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© Makoto Yamawaki

First published in Scout London in May 2012.

At times, art can feel a little intimidating – especially for those without formal art education. The prospect of doing one’s homework before attending the latest must-see exhibition can be somewhat off-putting.

But the new exhibition at the Barbican, Bauhaus: Art As Life, will look at the history and innovation behind one of modern art’s biggest cultural movements in a way which goes beyond displaying the work.

The exhibition – the largest of its kind for 40 years – is a celebration of the diversity behind the 14-year life span of Bauhaus, with photography, sculptures, theatre and installations. Curator, Catherine Ince says that this multi-disciplinary aspect was what made Bauhaus so popular.

“What we tried to do with this exhibition was rather than paint a picture of the Bauhaus, we looked at the art school, what they made; what they worked on, the parties they had, the lifestyle, the relationships forged,” she tells Scout London.

“We weaved all the different things such as ceramics, furniture, photography and stagework together, because at the time, Bauhaus was a lifestyle.”

Staatliches Bauhaus was an art school in Germany, known for its marriage of fine art- and craft-work. After the German monarchy collapsed following the First World War, a new wave of expressionism grew from that which had formerly been suppressed. Young creatives, embracing radical aesthetics and new, exciting designs, rose to the forefront of architecture and art.

“People returned to appreciating art as a craft,” Ince explains. “And they appreciated the skill in the art.”

The exhibition will offer a unique insight into the Bauhaus lifestyle. Kite flying, for example, was incredibly popular and will be offered to Barbican visitors. There will also be costume parties, in recognition of the movement’s renown for flair and decadence.

“They were incredibly flamboyant,” says Ince. “But also thrifty; people would make a costume entirely out of plates and frying pans.

“We’re holding a costume workshop as part of the exhibit and Fred Butler, one of Lady Gaga’s designers, will be attending. It’s going to be really exciting.”

Bauhaus: Art As Life looks set to be an incredibly multi-dimensional exhibition; if you’re interested in discussions and talks, there are plenty on offer, with Peter Fischli offering an exciting insight into  his childhood with his father, Hans – a trained Bauhaus artist.

The movement’s cultural impact on London can be seen in a number of spots around London.. Notably, the Isokon Building on Lawn Road, Hampstead, which was built between 1933 and 1943 and is now considered one of the most architecturally significant buildings in the UK thanks to its Grade I Listed status. Premier crime novelist, Agatha Christie lived there during the 40s, apparently.

If you’d rather get out and see examples of the movement for yourself, the Social Housing and Bauhaus walk lets you see buildings inspired by Bauhaus throughout the city, specifically Golden Lane, Spa Green and the Finsbury Estates.

“I suppose it was the first modern artform,” says Ince. “They tried to unleash the individual’s creativity, and as constructivism gained ground, that started becoming more influential, too. Art aligned with industry, and in terms of creative education, Bauhaus was fundamental. People would go on to specialise their craft after learning about it.

“You could see it around you, you realise it’s influenced things around us like schools, buildings and furniture. It’s going to be a really exciting exhibit.”

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This interview originally appeared in The Fly a few weeks ago. I think I conducted the interview during the really hot friday on that nice weekend, so it was probably published eight days after that. You’re welcome.

Hello, Ana Matronic.
Hey! How are you?

OK! How good are you at DIY?
I’m pretty good! I can change a lightbulb and rewire a lamp. I’d say I have a rudimentary knowledge of DIY. Apart from Scissor Sisters I’m in a light show called The Joshua Light Show. When you’re in the light show “business” you need a lot of knowledge, I work on a giant overhead projector. But DIY is simple enough. Righty tight, lefty loosy, you know. It’s a pretty good mantra for life.

Great advice. Your latest single is called ‘Only The Horses’. How much do the Scissor Sisters love horses? 
Well actually Jake [Shears’] Mom and Dad breed racehorses back home, and my mother and her husband Ron own a horse. They did have two, but one died. I don’t ride horses myself, but I would love to.

But why ‘Only The Horses’? Why not ‘Only The Cats?’
I find horses fascinating and scary at the same time. They’re sentient beings, very powerful. And they have massive mouths and strong back legs. I’m with you on cats, though. I like cats. I think I’ll end up being a crazy cat lady when I’m older.

How much do you love the UK?
Oh I really love the UK! The thing I love is the culture. We’re doing loads of publicity for the new album, but when I get some free time I’ll be visiting loads of museums and exhibitions. I’d like to go to the Science Museum, there’s this great exhibit about alchemy. I’ll be visiting the tate, too.

Do you have a favourite part of London?
Well I like going to Portobello Market, seeing all the vintage stalls and stuff in Covent Garden. I don’t know much of London but I do know Shepherd’s Bush. A friend of mine was living there and I really love it, it reminds me of Brooklyn. There’s a lot of immigrants and a real mix of people, loads of great restaurants. Shepherd’s Bush is keeping it real.

What’s the most unusual thing that’s ever happened at a Scissor Sisters gig? 
We have some amazing fans, so there’s always something unusual going on. But when we were last over in the UK we did a show at Shep Bush and we had a marriage proposal, on stage, by a man to his girlfriend. And this man happens to have the faces of all the Scissor Sisters tattooed on his back. My face is on his back. And yeah, he proposed to his girlfriend during the show. It was the least we could do, he had our likenesses on his back.

What did she say?
I loved how she responded to it. Her answer was “You can’t see tits on the radio”*, which I thought was brilliantly nebulous.

Are they always friendly fans?
Well, we have some bizarre ones too. There was a group of guerrilla drag queens who interrupted a performance in Copenhagen. They burst on the stage, and one of them was wearing a pair of trousers with a hole cut out in the crotch. We didn’t notice at first because there was a sock covering it, but it was quite a show. From the neck up, he was very Gollum-esque and he was frightening, to say the least.

Was there a ‘situation’?
I think I said something like “You’re more show than me, but this is my show. Leave please.” I don’t want to be extreme, ultimately he was very supportive of us. I’m from New York, if you get in my face I’ll tell you.

How do you find the UK’s passive/aggressive approach?
It’s different. There’s a way of being over here that’s like “Don’t rock the boat.” If you’re upset about something here you can’t be direct about it. Personally speaking, if I’m acting like a cunt, just call me a cunt.

Do you like the Queen?
I am in love with all Queens, so of course I love Miss Elizabeth too. I respect her, she is a very strong, committed person, and I think she is great. I am excited as an American can be, but I’d call myself a Royal Enthusiast. Most of the Brits that speak about the Jubilee have been talking about the traffic, and how bad the roads will be. I do enjoy the pomp and circumstance.

What else do you do when you’re not being a Scissor Sister? 
I am working on writing my first comic book, so for that I’m reading a bit about the Middle East. The comic is set in Oman in an archeological dig, so I’m studying that, and the history of Arabia. I don’t have a title yet, but the main character is a mathematician so I’ve had to read up on loads of maths stuff, all the characters are so academic. My next script will be full of salt-of-the-earth types.

Anything a bit less heavy-going?
I’ve been reading this book about colour, which is a natural history of the palette, and the lady who wrote it goes through each colour and talks about the pigments, it’s really amazing. White is all about titanium, and the make-up they used in olden times was made from titanium ground down, so it was all very toxic and cancerous. Also, purple is a very strong colour, because it’s associated with royalty, so wearing a lot of it can be intimidating.

Do you have any advice for anyone who has suffered extensive sunburn?
Okay, what you need to do is first go to Boots and invest in some really good sun screen. I’m talking at least SPF30. I should know, because I am fair with British heritage. Then go to a health food store and get some essential oils, like lavender. Stick it all over your sunburn, it will cool the stinging and lavender helps make you sleepy. It will give you nice dreams.

Finally, have you got any amazing useless trivia?
Did you know in France, their word for dusk, or magic hour, is “Entre Chien Et Loup” – it means “between the dog and the wolf”. I find that really evocative, the dogs own the day time and the wolves take ownership at night.

*‘Tits On The Radio’ is a Scissor Sisters song, so this is funny on two levels.

‘Magic Hour’ is out now on Polydor.