March 2011

Culture(d)—March 2011

edited by MAYER RUS

Courtesy Almine Rech Gallery Paris/Brussels


Whatever you choose to call the 21st century’s first decade—the aughts, the noughties or something similarly awkward—the period between 2000 and 2010 was a fertile one for Hedi Slimane. From his groundbreaking work as creative director for Dior Homme to his reincarnation as an influential photographer, Slimane surfs the zeitgeist of beauty and youth like no other. Though he claims photography as his first passion, many fashion devotees still think of him as a couturier on sabbatical. Any lingering suspicion that he’s more adept with cloth than camera is put to rest with the publication of Anthology of a Decade (JRP|Ringier), a four-volume compendium that documents the artist’s travels through the beau monde. Street life, rock gods, skinny jeans, skinny boys—they’re all there. To coincide with the book launch, Slimane has curated two exhibitions for the Almine Rech galleries in Paris and Brussels, both on view through March 26. California Dreamin’: Myths and Legends of Los Angeles includes work by John Baldessari, Bruce Conner and other figures of the L.A. school, while Fragments Americana presents a smorgasbord of shots of life in these United States. Each offers a window into his obsession with art and culture in L.A., the city he now calls home.


Photographer Kurt Markus trained his discerning eye on John Mellencamp in 2009, as the musician toured with Bob Dylan and Willie Nelson. The result, It’s About You, feels more poetic meditation than rock chronicle. Working with his son Ian, a film student, Markus uses Mellencamp’s journey as a springboard for a rumination on American culture. The film bows March 12 at SXSW in Austin.


In the beginning—before hippies, Yippies and punks—there were the Beats. Poet and playwright Michael McClure, one of the youngest of the rebel artists, came to the fore in the 1960s with his scandalous theatrical work The Beard, his poetry readings with Jim Morrison and his song “Mercedes-Benz,” made famous by Janis Joplin. The book Of Indigo and Saffron: New and Selected Poems (University of California Press) gathers notable McClure works from 1956 to the 21st century. The bard himself can be seen and heard this month at San Diego State University, where he’ll serve up his signature growls and whispers. As McClure notes in the book’s preface, “I want these poems to be soft and vigorous as the breath of a sparrow on the redwood deck and as tumultuous as a lion purring in the rain by the roadside in Kenya.” Mar. 14.   —Tom Nolan