Noon — A biannual magazine which explores art and commerce in contemporary culture
Noon is a biannual magazine which explores art and commerce in contemporary culture
Issue 9. Joy
LIVE – FOR NOW THE JOYFUL POLITICS OF SHAME
So much remains to be said about the Kendall Jenner Pepsi ad. One year on, you can still pick through the debris online. Replicating itself in endless news reports, editorials, comment sections, parodies, memes and eruptions of talk-show outrage, it was probably the biggest marketing blunder Pepsi has made since Michael Jackson’s head caught fire while filming one of their commercials.
Around seven billion beating human hearts surround us. Piped and swaddled in sticky tissues, red, pink and yellowish. Growing. Hot, and rhythmically twitching, suspended in wet flesh.
They plane, between perhaps one half and six feet from the floor, at ground level, stacked in rough columns skywards. And they’re moving, always moving, until they’re not. Pulsing yes, but also carried – bounded within rib fingers – moving forwards, up steps, at times tipped horizontal, rolling.
Momentarily, I think of them without their accoutrements: arteries and cartilage; lungs, legs and flanks; sinews and spines – all rendered invisible. And I see the throbbing hearts alone, occupying varying heights and paths. Darting, hovering, on strange trajectories.
Peter Shire’s splash mugs, scorpion teapots, and Big Sur sofas are at the intersection of craft and industrial design. Their palette is sun-bleached – peachy, pink and lime – an aesthetic drawn equally from Art Deco, Bauhaus and his native Echo Park, LA. He trained as a ceramicist at the Chouinard Institute and then opened his own studio in 1972. It was five years later that Ettore Sottsass, founder of the Memphis Group of design, sought Shire out and invited him to Milan. In the following years, Shire’s Brazil table (1981) and Bel Air chair (1982) were to become iconic Memphis pieces, an aesthetic splice of Space Age architecture, Milanese craftsmanship, and the purest LA kitsch. Shire’s work has been described as post-pottery, postmodern, hypermodern in excess. Memphis was critiqued in its day as the worst kind of garish, and for toying with aesthetic taboos – the very opposite of form follows function. Today, by contrast, it’s become a symbol of high taste, and Shire is sought by collectors around the world.
I reach Shire at his studio in Echo Park on one of those typically exquisite morning in LA, glimpsed out the corner of his screen. He wears a Breton T-shirt and a silk bowler hat, rubbing his eyes – like something from the commedia dell’arte, I think: a postmodern Pierrot. He seems to jerk himself awake, and when I’m able steer him from ill-judged innuendos (which come forth), we talk expansively about levitation and horsemanship, Milan of the 70s, mimetic magic and, of course, joy.
One day in 2012 I got a phone call at my bookshop Claire de Rouen. It was Kim Sion, with her sultry yet ‘means business’ voice, asking me for advice on behalf of her younger brother the photographer and magazine editor Theo Sion, about magazine distribution. I ended up hosting launch parties for Hot and Cool (the magazine in question, which Theo edits with Alice Goddard), and at one of the first, Kim lent me her fake fur coat so I could go and buy a burrito from Chipotle across the road in the most glamorous way. Kim cares about these things! That’s how I met her. And now, 6 years later, we are at the helm of a new gallery project together. Sion and Moore is a meeting of two minds who feel that that things have changed – in the art world, the photography world and the fashion world. Our manifesto would have a whole page devoted to anti-hierarchy.
Here in New York, I know women from pilates class or dinner parties who might recount, quickly, some fabulous occasion that happened fifteen, twenty years prior, in the fading neon years, when the World Trade Center was still standing, life was untroubled and society was easy. They were lounging by a pool or pool table, they tell me. Someone’s dad was a producer, whatever that means. It was his place and he was out of town. Or it was the hotel room of an actor in all the magazines then, like Jonathan Rhys Meyers or even Leo. Maybe Leo paid for the drinks. He spilled a drink. Or Leo was in the movie they watched at the hotel room. A suite, probably. Leo in all his Leo-ness is the raw essence of these bright, desperate memories. Someone lost something or they blacked out from drinking. A dress was torn, maybe. A broken heel or a case of mistaken identity due to a fake ID. Mislaid plans and frazzled but not unglamorous complications churned a vibe of nostalgia into a story with a beginning, middle, and ending. They walked home barefoot. Or they hitchhiked back home. They got home and lived to tell it. The memory was vivid and deeply felt, but I can’t connect. I think they tell me because I look like I could identify the texture of it, recognise it and infuse it with recollections of my own, but I usually stop paying attention before the storyteller has wrapped up.
IKIGAI (FOR UNCLES)
When I asked if she has an idea yet of what she wants to be when she grows up, it was an enquiry couched in qualifiers. She, although four, takes nothing for granted. I want to dig up old bones, she said plainly. Archaeologist, I ascertained. Yeah, she said. Arch-a-lol-uh-giss. It seemed one of those times when the sky and her eyes were the same thing, everything connected, the centre of the world being this street, afternoons meant for children to arrive safely, if curiously, home from school. There was the kind of pause that seems like memory. Then: Did you always know that you wanted to be an uncle?, she retorted.
I’m not her uncle genetically but she won’t stand for ‘nanny’. Once I heard her say ‘childminder’ to tousle-haired brothers but it’s uncle that sticks. In Chinese society, uncle (jiùjiu in Mandarin) and aunt are expansive, inclusive terms. There’s something kind of queer about that broadening of family. In Japan, the word for uncle, oji, is pronounced the same as the word meaning random middle-aged guy, though they are distinguished in writing. I’m a flick away from whatever.