Some Random Observations of a Cynic during Fashion Week

1) Conversations and their fight with depth

‘You know what’s really annoying? Like, oh my God, I have to get to London from here, and then back to Milan and then I have to like, fly back to Paris. It’s totally crazy, man!’
‘Yeah, but travelling around Europe is alright, but when you like have to fly to New York like me, then back to Paris, then to LA, it’s totally insane man!’ 
(It sort of feels like a "Mine’s bigger than yours" conversation)

2) Phones

You got to have an iPhone or at least a Blackberry to belong. Even if you have broken the glass of your third iPhone, you still need to buy a fourth, because otherwise you will no longer be accepted and you can kiss your fashion career goodbye. Maybe this is no different than me buying an Apple laptop for my photographic use. 

3) Food

A recent Irish film entitled "Hunger" is a close approximation of what life was like these past couple of days (luckily, there wasn’t shit on the walls of our hotel rooms, so maybe this is a slight exaggeration). Proper food is not something you get, not even when you’ve been somewhere for a whole day. The best you can count on is a light snack, a salad and some biscuits, provided you can live with the fact of having to absorb these substances amidst clouds of cigarette smoke. Also, when you make a joke about always putting your finger in your mouth after you eat, people will believe you, because how else could you remain skinny. 

4) Clothes – "Al draagt de aap een gouden ring, het is en blijft een lelijk ding."

Not all that important in the fashion industry. Reasons for this are simple: the people who have the money to splurge 1200 euro on a basic pair of trousers with a crazy extra button on the side don’t really care about the clothes they are wearing, not really, being able to afford them is much more important. Deep-down these people know that these clothes won’t make them look beautiful; their good looks vanished a long time ago in a tsunami of aging and self-obsession. The models who present the clothes show an idealised image these people hope to imitate by wearing them. The models themselves don’t or very rarely buy these clothes, because they know they don’t really need them to not be forgotten by the world. (it’s a vicious circle of course: when the models are old and ugly, they might have the money to buy the clothes, and then they do, because it reminds them of what it was like when they were young and beautiful – a sad image). 

5) Simplifying yourself 

How do you make life bearable when you are forced to spend a week among people up to eight years younger than yourself? You make yourself simpler. It is not something I generally do, but what on earth do you say to people you have nothing in common with? (exceptions to this rule exist of course, and my deepest affection goes out to those I met in the past week). And that way you can have at least some fun, even when talking to puberty-affected individuals who feel the need to always clarify their sexuality by talking about some pretty girl they met. This process of self-simplification takes a while to accept for oneself, but the liberation is great once it is attained. 

6) Sizes

The shoes I had to wear these past couple of days were always two sizes too small. Much like the hats, which were also very small for my big head (apparently). This hat thing was probably the cause why I couldn’t walk for Ann Demeulemeester (it just fell off all the time); though it might have also been because my walk was not really perfect at the time (after 2 hourse of sleep, I just had a rush of fatigue flowing through me and it must have had an effect on the way I walk).

7) Dishonesty

Really, if one does a casting and they don’t like you or you don’t fit their thing, instead of just saying that, they take a picture (really clumsily at Paul Smith (a very unfriendly man), they had two cameras, one for pics they needed, one for those they didn’t). Really, is it so hard to tell the truth? It’s not like it’s a personal insult. I would think it common courtesy to say the truth, instead of just wasting everyone’s time.   

8) Pretty boys

And the lack thereof. You’d think a men’s fashion show would be gay heaven for a bender like me? Think again: in every show there was only one, maybe two guys that I would label as cute. I don’t care what this implies for me: looks fade and we’re all ugly in the end, but I do wonder about some guys I saw on the runway (in shows I was in and others online) who were chosen instead of some really gorgeous boys I saw at the castings. They say it’s not about how cute someone is, but about how they "fit" the image. The ugly boys now mistakenly roam the streets, thinking they’re gorgeous even though they’re so obviously not. This way, monsters are created: the agencies make these young and gullible boys believe they’re the next best thing, until a couple of years later, nobody will ever look at those boys again, because now that they’re men, there’s nothing about them any more that would make you look round. All they have is this Dorian Gray Picture that was never really all that appealing to begin with, but nonetheless it was painted, and all those pseudo-Dorians will suffer from it, no matter what; if they’d never been cast, they wouldn’t have had to deal with this pain.

9) A picture (from the Rick Owens show, I did two others, but I like this pic the best)

A shame you cannot see the 10 cm heels I was walking on and the elegance with which I did so. I completely imagined myself stumbling and falling in front of all those people, but sadly, that didn’t happen. (Well, I did really like the Rick Owens guy, he was really sweet (even told me I should send him my pictures after I explained a bit about my dark themes), so maybe it’s okay it didn’t happen). 

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The contrast of two days

Yesterday.
Waking up early to go to school and have my jury. Nerves gently make themselves be heard in the amount of toilet visits that the body requests. A whole day was spent talking about people’s photos, including mine (today and tomorrow, this will continue for my class, not for me, because Today was different). I was able to show my work, the two series of photos I had worked on, the mass photo, the slide projection on a black wall with the Bacon-series, the five images of an ancient negative that I burnt while documenting the process (and Erik forbade me to do damage to the prints too (well, we argued about it, and in the end I just followed him because he’s mostly right about these things)), the duo images, the two short films. It was obvious they wanted to take their time, so I finished with a sense of having said everything I needed to say (apart from one or two clever replies to criticism I didn’t agree with). They seemed to praise my technical abilities but at the same time questioned the need for that in one of the two series, as if going for the aesthetic cannot show dark and moody themes. I was also a bit disturbed by the fact that there was no apparent appreciation for the amount of work that each photo took, as if the tunnel with the newspapers and the tomato paste had always been there and not been built up from scratch. Not that it matters, I know, but I could have also shot five people in the same position from the back with the same light and called that Art. Still, I’m glad it raised questions and disagreements among the commenting teachers. 

Today.
Waking up even earlier after a bad night’s sleep (3 hours) to go to Paris. Fatigue gently lets itself be heard in the amount of yawn that the body starts. A whole day was spent walking around France’s capital to go show myself to a dozen of designers for the shows of the Fashion Week this week. With mixed success, might I add, the Japanese designers disliked Timmy because his head was too big for their small hats and caps. But there were also positive reactions, like from Rick Owens (not that I knew him), Ann Demeulemeester (‘he’s got a really beautiful mouth’ she said in Dutch to her bald gay guy, thinking I wouldn’t understand), someone’s name I forgot and Damir Doma (first I thought it was Dabbidooba, because that sounded better in my ears). I finished the castings at 4PM (there was one to come), so I found time to go to the Robert Frank exposition in Jeu de Paume which was just nice to relax with (talk about dedication on my part!).
I’m waiting to go to sleep now. So tired.

Life has so many opposites.

Jury Duty

I’ve got my jury tomorrow, I’m not so much stressed or nervous because I kind of know it’s not going to be bad. Judging from the first reactions when I put my work up on the walls, things were quite positive.

I’m very tired right now, so I’ll go to sleep soon, not writing anything that will go down in the history books or that will ever get published (eat that, parasites who want to publish my writing! You can all just stop reading!). I have my jury in the morning, and on Thursday morning at 6AM (!!!!) I have to catch a train for Paris to be a model (so if I don’t write in the next week, it is not because I killed myself or someone brutally raped me with a spoon and fruit salad, it’s because I’m walking in Paris, doing things I don’t really find all that interesting (or not at all, best proof of which being that I don’t even know the guys for whom I’ll be doing shows)). I’ll be bitching on Thursday morning who on earth is actually awake at 6 in the morning, without having gone out or suffered from existential angst or something (I’ve been awake so early because of these reasons, not because I had to work or something), and that it’s no life to do something like that every day. And I’ll probably be right when I get to see the faces of the people on the trains I’ll be on.  
But money doesn’t care where it comes from, and money will be going towards more megalomaniacal concepts and photos. The DIY shops of this town will receive a considerable source of fresh income, straight from the fashion world. Why only yesterday, this 100 euro bill was used to snort some cocaine up a dumb fashion hick’s nose, and tomorrow it will be leading a new life getting fondled by some DIY shop’s cashier who just gave birth to a third fat kid, retarded because of her incessant smoking & drinking. It must be so interesting to be money. Unless you’re stored in a bank account of which the owner is dead and nobody knows you existed. 

and now sleep, my cat is finally quiet (she’s having her first heat period, awwww, she’s growing up! (it’s cute, not annoying…yet)) so now’s the time. 

Goodbye cruel world!

Word vomit.

 Today was restless. I accomplished nothing, missed Erik like hell and I also tried to think of a concept for my work for the next term. I have my jury next Wednesday, but I am kind of finished with the work from the past term, I need to move on. I kind of feel like I have to explore the different ways of building a set, for staged photographs, completely built up out of nothing, me being in control of every detail. The subject would entail a kind of existential chaos, similar to the one I confronted myself with today (or passive, The teacher seemed to appreciate the fact that I put so much of myself into it, the subject being ‘the uncanny’ (my subject of my triptychs last year) and she promptly did a bit of a psychoanalysis on me, half-forcing me to tell a bit of my life’s story, leading her to conclude that she admired the way I wanted to exist, always searching for some sort of cliff, rather than settling for a comfortable routine in which major problems of life don’t arise. I told her that I tried to settle in a routine, but that I perceived it as too depressing. That I need my cliffs from which I can fall so badly. Inspiration only comes on days like today, where you can look down the cliff and notice you’re afraid of heights, but you keep on staring.

All the all is in the all of me

Generally, I tend to strike a pose when a picture is taken of me. Maybe it’s blasé to claim that it is hard to take my portrait as such, instead of one of my many masks that reveal nothing of the person within. This picture was taken by a (sweet) girl from my class and I think it’s one of the first portraits of yours truly to actually show a bit more of me than what I usually show. While it is obvious I am still striking some sort of pose with my body (she asked me to take my shirt off, and since I’m an obedient stripper, well here you are…), but I find something new in my facial expression, like I was briefly lost in the moment and revealed a bit more. The eleven other photos on the roll of film showed my posing alter ego again, the one that reveals very little about himself. 
And this one sticks out…

 © Annelie Vandendael

The Adventures of Timmy – coming soon to a Children’s book store near you!

I drooled myself awake at 11-ish (since drool has the alarm clock capability of getting cold, thus making one awake), and after my morning yoga (i.e. shit) I pranced around town, harassing all that came my way. A fortune teller read my fortune, but he was no ordinary fortune teller, no, you have the kind that reads tea leaves or Nostradamus, but this one was able to berate of my future fortunes with the simple use of my excrement. He proclaimed his gift has been in his family for generations and that he has never gotten famous because toilet manufacturers conspired against him. Luckily, I forgot to to flush after my morning yoga, so I hurried home to fetch my babies. As I handed them to our fortune teller, he released a big gasp, as if he’d never seen anything like it in all his years of faecal occupation. 
"AAAAH! It is enormous!’ 
"Well, I AM a big boy, you know!" I winked playfully.  
"No, no, I’m talking about the vision I just had while inspecting your product."
Curious, I bent over to inspect my excrement more clearly, but I could not make out anything, apart from an undigested Ferrero Rocher wrapper, which was all that was left of the Ferrero Rocher I had devoured the night before, without even taking the time to unwrap the chocolate.
He also said that if I’d tell anyone the details of our conversation, the future he predicted would forever change, so I’m sure you’ll all forgive me if I keep quiet about it. I can just say this: I never thought I’d have it in me to milk a cow. *Nudge-nudge, wink-wink* 
After going to the haberdasher’s – a fine shop, it has all the habers you can dash! – I entered a supermarket where a man was arguing with a gay 18 year old cashier about wanting money from the till. I laughed loudly, interupting the man’s incoherent speech, telling him supermarkets don’t hand out free money, Patti Smith alledgedly does that (but from the looks of her, you might need to wash the cash first). I added he’d have more luck at a bank, since 18-year-old gay boys (especially dim and ugly ones like that one) just don’t hand out cash to random drunks passing by. If what I’ve learnt from magazines, my Christian prayer club and badly scripted pornography is true, gay boys (especially the dim ones) tend to charge money to other people for all kinds of things they do. Sadly, all my magazines and badly scripted pornography has been censored by said Christian prayer group, so I’m still not quite sure what exactly it is they’re talking about, but I bet it’s nasty, with like lots of snot or something. 
Superheroic as I was today, I also laughed at my cat for not being able to consider and question her own existence, though my laughter soon turned green when I realised that the situation is actually very unproblematic for her, while for me, it is a major issue, something even the faecal fortune teller could see. Filled with non-directional angst, I poured myself a glass of milk (not really, I just drink from the bottle) and gulped it down in a matter of seconds. When your existence is at stake, you know you have to play it hard. 
And then we slept….
Hail to the queen!

Att plugga tills man dör

It’s supposed to be exam period this month, but -yawn- it’s of course not at all as exciting as the ones at university, where litres of stress were poured down on me each day (how does one measure stress levels? litre? kilo? cubic banana?). Basically I’m bored, I don’t even find the energy to put much time into actual studying of the laughable amounts of course material we’ve been given. Of course it’s not for the theory that I am doing my study right now; anything that equals staring at a bunch of pages and cramming it in your head just feels like a waste of time, been there, done that. I can live with writing essays, but anything that requires mindless reproduction is just so passé. 
The time I should be studying right now, I spend thinking about what I would want my next project to be about, what I see myself doing in 2 or 3 years, where I want to go after the exam period (I think I need to be out of my world for a bit, and since Erik cannot go on holiday with me, I still have to decide where to go. I’m not sure yet). 
My jury is in two weeks, and in the meantime, I’m just lying bed with a reader of my philosophy of art course, and as interesting as it is, my mind wanders off all too often. To an undetermined future and an ocean of possibility. 
When push comes to shove, I must realise that I can be pretty pleased with my life’s choices so far, for the simple yet very convincing reason that there is nothing else I’d see myself do instead of this, nothing that wouldn’t involve escaping life a bit longer. 
So I’ll guess I’ll go sleep now and try again tomorrow. Maybe I’ll even study at our table instead of in bed. Not that I can promise that. 

The cold, an impression

 Minus 20 degrees last night. Outside. It appears birds are more vulnerable when it’s cold outside, so I chopped up some slices of bread and put it outside for them. In a matter of minutes, the first batch had disappeared into a number of happy stomachs. On TV, some social workers roamed the streets of Brussels trying to lure the homeless to follow them to a place of shelter and soup. The homeless man whose drunk and damaged face we see refuses to cooperate, but says he will take some soup and blankets. And a pair of gloves. Meanwhile, I sense a chill running down my spine as the badly isolated sieve that is our apartment cools down. 
The river I face shows no signs of turning into ice. The thin layer that was there when I woke up soon evaporates as the city flushes its morning toilets. A cat purrs next to me, wondering what all the fuss is about. She is more interested in the birds that I invited on the cold side of our windows. But the cold is good for some people. the peepshow owners downstairs for instance, he surely can’t complain, why with people taking forever to get "up to temperature" to release their pent-up frustration. Sighs of relief moan through the walls of this building. 
An eager newspaper journalist called a colleague in Norway to talk about dealing with the cold. Using a dry Norwegian cliché, the man says there is no bad weather, only bad clothing. The news shows the front garden of a suburban home in which the family have built an iglo. "How is this news?" is a thought that freezes in my head, because the news item is shown before other ‘trivial’ news items like the war in Gaza. The thought melts as the city flushes its toilets again. 
I am cuddled up, either in bed or on my sofa, not being part of this world. I have no role to play in everything that goes on around me, a situation I can live with now. If this is the beginning of a new Ice Age, then I know what to tell people where I was when it happened (inside!). The only role I play is to feed some hungry birds, a not so hungry cat and a very hungry lover. 
Life is simple when it’s cold.

Be warm. 

/T. 
 

back and forth

2009, where the fuck are the flying cars they promised us decades ago? Or the robots that would do my dishes, my laundry and provide me with interesting new ideas about personal hygiene? Not even Big Brother can see it all, even though we were promised he’d free us of our free will (pun intended) already a quarter of a century ago. 
2008, I was irritated by my erratic reading behaviour this past year, I only finished a handful of books, I started reading in like 20, but gave up after losing the battle with concentration and restlessness. The best books I read and finished last year included: The Sluts (Dennis Cooper), Super-Cannes (JG. Ballard), JPOD, The Gum Thief (Douglas Coupland). And that’s it. I’m reading another Coupland right now, just because I seem to finish all of his novels, I’ll try something a bit more challenging afterwards. Like Stig Dagerman’s Ormen (The snake), one of the books I started in but never finished last year. 
2009. Another year of transition? I should think so, it will consist of getting an idea of what to do after graduation (at Master level, earliest in 2010), checking my options, finding Erik something worthwhile to do. 
2008. Year of engagement. While our engagement ring consists of nothing more than a broken condom (a bit harsh a comparison, I know) it is there nonetheless. And unless I screw it up, it’ll be grand (Since Erik is perfect, I think it is much more likely that I would screw up, though of course we are not considering this to be an option). 
2009. I will turn 26. Someone like Andreas Gursky only graduated when was 32 (and he was so insecure I find him adorable). I suddenly don’t feel pressed. 

To all…

NEDERLANDSE VERSIE (For English look below, för svenska se ännu lägre)

Het einde des jaars is een tijd voor irritatie, dronken vechtpartijen met echtgenoten en hun parkieten, seksuele kruimeldieverij en schaamteloze schaamluisontwikkeling. Toch is dit niet waarom ik u schrijf, gezien het feit dat ik ervan overtuigd ben dat u reeds op de hoogte bent dat uw buurman zichzelf hatende luizen heeft. Persoonlijk ben ik daar niet zo aan, maar elk zijn ding hé. 

Ik postduif u deze brief (van het werk woord Postduiven – Ik postduif, ik postdoof, ik heb gepostdoofd, ik sloeg de potdove bedelaar op zijn muil) om u te melden welk voor een machtige combinatie van 12 maanden wij net aan onze achterkant getoond hebben. Onze mooie achterkant… (*mijmert even weg*) De mensheid is in goede handen, geloof me vrij: natuurlijk worden er nog eendjes vetgemest en geoogst om hun sappige levers, natuurlijk is flatulentie de wereld nog niet uit, natuurlijk word ik regelmatig eens de huid volgescholden door een gefrustreerde bus- of tramchauffeur die ooit droomde van een spannende carrière en een huis in Monte Carlo, enzovoorts… maar er is zoveel plezant geweest dat ik niet weet voor wat ik eerst moet klaarkomen (en u mag me gerust vervoegen).

Terwijl marginale Kelly’s en Kevins de hele godganse dagen niets anders doen dan in hun eigen vet rond te kwabbelen, vet dat ze het liefst van al zouden verpatsen om met het geld Cara Pils voorraad van drie weken in te slaan (210 liter) en zich te abonneren op verschillende SMS-diensten met een irritant Hollands konijn dat van hen houdt, wel terwijl zij dus dat allemaal aan het doen zijn – in feite niets dus – proberen wij deze wereld nog leefbaar te houden. Hoe? Door ons terecht zoveel beter te voelen.

Maar deze ongewassen homo (een contradictio in terminis?) belooft ook in 2009 niet in de val der marginaliteit te lopen. Tuurlijk klinkt het aanlokkelijk om hele dagen te vullen met het scharten aan mijn eigen achterste (of dat van mijn nimf), maar toch ontbreekt het mij (en ik mag hopen ook u) aan aangeboren talent om een Man Bijt Hond onderwerp te worden, zo iemand waarvan je zoiets als deze dingen zou kunnen zeggen:

 "zou die zijn eigen dingeling kunnen zien?"

"allé, wie gebruikt er nu zijn kat als wc-papier?"

"is er echt niets anders op TV?"

"tien voor acht, sloerie!" (het antwoord op de vraag van een TV-kijkende vrouw die door haar TV-kijkende echtgenoot als tippelaarster aanzien wordt) 

 

Neen, ik ben niet zo’n fan van de mensheid, van u wel uiteraard, maar dat maakt u daarvoor geen monsterachtig wezen met één oog en builen op uw pest (gha! Gij hebt geen dieptezicht! (troost u, ik fake het mijne ook maar)), dus ik zal ook niet plots alle lelijke kinderkens gaan bedekken met de mantel der liefde; ik denk trouwens dat daar wetten tegen zijn. En ik zou ze er toch maar mee verstikken met die mantel, en dan moet ik naar de gevangenis zonder langs Start te passeren en volgens een film die ik net half zag hangt er daar kaka aan de muren en ik ben niet zo aan bruin, mauve is mooier (van de verkrachtingen en zo heb ik minder schrik… zelfkennis is het begin van…). Maar altruïstisch als ik ben wil ik wel plastic zakjes, drilboren en geladen pistolen uitdelen aan kleine kinderen, zodat ze zich eens kunnen laten gaan; dat wil ik nog doen.

Dus collega toiletbezoekers, ik was eigenlijk vergeten waarom ik schrijven ging, bij deze is dit goedgemaakt met wat gebakken lucht,

Nog dit advies:

Wees vrank en isoleert uw daken!

Een struisvogeljagervrij 2009 gewenst,

 

Timo, uw plaatselijke Lederhosenenthousiast.

 

ENGLISH VERSION (not necessarily a translation, translating is boring, and I should know!)

 

I see the moon!

It is exciting that we are all getting older and that the drool we will drool in the coming year must still all be drooled. It is time to take advantage of this knowledge, life is short and my feet aren’t. If I was any more masculine, my vagina would explode. Whoever thought that if given a choice between male and female genitalia, I would choose the latter in the previous sentence. Though rest assured, it is only in writing and this once that it was chosen, in real life there is still the Timmy you know as a soulless phallic addict, and he is still doing an admirable job at that, sadly the job is still unpaid, as his lover and soon-to-be husband refuses to provide cash for his hard work, an unjust situation for which various human rights organisations have been contacted, though none of them have replied. Even Amnesty chooses silence over writing me a letter, those bastards!

So rejoice, my brethren, I preach to you from my simple country cottage, neatly installed in my inner city apartment. Let me be the light when it is dark, I promise not only to lead you to glory, but to do it fashionably so. I used to be a midget, but I grew out of it (a metaphor, not an actual life story you can shed tears for if you’d see it on the telly).

Anyway, as I was looking at my pigs and goats at the farm today, I thought of how lucky we were, how finally my dreams of being a cattle farmer had come true. I don’t think I’m man enough to have cows, so that’s why I’m only working with miniature versions of them, it is important to know oneself. Well, I did say "pigs and goats" plurally, but in fact it is but one pig and one goat, and so far, they don’t seem that bent on procreating for me so that I can expand my number of cattle. I am beginning to think they don’t want to mate with each other just to annoy me. Well, I did say "one pig and one goat", but it’s in fact one single cat who I suspect is schizofrenic (the pig and goat are her own alter egos, a sad situation and thousands of euros in therapy haven’t changed anything). Oh well…

It is with great joy that I wish you have a parasite- and STD-free 2009! I will do my everything in my power not to get you infected, hallelujah Fallujah!

A distinguished regard to all of thee,

 

Tim

SVENSK VERSION

Gott nytt år!! (Det finns inte så många svenskar i den här mejllisstan, därför blev den svenska texten lite kortare. Som du vet, tid är kronor (som numera inte är värda lika mycket som förut, vilket gjorde mig att le, inte bara för att det blev lättare att räkna om till euron, typ dela med 10 istället för 9, utan också eftersom detta kan betyda att jag åker till Sverige på semester i det anstormande året (inte helt säker om "anstorma" är ett ord, och om det inte är det, då borde det vara så!)) 

lite råd för 2009: isolera ditt tak, och gör det nu! 

Tack.