From a Child’s and an Animal’s Point of View

“After The Sugarcubes, I guess I had a mixture of liberation and fear. It had been obvious for a while in the band that I had different tastes than the rest. That’s fair enough – there’s no such thing as correct taste. I wrote the melody for Human Behaviour as a kid. A lot of the melodies on Debut I wrote as a teenager and put aside because I was in punk bands and they weren’t punk. The lyric is almost like a child’s point of view and the video that I did with Michel Gondry was based on childhood memories.”
Björk
(Talking to David Hemingway about the song)

 
 

 
 

Human Behaviour was written by Nellee Hooper and Björk, and was produced by Hooper. The song was first written in 1988 when Björk was still the leading singer of the Sugarcubes, but she decided not to release it with the band. The song was inspired by David Attenborough documentaries and by the relation between humans and animals. Björk explained to Rolling Stone, talking about the inspiration for the song: “Human Behaviour is an animal’s point of view on humans. And the animals are definitely supposed to win in the end.So why, one might ask, is the conquering bear presented as a man-made toy? I don’t know. I guess I just didn’t think it would be fair to force an animal to act in a video. I mean, that would be an extension of what I’m against. I told him [Gondry], ‘I want a bear and textures like handmade wood and leaves and earth, and I want it to seem like animation.’ Then I backed out.” On a recent question and answer session with fans on The Guardian website, Björk revealed more information about the writing of the song: “I wrote it I was referring to my childhood and probably talking about how I felt more comfortable on my own walking outside singing and stuff than hanging out with humans…”

 
 

 
 

This is the first song on the “Isobel song cycle”, a transcendental cycle in Björk’s discography which goes from Human Behaviour to Wanderlust (2007). Human Behaviour bears influences from electronica, alternative rock and alternative dance. The melody-line of Human Behaviour was originally called Murder for Two and written by Björk for the Sugarcubes’ final album Stick Around for Joy. But The band didn’t know what music to play to the melody-line, so Björk used it for her debut album.

 
 

 
 

The music video was directed by Michel Gondry, and this was the first time he and Björk collaborated. The video is a loose take on the children’s tale “Goldilocks and the Three Bears“, with visuals inspired by Yuri Norstein‘s animated film Hedgehog in the Fog. The video has several elements that are present in Gondry’s first feature film Human Nature.

Advertisements

Nature is All Around Us

“Nature has always been important to me. It has always been in my music. In Reykjavik, Iceland, where I was born, you are in the middle of nature surrounded by mountains and ocean. But you are still in a capital in Europe. So I have never understood why I have to choose between nature or urban. Perhaps it is just a different reality, perhaps people that live in cities abroad only experience nature for two weeks a year in their holiday, and then they experience it as some trip to Disneyland or something. That it isn’t real. I have noticed the magazine shelves in cities have like music papers, porn and then like [National Geographic] describing some lost Utopian world people will never get to see… Sorry, don’t mean to get defensive, but you city folks are the odd ones, not us. Nature hasn’t gone anywhere. It is all around us, all the planets, galaxies and so on. We are nothing in comparison.”

Björk

 
 

Photograph by Jean-Paul Mondino

All Those who Love Nature

“All those who love Nature she loves in return, and will richly reward, not perhaps with the good things, as they are commonly called, but with the best things of this world-not with money and titles, horses and carriages, but with bright and happy thoughts, contentment and peace of mind.”

John Lubbock

 
 

Björk photographed by Warren du Preez & Nick Thornton Jones

Just Natural

Björk. Photo credit: Laura Levine, Woodstock, 1991

 
 

“I’m often asked if I have a favorite photo and I can say without hesitation that it’s this one right here. All of the elements combined to make it one of my favorite moments as a photographer, and it happened purely by chance. I met Bjork the night before when she invited herself along and joined some friends and me for a late night pool game up in Woodstock. At the time she was upstate recording with the Sugarcubes. I was already a fan, and had always wanted to photograph her, and when I asked her if I could she said sure. Just like that. We’d been talking all night, she trusted me, and I guess that was all she needed to go on.

The next day I picked her up and brought her to my friend Ben’s house, who helped out as my assistant for the shoot. I knew he had a lovely forest glade behind his house and I thought the setting fit in nicely with her freespiritedness. As happens often in shoots I’ve done (don’t ask me why), she gradually began to to shed her clothes. I picked out a couple of oversized leaves (a la Eve in the Garden of Eden) and she stepped onto a large boulder. At that moment it started to drizzle, she stood on tippy-toe and opened her mouth to catch a raindrop on her tongue. Click.

Having spent a long time talking with her the night before I felt this image really captured her essence – a woodland sprite, a free spirit, playful, earthy, and open . (Some other reasons why this is a favorite? No makeup artists, no stylists, no trendy fashions, no managers, no publicists, no record label politics, no artificial lighting, no gimmicks, no self-conciousness. Just natural light, some foliage, and Bjork.).”

Laura Levine

The Peaceful People

Hopi girl, 1922, photo by Edward S. Curtis

 
 

The name Hopi is a shortened form of their autonym, Hopituh Shi-nu-mu (“The Peaceful People” or “Peaceful Little Ones”).The Hopi Dictionary gives the primary meaning of the word “Hopi” as: “behaving one, one who is mannered, civilized, peaceable, polite, who adheres to the Hopi way.” In the past, Hopi sometimes used the term “Hopi” and its cognates to refer to the Pueblo peoples in general, in contrast to other, more warlike tribes.

 
 

Four young Hopi Indian women grinding grain, c. 1906, photo by Edward S. Curtis

 
 

Children with chopper bicycle, Hopi Reservation (Arizona), 1970

 
 

Hopi is a concept deeply rooted in the culture’s religion, spirituality, and its view of morality and ethics. To be Hopi is to strive toward this concept, which involves a state of total reverence and respect for all things, to be at peace with these things, and to live in accordance with the instructions of Maasaw, the Creator or Caretaker of Earth. The Hopi observe their traditional ceremonies for the benefit of the entire world.

 
 

Hopi girl at Walpi, c. 1900, with “squash blossom” hairdo indicative of her eligibility for courtship

 
 

Hopi woman dressing hair of unmarried girl, c. 1900, photo by Henry Peabody

 
 

Traditionally, Hopi are organized into matrilineal clans. When a man marries, the children from the relationship are members of his wife’s clan. These clan organizations extend across all villages. Children are named by the women of the father’s clan. On the twentieth day of a baby’s life, the women of the paternal clan gather, each woman bringing a name and a gift for the child. In some cases where many relatives would attend, a child could be given over forty names, for example. The child’s parents generally decide the name to be used from these names. Current practice is to either use a non-Hopi or English name or the parent’s chosen Hopi name.

The Hopi are one of many Native American cultures in the Southwestern United States. When first encountered by the Spanish in the 16th century, these cultures were referred to as Pueblo people because they lived in villages (pueblos in the Spanish language). The Hopi are descended from the Ancient Pueblo Peoples (Hopi: Hisatsinom or Navajo: Anasazi) who constructed large apartment-house complexes in northeastern Arizona, northwestern New Mexico, and southwestern Colorado.

A Warrior Who Had to Fight with Love

“The title of the album, in fact,  indicates that music comes from a same direction: straight from my heart, because home is where the heart is”
Björk

 
 

Homogenic is the fourth studio album by Icelandic musician Björk

 
 

A relationship with fellow musician Clifford Price (better known as Goldie) caused controversy for the singer, an American fan, offended by her dalliance with a black man, taped himself creating an acid bomb and sent it to her house before shooting himself in front of the camera. While the bomb, thankfully, never reached Bjork, she became extremely depressed and fled to Spain where she recorded her next album. The result, entitled Homogenic, was released in September 1997 and featured emotional, dark songs possessing sounds that had never been explored. So off the beaten path was the record that it failed to enjoy the commercial success that her last two efforts had. But it was her most personal record to-date.

The album was Björk’s first attempt to bridge the world of electronic music with more organic elements (including orchestral score and unusual applications of the human voice), and she approached Alexander McQueen to try to capture the album’s icy, otherworldly cool vibe in a cover image.“When I went to Alexander McQueen, I explained to him the person who wrote these songs — someone who was put into an impossible situation, so impossible that she had to become a warrior,” Bjork told the Chicago Sun-Times in 1998.“A warrior who had to fight not with weapons, but with love.”

Though the cover appears to be a straight illustration, Bjork actually posed for the image, photographed by Nick Knight. “I had 10 kilos of hair on my head, and special contact lenses and a manicure that prevented me from eating with my fingers, and gaffer tape around my waist and high clogs so I couldn’t walk easily,” she said. “I wanted to put all the emotion of the album into that image.”

 
 

A previous McQueen/Knight collaboration for a photo shoot clearly provided the basis idea for the imagery achieved

 
 

Björk’s vocals on Homogenic range from primitive sounding screams to a traditional singing method used by Icelandic choir men, a combination of speaking and singing as illustrated in the song Unravel. Björk wanted Homogenic to have a conceptual focus on her native Iceland. In an interview for Oor, Björk explained that “in Iceland, everything revolves around nature, 24 hours a day. Earthquakes, snowstorms, rain, ice, volcanic eruptions, geysers… Very elementary and uncontrollable. But at the other hand, Iceland is incredibly modern; everything is hi-tech. The number of people owning a computer is as high as nowhere else in the world. That contradiction is also on Homogenic. The electronic beats are the rhythm, the heartbeat. The violins create the old-fashioned atmosphere, the colouring.”

African Self-Hybridation

African Self-Hybridation: Ndebele Giraffe Woman of Ngumi Stock, Zimbabwe, With Euro-Parisian Woman, 2002

 
 

African Self-Hybridation: Pregnancy Akua Ba Acbouti Doll From Ghana With Face of Orlano Woman, 2003
 
 

African Self-Hybridation: Three-Headed Ogoni Mask, Nigeria, With Mutant Face of Franco-European Woman, 2002

 
 

African Self-Hybridation: Sande Mask of Sierra-Leone, 2003

 
 

African Self-Hybridation: Fang Initiation Group Mask, Gabon, With Face of Euro-Saint-Etienne Woman, 2003

 
 

African Self-Hybridation: Songye Secrecy Mask With Gloved Euro-Forezian Woman With Rollers, 2003

 
 

African Self-Hybridation: Mask of Nigerian Woman With Face of Euro-Parisian Woman, 2003

 
 

African Self-Hybridation: Half-White Half-Black Mbangu Mask With Face of Euro-Saint-Etienne Woman in Rollers, 2002

 
 

African Self-Hybridation: Ife Statuary With Face of Euro-Forezian Gloved Woman With Facio-Templed Bumps, 2000

 
 

African Self-Hybridation: Ekoi Janus Mask, Nigeria With Face of Euro-Forezian Woman, 2003

 
 

African Self-Hybridation: Mask of Kom Notable, Cameroon, With Face of Euro-Global Artist, 2002

 
 

African Self-Hybridation: Profile of Mangbetu Woman With Profile of Euro-Saint-Etienne Woman, 2000

Since 1994, ORLAN has been creating a digital photographic series titled Self-Hybridizations, where her face merges with past facial representations (masks, sculptures, paintings) of non-western civilizations. So far, three have been completed: Pre-Columbian, American-Indian and African.

A Bump on the Way

“…Not only did Lady Gaga reproduce works by the artist, but she also drew inspiration from her concepts. Orlan’s entire universe of hybridizations was copied in the Born This Way album, such as giving birth to oneself, which is seen in Orlan’s photography series Orlan accouche d’elle-m’aime (ou d’elle-m’aime)”, 1964-66. The inspiration went too far.”

Philippe Dutilleul-Francoeur
(ORLAN‘s lawyer)

 
 

(Orlan Gives Birth to Herself) or (to Her Beloved Self)

 
 

Orlan (born Mireille Suzanne Francette Porte) is a French artist, born May 30, 1947 in Saint-Étienne, Loire. She adopted the name Orlan in 1971, which she always writes in capital letters : “ORLAN”.

ORLAN, well-known for using her body as a tool for her art, sued Gaga for plagiarism, saying the singer has counterfeited three of her works through her Born This Way era, and especially in her Born This Way music video.

The works that are being talked about here are Bumpload, a sculpture representing ORLAN as a sort of bionic hybrid, that is, according to the artist, what inspired the Born This Way album cover.

The second work is the 1996 installation Woman with head, that has apparently been “copied” by Gaga through one of the BTW video sequences.

Finally, ORLAN pretends Gaga simply stole her life, her universe, and especially the face implants that the artist has infamously got through a surgery-performance in the 90s.

 
 

Bumpbload, ORLAN, 1989

 
 

 Album cover designed by Nick Knight

 
 

Woman with Head, ORLAN, 1996

 
 

Screen shot from Lady Gaga’s Born This Way (Nick Knight, 2011) music video

Roseland Ballroom

“A stranger took this picture of me in 2008 on the LES in NY, before I was ever a star. We found him and used that same photo for my Roseland poster.”

 
 

Lady Gaga Live at Roseland Ballroom was the first residency show by American singer Lady Gaga. Performed at the Roseland Ballroom in Manhattan, New York, the residency show began on March 28 and concluded on April 7, 2014, after completing seven shows. It was the final event hosted by the venue after it was announced that it was being closed down and being replaced with a 42-story skyscraper. Gaga revealed that Roseland was the only venue in New York City that she had never played, although she had visited there previously to watch shows. A poster announcing the event was released, showing an old image of Gaga taken before the time she became successful as a recording artist.

 
 

Roseland Ballroom exterior, indicating the sold out Lady Gaga concert

 
 

 
 

As an homage to the venue, the stage was decorated with roses. The multi-leveled set-up consisted of New York City fire escape routes. Other parts of the stage had a ladder reaching the mezzanine floors and a replica of an F train carriage. Gaga’s wardrobe was also rose themed, with leotards, hats and jackets, and instruments adorned with red roses. The main set list for the show encompassed songs from The Fame, The Fame Monster, Born This Way, and Artpop. Some tracks were performed in acoustic versions.

 
 

LLady Gaga giving proper goodbye to Roseland Ballroom with Rose Inspired See-Through Outfit, March 28, 2014. She celebrated turning 28 wearing this kind of updated “birthday-suit”

Roses and Thorns

‘We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.’
Abraham Lincoln

“There are people who cry because they know roses have thorns; other people smile because they know thorn bushes have roses”
Joaquim Machado de Assis

 
 

The rose personally chosen by the late Alexander McQueen for his friend Isabella Blow before he passed away was launched at Hampton Court Palace Flower show. The flower, named Alexander’s Issie, was presented to Blow’s sister Julia Delves Broughton

What Do We See

What we do see depends mainly on what we look for. … In the same field the farmer will notice the crop, the geologists the fossils, botanists the flowers, artists the colouring, sportsmen the cover for the game. Though we may all look at the same things, it does not all follow that we should see them.”

John Lubbock
The Beauties of Nature and the Wonders of the World We Live in

 
 

Editorial To Me You Are a Work of Art. Photography by Dirk Alexander. Styling and illustration by Nicola Formichetti for Dazed Digital. Model: John Kharalian. All clothes by Mugler SS 2013 Collection.

“The shoot is a Nicopanda and Mugler mash-up,” Formichetti explains. “I do these illustrations for my brand Nicopanda and come up with new characters everyday. This one’s called “Chetti” and it’s an amoeba-panda! It’s a virus affecting the Mugler world, I wanted to do a shoot where Mugler and Nicopanda got mixed up, two completely different worlds living in the same dimension.”

 

The Ravishing Blooms Appear

“Men were created before women. … But that doesn’t prove their superiority – rather, it proves ours, for they were born out of the lifeless earth in order that we could be born out of living flesh. And what’s so important about this priority in creation, anyway? When we are building, we lay foundations on the ground first, things of no intrinsic merit or beauty, before subsequently raising up sumptuous buildings and ornate palaces. Lowly seeds are nourished in the earth, and then later the ravishing blooms appear; lovely roses blossom forth and scented narcissi.”

Moderata Fonte, pseudonym of Modesta Pozzo (1555-1592)
The Worth of Women: Wherein Is Clearly Revealed Their Nobility and Their Superiority to Men

 
 

Devon Aoki in Alexander McQueen for Visionaire 20, 1997. Photo by Nick Knight

Giving Birth to a New Race

“The nexus of Born This Way and the soul of the record reside in this idea that you were not necessarily born in one moment. You have your entire life to birth yourself into becoming the ultimate potential vision that you see for you. Who you are when you come out of your mother’s womb is not necessarily who you will become. Born This Way says your birth is not finite, your birth is infinite.”

Lady Gaga
(talking about the meaning of Born This Way)

 
 

 
 

The first song written and recorded for the album was the title track itself which she wrote in Liverpool and Manchester, England, described by Lady Gaga as a “magical message” song. She wrote it in ten minutes and compared the process to an Immaculate Conception.

“I want to write my this-is-who-the-fuck-I-am anthem, but I don’t want it to be hidden in poetic wizardry and metaphors. I want it to be an attack, an assault on the issue because I think, especially in today’s music, everything gets kind of washy sometimes and the message gets hidden in the lyrical play. Hankering back to the early ’90s, when Madonna, En Vogue, Whitney Houston and TLC were making very empowering music for women and the gay community and all kind of disenfranchised communities, the lyrics and the melodies were very poignant and very gospel and very spiritual and I said, ‘That’s the kind of record I need to make. That’s the record that’s going to shake up the industry.’ It’s not about the track. It’s not about the production. It’s about the song. Anyone could sing Born This Way. It could’ve been anyone.”

Nick Knight directed the accompanying music video, which was inspired by painters like Salvador Dalí and Francis Bacon and their surrealistic images. Gaga is depicted as giving birth to a new race during a prologue. A series of dance sequences later, the video concludes with the view of a city populated by this race. Critics noted cultural references to the work of Madonna, Michael Jackson, Björk, late fashion designer Alexander McQueen, as well as to Greek mythology, magical realism and surrealism.

Laurieann Gibson explained the inspiration behind the video to MTV News:
“When she played it for me, it took me a while to find out the visual interpretation that I could give back to her. And so I woke up one night and I got it, and I said, ‘I got it: We have to birth a new race.’ From the gate, Gaga was like, ‘I want Nick Knight for this video. I want a visual.’ She was always birthing something visual in her head, and Nick Knight is just, well, he’s prolific but he’s so genius. It was about pushing the bar of what a music video should be and can be. […] It’s a different time; it’s a different era; there are no limits. It is a viral message. I think that there’s something in there for everyone, and that’s what’s so amazing about the video and so specific about the message.”

Released on Monday, February 28, 2011, the video begins with a brief shot of a unicorn’s silhouette in a steam-filled alley, inside a pink triangle frame. The triangle transitions to a shot of Gaga, with two opposite facing heads, inspired by Janus, the Roman god of transition and beginnings, sitting in an ornate glass throne amidst a star-filled space. As Bernard Herrmann‘s prelude to the movie Vertigo (Alfred Hitchcock, 1958) plays, Gaga tells the story of the creation of an extraterrestrial race that “bears no prejudice, no judgment, but boundless freedom.” Gaga sits in the throne, giving birth to a “new race within the race of humanity.” She explains that this was followed by the birth of evil, due to which Gaga splits into two opposing forces of good and evil. Her new half gives birth to a machine gun and fires it. The prologue concludes with Gaga questioning, “How can I protect something so perfect, without evil?”

 
 

 
 

The video featured full-bodied tattooed model Rick Genest (Rico), better known by his stage name Zombie Boy. Gaga painted her face in a similar way to Genest, in one of the main series of sequences. She said that the sequences displayed the fact that she would not allow society or critics to dictate her sense of beauty. “I tell you what I think is beauty, and hence the scene was of me and Rico defining ourselves in artistic way and not relying on society to dictate it,” she added. The costumes for the video were designed by Nicola Formichetti, who blogged about the various designer pieces shown in it. In the opening sequence of the video, Gaga wore a head accessory by Alexis Bittar, a diamond neckpiece by Erickson Beamon with earrings by Pamela Love, and a stained-glass dress by Petra Storrs. Finger rings were provided by Erickson Beamon and chiffon clothes by Thierry Mugler. For the skeletons sequences, both she and Rico wore tuxedos by Mugler while the slime during the orgy scenes were courtesy of Bart Hess. For her Michael Jackson impression in the alley at the video’s end, Gaga wore shirt and pants by Haus of Gaga, shoes by Natacha Marro, a Billykirk belt and LaCrasia gloves.