All is full of Love

To analyze the whole videoclip production of Björk could be a hard task, we should remark the work of the director Michel Gondry, who has directed most of all Björk’s videoclips. This fact means that Björk’s videoclips have a proper style, based in the use of 3D and digital effects.

However, I think there is a Björk videoclip that deserves a special attention far from the production of Gondry, it´s All is full of love, taken from Homogenic album and directed by possibly the most creative videoclip director in the international arena: the British Chris Cunningham.

Cunningham became famous in 1997 with Come to Daddy videoclip from  Aphex Twin, and he have directed so spectacular clips for bands as Portishead, Autechre or the most famous Frozen of Madonna. He is also TV ads producer and has created visual effects in some films.

It´s curious to find, just nowadays, texts from Art Historians related to this videoclip. They has written interesting texts and I´ll comment some of their observations.

First of all, I must say that the success of this videoclip is not only by Chris Cunningham because he doesn´t take a song from an album and work from it on creating images, here there is a concurrence, a feedback between Cunningham and Björk. There is a basic song, the version from Homogenic, but Björk variates the scheme of it by adding more electronics and a new atmosphere, a version more beautiful and suggestive. There is a convergence between music and images.

The story line of the videoclip is apparently simple, there is almost no action, but the quantity of meanings convert it in a symbolic universe. The protagonists are two female twin robots, both with the face of Björk, inside a white stage which means a total purity environment, but it’s the stage of a high technology factory. The two robots are also white with black joints, in an aesthetics that remembers me the stormtroopers of Star Wars, though their value, far from aggressiveness, means calm and peace. Both rombots are incompleted and during the clip, the machines work on them soldering their different parts.

In the middle of the clip, the light dims and white fluids appear as milk, and they expand over the white surfaces in an antigravitational way, as a scene far from the earth.

As I mentioned, the Art Historians who talk about this clip mention Olympia, the female robot of The sandman from E.T.A. Hoffmann, though I´m not agree with this comparison because I think there is no sinister elements in the two twin robots. Others talks about sadomasochist elements and fetishism, with a sexual component, most of all in the moment the two robots kiss each other. So, I disagree again with this interpretation. It´s true thar Cunningham videoclips have sinister elements as it happens in Come to daddy but I think that All is full of love is a clip full of calm, peace and tenderness, just the feelings the song shows: all is full of love.

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Alison Goldfrapp

I have taken a ride through deviantart.com and I have found several images of the singer Alison Goldfrapp. It´s nice to see how there are fans of this fantastic singer that have reflected in images their personal view of the frontman of Goldfrapp. I have selected three of them that catch the three  stages of the band.
Belldandies. "Goldfrapp". (2007). All rights reserved.
The author of the first image is Belldandies. It´s a digital illustration of 2005. The mood of the illustration remembers me the stage of Felt Mountain. This album was the debut of Alison and Will Gregory in 2000 under Mute label. For me, this album is a masterpiece and the best of the whole albums of Goldfrapp. The style of this album is pure decadence with a cinematographic aura. This decadentism is very well captured in the image of Belldandies: Allison is dressed in black with a male jacket and a black hat, with a red rose, in a crossing between the female pose and a male wearing. The cinematographic look comes from an aesthetics that remembers me the black and white cinema icons as Rita Hayworth in Gilda. I mean that there is a strong component of feminity  but contrasting with the male wear. Alison is shown here as a sort of femme fatale dressing like a man.
Spaceache. "Strict Machine". (2004). All rights reserved.
The second image was made by Spaceache in 2004 and refers clearly to the second stage of the band, in the second and third releases Blak Cherry (2003) and Supernature (2005). There the band moved to a more electronic music, with some hits for dancefloor. In my opinion was a mistake to change the style of their first stage, anyway I continued enjoying their music. The title of the image is Strictmachine, the name of one of the hits taken from Black Cherry. The image is a photocomposition that draws a half of a female face, with the hair as a kind of metal. There are also scissors opened that are going to cut the eye. This element is an evident similitude with the famous image taken from Buñuel’s Un chien andalou, where a knife cuts the eye of a woman. This reference to surrealism could connect with the essence of the music, but I think the similitude is very far. Only the metalic elements could refer to the strict machine of the song. Anyway the composition is interesting but pretentious.
Trevw82. "Goldfrapp". (2008). All rights reserved.
The last image is again an illustration made by Trevw82 and is taken from a large series of illustrations that reflects the passion that Trev feel for Goldfrapp. There are two kinds of images, some of them draws Alison in the nature, in idyllic poses, and some others represents Alison on stage under the colour lights. I have selected one of the first that reflects the style of Seventh Tree (2008), where the musical style turns to folk. In that way I think these images reflect perfectly the third stage of the band. The image is a traditional illustration with influences from Manga and from Art Nouveau. In the image Alison is represented sat on the grass with a circus dress and the hat laying on the green, she looks like a fairy. It´s a very romantic interpretation corresponding with the smell of Seventh Tree.

This year the last Goldfrapp CD has been released, Head First, that moves again to their electronic way. I haven´t heard the album yet, so I cannot talk more about this new step of the band. It´s possible that I find soon some new images of Alison that reflect this new stage. If so, you will have news in heresy and beauty.

María Zambaco: Burne-Jones muse

Edward Coley Burne-Jones. "Portrait of María Zambaco". (1870). All rights reserved.

I have always been atracted by the similarity of the female faces in the paintings of a concrete painter, most of all in Pre-Raphaelite movement. These faces seems to represent the ideal beauty for the artist and he repeats this face again and again in their works.

I´ve mentioned Pre-Raphaelites cause they are a group that arouses the ethereal side of female beauty, and there is also endogamy in the models that pose for them. Affairs, romances, all inside the brotherhood. Maybe the most famous case is Elisabeth Siddal, famous model that posed for the most famous painting: Ophelia by John Everett Millais. Recently BBC has produced a TV series about the lifes and loves of Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, entitled Desperate Romantics.

In this post I want to approximate to another case, not so wellknown, but very interesting too: the painter Edward Coley Burne-Jones –a late Pre-Raphaelist- and his muse María Zambaco.

First of all to mentions a few lines about the life of this muse. She was born in London in 1843 in a rich family anglo-greek, she married Demetrius Zambaco in 1861 and together moved to live in Paris. She divorced and came back to London in 1866 where she met for the first time Burne-Jones. They started an adulterous affair, just because Burne-Jones married with his wife Georgiana. But Burne-Jones fell in love with María desperately, and he didn´t forget this love in all his life. The painter maintained both relationships for a long time but in a moment had to deceide. Even María and Burne-Jones tryed to suicide together in 1869 but finally their love for life was higher than their romantic ideals. This is a Shakespeare-like story, following the romantic ideas of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. Finally, Burne-Jones come back home with her wife, though sporadically met María who posed again for him.

María practised art too. She started to sculpt in the 80’s decade, first in Alones Legros Academy in London and then in Paris where she was pupil of Rodin. María Zambaco diede in Paris in 1914.

Zambaco appears many times in the work of Burne-Jones. The love that felt Burne-Jones was reflected in his paintings, as a way of sublimation. Officially he only paint once María Zambaco in 1870, but her face can be found constantly in many series of paintings from Burne-Jones, hidden behind mythological names.

Edward Coley Burne-Jones. "Pygmalion" series. (1868). All rights reserved.

First, the series about Pygmalion myth, which talks about the tale o fan sculptor that created a female statue so perfect that he fell in love with her. His love was so incredible that Gods made possible that the statue came to life. This tale is identified with the love story between Burne-Jones and María Zambaco. For him, María is the statue, but unfortunately in his life he can only watch her but not to possess her. It´s a beautiful metaphor about his impossible love.

Edward Coley Burne-Jones. “The beguilling of Merlin”. (1872-77). All rights reserved.

The face of María appears in other paintings that reflects their imposible love. For instance The beguilling of Merlin reflects clearly this fact, using this time an Arturic tale. Burne-Jones is behind Merlin that has surrendered to an spell from the witch Nimue, which face looks like María. Burne-Jones has been captivated, enchanted, and down his knees to her. Maria Zambaco, though she is a real woman, is a godess for Burne-Jones, he cannot do anithing, she is possesed by her.

Edward Coley Burne-Jones. “Phyllis and Demophoon”. (1870). All rights reserved.

Another similar story appears in Phyllis and Demophoon, based in a greek tale. Phyllis, queen of Trace, falls in love with Demophoom, son of Theseus, who promisses to come back to her after six months. The time goes by, more than six months, and Phyllis deceide to commit suicide hanging. The gods watch this and deceide to convert her in an almond tree. A few time later Demophoon comes back and knows the sad reality and, very sad, hugh a tree lamenting his cruel fate. So, the gos let Phyllis comes back to life and hugs Demophoon.

It´s a recurrent theme: imposible love that succeds in mythology but fails in the real world.

María Zambaco is, for Burne-Jones, a love that deceided to refuse. However, this love will subjugate him for all his life. This makes that Burne-Jones sublimate this love by painting arturic and greek tales that represents his impossible love for María Zambaco.