The art of Serene Footman in Second Life

DiXmiX Gallery: Serene Footman

Now open at DiXmiX Gallery, curated by Dixmix Source, is Retrospective, a selection of images by Serene Footman – and it is one I thoroughly recommend for a number of reasons.

The first is that Serene is perhaps most famously known for his creation of Furillen, one of Second Life’s most atmospheric region designs that opened in December 2015 (see The beauty of a bleak midwinter in Second Life) and which became the first of a number of designs Serene developed, generally in partnership with Jade Koltai, and mostly inspired by physical world locations. Creating these regions demonstrated Serene’s eye for beauty, detail and presentation, as well as he creativity – and these are precisely the talents evidenced in the images presented through this exhibition.

DiXmiX Gallery: Serene Footman

The second reason is that until now, Serene has consistently refused invitations to display his in-world photography. Why he has changed his mind is explained in a blog post he published on the Furillen web site; I’m not going to cover the subject matter in that post, as it is personal to Serene, and as such deserves to be read first-hand and without the filter of any subjective interpretation on my part. Suffice it to say it is a personal, moving piece.

Given this is Serene’s first exhibition of photography, calling it a retrospective may seem to be a little strange. However, as some of the thirteen images present views of Serene’s own creations, the title is fitting.

DiXmiX Gallery: Serene Footman

Serene’s style, in keeping with his region designs, is marvellously focused and – as seen through the majority of the pieces offered in this exhibition – containing a wonderful sense of minimalism in which to frame a narrative. Also to be found in some is a quite delightful sense of humour that is evidenced without losing their ability to stir the imagination as well as raising a smile.

For me, the delight of this exhibition is that each piece has something to say on life and living, whether it is through the wonderful humour mentioned above, or in more subtle reflections offered through pieces like A Hen Is Just An Egg’s Way Of Making Another Egg and I Will Wade Out, or the marvellous and moving depth of pieces like Let’s Live Suddenly Without Thinking. All of which, coupled with Serene’s superb use of tone and texture, make this an exhibition that genuinely should not be missed.

DiXmiX Gallery: Serene Footman

And for those captivated with Serene’s work, I’ll also note that Furillen itself is once again back in Second Life for a time. This also should not be missed, whether or not it has been visited in the past, and again I recommend reading his blog post about its return.

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Maloe, Del, Key and a third anniversary in Second Life

DiXmiX Gallery, September 2019 – part of the revamped The Atom section of the gallery

DiXmiX Gallery, curated by Dixmix Source, is celebrating its third anniversary in September 2019, with a triple exhibition by Maloe Vansant, Del May and Key Monk, and with something of a revamp of the gallery’s spaces.

Since its inception, DiXmiX has been a consistent venue for art from the avant-garde to the traditional landscape, although the emphasis has perhaps leant towards avatar studies and portraiture. I’ve covered the gallery in these pages since its inception – (admittedly missing a few exhibitions over the last 36 months), and it has been a fascinating journey from then until now, witnessing the richness of art on display, both 2D and 3D, and also the gallery’s evolution with the guiding support of Megan Prumier.

DiXmiX Gallery, September 2019 – Del May

For its first exhibition in September 2016, DiXmiX offered colour and monochrome images by Grazia Horwitz, Ariel Brearly (via Dixmix Source’s personal collection of her work), Ziki Questi, and also from the portfolios of Megan and Dixmix.  This mix of monochrome and colour art is again on offer in the three exhibitions marking this third anniversary – although the content of the art is very different from that first exhibition, and the three sets offer rich contrast between one another.

Occupying the Grey Gallery, adjacent to the main entrance, Del May presents a set of thirteen avatar studies that are startling in their content, encompassing a form of surrealism that is exceptionally captivating. These are pieces that demand the attention of the heart and emotions rather than the intellect, each piece singularly unique and with its own sense of potential and narrative.

DiXmiX Gallery, September 2019 – Maloe Vansant

One the upper level’s White Gallery, Maloe Vansant presents a dozen studies in her familiar evocative and provocative style. One of the aspects of Maloe’s work I find appealing is her ability to offer pieces that might be regarded as voyeuristic or NSFW or edging on the taboo/ fetishistic, but which are ultimately introspective / reflective, or which convey an ideal, a provocation to thought, rather than seeking a more basic (hormonal?) reaction. This is very much the case here, with each piece presented intoxicating in its composition, tone and message.

For me, Key Monk’s work, displayed in the lower level Black Gallery, offers a new volume in the school of photography brought to my attention by Melusina Parkin. Rather than provide a broad canvas for his pieces, Key focuses on a single element in scene, using it, something with soft focus or considered depth of field, to present a window into what might be a much more extensive story that only requires our own imaginations to bring to life. And even when the image itself is more expansive – as with #3, there is still the feeling that we are witnessing one small part of a bigger story, and thus we are drawn into each piece to weave our own narrative around it.

DiXmiX Gallery, September 2019 – Key Monk

Congrats to Dixmix and Megan on the occasion of the gallery’s third anniversary – looking forward to the next three years!

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An artistic Masquerade in Second Life

DiXmiX Gallery: Masquerade – Lou Shadow and Calypso Applewhyte

Masquerade is the title of an ensemble exhibition at DiXmiX Gallery that opened on June 20th, 2019. It features images by 34 Second Life photographers that have been selected by Dixmix Source, the gallery’s curator, along the theme of masks (which also encompasses the likes of helmets face masks, gas masks, make-up as a mask, as well as the more traditional masquerade mask suggested by the title.

Occupying all three halls of the gallery, the exhibition comprises a one or two pieces from each of the selected artist; they in turn comprise: Algezares Magic, Aniki Seetan, ByrneDarkly Cazalet, Calypso Applewhyte, Catherine Nikolaidis, Edie Horngold, Ember Adored, Gaus, Génesis Rodriguez, Guen Gothly, Izabela Navarathna, Jaggy, Kimmy Littleboots, Kimmy Ridley, Krizze Sparrowhawk, Laura Mrs S, Lou Shadow, Maloe Vansant, Megan Prumier, Mila Maesar, Ornella Batriani, Pam, Purple Leonis, Ryleigh Theas, Shocoon, Sinon Vale, Sonic, Tania Tebaldi, Tiya Aura, Tralala Loordes, Valenska Voljeti, Vallys, Wicca Merlin and Dixmix himself.

DiXmiX Gallery: Masquerade – ByrneDarkly Cazalet and Tiya Aura

Given the broad spread of photographers, this is unsurprisingly a richly mixed exhibition with wide-ranging styles and themes, with one or two of the images perhaps stepping into the realm of NSFW. Given the focus is headgear, the themes touch on science-fiction, fantasy (notably some darker shades, rather than perhaps the more wistful), adult games, etc.

Such is the volume of work here that this could easily be the kind of exhibition that desensitises the visitor to the subject matter (“Oh, look another avatar wearing a mask!”). However, through his selection and curation of the images, Dixmix utterly avoids this, putting on a display so richly diverse, and with the majority of the images offering a depth of narrative that extends well beyond their frames, that the exhibition is captivating throughout.

DiXmiX Gallery: Masquerade – Sonic and Guen Gothly

The diversity of work on display means that picking out individual pieces is an impossible task: each has its own attraction and most – as noted – have their own distinct story to tell. As such, this very much is an exhibition that should be witnessed first-hand.

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Finding Kusama with Cecilia Nansen in Second Life

DiXmiX Gallery: Cecilia Nansen

Finding Kusama is the title of Cecilia Nansen’s latest exhibition, which is currently being hosted by DiXmiX Gallery, curated by Dixmix Source.

I’ve long been an admirer of Cecilia’s photography. She has an evocative, emotive style that offers a rich vein of narrative – but Finding Kusama is something of a departure from Cecilia’s usual approach to her work, as she herself notes.

Kusama came to me with her dots, dots, dots and what I admire so much in art myself; femininity, minimalism, simplicity and clean lines. Meeting her, I knew I had to ‘play with her’ and find my inspiration in her universe. Pop art is not my usual style, but Kusama pulled me in. She made my brain bubble in ideas, like a child with a hundred pastels and a brush.

– Cecilia Nansen on Finding Kusama

DiXmiX Gallery: Cecilia Nansen

The Kusama in question is Yayoi Kusama, the Japanese contemporary artist most noted for her work in sculpture, but is also active in painting, performance, film, fashion, poetry, fiction and other arts. As a conceptual artist, she blends multiple approaches and styles – particularly abstract expressionism – and is regarded as one of the most important and influential artists to emerge from modern Japan.

A particular trademark with Kusama’s work is her use of polka dots, and this is very much reflected within Finding Kusama. Seven of the 12 pieces in this collection offer bright, vibrant pieces rich in the use of polka dots, each with a degree of minimalism Kusama herself would appreciate. There is a wonderful sense of fun about these pieces  – which again, is precisely what Cecilia intends.

The remaining five images in the collection are monochrome, and while continuing the minimalist approach, they are split between those echoing the polka dot theme with its lightness, and some that plumb a deeper, more personal depth for Cecilia, and which reflect a situation she recently passed through.

DiXmiX Gallery: Cecilia Nansen

As both a celebration of Kusama’s art and an exhibition of Cecilia’s own evocative and introspective art, Finding Kusama is not to be missed.

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Vallys and Moki at DiXmiX in Second Life

DiXmiX Gallery: Moki Yuitza

Recently opened at DiXmiX Gallery, curated by Dixmix Source, are two new exhibitions by Vallys Baxter and Moki Yuitza, which are contrasting in both style and content.

With La Rumeur de Paris (Rumour of Paris), Vallys presents around 15 images in series – although what the underlying theme might be is hard to judge. All avatar studies, most are presented as avatar studies on a white background, although some are conversely set against a dark backdrop, and one – in difference to the rest  – is a landscape image.

DiXmiX Gallery: Vallys Baxter

Are these simply memories of past events? Are they designed to imbue a feeling? are they representative of a memory or idea? Or are they images that simply exist in and of themselves, sans wider thematic narrative wither within themselves or as a collection? You, as the observer are left to decide this.

When viewing some of the more intimate images, I did find my thoughts drifting towards Bernardo Bertolucci’s 1972 erotic drama Last Tango In Paris. Why this should be, baffles me, if I’m honest. Perhaps it simply the fact I’m not operating at 100% at this point in time and my brain is tending to wander hither and thither. There is certainly little in the individual images to suggest a link between them and the film, so perhaps its just a subconscious linking of naked male and female bodies with the use of Paris in the exhibition’s title, spurred by the (intentional?) anonymity of the figures in those images that sent my thoughts in that direction.

DiXmiX Gallery: Vallys Baxter

None of which should be taken as any kind of critique of Vallys’ work; her artistry is clear from the outset, and she is a gifted purveyor of emotions through her avatar studies; so much so that one might say that it is the emotional reaction to these images that is more important than any wider context of theme or ideas.

Meanwhile, down in The Womb, the basement exhibition space of the gallery, Moki Yuitza presents The Net, which is perhaps best described as a living piece of art: a gridwork of lines and shapes, some of which are zooming to and fro, a single 3D sculpture at its heart.

DiXmiX Gallery: Moki Yuitza

Complicated, carrying (perhaps) echoes of The Matrix or maybe Tron, Moki’s piece really should be seen rather than described, so I’ll leave it to you to drop in and see it for yourself.

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Lalbu’s Desert at DiXmiX

DiXmiX Gallery: Lalbu

Now open at DiXmiX Gallery, curated by Dixmix Source is Desert, which I understand is the first exhibition by artist Lalbu. Unfortunately, as Dixmix maintains the habit of not providing bylines on the artists who display at the gallery (marking DiXmiX Gallery as one of the few that doesn’t), I have no idea who Lalbu is, nor can I tell you any more about them.

In fairness, the lack of further information might be because that is how the artist would prefer things – but without any outline commentary supplied by the gallery, it’s hard to know.

DiXmiX Gallery: Lalbu

That said, from an art appreciation standpoint, a lack of background information doesn’t prevent one from recognising this series of images for what it is: a remarkable set of studies offering a glimpse of life in the sub-Saharan / Sahel region of Africa. Each image is focused on a single figure, dressed in what might be regarded as “traditional” desert garb. Female and male, these are intense studies, an entire story written into each one of them.

Such is the emotional depth of each piece, coupled with pose, framing and tone, we don’t need the accoutrements of daily life to recognise these people and the lives they live in what is one of the hardest regions in the world to live on a daily basis. Every single picture speaks volumes in the most marvellous way. Looking at them, it is impossible not to be drawn into the tales that have to tell.

DiXmiX Gallery: Lalbu

Take Desert #12 as an example. A close-up profile of a man standing at what might be the entrance to his tent. There is an intensity in his eyes that speaks volumes: intelligence, determination – love; emotions reflected in the soft turn of his lips. But there is more to the image as well: notice the slight scar under his left eye that has a story of its own to tell. Each picture in this collection has a similar depth and layering of story to tell.

As a total aside, I’ll also confess to being drawn to Desert #12 for another reason: the question of who may have been the model / inspiration for the piece. Was this an avatar study post-processed to resemble a painting or is it – as I lean towards – and original piece of art; and if indeed the latter, might the actor Michael Dorn served as inspiration for the piece, because the profile resemble is uncanny.

DiXmiX Gallery: Lalbu

And this is why it really would be nice to know more about Lalbu – because the truth is, these images are so remarkable, the story behind them, which necessarily involves the artist, deserves to be told.

Nevertheless, this  is definitely not a exhibition to be missed.

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