Paola’s Nudes: an homage to Helmut Newton at Nitroglobus

Nitroglobus Gallery: Nudes by Paola Mills

Now open through April and into May at Nitroglobus Roof Gallery, curated by Dido Haas, is Nudes, a themed series of images by Paola Mills, which stands as something of an homage to the late German-Australian photographer Helmut Newton.

For those unfamiliar with Newton, who is perhaps best remembered for his work from the 1970s through mid-1990s, I’ll let Brooke McCord provide an introduction:

Nobody has made quite the lasting impression on fashion imagery as Helmut Newton. Hired by French Vogue in the 1950s before being propelled to fame in the 1970s, Newton came to be renowned for his controversial scenarios, hypersexualised imagery and striking compositions. With elements of his work that linked to the themes of surrealism – an art movement dominant during his youth spent growing up in Berlin – Newton’s unadulterated love of beautiful and strong women saw him create images laden with heavy overtones of voyeurism, sadomasochism and fetishism.

Brooke McCord, Your ultimate guide to Helmut Newton, Dazed, 2016

Nitroglobus Gallery: Paola Mills

In particular, Newton is p[erhaps best known for two classical collections of photography, White Women (1976) and Big Nudes (1981), which together with 1978’s Sleepless Nights, often form a triptych of themes for retrospectives of his unique style of photography.

For Nudes, Paola states she draws inspiration from, and pays something of a tribute to, Big Nudes, although I would perhaps argue that some of the pieces here also reflect (and contrast with) Newton’s White Women as well. As noted, both have come to be regarded as classical works by Newton; White Women due to its mixture of aesthetics, technical perfection and bourgeois decadence laced with dark elegance and eerie abstract s/m trappings to present what was regarded as a pinnacle of erotic photography.

Big Nudes, however, eschewed all of the trappings found within White Women. Instead, for this series of black-and-white photos, produced between 1979 and 1981, Newton took a stylistic change, the elaborate layouts with their tones of decadence discarded in favour of a full-on unambiguously formulated approach that took pride in female nakedness, and its power therein.

Nitroglobus Gallery: Paola Mills

This latter aspect is very much in evidence within Paola’s images, which also offer a contrast to Big Nudes with their use of skin tone and backdrop; they thus present almost an inverse mirror to Newton’s originals. And like Newton’s Big Nudes, Paola’s images speak to both the vulnerability and strength of the female body. But within some of them as well are echoes of White Women: a delicate and nuanced sensuality which, when combined with camera angle and backdrop – the plainness of the latter notwithstanding – offer echo elements of Newton’s 1976 collection. Not that Paola is intending to titillate through these images, a point she makes in the notes accompanying the exhibition, after she gives credit to Newton for his work:

Much more modestly I wanted to represent the nakedness of an avatar in all its erotic charge. I don’t want to tickle the sexual instincts nor excite the minds, but only convey to my avatars the human sensitivity that guides them in the metaverse.

– Paola Mills, describing Nudes

Nitroglobus Gallery: Paola Mills

But just because there is something of a voyeuristic / erotic aspect to some, of the images in Nudes should not be seen in any way as a failure on Paola’s part to achieve her stated goal. Rather, it speaks to the success in presenting the full complexity of human sensitivity – both within the images themselves and our reaction to them.

Nudes officially opens on Sunday, March 31st, 2019 with a party at 12:00 noon SLT, and will run through the month and into May. However, those wishing to see the exhibition ahead of the launch can do so now.

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Entering Kerupa’s Hydrosphere at Nitroglobus

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Kerupa Flow

Open through the rest of February and into March at Nitroglobus Roof Gallery, curated by Dido Haas, is Hydrosphere by Kerupa Flow.

The name is a reflection of Kerupa’s fascination with water, which has been – as she notes – a major theme in her art for a long time.

Creatures can not live without water, everyone knows. However, we forget what water is. Water is infinite, it’s a huge force beyond humanity, which enables us to stay alive …. but it also can destroy us.

– Kerupa Flow, introducing Hydrosphere

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Kerupa Flow

This description might suggest the art on offer comprises images with a water theme – and so they do; but not in the manner one might expect. These are images that reflect our complex relationship with water, richly personifying it. In one sculpture, it is celebrated as the place from which complex life evolved, the mother of all that life on Earth has become. In another it appears as a whirlpool drawing a body in to it, a reminder that it can be a destroyer of life; the most powerful demonstration of nature’s power, as Kerupa again notes.

The earthquake and tsunami disasters that occurred in 2011 in Japan were exactly the power of the earth itself. The way the tsunami moved over a long distance with the overwhelming power until it stopped inland, is a terror that can not be forgotten.

– Kerupa Flow, introducing Hydrosphere

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Kerupa Flow

The images present many facets of our relationship to water, a relationship which is so complex, it is easy to arrive at more than one interpretation for some of them. Take the second sculpture mentioned above, Minawa. On the one hand there is that sense of water’s power to kill, but it also perhaps personifies that origin of life also mentioned above – and even that of birth; that is, rather than being pulled into the whirlpool, the figure within the piece is coming forth.

The theme of birth might also be evident which might be seen in Twilight dreams. On the one hand, this piece might serve as a reminder of the soothing influence the sound of the ebb and flow of water can have on us, encouraging rest and dreams. On the other there is a suggestion of the womb, and the security it represents.

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Kerupa Flow

Elsewhere in the collection, the nature of water is more directly personified, through Merman – Voice of the Sea, for example, or the marvellously animate Water of the Erebus.  In this latter piece is another marvellous intertwining of ideas: water is given a face – but not just any face. It belongs to the primordial deity personifying darkness, a child of Chaos – a further referencing to natures raw power through water and the seas around us.

All told, Hydrosphere is another fascinating exhibit at Nitroglobus, rich in context and narrative (I’ve not even mentioned Water Dragon and how it would appear to have a tie with Kerupa herself – but I’ll leave you to read her byline for the exhibition and draw your conclusions on this 🙂 . All I will say is that, as always, this is not an exhibit to be missed.

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An offering to Mnemosyne in Second Life

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Offering to Mnemosyne

Mnemosyne, sister of the Titans and Mother of the Muses, was the Greek Goddess of Memory. According to Greek Mythology. Those who drank from the waters of Mnemosyne secured recollection of their memories as they passed to the next life.

So reads the introduction to the first exhibition for 2019 at Nitroglobus Roof Gallery, curated by Dido Haas. Offering to Mnemosyne by Fenris (Fenris345) is a somewhat different exhibition to previous events at the gallery in that is offering a series of images that offer a glimpse of the artist’s own introspections on life, set within a mythological framework that has a resonance for all of us.

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Offering to Mnemosyne

The daughter of Titans Uranus and Gaia, Mnemosyne occupies something of a unique place in Greek mythology. While the Titans were viewed as archaic, she nevertheless has a prominent role. With her nephew Zeus, she  conceived the nine Muses. As the introduction of the exhibition notes, she presided over a pool that ensured those passing into the afterlife preserved their memories, and which stood in opposition to the river Lethe, from which those passing into Hades might drink if they wished to forget.

More particularly, her role is important to the Greeks, as memory was seen as one of the essential foundations of the oral (and later written) tradition; thus Mnemosyne herself one of the essential building blocks of civilisation in within Greek mythology – hence her elevation to that of a Titan.

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Offering to Mnemosyne

And the truth is, memory is important to all of us; hence why this exhibition might be seen as an expression of introspection by the artist –  a fact further expressed by the inclusion of some descriptive notes on each of the pieces in the exhibition by Fenris himself. However, I would recommend that visitors view the pieces before reading his comments; personal and introspective to the artist these images may be, but they can also serve as a springboard for our own memories. Simply allow the title of each and the image it presents to talk to you a moment; it’s surprising the memories  each picture calls forward.

Evocative, personal, rich in narrative, there is a depth to this exhibition that encourages time to explore each of the images carefully; in allowing them to speak quietly to you, to tease memories to the fore. It is also the reason why a return visit is well worth the while: to appreciate each through the eyes of the artist, by viewing them in concert with his personal notes (just click the greeter board to receive them with Dido’s introduction to the exhibition.

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Offering to Mnemosyne

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Seeing out 2018 at Nitroglobus Roof in Second Life

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Natalia and Moni

“I’m not promoting it heavily,” Dido Haas informed me, as we met at the end-of-2018 exhibition she is curating at her Nitroglobus Roof Gallery. “I had another exhibition planned, but it didn’t go ahead. So I’ll just place some pictures on Facebook, Flickr and the SL group.”

Which is not to say that the current exhibition is simply a fill-in; rather it stands in part as a retrospective of some of the memorable exhibitions Nitroglobus has hosted through 2018. It also offers the chance to appreciate Dido’s own work, and that of David, aka “Mr. Haas” or silence (jemapelSilence) that speak to their growing relationship.

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Dido and David

Dido has a marvellous eye for art; as such Nitroglobus features a series of outstanding exhibitions each year – something that keeps me going back every month or so. As such, selecting artists and pieces for any kind of retrospective is going to be a challenge, but Dido nevertheless presents a considered series of pieces featuring  Monique Beebe (who I confess is one of my favourite artists when it comes to narrative avatar studies), from her exhibition Changing Moods. Alongside of it is a piece by Natalia Serenade, as featured in her evocative exhibition, The Colour of Unspoken Words (read here for more).

Cold Frog, who presented Fading in January, can also be found, as can Nevereux, with a piece from Out of Here, and Cat Boucher, who appeared at the gallery in August with Hypnopompia. Between and around these are images by Dido and David.

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Nevereux

The latter are very intimate pieces, some which might be regarded as NSFW, but which are all richly evocative for the story they tell. The pictures by Dido also act as a possible lead-in to the permanent exhibition of her own work, which can be found n the gallery’s second hall, and reached via an interconnecting tunnel. I’ve always found Dido’s work wonderfully expressive and deeply personal, and thoroughly commend a walk through the tunnel to her display space if you have not previously done so during a visit to Nitroglobus.

While unplanned, the selection of art offered here also perhaps serves a further purpose: to whet our appetites for the exhibitions Dido will bring to us in 2019.

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Dido

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Loss and life in Second Life

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: How Isolde Got Lost

Opening on October 25th, 2018 at Nitroglobus Roof Gallery is How Isolde Got Lost, by Arete of Cyrene (AretevanCyrene). It is a complex piece, a story in 14 part;, a story in images dealing with the complex subject of love, loss and healing.

Narrative in art is not unusual; I’ve often referenced it when writing about exhibitions in these pages. But with this particular exhibition, the story is presented through the chronological order in which the pieces are presented, the start indicated by the sign The Story Begins Here, located on one of the inside walls of the gallery space, then progressing from there in a clockwise direction.

As Arete states in her liner notes, mourning is a deeply personal experience, influenced by a number of factors: our closeness to the lost one; their place within our circle of family and friends and how they react to the loss; religious and social factors, and so on. In her book On Death and DyingElisabeth Kübler-Ross outlined what she saw as the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. A sixth was later added, in the form of shock, preceding the other five. But as Arete also notes from her own experience the stages of loss can be more complex and can extend beyond just six stages.

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: How Isolde Got Lost

In particular, the images here have not only been specifically created for the exhibition, they chart Arete’s on experience with loss (one of which also touches on Dido’s story, notably in She Found a New Home….). Nevertheless, the story here in one that is going to resonate with anyone who has suffered loss and grief.  Through them, we travel not only through the six acknowledged stages of grief, but also through the situations and actions that can both move us through them – or return us to one of them.

In this, Arete presents a simple, but forgotten fact of mourning: by labelling loss in terms of 6 “stages”, we tend to look at them as a linear progression: a series of steps from shock to acceptance by way of the other stages, all neatly in order. But the reality is, beyond shock, while we may well initially travel through the remaining stages in the order they are offered, we might also travel back to different stages of grieving. This can be as a result of a number of factors; perhaps as a result of finally packing possessions away, or clearing a closet of clothes that will no longer be worn, or simply witnessing something unexpected through the course of everyday life.

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: How Isolde Got Lost

The healing process can also be found within the images, the return to “everyday” life; the support of family and friends; the taking up of new activities and filling the void as best we can. Given the personal nature of the images, and the nature of loss, singling out individual pieces in the series isn’t easy. However, it is the smaller, personal aspects of the story – such as Boxes – or the need to talk to the one now gone (which can be a vital part of the healing process: acknowledging that while a loved one might be physically gone, we can still keep them with us through memory as an integral part of us), that particularly struck a chord with me.

Love, listen.

To understand death, she so often talked with him to find spiritual acceptance.

Her words send to address unknown:

“Love listen, I must go on…but when I laugh, I feel guilty. When I forget you in a moment, I feel guilty. Please, try to understand, I love you and miss you so much but I have to let go of that guilt. Love listen, walk with me each day and we make that day together. Sleep with me each dark hour and share my dreams till we walk on the same soil.”

– Arete of Cyrene, How Isolde Got Lost

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: How Isolde Got Lost

There is more here as well; the images are not only unique to this story and exhibition, they are wonderfully constructed in 3D. To see the intricate layering of this, I recommend enabling Advanced Lighting Model and setting graphics to at least High. Also, do make note that the story can also be followed through a website created by Arete, and accessed by clicking the first image in the series for a link.

An exhibition of enormous depth and message, How Isolde Got Lost is a must see. And please note that while individual image are available for sale, all proceeds will go to The Catboat in Amsterdam, the only animal sanctuary that literally floats, sited on a canal. A tip jar for the charity is also available in the gallery.

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Moni’s Changing Moods in Second Life

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Changing Moods

Monique Beebe makes a further return to Nitroglobus Roof Gallery, curated by Dido Haas, with a new exhibition entitled Changing Moods, a must-see exhibition, although part of it should be considered NSFW.

This is Moni’s third appearance at the gallery, and having covered her first two – Hidden Faces (see here for more) and Sensuality (see here for more), I confess to having been excited by the news of her return, as I’ve found her to be one of the most sensuous, evocative artist and – given she is generally the subject of her own work – models in Second Life.

The traits of sensuality, strength, vulnerability and expressive beauty seen in both Hidden Faces and Sensuality are clearly present in the 14 images presented within Changing Moods, which takes a different direction to the two prior exhibitions by presenting all of the photographs in monochrome. This is a particularly striking decision as it richly casts Moni’s work in a new light: black-and-white photography can often lead to bold images bereft of the greater softening afforded by the blending of multiples hues and tones common in colour photography; it also tends to draw the eyes into the central figure(s) within a tableau.

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Changing Moods

This is very much the case with many of the images Moni present here. But while perhaps appearing more hard-edged than might have been the case had they been produced in colour, the monochrome presentation also serves to heighten the beauty within each piece and – to my eye – induces more of a feeling that we are witnessing Moni’s inner perspective of herself, as shaped by her moods and desires – some of which might be considered leaning towards the erotic.

Narrative is another powerful factor within Moni’s photography, and this is also brought to the fore within the pieces offered in this exhibition. Take for example Robotoca, Almost Real, and The Mask We All Wear. All offer up ideas of identity, place and self-image in an increasingly technological world where the demands to reveal all perhaps causes us to react with a greater desire to hide, while the pressure to conform evokes the need to be strikingly  different.

Moods and desire as also powerfully incorporated into these works in a variety of ways, from the direct – as with Captured, with its strong portrayal of erotic desire -, through the almost wistful subtext contained within InnocentThe Look and (to a degree) Wet.

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Changing Moods

There is also something else within these images which is salient for the times in which we live. It is an over-arching narrative that collectively runs through all of them and which, in so doing, completely alters the perspective they present. This is entirely intentional on Moni’s part, as Dido explains in the liner notes accompanying the exhibition:

Moni presents work that shows how her ‘Doll’ is created. She uses artificial arms, legs and face to illustrate this process. Moni gets the impression in SL women are often treated like Dolls; pampered, loved and dumped after usage.

When viewed with this in mind, the context of the images presented in Changing Moods is dramatically altered. We are no longer in the mindspace of personal thoughts, moods, and desires, but have stepped into that questionable space of how – as Dido notes – women can so often  be regarded and treated as objects. Thus is the subtext present within the images dramatically shifted. Take the way in which Captured, for  example, moves from being a sensually secretive desire within the mind of the subject to become a darker voyeuristic (and subjegative) desire to see a woman so helpless on the part of an observer.

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Changing Moods

Evocative, provocative, challenging and captivating is another stunning exhibition of photography by an exceptionally talented artist, Changing Moods is open through until the end of October 2018, and one not to be missed.

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