PORTRAIT BY CHARLES FORTE
INTERVIEW BY OSKAR OPREY
I’m an avid consumer of the ‘events section’ in magazines – where a page is devoted to a particular opening or premier or dinner, and then crammed with little thumbnails of somebodys and nobodies, all clutching a glass of the sponsored drink and putting on their best pout. Throughout his career, Andy Warhol was a regular in such pages, as well as a documenter of the events that shaped them. There’s that famous saying about him attending the opening of a toilet seat, or was it an envelope?
It should come as no surprise that his memorial service was given the same media treatment as a book launch or art opening. Christophe Von Hohenberg was there to capture the event in all its A-list glory. Originally pitched as a magazine feature, the photos would instead form a book entitled ‘The Day the Factory Died’. What could have been seen as a superficial celebrity story turned out to be a rather tasteful set of photographs, documenting the last chapter of Andy Warhol’s story, as well as a period of New York social life that the city has been trying to reinvigorate for the last twenty years.
Coldharbour Gallery recently put on an exhibition of the photographs, and I caught up with Christophe the day before it opened. We walked around the show, chatting about the works as he smoked a cigarette.
OSKAR OPREY: So Christophe, how did you end up at Andy Warhol’s memorial service? Were you invited?
CHRISTOPHE VON HOHENBERG: I was a guest but I was also hired by Vanity Fair at the same time. They hired me because I was involved with the whole scene and I’d been introduced to Andy by Baby Jane Holzer, who was one of his Superstars. So they knew I had connections everywhere and thought I was the ideal person to shoot the thing. They wanted me to shoot ‘Who’s wearing mini skirts at Andy Warhol’s memorial service?’ But I just wanted to shoot everybody, people I knew and didn’t know, as much as I could. And then they didn’t run the story and I was really happy because it was based on a fashion idea. I just didn’t like the attitude of that.
Although shooting what people were wearing was a very Interview Magazine kind of thing to do.
I read that Interview used to credit everything; even the cigarettes people were smoking. It does look like a catwalk show.
When Ah was a bonnie wee laddie, livin’ in mah hometoon ay Falkirk, mah friends an’ Ah used tae play ootside whenever we coold; hangin’ aroond th’ back ay shaps an’ bein’ rude wee cunts tae fowk. But coz it wiz Scootlund th’ weaither wiz aye pish an’ we’d be forced indoors. We’d hink o things tae dae an’ decide tae pit a video oan, an’ quite aft ‘at video wid be th’ movie Braveheart. We’d watch th’ first few scenes, ‘en gie fed up an’ switch it aff. I’ve seen th’ first twintie minutes ay ‘at film sae mony times ‘at Ah can virtually memorize th’ dialogue. Ah fin’ it strange, noo i’m an adult, ‘at thes Hollywuid movie wiz sae ingrained intae th’ nation’s conscience. Ah bit in th’ mid nineties nearly every ham in Scootlund hud a copy ay it – in fact, it shoods hae bin investigated as part ay th’ national census: hoo mony fowk lived in Scootlund, whit waur they earnin’ an’ did they ain a copy ay Braveheart?
Bored Scottish children in the Gorbals district of Glasgow, before the advent of video.
Directed by an’ starrin’ Mel Gibson, thes epic battle movie served tae fuel his ego, ben a highly fictionalised version ay th’ Scottish wars ay Independence (1296 – 1314). Billy Connelly called it ‘a piece ay pure Australian shite’, whilst cultural critic colin mcarthur thooght it was “a fuckin’ atrocioos film”. I’m rememberin’ thes frae a child’s perspectife, but it seemed tae be th’ main point ay reference fur mah seven year auld peers an’ Ah when tryin’ tae pin doon uir national identity. In 2001, we each hud tae write tae a famoos scot an’ persuade them tae visit uir skale an’ dae a gab. We managed tae gie a body bloke, a yoong actur whose sole claeem tae fam was playin’ ‘Yoong Hamish’ in Braveheart. He looked naethin’ loch his character – noo fife years older, dressed in a bad leaither jaekit an’ lackin’ th’ lang ginger wig he sported whilst play fightin’ ‘Yoong William Wallace’. Ah min’ heem commentin’ oan mah raither limp handshake, an’ he showed me hoo tae dae it loch a cheil.
Braveheart is aw abit bein’ manly: ye gie an arraw stuck in yer chest but ur still able tae heae open th’ gates tae th’ English barracks, ur yoo’ve jist bin racked an’ partially disembowelled, but can still scream ‘freeeedooom’ at th’ top ay yer voice. Scottishness is aw abit bein’ manly, Ah suppose. Whit diz a true scotsman wear under his kilt? Th’ answer is ay coorse naethin’, coz he proodly sports a twal inch tossel ‘at he’s gonnae ride yer maw wi’. We waur aw in awe ay thes yoong actur (Andrew Weir), coz Braveheart was th’ most famoos film ever. Puckle years later at high skale, we hud tae design a 51st state fur th’ USA. Ah can’t min’ whit mah crew cam up wi’, but i’ll ne’er forgit ‘Braveheart State’; th’ anglophobic mini-nation created by th’ thugs in th’ class. These kids waur th’ real scary troaps frae th’ town’s cooncil schemes. They’d bevvy buckie behin’ th’ sheds an’ hurl abuse at me an’ mah friends. Their dyke display featured a huge scottish flag an’ their slogan was ‘Englain Gang Home’, written it in big letters gart frae coloored pepper. They hud failed tae grasp th’ point ‘at th’ USA was historically gart up ay immigrants, an’ in reality th’ 50 other states woods most likely be tellin’ Scootlund tae ‘go home’. I’ve ne’er bin ‘at politically correct, but did hink it odd ‘at th’ teacher didn’t hae th’ display removed – it was a wee insensitife, considerin’ we hud lots ay sassenach kids in th’ skale. Skip tae th’ present day, an’ most ay Braveheart State’s foonders hae barely gart it ootwith th’ town’s jurisdiction, ne’er min’ athwart th’ Atlantic, thenk Fuck.
There’s an unwritten rule that journalists must adhere to when penning articles about Andy Warhol: you must start the essay with one of his quotes. Lazy journalists will use the most famous one, ‘Andy Warhol said that in the future everyone will be famous for fifteen minutes’, whilst those who have a spare half an hour might find something less obvious: ‘An artist is somebody who produces things that people don’t need to have’. I’m going to be a smart-ass and hit you with something really obscure, taken from his book America:
“Now, with cable and satellite dishes, it’s all just there to see every day. The people on the farms can turn on TV and see the clubs and the people in the clubs can turn on the TVs and watch the grass growing out in the country”.
Christ Driving Customers From Starbucks (after Francesco Boneri)
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
In this episode Jesus and his disciples travel to London as part of the Occupy Wall Street events, where he joins activists camping outside the Cathedral, often referred to by Jesus as ‘my Father’s House’. He then makes life difficult for St Paul’s restaurant and gift shop staff, accusing them of turning the Cathedral into a den of tourists through their commercial activities. In the Gospel of John, The New Statesman, Jesus refers to the Temple as ‘a gateway to the Kingdom of the Wanker Bankers’ thus in some views making a claim to being leftwing.
This is the only account of Jesus using physical force in any of the Gospels. The narrative occurs near the end of the Synoptic Gospels (at Mark 11:15–19, 11:27–33, Matthew 21:12–17, 21:23–27 and Luke 19:45–48, 20:1–8) and near the start in the Gospel of John (at John 2:13–16). Some scholars believe that these refer to two separate incidents, given that the Gospel of John includes more than one revolution.
Shot by Shooter is a London based photographer, specialising in portraits of the people he spots around the city. I’m hesitant to reveal his name - it’s no secret, but I love the elusiveness of his blog and the fact that he doesn’t crave fame and fortune, unlike his peers. He also didn’t take my picture, which was a relief, as it would seem that I’d just tried to buy my way onto the blog. He was a lovely gentleman, and the Scottish accent came as a surprise. We met on a scorching spring afternoon in the East End, flicked through a John Deakin catalogue, ate waffles and bitched about people we knew from back up north. The dictaphone was turned off by that point, which is a shame for you dear reader, but a relief for us.
OSKAR OPREY: So what’s your background? And when did you first start taking photographs?
SHOT BY SHOOTER: I did psychology at University, and I’ve always been interested in images and photography. The idea of taking photos of people started when I was 21. I was in the City Cafe in Edinburgh when suddenly Vivienne Westwood walked in with Michael Clark plus entourage. For some reason I just wanted – because I’m quite, I WAS quite a shy person, and I think a lot of photographers hide behind cameras - like shielding themselves. I somehow wanted to speak to her but didn’t know how to, so I thought ‘well I’ll take her picture’. And that’s how it happened. So I took her picture. Developed it myself and then sold it to the City Cafe for 25 pounds. So I was thoroughly chuffed with myself. I found that having a camera validates you and people let you in and they say hi and you can almost chat to anyone when you have a camera. That’s what I love about it. Doing sporadic portraits has been a compulsive disorder ever since.
Tracey Emin used to eat in my favourite cafe, or so it’s rumoured in certain circles. The cafe is called Marie’s and is situated in Lower Marsh, just behind Waterloo Station. Emin used to live in a little council flat nearby; I’m not sure where but it can’t be far from where I currently stay. Marie’s serves cheap but really good Thai food, as well as an average English breakfast – but again very cheap. If you go there on a Tracey Emin pilgrimage, as I’m sure you will, let me recommend the chicken yellow curry, although I have my suspicions that the lady herself may have chosen the sausage, egg and chips combination at only two pounds seventy. Those big chunky chips would have been perfect for soaking up all the booze floating in her stomach from the night before, if her wild reputation is anything to go by.
I managed to get the art duo LittleWhitehead to participate in Dragmag’s ‘How to Shoot for Glamour’ portfolio, showcased in the current issue. Four artists were sent a selected chapter from an old photography manual by the late Carl Bakal. They were to follow the instructions, and do what they wished, sending the results back to me. LittleWhitehead – Craig Little and Blake Whitehead – did some naughty school-boyesque doodles all over the pages. The young glamour models were obliterated with some healthy blotches of watercolour paint, and a beautiful young woman had been black-markered up to her forehead. I’ve been a fan of their work since hearing about the fake car crash installation they exhibited in 2008. Consisting of a mangled Renault Saloon rammed up against a tree, with a realistic soundtrack of screaming coming from inside the boot, the duo succeeding in securing a scathing article in the Daily Mail, chock full of quotes from disgusted road safety charities. I hadn’t actually met the guys until last Thursday, when I was invited along to the Rochelle School in London’s East End for a sneak peak around a new group show they are currently exhibiting in, “Air I Breathe”, curated by Mila Askarova. We sat opposite one of their deep fried Bibles, and had a brief chat about their work.
I want to tell you all about my new favourite shop in Glasgow, Betty Mullen’s Market. Situated at the beginning of the City’s East End, it’s only a few hundred yards away from the trendy Trongate neighbourhood, where the City’s art galleries and vegan pubs preside. I discovered it just before I left Glasgow last November and had picked up a suit jacket for two pounds. I adored the old ladies who served me, whilst the atmosphere fitted my love of trashy Scottish nostalgia (tartan, damp buildings, thick accents) and I’d made a mental note to check it out again when I was in town last Tuesday.
The french illustrator McBess has just released a large-format book (our favourite size) of his work, entitled Big Mother, which also coincides with an exhibition at The Book Club in Shoreditch. We managed to pull him away from his hectic schedule to answer a few questions via email.
This was the first written feature to appear in the Dragmag pilot issue. I assembled it a year ago, during several hot afternoons sitting in Glasgow’s stuffy Mitchell Library. I was still an art student back then and had never published anything before in my life. It only seemed natural that I should spend a large amount of time looking through every other magazine that existed to see what they had to offer. Every magazine website has an “about” section, which provides a small paragraph telling the world what the magazine is (or at least what the creators hope it is). Most of them are so pretentious that’s it’s unbearable, whilst others are so stupid that you can’t help but laugh. I started copying them onto a word document, and decided that my very first editor’s letter should read like a manifesto, the twist being that every line is pinched from other magazines. And so I set about piecing together the most snooty and ludicrous ‘mission statement’ ever written. It starts off very highbrow, with classic quotes from magazines such as Purple (one of my favourites) and Encens, and ends in the Christian do-gooder intentions of Women Alive magazine and the People’s Friend. I always burst out laughing when ever I read this, but am unsure as to how many of the original readers actually got the joke. There was no indication as to what was going on, the only clue being a set of footnotes at the end. Some of these magazines seem to have vanished, whilst others are still going strong. I was amazed to read that Scottish Memories has a readership of over 200,000 - five times that of hip fashion titles such as Fantastic Man. I love the idea of magazines such as this, the safe and friendly titles aimed at sweet old ladies. This is clearly a big market, which makes me think that I should scrap Dragmag and go for the buss-pass audience.
In the meantime, enjoy this piece in all its sarcastic glory. I’ve added some pictures for context. And just for the record - I was never a rich boy, or girl, but the editor of Duke magazine was, and probably still is.
A Chocolate Eclair from Mathiesons Bakery in Falkirk, my hometown. I always thought they did chocolate eclairs better than anyone else, and that the ones from Greggs have always been shitty. I was in Falkirk last week and dragged my sister up to the High Street with me to buy some. The ancient bakery, which has been around for over 100 years, went into administration last year. Thankfully it was saved, ensuring the tradition continues and chocolate eclairs will be available for the children l’ll never have in the town that I no longer live in.
Artist and DJ Claudia Nova doing her make up at the Jeremy Deller exhibition currently on show in Glasgow’s Modern Institute.
Photos and Text by Oskar Oprey
An Afternoon in the Life of an Independent Publisher.
1.50pm: I meet Kieran Partise (Fashion Director at Dragmag) at Bermondsey Tube Station, as he has kindly agreed to help me deliver four boxes of Dragmags to stockists in the East End. I am thirty minutes late and Kieran fell on the escalator. The day is going to be shit, I can feel it in the air.
2.05pm: We arrive at the warehouse and load up our two trolleys - two boxes on each. We bicker about whether or not we should brown tape the boxes to the trolleys so they don’t topple off. Kieran insists they will be fine.
2.35pm: It has taken us half an hour to pull the trolleys around the corner to the bus stop, a journey that would normally take 3 minutes. Kieran’s boxes fall off, proving my point that it’s wise to brown tape them on. We brown tape them on and have a fag.
A collection of emails by Oliver Braid chronicling his relationships with pastries and people in Berlin, August 2010.
11th, Hi Oskar!
I’m just dropping you a little email from Berlin! It’s wild out here, the flat we’re living in isn’t exactly the chic city living I’d imagined - lots of mattresses on floors and no real pillows to speak of. But I guess the city is really fun, the holocaust memorial is SO fun – which is maybe a design flaw, but it really is fun. They have a great show curated by John Bock in town and yesterday I found four copies of Dave Hickey’s The Invisible Dragon which I thought was like totally out of print. Oh and I get to eat so many carbs it’s so beautiful, UNTITLED had a donut this morning that was about 15cm across, it was obscene. And of course living with UNTITLED, UNTITLED and UNTITLED is really nice, it’s quite cramped but it does have a real Big Brother feel and last night me and UNTITLED had a beautiful kind of bonding therapy session. The bathroom arrangements are a bit depressing - the shower is one of those frightening like hose- yourself-down type of affairs, without even any hook to put the showerhead on. And then there’s a mirror right opposite so you have to just watch yourself showering down and it’s like watching a really depressing arty film. Oh and the toilet is mental, like it has a plinth built into it which means whatever you leave in there just sits there in the open air watching you until you get rid of it. Plate toilet is a really hot topic of conversation in the flat! Mail me soon Oskar; I hope the weather is as nice as it is here, but that the toilets are more dignified!