – so often we flick through a fashion glossy and spot some reference, homage or small semblance of Corinne’s celluloid thumbprint. To view her photos is to be invited into her world, one of honest realism – a raw energy that photographers still seek 20 years on.

 

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Words: Liz Connor

FAULT reviews: Vogue’s Fashion Night Out in Manchester

For the first time in its four-year history, Vogue Fashion’s Night Out was held outside of London. The 2013 event, widely referred to by its hashtag #FNO, travelled north to Manchester, bringing with it some of the most influential figures from the world of fashion. British Vogue editor-in-chief Alexandra Shulman, designer Matthew Williamson and Kate Phelan, creative director for both Topshop and Vogue, were just some of the members of sartorial royalty in attendance.

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#FNO was born in New York in 2009 and has since been held in Paris, Berlin and Sydney, to name a few. The UK event, however, has always been confined to London, an obvious choice with its glitzy flagship stores and exclusive hangouts. Surprisingly, though, #FNO is not about exclusivity, nor is it merely a vehicle for the fashion elite to rub shoulders with each other while sipping expensive cocktails and telling each other how wonderful they are. Testament to this was a chilly October evening in Manchester, when magazine editors, designers and top stylists mingled with crowds of eager shoppers, happy to stop and talk or pose for photos.

In the Emporio Armani store in Manchester’s trendy Spinningfields, we chatted to British Vogue’s fashion editor Francesca Burns. “I helped curate the window display here, as well as choosing some editor’s picks,” she explains. “I’m really glad we brought this to Manchester; it’s a great city. Fashion shouldn’t be exclusive to London.” We tell her that Twitter is overflowing with Tweets from residents of other UK cities, asking when #FNO will be coming to them. “Yes, I think that’s a great idea,” she says. “I’d love to take this on tour.”

The Maccebbes prepare to DJ at Emporio Armai, Manchester, for Vogue's Fashion Night Out

The Maccebbes prepare to DJ at Emporio Armai, Manchester, for Vogue’s Fashion Night Out

Arielle Free, 4music presenter and DJ, agrees. “I love Manchester!” she says. “I actually think this is better than [the London event]. It’s great to see Manchester getting this kind of exposure and to see so many people shopping. Although I think the free booze probably has something to do with that!” Indeed. In Armani, a pop-up cocktail bar has amassed quite a queue, while waiters from hip restaurant Australasia are weaving through the crowds with trays of fresh sushi. The Maccabees were about to take to the decks, but we caught them for a swift chat before their set. It appears they were slightly immune to the excitement. Guitarist Felix White told us that they’re “just here to play some music for an hour or so.” This throwaway comment should not be mistaken for nonchalance, though – he and his fellow band members happily posed with shoppers wanting ‘selfies’ with the band.

Jameela Jamil DJing at Vogue's Fashion Night Out in Manchester

Jameela Jamil DJing at Vogue’s Fashion Night Out in Manchester

On the way round to Selfridges to catch Jameela Jamil’s DJ set,we came across Rosie Blake, the blogger behind Rosie Glow and social media assistant at Boohoo.com. “I think this is great for the city,” she concedes. “Everything seems to be based in London, which is irritating for someone like me as a blogger, who doesn’t live there. It’s great to see a big event somewhere else.” And what does she think Manchester’s general consensus is? “To be honest I was worried this might bomb, because it’s the first time anything like this has been held here,” she says. “But it’s gone amazingly. So many people are out shopping, and there’s even a crowd doing the Harlem Shake outside Selfridges…I’m not sure why!” Ah, the perils of free alcohol.

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(The food was pretty good too…)

The after party at Malmaison was open to all attendees of the event, with not a guest list or door policy in sight. We spotted Matthew Williamson sporting a navy crushed-velvet blazer while throwing some serious shapes in the bar and asked him if he had anything to say about the night’s events. “I’ve had the time of my life,” he gushes, before twirling off into the night with his entourage. Personally, we think he spoke for everyone in attendance. The verdict on Manchester’s first #FNO? A resounding success.

Words and images by Thea de Gallier

FAULT Focus: ‘Vogue Africa’ visionary Mario Epanya

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Mario Epanya, the man behind the mock Vogue Africa covers that commanded the fashion world’s attention, hasn’t lost his zeal for showcasing talent from Africa and the diaspora. In fact, in the three years since he posed the question of why no Vogue edition exists for a continent with over 1 billion inhabitants, his dedication to this slice of the industry seems only to have grown.

Fashion is not only Paris, New York and London” says the Cameroonian-born photographer. “There are so many people who have their own interpretation of fashion and I want the world to know that.”

Mario Epanya photography

Mario Epanya photography

Building a Vogue Africa is no longer a crusade Epanya is pursuing, though certainly not for lack of interest. The photographer has come a long way since the period in 2010 he now refers to has Vogue Africa-gate: during that year, he lost his bid to acquire a Vogue Africa license, though not without creating a huge buzz over the potential for an African edition of the venerable glossy. His photography was the centerpiece of GLAMAZONIA, an exhibit that debuted at the annual FashionAFRICANA event held in Pittsburgh this past December. He says he’s even been asked to acquire the license for African American fashion and culture publication Honey Magazine, though it’s still yet to be known whether he will take up the offer.

Like Epanya, those tied to the African fashion industry aren’t waiting to receive Vogue’s blessings. London-based quarterly Arise Magazine, for one, has been published since 2008 and organizes an annual fashion week. Other publications include Paris-based FASHIZBLACK and Lagos-based FAB Magazine, which partnered with Africa Fashion Week London to run the event back in 2012. The internet has also seen the growth of Africa-focused fashion and culture blogs and online publications like AfriPOP!, Africa Style Quarterly and African Fashion Guide — a site that promotes sustainability in Africa’s fashion and textile industry.

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Mario Epanya photography

Mario Epanya photography

Mario Epanya photography

 

To this day, Conde Nast maintains a position that Vogue Africa is not yet commercially viable, though Vogue Italia’s May 2012 ‘Rebranding Africa’ issue certainly deserves a nod. Its editor-in-chief, Franca Sozzani, continues to play a pivotal role in promoting African creativity in fashion; she’s also mirrored Conde Nast’s view, expressing on many occasions that greater investments must be made in the continent before an African edition of the publication can be established.

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Mario Epanya photography

Epanya calls Vogue Italia’s Africa edition “a beautiful beginning,” though he adamantly opposes Vogue’s posture that it’s too soon for a Vogue Africa. In fact, the photographer has been working with another global trend purveyor — the L’Oreal Group — to create packaging geared towards its African consumers since March in light of promising sales figures. Other initiatives, such as United Nations-sanctioned Ethical Fashion Africa, have employed high fashion designers like Stella McCartney and Vivienne Westwood to connect fashion houses to African artisans and create jobs. Another Ghana-based organization, The WEB-Young Designers Hub, was created with help from the French Embassy to support fashion designers in the country. With the world evidently taking notice of Africa’s potential as a high fashion player, only time will tell when the Vogue franchise will follow suit.

“I think sooner or later, there will be [a Vogue Africa]” says Epanya. “I don’t when — maybe in ten, twenty years. I don’t know. But, they will have to do it.”

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Mario Epanya photography

With his personal pursuit for African recognition through the Vogue brand well behind him, Epanya now dedicates whatever time he can spare on his own publication, Winkler Magazine. It’s hard work, he admits. At times, he’s even considered abandoning the project altogether, though he hasn’t done so quite yet. He hasn’t because, to Epanya, the work is necessary in demonstrating Africa’s potential as a prominent high-fashion and cultural hub.

“Of course, there are problems in Africa — I’m not denying it,” Epanya says. “But there is also beauty. There is also creativity, and you’ve got to take time to look at it.”

Words by Carolyn Okomo

Images by Mario Epanya

FAULT Exclusive: Phlo Finister for Issue 10

Photographer: Miguel Starcevich, Stylist: Luke Storey; Interview: Leah Blewitt

Singer/songwriter Phlo Finister is based in LA, but spends time in both N.Y. and London. Although she’s only 20, Phlo has worked as a model, stylist, and fashion editor, and recently collaborated on a track with Peaches Geldof. Music, she tells us, is her main focus and passion, and she has recently released a new EP Crown Gold via 3/4 (3qtr records). FAULT caught up with Phlo on our exclusive editorial shoot with the songstress, featuring Los Angeles designer Maria Dora.

FAULT: Can you tell us about your musical background?
Phlo: Sure. I pretty much grew up around music since the age of 5 from singing in church to having different friends who’s parents where in the entertainment industry.

What artists, musicians have inspired you the most?
I have a broad spectrum of musical influences from Janis Joplin to Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground.

What is your song writing process like?
It depends on the producer, but as of now I start by creating an original beat with my producers. Then record melodies that I may like, then I either write to the melody I composed or I go line for line and sort of freestyle it. Pretty much depends on how much emotion the track evokes. I write all of my thoughts down though daily its easier for me when I see me thoughts written down. It’s more like poetry before it becomes a song .

Can you tell us about the “Youthquaker” movement?
Yes  – well, the term itsself was coined by Diana Vreeland in 1963; she was the editor of Vogue magazine at the time. Edie Sedgwick was the first to be featured in Vogue as an actual Youthquaker . Then other girls became poster girls of the term “Youthquaker” such as Penelope Tree Vuruschka, Twiggy and Jean Shrimpton. London was the center of the movement and it was dominated by teenagers . It became a musical fashion movement empowered by the youth, it was all about teen spirit…

Read the full interview with Phlo Finister in FAULT Issue 10