keitai kouture


bah, humbug | INTERVIEW | andrez @ saatchi gallery | PROPAGANDA de ANDREZ | weapons-of-choice | boy girl | KEITAI pictures #1 | KEITAI pictures #2 | KEITAI pictures #3 | KEITAI pictures #4 | KEITAI pictures #5 | KEITAI pictures #6 | flicka in a fuel dump (2007) | MAGAZINE work | upcoming EXHIBITIONS | OTHER ART | IF? | YOKO UMEHARA | tokyo happy-snaps | tokyo #2 | tokyo #3 | tokyo #4 | LITTLE NOBODY + SCHLOCK TACTILE | de-VICE magazine | links | e-me


interview with saori nakagawa

"In most respects (aural and visual), Andrez likes to steal glances into a metaphysical rear-vision mirror towards the “found art” chapter of the Dadaists’ handbook; he then flicks his gaze in the direction of the cut-up techniques of Brion Gysin and Tristan Tzara, with a sardonic eye on the deconstructive tendencies of post-modernism… and then throws it all into the air, like so much humbug confetti."

TranZfusion caught up with Andrez Bergen in the lead up to his exhibition at Brunswick Street Gallery [Melbourne, 2007]


Tranzfusion: First up, the simplest but most pertinent question of all: Why is the exhibition called "Keitai Kouture"?

Andrez Bergen: It's a moniker I created a couple of years ago to label the lower-resolution photography I do with the inbuilt camera of my keitai - the Japanese word for mobile phone - and all of the photographs have been taken in Japan, in particular in Tokyo.
"Kouture" was just a bit of a joking pun on "couture", because some of the early shots explored more whacked-out elements of Japanese fashion and style. And fashion's made to be taken the piss out of, don't you think?
The tag stuck. It's now the name of my website as well.

I noticed on your Keitai Kouture website that there were a lot of references to Dada. What's the attraction of that style, and isn't it all a little anachronistic?

One of my favorite words: anachronistic. Personally, I think the word's got a bum wrap; I don't see anything wrong with anachronism. But, getting back to Dada, I think the ideas of that style are relatively timeless, and I love the sense of humor inherent in it. When I first saw a picture of Duchamp's toilet bowl, it blew me away and knocked my li'l socks off! Really! It was revelatory to realize that art didn't have to be all serious and high-brow; that you could approach it all with a sense of jocularity.

Then, in high school, I found a Cabaret Voltaire record - Voice of America - and they applied some of the same Dadaist principles to music. That was a huge influence on my own cut-up sounds that I started making under the Little Nobody and Schlock Tactile monikers about a decade ago.
But I think I could waffle on endlessly about the kudos of Dada, and the point I should be making is this: in whatever I do, be it music or photography or visual graphics, I usually apply a collage sensibility, along with an occasionally heavy-handed sense of mirth.


What is it about Tokyo that appeals to you as a photographer?

The place is mesmerizing. Really. There's so much here, on so many levels - literally - that you usually can't take it all in on first glance. There's a little bit here and there for everybody, and if I do a 360 degree turn in one place, I can usually find something that attracts my attention and it just cries out to be photographed - maybe a building, or a sign, a person, a window reflection, an advertising image. Whatever.
How did you start using the keitai camera as your principle tool?

I went to an exhibition in April 2004 of Yoko Umehara's photographic work, and on a website she'd been putting these wild keitai camera snap-shots. They kicked me around a bit, and made me rethink the whole photography thing. Before that I was aiming at high resolution and clarity. She made me see the more abstract possibilities at play right there in front of me, on a much lower resolution level. It's way more challenging - and therefore fulfilling when it works. Plus your regular Japanese keitai camera has lots of funky features and gimmicks...


Which photographers do you respect and admire?

Obviously Yoko - it's one of the reasons I married her! [laughter]. Plus I worked for a time with Tomek Sikora around 1989/90, and I dig some of his ideas. Obviously Man Ray jumps to mind, and I like some of Robert Capa's and George Hurrell's work. Then again, I don't actively hunt down particular photographers' collections. I'm more into cinematographers like Christopher Doyle, and the visual eye of film directors like Akira Kurosawa, Darren Aronofsky, Takeshi Kitano, Shinya Tsukamoto, and David Lynch.
What can people expect from the exhibition?
I guess I should request that they bring an open mind, and leave the baggage of their preconceptions of Japan at the door.
This is Tokyo as I see it; with maybe a little more of a bent and surreal wash to it all. Lots of cut-ups and silly asides. It's certainly not your typical Lonely Planet picture-perfect happy-snap show.
I'll also be bringing various props - some Japanese magazines, manga, and odds and ends - and soundtracking it with Japanese music, from enka to hip hop; cool and kitsch. So it's more of a sensory experience... with a definite sense of humor.
But it's also Japan as viewed through the highly subjective lens of a gaijin [foreigner], so don't expect to see the "real" Japan, either. It's my peculiar interpretation - and I do love this city.

The Keitai Kouture Exhibition can be viewed at Brunswick Street Gallery, Level 2, 322 Brunswick St. Fitzroy
February 2nd to February 15th, 2007