All posts tagged: James Lavelle

Heads Up! Swoon Says You Will Die

New show by Mike Snelle is about death, and Swoon Carves a Human Skull

Memento Mori in Latin translates as ‘remember that you will die’

Street Artist Swoon spoke to us yesterday about the 18th century skull of a woman that she spent weeks carving for a new show of Memento Mori inspired art for the Museum of Curiousity. Gallery owner Mike Snelle has transferred Black Rat Projects and is now dedicating his time to this curious effort, one which Swoon says has captured his attention for a while.

“Mike set up the Memento Mori show because he has kind of long been obsessed with how people reckon with their own mortality,” Swoon explains in her Brooklyn studio, “He studied philosophy at Cambridge partly out of an obsession with all of these kinds of questions like, ‘how do we die?’.”

In fact Memento Mori refers to a number of traditions throughout many cultures (German, Victorian, Mexican, Tibetan, others) of examining death and its role in our lives. The new group show is perhaps a more frank look at death than some of the traditions – but even those contain elements of light-hearted humor, so that may be an incorrect characterization.

Swoon. “A Slender Thread” Hand carved human skull, Book, Paper Cut Outs, Pill Bottle. (photo courtesy © Museum of Curiosity)

“It’s about wonder,” explains Mike as he speaks about the dream reliquary sculpture Swoon spent a week installing, “This exhibition mixes historical objects with contemporary interpretations of the theme and brings together an extraordinary selections of artworks.” Later he rattles off a list of other curiousities guests will see that include a hippo skull, a taxidermied ostrich from 1785, and paintings and carved human skulls commissioned specifically for the show.

And what about Swoon’s new contribution, a carved skull design that includes a symbolic birthing and her distinctive hand designs emanating from the natural lines and curvature of the cranium?

“I was wondering ‘what subject matter is befitting of this, something of this gravity?’ ,” she says of the carving project on this skull that came from a trader of artifacts who assured her of its rightful origins,  “So I thought about it and I thought that the only thing that seemed to make sense was to draw a birthing scene. So I ended up doing the birthing scene and then created a lot of patterns around it.”

The Connor Brothers take a decidedly humorous and ironic approach to the Grim Reaper. “Death Calls” Acrylic on canvas. (photo courtesy © Museum of Curiosities)

While she was deeply interested in the project and is gratified with the results, she felt a certain sense of weight was upon her during the experience – partially because of the subject matter and partially because of her own examination of mortality, her family, her experiences. Naturally all of these elements contributed to the outcome, including the choice of the accompanying book and medicine bottle that she chose to adorn and serve as foundation for the skull.

“I really felt that I was re-sacrifying the remain. It was already in a museum. That was why I thought long and hard about what kind of a scene could really be equal to the subject matter, because you don’t feel like it is something that you can do casually. So one of the German traditions is that they often put it on a Bible. But at the time I was carving it I was looking at my bookshelf and I took down a book that is called “The Slender Thread”. It is about a woman who worked on a suicide hotline and about her experiences with trying to talk people down from suicidality,” she says as describes the serious considerations that went into her choices.

“I was thinking about this woman’s work and about my own thoughts about mortality and people’s relationship to that in their own life and so that became the book that I used.”

Dr. Viktor Schroeder Memento Mori With Heilige Schrift, 2013. Cast human skull, 19th Century Bible, Victorian syringe and pocket watch , taxidermy butterfly. (photo courtesy © Museum of Curiosity)

Brooklyn Street Art: That is some powerful imagery and symbolism that you chose to work with. What did it feel like – what kind of relationship did you have to the skull over this period of time?  What was it like to let go of it?
Swoon: I was really glad. It wasn’t easy. It wasn’t an easy piece, you know? It felt like there was a heaviness that is not present in almost any other work that I have done and I was glad to be done with it. Like I said, you chose to be in the process of contemplating mortality and this has been tied into my own process of trying to understand.

In all creative endeavors there is a certain amount of anthropological and historical at play and Memento Mori may be more so, even as it sometimes includes humor by way of  bringing to the fore a topic that many modern Western cultures find difficult to grapple with.

“It is a really respectful treatment of the subject,” says Swoon of her contribution, “ and it is out of a serious inquiry.”


From the Dance of Death by Michael Wolgemut (1493)

18th Century Memento Mori, Carved Human skull. (photo courtesy of Museum of Curiousity)

Artists exhibited for Memento Mori include:

Butch Anthony, Jake & Dinos Chapman, Mat Chivers, Darren Coffield, The Connor Brothers, Nancy Fouts, Tom Gallant, Keaton Henson, Heretic, Saira Hunjan, James Lavelle, Michal Ohana-Cole, Marcos Raya, Dr. Viktor Schroeder, Jim Skull, Paul Stephenson, Kai & Sunny, Swoon, Ian Wilkinson,  Brian Adam Douglas and AVM Curiosities.

Memento Mori Opens on May 17th and continues until June 20th. 15 Bateman Street, Soho, London.


Please note: All content including images and text are ©, unless otherwise noted. We like sharing BSA content for non-commercial purposes as long as you credit the photographer(s) and BSA, include a link to the original article URL and do not remove the photographer’s name from the .jpg file. Otherwise, please refrain from re-posting. Thanks!


Read more

Fun Friday 05.25.12

1.    Male Massage Poster from Manny Castro
2.    Reed Projects Now Open with “The Re-Jects” (Norway)
3.    “Vues sur murs” in Brussels
4.    “Vari-Okey” with Everman (Atlanta)
5.    A Classic from The Beastie Boys Gets a Tribute Remix – SABOTAGE! (VIDEO)
6.    Yue Minjun, Mark Jenkins and Aakash Nihalani (LA)
7.    Augustine Kofie’s Angle in LA
8.    (Re)-Print at Hendershot Gallery in The Bowery
9.    “Keep Wild Life In The Wild” At ThinkSpace
10.    “At Home I’m A Tourist” – Selim Varol at Me Collectors Room
11.    Cyrcle Daydreaming with James Lavelle (VIDEO)
12.  CELEBRATE BOB Moog : Moog Factory Mural Time Lapse (VIDEO)

Dear BSA Reader: Finding yourself at the end of another long hard week? Why don’t we all just go get a massage and release all that pent up anxiety and pressure? Thanks to Manny Castro for taking the photo of this ad and reminding us about the power of therapeutic touch.

Photo © Manny Castro

Reed Projects Now Open with “The Re-Jects” (Norway)

If you happen to call the port of Stavanger, Norway this weekend we recommend that as soon as you get off of your cruise head straight to Reed Projects where one of Street Art’s greatest rejects has mounted an art show to inaugurate his brand new gallery. The show “The Re-Jects” is now open to the public and the artists include: Dolk, Evol, Roa, Brad Downey, Escif, Dan Witz & Vhils.

Dolk in Brooklyn. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

For further information regarding this show click here.

Vues sur murs” in Brussels

The Centre de la Gravure new show “Vues sur murs” In opens today and includes C215, Denis Meyers, Doctor H, Jef Aerosol, Evol, Ludo, Muga, Obetre, Sten & Lex, Invader and Swoon.

Jef Aerosol in Brooklyn. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

For further information regarding this show click here.


“Vari-Okey” with Everman (Atlanta)

Living Walls The City Speaks Atlanta 2012 continues to bring world talented artists for all ya’ll. This Saturday Living Walls Concepts invites the public to be an active participant in the the festival with artist Everman. If you are interested in participating you must first stop by AM1690’s “Vari-Okey” event this Saturday, May 26 at the Goat Farm and sign up for Evereman’s workshop through ARTWORKS, the new digital platform that will transform your involvement in the Atlanta arts scene. Promise.

Everman (photo courtesy of Living Walls 2012)

For further information regarding this event click here.

A Classic from The Beastie Boys Gets a Tribute Remix – SABOTAGE! (VIDEO)


Yue Minjun, Mark Jenkins and Aakash Nihalani (LA)

The Carmichael Gallery in Culver City, CA has invited artists Yue Minjun, Mark Jenkins and Aakash Nihalani for the new show opening tomorrow.

Aakash Nihalani in Manhattan (photo © Jaime Rojo)

For further information regarding this show click here.

Augustine Kofie’s Angle in LA

I’m truly honored to have the chance to share a lot of these more dense collage works with my LA peoples,” says Augustine Kofie about his new show “Working an Angle” which opens Saturday at the Known Gallery in Los Angeles, CA.

Augustine Kofie in Los Angeles for LA Freewalls Project (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Click here to read an interview on BSA with Augustine Kofie

For further information regarding this show click here.

Also Happening this Weekend:

(Re)-Print at Hendershot Gallery in The Bowery in NYC. A mostly prints show showcasing some of your most beloved Street Artist. Click here for more details regarding this show.

“Keep Wild Life In The Wild” At ThinkSpace Gallery in Culver City, CA. This is an art exhibition with some of the proceeds form the sale benefiting Born Free with the participation of more than 100 artists from all over the world. It should be fun. Click here for more details regarding this show.

“At Home I’m A Tourist” An Exhibition showcasing works of art and toys from the vast collection of Selim Varol at Me Collectors Room in Berlin Germany. Click here for more details regarding this show.

Cyrcle Daydreaming with James Lavelle (VIDEO)


CELEBRATE BOB: Moog Factory Mural Time Lapse (VIDEO)

Dude, Wednesday was Bob Moogs’ 78th birthday. Cool right? Awesome. Here’s a brand new portrait on the side of the Moog factory in Asheville, North Caroline by artist local artist Dustin Spagnola.


Read more