Bite Me Butt

Last month, Hong Kong based Bite Me magazine launched at Kapok on Sun Street (where else), one the city’s long time cultural anchors, to great fanfare. In attendance of course is the founders, editorial team, Katrina Tran, the Chief Editor, and Jason Schlabach, the Art Director, to host friends, guests, and fans at a pre-Art Basel soiree.

Bite Me magazine, is an “independently published art magazine”, with a “not-so-serious, cheeky perspective of Cultural Phenomena”, according to their website. The Bi-Annual magazine, filled with content from various accomplished contributors from different creatives fields such as graphic design, photography, art, illustration, and literature; have already made its big jump beyond the city into the global arena with stockists located in New York City’s MoMA PS1 Store and Printed Matter, LA’s Creatures of Comfort, London’s Serpentine Gallery, Tate Modern, and White Cube, Paris’ Colette, and Sydney’s Incu… just to name a few. 

The opening, which quickly turned into a block party, drew a huge crowd of over 300 guests, including fashion editor, Grace Lam, graphic designer, Danielle Huthart and RONWAN, branding expert, Marc Brulhart, photographer, Jason Capobianco, accessories designer, Michelle Lai, illustrator / jeweller, Kate Barnett, and Kapok’s founder, Arnault Castel, of course. 

We chat briefly with the Bite Me team about the concept for Bite Me and what they plan to do with this ultimately successful project from here on out.

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theWanderlister+: Tell me where did the idea for Bite Me Magazine come from?

BITE ME: After years of coming up with magazine ideas, the reason that this one finally made it to the printer and into a finished product is that it was the perfect combination of a cheeky idea and a serious dedication to quality. What started as an offhand joke about removing the identity and ego from modelling in fashion magazines by only showing butts, turned into a months long creative journey to make a cultural magazine with the very best of high- and low-brow contributions. While the first issue is all about butts (every page of it), we wanted to create an attitude that can be applied to other themes as we work on the second issue.

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theW+: Speaking of Cheeky. The first issue, as you said, is definitely all about “butts”. What’s the best butt in the history of visual culture, and whose butt is trending now?

BM: Well, it has definitely opened our eyes to all the butts that paved the way for a Kim Kardashian or Jen Selter rear selfie to get hundreds of thousands of ‘likes’. One of the first big impacts in mainstream culture was Sarah Baartman in early 19th century London, covered in an essay on objectification and embracing real butts written by Christian McQueen for the magazine. Best butt has to go to Michelangelo’s David, inspiring butt envy for 500 years!

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theW+: I totally agree with you guys on David, it made your cover after all! You guys have only been on newsstands several weeks and already you’ve received quite a positive reception! Why do you think this is? And what have you heard in terms of feedback? Is it something the world needs right now?

BM: The reception has been really encouraging, first with the contributors who were so generous with their talents and then with the readers. I think a big reason has to do with the theme of the first issue. People are responding to the obvious fun we had making the magazine and a much-needed sense of humour in our cultural observations.

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theW+: Tell us about your the two-person team that makes up the editorial staff of the magazine… What’s the process like? And how many of these can we expect a year?

BM: The big creative decisions are all joint, from the contributors list to the flow of the content. But when it comes to producing the magazine, our roles don’t overlap much which is one of the key to us working well together. We review the work constantly, but when it comes to sitting down and making it happen, we do so separately and that keeps our two perspectives from merging too much. We want to maintain our distinct points of view as we work together. We’re aiming to publish BITE ME bi-annually.

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theW: Lastly, what are the magazines from Hong Kong that you guys absolutely love, and what are your thoughts on the publishing offerings here in the city? And how could you see contributing to the bigger picture within the city or the world?

BM: We’re proud to have made this in Hong Kong. Our contributors, such as Kate Barnett, Ron Wan, Ada Hung, Hakan Celebi and others, and printing partner, Asia One, have made it a great experience. There is a lot of creativity emerging in the city and the cultural potential is enormous.

We love independent publishing, such as Ha Wan Pao. That being said, we strive for a global perspective and don’t consider BITE ME to be a Hong Kong focused magazine. We didn’t see anything with this blend of content and attitude in Hong Kong and that further inspired us to make the magazine. If our contribution to the scene would simply be to make people think more broadly about what is possible in this city, we’d be really proud of that.

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Congratulations guys! You’ve done well! I can’t wait to read the next issue! :)

READ Bite Me Magazine ONLINE / READ Bite Me Magazine

JJ.

Seen&Scene: 28 “New Natives”, Philippine Contemporary Art on Exhibit at Lightbombs Contemporary

I hardly co host parties or events, but when I do its for things I love. This time Lightbombs Contemporary Art Advisory in Hong Kong is exhibiting the work of 28 amazing Philippine Artists making an impact today. The show is called The New Natives and is opening to the public next week. You can’t miss it. It’s great work and represents the energy of the Manilacontemporary art scene at this moment. My pal, Lightbomb’s gallerist and advisory director, Zoe Pena, curated this awesome show which consists of works by some of Manila’s finest artists working in multiple mediums. Some of the artists continue working in Manila, while others have left, continuing their practice elsewhere in the world.

In a more globalized aged when gaining information is as as fast as touching a button on your smartphone, or for others who can’t afford one, logging on quite inexpensively in an internet cafe, the nature of trying to “make it” in today’s world isn’t as much of a struggle or a journey as it was say for the last generation of Filipinos who have left the country looking to start a new life elsewhere. But with a growing middle class, a more stable political future, and the establishment of “call centres” in the Philippines’ biggest cities, to emigrate out of the country is not as big of a draw as it once was. These 28 artists, most of them educated in the Fine Arts right in Manila, seek to define what it means to be a Filipino ‘Native’ in whatever condition of ‘home’ they have set out for themselves in this digital age.

As award winning writer, Petra Magno, stated in her essay for the Exhibition’s catalogue, the concept of the “New Native” is clearly a focus on one’s “shifting dimension… a concept so cross-hatched with possibilities and beliefs that its lines blur. The new natives have set up their playground… and by encountering it, one comes home.” Yes gone are the days of those pastoral farms, nipa huts, and mango trees that once defined “Philippine Art” a generation or two ago. Now that the drama of moving into the city or another country, and leaving the province is over, today’s generation of Manila artists are working to find out who they are and where they belong in a state where the country they live in is not really as it was defined by the elders, nor is it the utopia that they believe is yet to be. 

The 28 artists in the show include works by acclaimed practitioners; Arnel Agawin , Felix Bacalor, Jed Esqueta, Dex Fernandez, Mark Salvatus, Stephanie Syjuco, Noberto Roldan, Romeo Lee, and my dear friend, Gel Jamlang, of whom I’ll be doing a Q+A interview for the blog.

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Photos from the Lightbombs Contemporary x theWanderlister+ Preview Cocktails last night, April 25th 2014, with guests, friends, and supporters…

With Curator of WKCDA’s M+, Tobias Berger, and gallerist, Zoe Pena.

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Spatial Practice’s architects, Erik Amir and Dora Chi, with Liquid Interior’s Rowena Gonzales.

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ABOYNAMEDSUE.CO’s co-founder, Tania Reinert.

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Amazing work by Artist, Arnel Agawin.

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Architect, Dora Chi, with artists, Joao Vasco Paiva and Nadim Abbas (who will be hosting and designing the Absolut Bar for Art Basel this year.)

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Producer, Jenny Suen, with my Feng Shui sifu, Thierry Chow and artist, Peter Yuill.

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A Day With Fe’s designer, Fe Valvekens and her partner.

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Work by Tanya Villanueva.

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My pals Michelle Lai, founder and designer of MISCHA (second from left), Bite Me Magazine’s founder Katrina Tran, Jean-Phil Allegre, and Marcus Gstettner.

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My crew, DJ Angus Wong, Tina Chu, Jenny Suen, Jim Morrall, and Bernadette Acuna.

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Zoe in front of work by Norberto Roldan

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What an amazing night. And of course, it ended over amazing Cantonese food, hip hop, trance, and beers (rightly so) at our favorite… Tung Po at Java Road Cooked Food Centre.

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Cheers!

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Top To Bottom, Works By: Arnel S. Agawin “Vigital in the West (2014), Jay Yao “Skyscape (2014)”, Marija Vicente “Play Money (2014)”, Neil Arvin Javier “In Dog We Trash (2014)”, Noberto Roldan “Sacred Is The New Profane 1 Dyptych (2010)”, Pancho Villanueva “Tibayan Mo Ang Loob Mo (2014)”, Stephanie Syjuco “Cargo Cults 2 (2014”, Wawi Navarroza “Terrarium no.X (2013)”, Gel Jamlang “Fall (2014)”, Felix Bacolor “Gloat 2 (2014)”.

A special thanks for our sponsors of the night; Absolut Elyx, Perrier Jouet, and Ayala Land. More Photos of the event on My Facebook Page Here.

VISIT New Natives: An Exhibition of Philippine Contemporary Art . APR 30 - MAY 30 2014 . Lightbombs Contemporary, Unit 2B1, Evergreen Industrial Mansion, 12 Yip Fat Street, Wong Chuk Hang, Hong Kong

JJ. 

Seen&Scene: A SPRING Evening With Qiu Zhijie

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Last Saturday brought a balmy and drizzly Spring evening to Hong Kong, but at the Wong Chuk Hang Industrial District, it was all smiles and pleasant conversations as the arts community rallied around Spring Workshop’s latest artist-in-residence, Qiu Zhijie, one of the mainland’s most celebrated artist and thinkers of his generation.

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Inspired by Spring Workshops’ delightfully expansive and flexible space, Qiu began making full use of the large areas of of wall and floor for a very specific mapping exercise which only can be accomplished in such a site.

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The neutralness of the walls and the beige floors allowed Qiu to think of them as a blank canvas, a datum in which ready-made objects, “found, made, free, and confined”, can be categorized and mapped, with a help of students from all of Hong Kong’s schools and universities, namely the University of Hong Kong, City University, Baptist University, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong Arts School, HKICC/Jockey Club Ti-ICollege, Diocesan Girls’ School, Hong Kong Academy and Po Leung Kuk Laws Foundation College.

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And when we went there last Saturday… he was close to completion…

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But more was left to do. The exhibit officially starts on May 23rd.

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Also a work in progress, but in a completely different scale, is the work of Eric Shuldenfrei and Marisa Yiu of Eskyiu in the back garden area, titled, Industrial Forest

Below, Marisa sits within her work as she takes photos of me taking photos of the landscape. Behind her stands Laurent Gutierrez of map office, another celebrated mult-disciplinary architectural studio doing great work in / for the city.

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The Industrial Forest is a forest composed of metal “bamboo” rods securely placed on artificial topography. This synthetic nature comes alive, the rods swaying back and forth, with the affect of use and natural weather conditions. Imagine a typhoon!

You can find the scale model of the project in the office.

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… As well as the architectural drawings.

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So many friends and supporters were there that night to rally around the artists as well as founder, Mimi Brown's non-profit arts initiative. Also spotted were Art Basel Hong Kong's Director Asia, Magnus Renfrew (Check out our interview with him last year), art patron and writer Alex Seno, restauranteur and creative Alan Lo, art muse Xue Tan, Art Basel Hong Kong’s VIP coordinator Deborah Erlich, creative consultant Louise Wong, write and curator Christina Li, artist/educator Leung Chi Wo, and my pals Katrina, Jason S, Jason R, and Susan.

Dinner was served on the beautiful lawn and deck area outside.

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There’s a map on the table…

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Balls on the floor can be kicked around to create new word structures, concepts, ideas… the purpose of which to create a more dynamic version of mapping which involves the user and the space, via the propositions of the artist.

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Can’t wait to see more from Spring Workshop? Go take a look for yourself. The doors are now open.

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VISIT Qiu Zhijie and Eskiyiu’s Industrial Forest @ Spring Workshop, 3F Remix Centre, 42 Wong Chuk Hang Road, Aberdeen, HK

JJ.

Light My Fire

Maybe it’s because i’ve just been too busy, or maybe it’s just that i’m so in love with my new neighborhood, Tai Hang, and just wanted to spend more time at “home”, but in this the seventh year of living in Hong Kong, i’ve for once decided to make a “staycation” of the four day celebration that was the annual 2012 Mid-Autumn and Chinese National Day festivities which was just last weekend. And I’m REALLY glad I made this decision to stay in town.

In the last few years all I’ve ever wanted to do was leave the city, never realizing that year after year, i’ve missed out on the amazing celebrations and general bonvivant attitude in the air as the whether gets a bit cooler and everyone prepares to celebrate viewing lanterns and fire-dances in Victoria Park and surrounding neighborhoods.

To those foreign to Chinese Culture, Mid-Autumn is a fall harvest celebration which falls on the 15th day of the 8th month of the Chinese Calendar, which in our calendar is around September and October. All four days that Hong Kong is on holiday is usually marked by clear weather, blue skies, and a full moon, and everyone is out and about visiting family and friends and going shopping. Its literally, the Chinese version of a Long Thanksgiving Weekend.

Last year’s giant bamboo lantern was fish a designed by William Lim of CL3, this year however, a design competition made winners out of young architects, Kristof Crolla and Adam Fingrut, whose Golden Moon concept wowed judges, and of course visitors, including myself, last weekend. As the Wall Street Journal reports, the overall lantern stood at about 18 meters hight and 21 meters wide, and supported lightly by a steel dome, with a layer of bamboo and material giving shape and skin to the “moon” which looks a bit like a fruit as well. Parametric design methods were used to create such a unique shape which to the architects made “the visitor feel as they stumbled into a different world”.

I loved it. I felt the design was magnificent, straight forward, and the execution as good as could be for a temporary structure made of bamboo, floating on water, and constructed in 11 days.

As an additional treat, my new neighborhood played host to the 113th Annual 3-Day Tai Hang Fire Dragon Dance, which according to Wikipedia began the year 1880 when Tai Hang was only a little Hakka Fishing Village. The only years when the dance didn’t happen was during Japanese occupation, but generally residents performed the dance of a 67meter long dragon made up of incense sticks the same way since its inception.

The sounds of beating drums would usher the arrival of playful dragon which performed for visitors and audience in and around Tai Hang’s streets for three nights.

The first evening was the most wonderful. All of Tai Hang’s residents really celebrated on every street corner with a full banquet complete with roast pigs. Some residents even paraded their own lanterns with their children.

On the first night of the fire dance, Arthur, fashion editor at Time Out Hong Kong, and Asia Art Archive’s Natasha came to check out the dragon with me.

On the second night, our party increased to a whole crew! L-R, Katrina from Disney, Ron of RONWANDesign, Jade from Cotton On, Myself, and David.

With Jason busy taking photographs of the whole scene… his first 2012 Mid Autumn.

Everyone had a giant dog to show off.

Lab Made, Liquid Nitrogen Ice Cream was the dessert of choice to have that weekend. Most importantly the traditional Moon Cake Flavaour and Purple Rice Flavour, mixed and made on the spot as you order.

Wish me luck, fish.

ARCHITECTURE Laboratory for Explorative Architecture & Design / EAT Lab Made Liquid Nitrogen Ice Cream 

I’d also like to take a moment to give my condolences to the 39 victims and their families of the Ferry Tragedy on Monday night  on the 3rd day of the long 4 day weekend. The cause of the accident was a collision of boats, which happened moments before the Fireworks celebrating National Day on Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbour. Read this poignant article  for TIME, reflecting on the disaster by fellow Hong Konger, Liam Fitzpatrick.

JJ.