undressed finissage mario testino | berlin


november 19, 2017

“Now that we are closing the exhibition, how would you like to vandalize it?”

That’s basically what Yasha Young said to three artists this week in Berlin. Of course Hera from Herakut said yes, having caught a few tags in her career. So did Mimi Scholz and Sandra Chevrier, studio artists who have done some work on the street and jumped at the idea – Chevrier actually flew from Montreal just to fool around with these sexy portraits. Together, the three have made a beautifully tattooed and magic mess of all of your favorite iconic photographs by Mario Testino in this exhibition called “Undressed”.

Because of the huge scale of my work in this show,” says Testino, “and the way it’s applied directly to the walls like wallpaper – I felt like we had no choice but to experiment with vandalizing before taking it down.” As anyone in the Street Art world can tell you, some of the best results come from unconventional experimentation. The Helmut Newton Foundation probably wasn’t open to the idea of big fire-extinguisher tags sprayed across its walls and various sundry surfaces, but like the fluid aesthetics of the Street Art world, the 5 meter tall photos now have plenty interventions or “collaborations” that effectively transform the meanings of the original Testino images.

We tested with pens, aerosol spray, paints, scratches, markers, paste-ups and chalk,” says curator Young, who scored the final day of this stunning photography exhibition to effectively flip the script. “The three artists managed to change the original intention and subject into entirely new stories and perspectives. With texts and poetry, some sharp wit, and incredible talent – this show is mind blowing.” Somehow it makes perfect sense for this boundary-pushing photographer to let his work be pushed further by three artists who have been pushing the imposed/accepted limits of street culture for the last decade or more, each willing to provoke when necessary.

Scholz routinely pokes fun at all the cliches of female psyche, while Chevrier points at the superficiality of image forced upon girls and women, and Hera’s critiques of all manner of hypocrisy softly lacerates with the phrasing of a poet. All three are ready to play with sexuality and emotion, a perfect combination with the world summoned by this starkly sensual show, which Helmut Newton Foundation curator Matthias Harder describes as “filling the rooms with bodies and emotions in a sensational way.”

In case you’re wondering, all art work will be destroyed after the close of the exhibition, say the organizers; a perfect parallel to the ephemeral nature of art on the street.

Article from Brooklyn Street Art (brooklynstreetart.com)

Helmut Newton Foundation, Museum of Photography, Jebensstrasse 2, Berlin