Indieterria presents A Very Insecure Exhibition

Dear Readers,

A Very Insecure Exhibition flyer #1

The opening of A Very Insecure Exhibition – the place was packed!

The opening of A Very Insecure Exhibition

Vanadian Avenue has always been about music, pop culture and art. We absolutely adore any artistic activity and when we are notified that something interesting and unique is going to take place, we cannot help ourselves but to check it out. After hearing that two legendary music photographers, Karen McBride and Shari Dawson are going to do a collective exhibition, we booked hotel, tickets and off we went to see what was happening in the kingdom of Mancunia.

Before arriving to Manchester, we spoke to both artists about their exhibition, but they were mysterious as Sphinxes and didn’t reveal anything about it. They were so adamant not to let things slip, that they refused to name the place of the exhibition until the last day and even then, they had to be convinced by the BBC DJ to do it.

In the days of social media and constant bombardment by notifications, such attitude may be surprising but knowing both ladies, we can understand why they chose to promote their event in this way.

Thomas Haywood of The Blinders – the most popular print at the exhibition

The opening of A Very Insecure Exhibition – the famous Elbow image!

First of all, both Karen and Shari are fiercely independent. They don’t follow any trends and they don’t look up to anybody else. Secondly, they take the Manchester motto of “doing things differently” very literally and always come up with something fresh and exciting. They are also trend setters, always a step ahead of the game. When the rest of the world is busy printing stage times to the last seconds or sending invites, Karen and Shari do the opposite. They provided their fans with minimal information and encouraged them to patiently wait for the right moment. And this tactics worked like a charm! When we arrived at the PROJECTS MCR skate park venue where the exhibition took place, we found out that the place was tightly packed. It was really fascinating to watch – people queued eagerly, exchanging ideas and being excited like  group of kids before unpacking their presents on Christmas morning. We have never seen anything like this before. In a world over-saturated with news, being told only the bare minimum, suddenly seems radical and very punk!

Shari Denson and Karen McBride – photo by Simon Lee https://www.flickr.com/photos/strangelove20/

Skatepark MCR is a very specific place, full of concrete pillars, fantastic graffiti (the portrait of Princess Leia is probably one of the best we have seen in our lives!), slops and ramps. It is located under Mancunian Way and is separated from the main road by a fence. Holding exposition in an open air venue can be tricky on a chilly  February night, but the organizers made sure that the cafe was opened and served hot drinks and cakes to those who needed a little something to warm them up. There was also another drink bar, crafty built from recycled pallets and placed among the pictures that served cold drinks and ice creams.

John Robb (The Membranes/Louder Than War Magazine) who also conducted interview with Karen and Shari at the opening

At the bar

Since learning about the location of the exhibition, we were speculating among ourselves how Karen and Shari’s pictures are going to be displayed. After many guesses, we reached the conclusion that the venue is so unusual that the set up is probably going to be very traditional. We imagined rows of white, elegant boards with pictures displayed in even rows and the visitors passing from one end of the venue to the other with a glass of wine in hand, admiring them. You can imagine our surprise when we saw the final layout! Absolutely nothing traditional, no boards, no elegant browsing! The images, although beautifully printed on large scale billboards, were plastered alongside the slops, hang from the ceiling and were displayed on the walls or even covered the ramps and the floor! To get to see them, we had to move really close. We were forced to bend down, get on our knees, climb and walk around the uneven edges. And in that moment, we truly understood the genius of both photographers. Their art is not to be displayed in a museum or just glanced over. It needed to be felt, touched, breathed in. It was supposed to be in-your-face, it was supposed to feel like you had to work to earn the right to see those images. Only then we could truly appreciated them. The images are strictly linked to the city of Manchester. They portray musicians, artists, cultural icons and regular people frozen in  a single moment in time. They are not static, they are expressive, moving, they feel alive. They would still look beautiful in an art gallery, but it would never be the same. And the title finally made sense. A Very Insecure Exhibition was exactly that – vulnerable, chaotic, unique yet inspiring and very much alive. It felt true and one of a kind. By the end of the evening, the public could take the prints home and the exposition was gone. One time event only, one evening, something brief but beautiful. Just like real life.

Malicia and Keith Higgins

Musicians Against Homelessness Manchester Manager – Andy White

Malicia and photographer Neil Winward

Malicia and music promoter Paul Cartwright

Paul Cartwright

Rita and Mancunian poet – Karl Hildebrandt

Admiring, or taking the photographs home was not the only attraction of the evening. John Robb, punk rock legend and editor of Louder Than War magazine interviewed Karen and Shari for nearly half an hour and we had a chance to listen to their anecdotes, stories from working behind the stages and experiences as professional photographers in one of the most competitive and difficult industries. In the end, Karen and Shari received small gifts form the grateful visitors – two chocolate cameras!

“A Very Insecure Exhibition” proved to be a very big success for both artists. There is a talk that another event will take place in 2020. We cannot wait.

Flyer for next year`s event.

See you shortly,
M+R

As usual – you can see entire gallery of snaps below:

The Exhibition:

 

 

The Opening:

All the best
M/R

Carnival in Malta in 19 clicks

Dear Readers,

Carnival has arrived! It’s a good time to wear fancy clothes, to put on your cat ears and party like it is 1999. Or should we say 1989? (apologies to both Prince and Taylor Swift).

1.

Prince Charming

Prince Charming

2.

Indian Princess

Indian Princess

3.

Lady lost in thoughts

Lady lost in thoughts

4.

Popular costume motive - Colombina of  Commedia dell'Arte

Popular costume motive – Arlecchina  of Commedia dell’Arte

We have a week-end out of office, so we decided to grab our cameras and hit the streets of Malta to take some portraits. We plan to have a nice selection of images of people in costumes by Sunday afternoon, and we will surely share them with you. To make things even more exciting, we have decided to dig deep into our archives and we have found some incredible photos from previous year (9-10 February 2013). How about a double – Carnival photo coverage? Sounds good? You bet!

5.

Popular costume motive -  a different version of Arlecchina. Here she is known as  Franceschina, Smeraldina, Oliva, Nespola, Spinetta Ricciolina, Corallina or Diamantina. She is often a rich or noble lady adorned in green/emerald robes.

Popular costume motive – a different version of Arlecchina. Here she is known as Franceschina, Smeraldina, Oliva, Nespola, Spinetta Ricciolina, Corallina or Diamantina. She is often a rich or noble lady adorned in green/emerald robes.

6.

To serve and protect

To serve and protect

7.

The original form of female carnival character - Columbine of Commedia dell'arte

The original form of female carnival character – Columbine of Commedia dell’arte

8.

Our favourite shot. She was simply stunningly beautiful.

Our favourite shot. She was simply stunningly beautiful.

Malta is one of world’s smallest states (316 km2 or 122 sq miles) divided between three islands and one of the most populated places on the globe (with 500 000 residents and 3 millions of tourists throughout the year, density reaches 1,306.8/km2 or 3,413.9/sq m – that’s more than Hong Kong).

This tiny island is extremely colourful and occasionally loud. So, nothing captures the spirit of the island like the week before Ash Wednesday.

Il-Karnival ta`Malta (as it is called in native tongue) holds a special position among all festas and public holidays on the island. It is celebrated annually since 1535 (that’s two-hundred years longer than Rio!) and is regarded as a major tourist attraction. The daily celebrations take place in the capital – Valletta, the nightly celebrations move to Nadur in the island of Gozo. Each year sees a street parade, band marches and floats competition. It is also a fantastic opportunity for any photographer – hand made costumes of the revellers take months to prepare and the results are astonishing. Maltese are also protective of children, taking photos of youngsters is frowned upon; the Carnival is probably the only time when a photographer can snap away photos of anybody without being yelled at.

9.

Butterfly Lady

Butterfly Lady

10.

The Show Girl from French Tradition of  Moulin Rouge

The Show Girl from French Tradition of Moulin Rouge

11.

Modern Carnival costumes often use the character of Indian Princess/Native Princess. In European carnival tradition it is not seen as offending gesture. More like a homage to Disney`s Pocahontas.

Modern Carnival costumes often use the character of Indian Princess/Native Princess. In European carnival tradition it is not seen as offending gesture. More like a homage to Disney`s Pocahontas.

Through-out its history, the carnival was a source of entertainment and controversy. The Knights of Malta, who brought the tradition to the island, had to reprimand residents numerous times over costumes or lavish celebrations. In 1569 a ban was issued by Grand Master Giovanni Paolo Lascaris to keep women away from the Knights` celebrations. It also forbade masks – those who would resist faced penalty of being publicly whipped. Maltese public answered in a typical Mediterranean fashion – regular riots erupted, a Jesuit church was ransacked and Grand Master Lascaris had to evacuate himself from St James Cavalier building in Valletta. It is worth noting that the next time Maltese decided to take to the streets was in 1919 due to prices of bread (incident is known as “Sette Giugno” or “Seventh of June”, and is celebrated as a milestone towards the independence of the Island).

12.

Maiko (Geisha in training)

Maiko (Geisha in training)

13.

Professional Carnival actor from Venice. His costume was made for the use of local Italian theater and was one of a kind. Show stopper.

Professional Carnival actor from Venice. His costume was made for the use of local Italian theater and was one of a kind. Show stopper.

14.

101 Dalmatians. The girls were not twins.

101 Dalmatians. The girls were not twins.

The story of Grand Master Lascaris constitutes our favourite anecdote – today St. James Cavalier hosts an art centre, cinema and a popular restaurant. The photos in this post have been taken on 9-10 February, 2013, and we had our lunches at St James. We were wondering what Grand Master Lascaris would say. Let’s hope that our choice of local ricotta pie would be approved…

Carnival can stir up controversy even in this day and age. In 2009 revellers were arrested in Nadur for dressing up as Jesus and nuns. One person was handed a month – long prison sentence, the rest were acquitted. It was due to ancient blasphemy and censorship laws that Malta is now getting rid of. In 2010, both Rita and I took part in the art exhibition called “The Art of Silence” against the censorship and Rita commented against the carnival arrests with one of her paintings. You can see the coverage in the link below:

https://cocamidemea.wordpress.com/2010/11/08/its-not-war-just-the-end-of-love/

Speaking of Rita being artistic and all about carnival cheer, in 2011 she also held a small exposition of her carnival masks at the Soap Café shop in Sliema. It was a very cool experience; you can recall it by visiting the post here:

https://cocamidemea.wordpress.com/2011/03/01/soap-cafe-2/

15.

Another popular character from modern carnival tradition - a warrior lady or gladiator

Another popular character from modern carnival tradition – a warrior lady or gladiator

16.

Home made costumes are the best ones. Especially if they come with a candy floss.

Home made costumes are the best ones. Especially if they come with a candy floss.

17.

Perrot from  Commedia dell'Arte - male character in his most noble/rich version. Often paired with Diamantina.

Perrot from Commedia dell’Arte – male character in his most noble/rich version. Often paired with Diamantina.

But back to the streets and the people in lovely costumes. The weather in February can be harsh and windy. In 2013, we had to dress ourselves up like we were taking part in Trans-Siberian expedition and tried to keep ourselves warm and hydrated at all times. Yet still became violently sick in the end. But we are very proud of the end effect. We wanted to portray not just stunning costumes or cute kids. We hoped to show the diversity of people you can meet on Maltese streets, all dressed up and celebrating in their own ways by using photography as the medium.

Think of it as one roll of film used well…

18.

Gender-bender. Rapunzel  from Disney movie Tangled.

Gender-bender. Rapunzel from Disney movie Tangled.

19.

Family affair - mother poses with her son against a carnival float

Family affair – mother poses with her son against a carnival float

If you want a longer read about Maltese Carnival, you may net-surf to those destinations:

 

Malta Tourism Authority: http://www.visitmalta.com/en/carnival

Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maltese_Carnival

Detailed blog about the Carnival: http://malta.jimdo.com/malta-carnival/

We will be back quite soon with photos from this year’s festival and our observations. But we want to leave you with a most wonderful and suitable song for the moment. This is how we feel running around with cameras.

Ladies and Gentlemen, one and only Natalie Merchant and her “Carnival”.

xxx
Rita+Mal