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Revealing The Fringes Of Paris: Benoît Fougeirol’s Award Winning Book Zus

Special To Topanga Journal

The photographer of the award winning book Zus is Benoît Fougeirol. He is based in and around Paris. Zus was published by X Artists’ Books. The publishing company is a collaboration between actor and writer Keanu Reeves, Los Angeles-based artist and writer Alexandra Grant, designer Jessica Fleischmann and editor Florence Grant. X Artists’ Books is an independent publisher, versus a self publisher, or vanity press. The books coming out of this little press are of value and on engaging subjects.

Kriss Perras headshot by Alan Weissman

By Kriss Perras

Zus documents, via a sociological photographic essay, sensitive suburban zones, or ZUS, a French acronym for Les Zone urbaine sensible. These forgotten pockets are located on the peripheries of the major metropolis of Paris, France. The ZUS are documented on the book’s cover by what appear to be mere confetti dots. These fringe districts were defined by administrative boundaries brought about by the “emergence of a social problem,” reports X Artists’ Books.

Fougeirol’s. “realistic approach allowed the viewer to explore these territories…through his photographs without a judgmental, hierarchical or authoritarian point of view.”   ADAGP Jury

With the help of security, Fougeirol photographed these marginalized areas sometimes in wide aerial shots showing what appear to be successful housing zones and in other shots close details depicting the decay and frailty of the projects’ failures. The honest and shocking photos are of walled in housing units that seem to be of buildings that were previously architecturally beautiful. Once beyond the walls, we see doors with faded paint that appear permanently jarred open. Tastefully designed staircases are fenced in with wired gates. In another disconcerting visual, the ZUS are laid out like war zone maps inside the book. The photos portray an innate sadness, a sense society is tearing a certain segment of people apart from the main group and setting them into a fringe society. Zus is a photojournalistic investigation into these areas that makes the viewer wince, if you care at all about people.

According to writer and professor Jean-Christophe Bailly, whose essay accompanies Fougeirol’s images: “We [were] not expecting so much immobility, or such ruins. Strangely, and as if by a flourish of tragic irony, this emptiness of space brings to mind the Ideal City in Urbino. There, too, the anonymous painter omitted all human figures. But where the imaginary scene from the Quattrocento was offered as the theatre of an existence yet to come, the images of the real city, the images of the ZUS, come across as decaying segments of a bygone existence: ‘people lived here.'”

Zus was nominated for the 2018 Les Prix du Livre at Arles. Zus recently won the Third Edition of the 2018 ADAGP Revelation Artists Book Award. This was part of MAD (Multiple Art Days), France’s national association of graphic and fine artists (Société des Auteurs dans les Arts graphiques et plastiques). June marked the month where 20 artists’ books were selected for consideration for the ADAGP Revelation Artists’ Book Award, which would also be exhibited during the fair. It was announced September 13 that Fougeirol had won the ADAGP Revelation Artists Book Award. 

The ADAGP jury stated Zus had, “renewed the approach to how the [Parisian] banlieues are represented.” The jury also stated Fougeirol’s. “realistic approach allowed the viewer to explore these territories…through his photographs without a judgmental, hierarchical or authoritarian point of view. The open configuration of the edition itself is free to be explored and leads to a sense of discovery of places so radically determined by their architecture they are almost impossible to access in real life. (Zus) is an edition to read, to leaf through, to unfold, to display, in short, to discover even while it captures the volatility of the ZUS.” 

The limited edition of Zus is in the collections of the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Bibliothèque Kandinsky, Centre Georges Pompidou and the Bibliothèque d’Art et d’Archéologie, Genève. The limited edition sold for $900 each, and as of the writing of this article is sold out. 

The paperback edition of Zus is 9 ½ × 12 inches and 375 pages. It can be purchased from X Artist’ Books for $60.


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Topanga Canyon Gallery: Earth And Sky

Special To Topanga Journal

Perhaps there is nothing more feminist than the Earth. It is both dark and light, the sun always chasing the moon, the light inches ahead of the dark, the sky in equipoise between the earth below and the universe above, yin and yang continually in balance. Topanga Canyon Gallery will present in September four Topanga artists that represent these feminist qualities of our world in an exhibition they have titled Earth and Sky. The four artists are Donna Geist Buch, Jonna Gill, Connie Cambardella and Moises Mendoza. 

Kriss Perras headshot by Alan Weissman

By Kriss Perras

Geist Buch is an artist and musician and assemblage artist. She creates mixed media works that balance between abstraction and representation. She’s a self taught artist but also studied at Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles. 

For this series, Buch Geist says her paintings are, “acrylic, mixed media which includes texture mediums, different types of water based paints,  some have inks, charcoal pencil, pastels or an undercoating of leafing — gold or silver. This body of work is painted on canvas or wood panels. My assemblages are also mixed media: paint, paper, texture mediums, found objects, including man made objects, as well as natural occurring elements.”

“I find that there is nothing more beautiful and inspiring than nature, even in its most harsh of times. It has expression just like humans do.” Donna Geist Buch

The title of the exhibition being Earth And Sky, Geist Buch’s paintings are earthy delights. The eye catches abstracted forms of nature and semi-representations of trees or rocks, water and sky. Geist Buch says she finds inspiration for this series in balance between the abstract and representation.

“The earth and the sky are tangible references in time and I wanted to capture that. I find that there is nothing more beautiful and inspiring than nature, even in its most harsh of times. It has expression just like humans do. I wanted to capture that expression by utilizing the dramatic differences of night and day, playing with the dramatic effects of light effecting the earth and sky. My Assemblages were inspired by earth elements, as well as my imagination to create a sculptural formation.” 

Gill is a mixed media artist, photographer and metal smith who started her professional career in New York City. She studied several disciplines in Parsons School of Design, The Fashion Institute of Technology and The Art Students League Of New York. She blurs the lines of preconceived reality, challenging one to cinder the existence of what was not perceivable prior. With her jewelry work she mixes the earth’s elements to bring healing energy and joy.

When asked how does the emotional impact of wearing a piece of jewelry connect a person to the earth and sky, Gill said, “The basic components of jewelry come from the earth in the form of metals and gemstones. Working with jewelry for as long as I have, I’ve found gemstones and minerals from the earth to be magical. One may purchase a piece of jewelry because they are attracted to it aesthetically or emotionally; however, I think the wearing of a piece of jewelry comprised of metals and stones connects you to the earth, if only on a subconscious level. Starting out in the field of jewelry making, I was attracted to stones mainly for their beauty, color, feel, and texture. In the process of continually handling them, I became quite attracted to the metaphysical properties of the stones and have become quite sensitive to the vibration that each stone emits. Gemstones can positively affect your health, your mood, in a very real and tactile way and metals can amplify these properties. The emotional impact of wearing jewelry connects a person to the earth because the elements are a gift from Gaia, generated from primal source; the same source energy that flows through us.”

Getting a little more personal with this artist, we asked how did this project connect her to the earth and sky?

“This project made me concentrate more deeply on the earth, sky, the living, breathing home to humanity. According to scientists, the earth has been around for approximately 4.5 billion years, and we have managed to practically destroy it over the last 100 years alone. Through industrialization, coupled with I suspect immense greed, we have brought our home to the place where it is today: polluted water, dying species, declining air quality, worldwide temperatures so hot that people have been dying from the rising heat levels. I believe that Industrialization is not evil in and of itself, but forward strides must always be taken with consideration and responsibility to that which is precious, that which sustains us. The sky, (air), the earth, should be considered first and foremost today. Sadly, regulations and policies have been put into place in the recent past to protect the earth, which are currently being stripped away. One must start the day with gratitude for what one has, and carry that gratitude throughout the day and throughout one’s life. With that being said, I believe we should be thankful for the gift of earth, that which nourishes and sustains us and our priorities must hastily be put into place to protect her. My 2D work which will be exhibited at the Earth And Sky show as well, include a few illustrations in charcoal and pastel of a race of mystical beings that I have been told live in the Sun. Allegedly, they watch us through the sun and send us love in hopes that we will collectively realize that which is truly of utmost importance and act accordingly. They also hope that we will realize once again, where the source of our existence lies and that which is our true reason for being.” 

Cambardella is a photographer that connects the daily rhythms of life, nature, music and lifestyle. Her images transcend into feeling every beat, movement and splendor of beauty around us. 

When asked how her images help the viewer experience the earth and sky, Cambardella said, “They will transcend you into nature and expose the splendor of beauty that surrounds us, which is often overlooked. My wish is for the pictures to evoke emotion and awaken your senses to be one with nature. Hopefully in that moment, take your breathe away, fill your heart with peace, and connect you to exploring these wonders of our world.”

Deciding subject matter can be difficult sometimes. Cambardella has images from the local area return us to the beauty of our community. When asked how she decides what to photograph, she said, “With relevance to seasons, emotions, and the daily rhythms of life. I truly dig deep to what inspires me from within at that given time in my life. There’s usually a very fine line to what you see and how I feel inside my heart.”

Mendoza is a mixed media collage artists exploring the possibilities of surfaces and textures in still life and landscape imagery. Landscape is his primary inspiration, yet he uses form and shape cutting and remixing them into stylized abstracts. 

When asked if he thought his images contained ideas of climate change, Mendoza said, “When painting landscapes, as I am for this show, ideas of climate change are pretty inescapable. Especially as a California native, seeing the effects first hand around me with droughts and fires becoming the new normal, it tends to infiltrate most aspects of life, including my art. My work is non-political, I don’t tend to have messages or a narrative embedded in them. Instead I try to achieve a specific feeling, hopefully capturing the idyllic settings around us while they last. In the back of my mind I know these places may someday be unrecognizable, so for the time being I want to remember them in my own way.”

Mendoza’s work is unique and captures many aspects of California landscapes. When asked what techniques he brings to his work that enables him to open himself to his art, he said, “My work has a pretty specific technique to get it to look the way it does. A mix of graphic shapes and collage that I stumbled upon in my time in art school. I like to think it’s bold and a little loud, something that hopefully draws the eye from across the room. My personality is quite the opposite of those things. I am reserved and even timid around crowds of people, but with my art I can much more easily express myself and have it be an outlet for my inner extrovert. I’m one of those artists who would rather have the work itself speak on my behalf. Not out of apathy but rather a necessity, because I don’t feel I can adequately put into words the emotions and reasoning behind the work.”

Earth And Sky will be on exhibition September 5 through September 30. Please join the artists at their reception September 8th from 5:00 to 8:00 pm at Topanga Canyon Gallery, located at 120 N. Topanga Canyon Blvd. , Topanga, CA 90290.  


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Topanga Mercantile: A Love Story

Special To Topanga Journal

The following is a love story. When she first saw him, Dinah Englund fell in love with Tom Vogel. He was a candlemaker, and of the opposite political party. He grew up with structure, she in a boundary free environment. He was born on the East Coast, she on the West. Vogel is a hard facts kind of guy. Englund, the daughter of Cloris Leachman, believes in the universe. Somehow these two are soulmates. The one thing they have in common is an incredible attention to detail in the creation they make together and in the journey on their love story.

Kriss Perras headshot by Alan Weissman

By Kriss Perras

“I knew I had to find a way to hook him,” Englund said. “I knew it had to be with candles. It took me a year and a half to figure it out. Then I finally came up with this idea. What if we made candles in vintage containers? He thought that was a good idea. That’s were the whole thing started.”

” What if we made candles in vintage containers? He thought that was a good idea. That’s were the whole thing started.” Dinah Englund

Englund recounted how the pair built their business from her kitchen where it grew into a tiny 10 by 12 shed in the back of their place in Topanga when they moved in together. Vogel fixed the shed up into a candle shop so they could work out of it. 

“When we had large orders we’d have the table out in the backyard, so we could put the inventory there while I was making candles inside the shed,” said Vogel while the romance of their first days there was in both their eyes as they laughed. 

“We decided we needed to go somewhere else. We wanted to be here on the boulevard, but we couldn’t,” said Englund. “It just wasn’t happening. No matter how I tried. Then we ended up in a beautiful place. It used to be Ribbit Nursery. Then it became Old Canyon Ranch. There was this beautiful building someone had put there that looked like a glass house. But it was in the middle of nowhere.”

Englund recounted how they shut that place down, and they ended up in someone’s garage. That’s where Vogel renovated a two car garage into another candle studio. That worked out well for awhile. Englund kept trying to get their candle shop on Topanga Canyon Boulevard without success. Finally the middle space on the ground floor across from the General Store opened up. 

“I kept thinking I don’t want to be in the ghetto. I don’t want to be down here. I want to be up there,” said Englund pointing across the boulevard. “I started waking up at night saying oh my god. I see the whole thing. As you know this whole center, people kept trying to make it happen, but it just took us pouring in a lot of our own money, and we kept throwing festivals and not taking no for an answer until it became a really pretty place.”

The couple broke through a wall in their shop and are building a candle bar in the space next to theirs. Customers can come and create their own candles with scents and be creative or zenful and bring that energy home with them. The shop has been completely renovated. It is bright, airy and full of every kind of candle to suit whatever need. 

“It was much more of a movement than just having a shop,” said England. “I think it is the most beautiful commercial real estate in Topanga. Tom makes all the candles here.  We’re pushing the whole bar back. It is going to be a candle bar where you can come and make your own, put your fragrance in, choose what you like and have a master teach you. We can book events there. We’ll have Topanga Mercantile there which is a lot of beautiful local artists. I like to curate beautiful things.”

The candle bar can be for an individual, or an event like a birthday party where you can rent out the whole place. Participants can make candles and drink wine, or tea and coffee, during festivities. Also along the way the couple have been throwing candle making classes. Vogel has taught Shimon, who is the Justin Bieber of Japan, how to make candles.

Prior to this version of Topanga Mercantile, there was a previous Topanga Mercantile in the history of Topanga. Englund tells us of its past. 

“Where Coast and Canyon is now is where Heyoka Hideout was. Then it was Dust and Fog. Now it’s going to be changed over to something else. That was the original Topanga Mercantile,” said Englund. “ We didn’t know that until a woman came in one day with a postcard of the original Topanga Mercantile.”

The original Topanga Mercantile was a store that sold a little bit of everything. The washed out picture on the postcard showed a couple of chairs, a couch, lamp, sconce, rug and plates, as though they were selling a little bit of everything, said Vogel. That version of Topanga Mercantile existed in the 1970s. 

“Saturdays and Sundays we always have teas, tonics and live bands,” Englund said.

“Colin Hay, the lead singer from Men At Work, came down and sang with this famous Latino band that was here. The place went crazy,” said Vogel. 

“Topanga is going through another sort of Renaissance,” said Englund. “We hit here on the ground floor.”

“I’d like to emphasize prior to what we’ve done here, this place was a disaster. It was ugly,” said Vogel. “There were homeless encampments. So nobody came here. Dinah saw there was potential. She had the balls enough to say OK, we’re going to move in here. We’re going to slowly start putting in our own money and time. Everything you see here that’s not brick or mortar, has been done by Dinah and I with our money to beautify it. We love Topanga as a community.”

After the conversation had progressed for some time, the topic of feminism came up. When asked if she was a feminist, Englund first asked what is a feminist? So a basic definition of feminist was given: women should have equal opportunity as men in the workplace, in the arts and under the law. 

“I don’t even know why we are still having this conversation,” said Englund. “Everybody should be treated equally. That’s all there is to it. You can call yourself whatever you want, but at the end of the day everybody should be treated the way everyone wants to be treated, fairly. I don’t know that a label-”

“Unfortunately that’s not happening. That’s why there’s discussion and movements,” said Vogel.

“I hope the people who have the energy to make that happen can. I don’t live in that world. I choose not to. I’d rather create my own existence. That way I don’t have to answer to or be told what to do. I don’t like being told what to do, probably because I have so many brothers,” said Englund. 

Of all the interviews for this issue, it was a light in much darkness that England hadn’t really experienced that much discrimination in her lifetime. She had chosen to create a world for herself that didn’t include labels or the influence of those who chose to hold her back. Even reaching far back in her story, she is a free spirit. It’ll be a good day for women when there are more stories like hers.


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Kazuhiro Tsuji, David Malinowski and Lucy Sibbick Best Oscar For Transforming Gary Oldman Into Winston Churchill

Kazuhiro Tsuji and Gary Oldman On The Set Of The Darkest Hour

by Editor Kriss Perras


Kazuhiro Tsuji was working as a contemporary hyperrealist sculptor after a long and decorated career in Hollywood as a special effects make-up artist, when he decided to become involved in the Oscar nominated film the Darkest Hour. Coming out of retirement from the film industry was a good decision for Oscar Winner Tsuji. It has yielded several awards nominations and wins for his beautiful work with also Oscar Winner Gary Oldman on the same film. Tsuji won this year in the category for Best Achievement in Makeup and Hairstyling for turning Oldman into a very credible Winston Churchill.

Backstage tonight after his Oscar win, Tsuji said, “The timing was really important, because I left the film industry and Gary asked me to design this. Really everything came together with great timing. I met David Malinowski and Lucy Sibbick. They are really special. I never worked with such talent before.”

The point they felt they had pulled it all off was the final test day, Malinowski said, whom Tsuji shares the Oscar win with, along with Sibbick.

Tsuji is the man who brought us the special effects make-up for films such as The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button (2008), TRON: Legacy (2010), Total Recall (2012), and character designs for Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes (2011). Malibu Arts Journal conducted a Q&A with Tsuji. In this interview we discover just how Tsuji made the incredible transformation from Oldman to Churchill.


Kazuhiro Tsuji Q&A

MAJ: How did you make Gary Oldman look like Winston Churchill?

TSJUI: I took a lifecast of Gary and 3D body scan and a lot of photos. Then I sculpted a likeness make-up on the lifecast to create facial appliances to apply to make him look like Winston Churchill. We also made a body suit and wig. I studied Winston Churchill’s photos while I designed those elements. Facial appliances were applied on him every filming day by David Malinowski and Lucy Sibbick.

MAJ: How difficult is it to make a likeness of a famous person like Churchill?

TSUJI: It was very difficult since Gary does not look like Churchill at all. Facial proportions were very different. So I needed to adapt Churchill’s facial distinction and features to Gary’s face without overdoing the sculpture. It was important not to overdo it. If I did so, it would make him look like he was wearing a mask. Gary should be able to act through the make-up. We made the appliances extremely soft.

MAJ: How many prosthetics did you have to create for Oldman to make the Churchill likeness?

TSUJI: The prosthetic appliance consisted of a nose, chin, a pair of cheeks, the neck and shoulder, a body suit and wig. Each of the pieces were molded then cast over 60 pairs since once it was used, it could not be reused.

MAJ: At what point in the production process did you become involved in The Darkest Hour?

TSUJI: I was involved from the beginning since it was very important to make Gary have the same likeness as Churchill before the production started.



The Darkest Hour


An App Let’s You Protest Using Your Wallet

Special To Topanga Journal

Buycott App
Buycott App

Most Progressives look for ways to boycott the Koch Brothers’ products. If one is serious about it, this amounts to a Google search every time you want to buy something to see if it is indeed a Koch product. This may or may not yield the answer one is looking for and can consume a large amount of time. Well, now there’s an app designed specifically to tell you just that, and then some. It’s called Buycott. It allows to you to purchase products aligned with your values.

Buycott was created by Los Angeles developer Ivan Pardo. It gives users a way to discover what corporations make the products they are purchasing. If the purchaser disagrees with that corporation’s values, they can choose not to purchase that product.

There are many campaigns in the app, not just the one against the Koch Brothers. Would you like to ensure you buy foods that are Non-GMO? There’s a campaign in the app for that. There’s a no palm oil campaign. There’s an end animal testing campaign. There’s a Say No To Monsanto campaign. Buycott is crowd sourced and is available in 192 countries. That leaves many campaigns available to choose from. All of these add up to ways to purchase goods according to the way you think.

Here’s how it works. Download the Buycott app. Click on a campaign you agree with to join that campaign. For instance, Boycott Koch Industries. Now scan a product you want to purchase. The app will tell you if that product is made by the Koch Brothers. The same is true for all the other campaigns, if it is a GMO product, if that product used animal testing or if it is a Monsanto product.

The app also gives the user two lists, companies to support and companies to avoid. The app will tell you the companies that do things you are likely to agree with. If you join the buy chocolate that does not use child slavery campaign, it will not only scan the code to tell you if that product uses child slavery to make their chocolate, it will also give you a list of products that do not use child slavery to make their chocolate.

If you’re searching for a way to use your wallet to protest, Buycott certainly provides that opportunity.

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