Creative New York-based duo Graham Tabor and Miguel Villalobos are blurring boundaries between fashion and art
Hic et Nunc is an imaginative, faux, conceptual natural history museum, filled with large cardboard and resin sculptures based on skeletons of real, endangered and extinct animals, plus drawings and photographs, plus a limited edition book. It’s the current ongoing artistic project of a multi-talented duo, Graham Tabor and Miguel Villalobos.
Above: Top and lower left - Images from Hic et Nunc. Middle - Miguel and Graham in Brook Andrew ‘The Cell’ at PICA, Western Australia. Lower right - Graham Tabor and Miguel Villalobos
Together they create the 1-100 range of edgy, sexy, beautifully and painstakingly handcrafted limited edition jewellery and “Piece Unique”, unique, one off pieces, just seven or eight each season, to complement each collection. The Piece Unique are made out of silver, occasionally gold, using lost wax casting. They incorporate horsehair, customised leather cording – they are like mini pieces of wearable sculpture.
Above: 1-100 range of limited edition jewellery and “Piece Unique”
With Hic et Nunc, first shown at Ed Brachfield Gallery in Paris, Tabor and Villalobos move into the realm of collectable art. In August 2011, the exhibition travelled to Australia to launch a new gallery venture in Perth, Portal&Zekka (brainchild of Romina Gil de Matos and Conor Youngs, owners of the fashion-forward Zekka boutiques) where it nearly sold out. All the sculptures went except for the enormous Whale. (The Museum of Natural History in New York is apparently interested in offering it a home).
Miguel Villalobos and Graham Tabor are partners in life as well as work. They are enthusiasts, endlessly curious, and seem to endear themselves to just about everyone who meets them, including me. On visiting Sydney for just a few days, Miguel went back to the Aquarium a second time in order to see the platypus. In Perth, they had a photo taken in Brook Andrew’s installation at PICA. They have a lovely lightness about them; yet speak earnestly and thoughtfully about their practice.
An important inspiration for Hic et Nunc was a visit to the Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle in Paris. Tabor explains. “There is this whole room of taxidermy animals that are extinct – we were really interested in that, this whole notion of life, these species disappearing in recent human memory. There are so many animals that are disappearing – the only way we are going to remember these things is through a distortion of what they were.” As they found themselves making their interpretive skeleton sculptures based on the natural world, they preserved their creations with layers and layers of resin – a very manmade, industrial product. “It was a bizarre contradiction that we found ourselves in,” says Villalobos.
The next stage is the book – launched in Paris next week. “The book came out of similar research to the sculpture,” says Tabor. There were a number of different elements that contributed to the genesis of both sculpture and photographs: a trip to Romania and the salt mines in Transylvania plus the geology museum in Bucharest; the visit to the Muséum in Paris – particularly the Palaeontology galleries (filled with reconstructed skeletons as well as taxidermy, it was a humbling experience looking at a semblance of a creature that no longer exists); and moments in the studio and reactions to the process. In one of the oldest and biggest salt mines in Transylvania they discovered a huge amusement park. “We just realised that in Europe there are a lot of mines like that – a lot of them have chapels inside as well.” Villalobos adds, “Then we took the sculpture to Coney Island and took surreal photographs of it … Coney Island is also soon to disappear …” he comments.
The book circles around ideas of human-made and natural landscapes: how these intersect (and echo each other); the desire to preserve in conflict with the (inevitable) process of destruction. It’s a beautifully produced monograph, a collector’s item, photographed using film (emphasising the artisan and handmade). A special edition of 50 comes in a clamshell box and includes an original silver gelatine print (in 2 editions of 25 each). The regular edition is limited to 450 copies.
Above: Hic et Nunc, published by Zekka
Hic et Nunc is published by Zekka and will available from select boutiques and galleries worldwide (Zekka in Perth, Colette in Paris, Patron of the New in New York and others) as is the 1-100 Collection. Please see www.one-onehundred.com for more details or contact Zekka on www.zekka.com
Graham Tabor and Miguel Villalobos appear regularly on Diane Pernet’s fabulous blog, A Shaded View on Fashion. They’ve handcrafted the awards for ASVOFF 4, an annual film festival that kicks off on 7th October during fashion week at the Centre Pompidou in Paris. (A story in itself – watch this space.) Meanwhile, take a look! http://www.ashadedviewonfashionfilm.com.
- Susie Burge, all rights reserved. Photo images courtesy of the artists.