Sunday, November 20, 2005

Kufiyaspotting #5: Josephine Meckseper's "Untitled," Lyon Biennial 2005

It's weird: yesterday I finally got around to scanning and writing about 3 of the kufiyas I've spotted over the last few months. Today, while thumbing through the New York Times T Style Magazine: Travel I find this! The reproduction of a piece by Josephine Meckseper called "Untitled," featured at the Lyon Biennial of Contemporary Art that runs through December 31.

Two of the three parts of this work feature the kufiya. First, there is the manikin, wearing the kufiya as a scarf that partially obscures her breasts. She also sports a kind of hoody vest, which covers her head and hints (vaguely) at an Islamic headscarf. Her gold pendant is an iconic marijuana plant. Second, above and to the right is a painting, whose style is remiscent of Russian Futurism. The straight line which looks like it might be part of a question mark is a piece of kufiya fabric. Next to the manikin is the cover of a book, entitled The Angry Brigade, 1967-1984: Documents and Chronology. The Angry Brigade were a left-wing, anarchist-inspired urban guerilla organization in Britain that conducted a series of bomb attacks on "establishment" targets between 1970 and 1972. (The Angry Brigrade could be compared, loosely, to the US Weather Underground.)

Printed Matter's press release for its book launch for The Josephine Meckseper Catalogue describes what the artist is up to as follows:

Meckseper's work reveals the ways in which counterculture becomes codified through surface concerns such as style and packaging. Hippie accessories such as used Birkenstock shoes, orgy rugs, Palestinian head scarves, and psychedelic wallpaper rub shoulders with conservative political parties' campaign posters, German union logos, and installations of retail windows. Her filmic, photographic, sculptural and performance-based investigations into the aesthetics of political protest are ironically at home in a (mock) publication dedicated to style.

Kufiyaspottings #2-#4 below illustrate well the kufiya's role in the phenomena that Meckspeper is investigating: how countercultural and leftwing politics are closely connected to style, "cool," and commodification.

Meckseper is German born and now a resident of New York City.


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