"Maurizio Anzeri makes his portraits by sewing directly into found vintage photographs. His embroidered patterns garnish the figures like elaborate costumes, but also suggest a psychological aura, as if revealing the person's thoughts or feelings. The antique appearance of the photographs is often at odds with the sharp lines and silky shimmer of the threads. The combined media gives the effect of a dimension where history and future converge. The image used in Round Midnight is an early 20th century ‘glamour shot' that at the time would have been considered titillating for both the girl's nudity and ethnicity. Anzeri's delicately stitched veil recasts the figure with an uncomfortable modesty, overlaying a past generation's cross-cultural anxieties with an allusion to our own.
'I've been collecting old photographs for a long time. A few years ago I was doing ink drawings with them and out of curiosity I stitched into one. I work a lot with threads and hand stitching, and the link to photography was a natural progression. I put tracing paper over the photo and draw on the face until it develops. Sometimes the image comes straight away, suggested by a detail on a dress or in the background, but with the majority of them I spend a lot of time drawing. Once the drawing is done, I pierce the photo with a set of needle-like tools I invented and take the paper away; the holes are obsessively paced at the same distance to convey an idea of geometry. When I begin the stitching something else happens, drawing will never do what thread will – the light changes, and at some points you can lose the face, and at others you can still see under it.'
'There's a dynamic in what happens between the photograph, the embroidery on top, and you standing in front looking at it. I try never to completely cover a face, you can always still see the face underneath. There are no rules other than I always leave one or both eyes open. Nothing is bigger in my head than a face, it's the best landscape we can look at. It's all to do with the centre, the body. Like a costume or other identity, my work reveals something that is behind the face that suddenly becomes in front. It's like a mask – not a mask you put on, but something that grows out of you. It's what the photo is telling you and what you want to read in the photos. I get my ideas from many different sources: it could be theatre, or someone dressed up on the tube, a tribe in Papua New Guinea, or Versace. It's never one specific thing.'
'Photographs from the 40s and 50s have a totally different quality from photos we're used to today. We don't recognise them as photographs now, they really look like watercolours or drawings. The images I use are anonymous, I find them everywhere; I'm really into flea markets and car boot sales, when you enter you have no idea what you're going to encounter. In everything I see there is something I am interested in, but I try to look at them as plain canvas. Art history is very important to me, it's all been done before but it's never been done by you: if you don't look into the past there is no chance to go into the future. The surrealist movement is important to my work, but I don't become obsessed by it, it's not dictating rules. I understand history in a formal respect, and think of past artists like travelling companions – making work is like going for a walk with them. At the end of the day it's about humanity.'"
Fig.1 Maurizio Anzeri, "Rita", 2011, Embroidery on photograph, 23.5 x 17.5 cm.
"whilst the application of design is multiplying exponentially, it is also loosing its validity as an authentic cultural icon. It has become synonymous with cloning the face of global culture itself, more often representing the uniformity of mass globalisation, rather than reflecting the facets of cultural difference and diversity.
The cultural attributes of difference and diversity have been fundamentally weakened, and like face that has undergone cosmetic surgery, the result is a facsimile vaguely familiar but disturbingly without a true sense of identity. It is everyone's and no one's, and belongs in no single place more than another. ...
Design has become omnipresent within Culture, as it has been adopted as a convenient badge to add value and market commodity, and to signify identity. Following Designer era of 1980's, the added value of design was replaced by design as cultural value, embodied in leading Brands of the 1990's. ...
in the 21st Century the task of capturing Culture has become more and more difficult in terms of expressing culture through the medium of design. Design increasingly struggles for a clear sense of definition, and one is left asking, what can Culture really mean today, if it is no longer tied to consumer lifestyle? We remain in a post-contemporary state where we require a redefinition of meaning, value and identity. ...
The uncertainty of a designed fusion Culture has replaced the certainty of traditional cultural monoculture. Which in turn has been diluted by an obsession with ‘cultural materialism’. What remains of the original cultural sources are being plundered in order to restock our lack of creative DNA. The net result is an erosion of the remaining authentic sources, but also the creation of a ‘cultural time lag’ which has been generated by a convergence of trans-cultural fusions, hybridisation, and of recurrent cultural cross referencing."
(David Carlson on 21 Mar 21 2011, David Report)
Fig.1 paper sculptures made by Jennifer Collier [http://jennifercollier.co.uk/].
"Stage one Graphic Design Communication students have been developing a new ornamental display font with highly Individual characters inspired by drawing digitally and laser cut manufactured to the exacting standards reminiscent of a traditional font foundry.
Level tutor Nigel Bents and Associate Lecturer Paul Oakley will further support students by printing typographic posters at the New North Press."
(Graphic Design Communication at Chelsea College of Art and Design, 16 October 2011)