Mr. Struggan sends his regards.

The Mr. Struggan Foundation's February Loan

Wilson and Nico here. It is our pleasure to announce the recipient of The Mr. Struggan Foundation’s February loan, powered by Kiva.org

Each month, Mr. Struggan will be pledging a $25 loan to a borrower on Kiva’s website, which helps connect loan applicants from around the world with people who are willing and able to provide them with the funding they need. These microloans can go a long way towards helping people, especially in parts of the world where typical banking infrastructures are inadequate or do not exist.

This month’s Mr. Struggan Foundation loan recipient is Sarah, a 32 year-old mother of two who works for her local town council in Uganda as a health inspector. A loan of $450 dollars will help pay for the construction of rental homes she is building.

Please consider helping Sarah out; she is only $425 dollars away from getting her loan fully funded. For lenders new to Kiva, use this invite link to sign up, and The Mr. Struggan Foundation will receive an additional $25 for our endowment. Once you sign up, you can become a Foundation Member by joining our Lending Team, where you can track the Foundation’s progress and attribute your own lending activity to the fund. After two months of progress, our endowment currently sits at $50.

Mr. Struggan sends his warm regards.

Regarding The Art of Scent: 1889-2012 at The Museum of Arts and Design

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The Art of Scent: 1889-2012
The Museum of Arts and Design, New York
Nov 20, 2012 - Mar 3, 2013

Wilson here. Mr. Struggan has, for several years, maintained a boycott against the Museum of Arts and Design in Manhattan. A member of their staff, who shall remain nameless, displayed a great amount of rudeness the last time Mr. Struggan was in touch with their institution, and their typically uninteresting exhibition program hasn’t motivated him to return since. Hearing about their current exhibition, The Art of Scent, held Mr. Struggan’s curiosity enough, however, to send me there this past Thursday to review the show. 

After wading through some truly strange exhibitions on the lower floors, I reached the 4th floor, where the assigned exhibition is installed. What met me in the gallery was stranger still, consistant with Mr. Struggan’s expectations. Embedded into the walls were several large indentations, with projected wall texts next to each. Accompanying these indentations, which served as smelling stations for the content of the show, was an introductory text to the exhibition projected from the ceiling onto the middle of the gallery floor. The text explained the exhibition’s aim to give historical context to the craft of scent design, starting from the dawn of the industrial revolution, which began a modern era for scent makers with the development of synthetic chemical production on a large scale, through the 20th century and up to the state of perfumery today. 

The exhibition, according to the supporting text, aims to situate the “olfactory arts” within a larger historical context alongside the history of visual arts and design. The exhibition is interesting from this historical standpoint, but the show accomplishes little else. Twelve seminal fragrances from the field of scent design are exhibited, each available to experience at one of the indented stations along the wall. Though the wall texts provided some stimulating information about the history of the perfume industry, they failed to provide a full and adequate context to the show for me to leave with a clear understanding of what I had learned. It was the kind of information that could have been just as easily been read in a book. Actually, i take that back; a book would have been far easier, not just as easy. And far more convenient, comfortable, and informative to boot. 

Beyond these shortcomings, the experience of the show uncomfortable. If the exhibition designers didn’t think it would be an awkward experience for visitors to thrust their heads into holes blatantly shaped like vaginas to have perfume vaporized at their nostrils, then they were very wrong.The show was wrought with other inconveniences as well, besides the disconcerting wall vagina vaporizers. The wall texts, for instance, were projected on the wall and faded in and out on a loop. When approaching a new station, the texts would just as often than not fade out of view before you had a chance to finish reading. This made the experience not only awkward, but also needlessly frustrating.

The exhibition also featured a side gallery with liquid samples of a range of perfumes to try, as well as a totally unexplained projection of a “live feed” of descriptions of the scents. In all likelihood a poorly conceived social media plugin to garner viewer participation. 

In short, the show lacks adequate contexts, both in its physical design and in its content. Every aspect of the exhibition was approached with all style, and little substance. Mr. Struggan, after hearing my thoughts about the show, is fairly sure he won’t be sending me back to MAD anytime soon. 

Mr. Struggan sends his Low Regards.

Regarding Warm Bodies

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Warm Bodies, 2013
Directed by Jonathan Levine

Wilson here. Mr. Struggan has a hefty dose of disdain for the type of rom-coms that roll out every year to capitalize on the emotional ups and downs of the Valentine’s Day ritual. It is for this reason that his interest was piqued by Warm Bodies, which seemed to him a very atypical early February release. He sent me to see it this week for a review ahead of the 14th to let you all know his thoughts.

Nicholas Hoult and Teresa Palmer lead the film as R and Julie, the latter a young woman and member of the human resistance against a zombie apocalypse that has overrun the planet, the former a young zombie who falls in love with Julie during a feeding frenzy in which he eats her boyfriend. Vowing to protect her from his undead cohorts, R and Julie begin to discover a bond between them despite their differences, and ultimately unlock the key to the zombie cure (spoiler alert: the cure is love). 

The story, adapted from a novel by Issac Marion, largely follows the story arc of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet; two young people (or one young person and one young zombie) from two warring factions, thrust into an improbable love despite their differences. Added to this is a clever take on the typical zombie story, giving us a humanized protagonist in the midst of an existential crisis surrounding his droll routine as a zombie and his self-contempt at his need to satisfy his hunger for human flesh. The end result is a unique genre bender that, despite an oddball premise, delivers a fun and funny film with an authentic message about love and the human experience. 

The film is not without its shortcomings, however. Hoult and Palmer carry the film with two very strong performances, but the rest of the cast is very one dimensional. This is somewhat the fault of bad pacing, where parts of the film could have used more breathing room to further develop the characters and their motivations. The film is still a very entertaining watch, especially for fans of the zombie genre, and provides breath of fresh air to the standard February fare. 

Mr. Struggan sends his High Regards.

Regarding Until the Quiet Comes by Flying Lotus

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Until the Quiet Comes, 2012
Flying Lotus

Nico here. Mr. Struggan, an avid pilot and horticulturist, unsurprisingly invited me to review Flying Lotus’ newest album, Until the Quiet Comes. Flying Lotus’ last album before this one, Cosmogramma (2010), was a cool album during a cool time.

Effective music elicits physical reactions. The 5th Dimension makes me dance. This album makes me fall asleep. No surprise, since the album’s concept relies heavily on dreams. This is not a negative criticism, I’m just saying this album is a dangerous selection for a solo road trip.

So, It’s a sleepy album. No less meaningful, though. “Sultan’s Request” has this deep repetitive riff/bass line that lulls the listener like a mantra. Not in a rocking way, but in a sleepy way, even to a point of monotony that begs attention. Interesting effect.

Furthermore, I disagree somewhat with critics who have said this album delves deeper into the jazz influences FlyLo began experimenting with on Cosmogramma. The jazz is there, but I hear a lot more hip hop rhythm on these tracks, albeit abstracted. Even thematically, this album is more hip hop-influenced. Think turntablism. Two of his collaborators, Thom Yorke and Erykah Badu, are good flavors for the songs’ drowsy soundscapes. FlyLo is an ascetic, not a baller. ”DMT Song” is more introspective trip than psychedelic roller coaster.

On Until the Quiet Comes, Flying Lotus continues to work his butt off and gets us listening in new directions. Thought-provoking music is important, but not always super-fun.

Mr. Struggan sends his High Regards.

Shout out to Plan 9 Music in Richmond, Va., where I bought this album. Helpful staff. Good selection. Be sure to make a visit if you’re ever in Carytown.

Mr. Struggan’s February Hearts Playlist

Wilson and Nico here, ushering in our second month of the New Year with Mr. Struggan’s February Hearts Playlist! We hope you enjoy this preview for the month ahead, featuring the likes of Stevie Wonder, Bruce Springsteen, Tina Turner, Dr. Dre, Rufus Wainwright, and other artists. Happy listening!

Mr. Struggan sends his regards. 

(Source: Spotify)

Regarding Darren Almond and Nayland Blake at Matthew Marks Gallery

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Darren Almond: Hemispheres and Continents
and
Nayland Blake: What Wont Wreng
Matthew Marks Gallery, New York City
Feb 2 - Apr 20, 2013

Wilson here. Mr. Struggan sent me to Chelsea last night for a a special double assignment. Matthew Marks Gallery opened two shows last night in their galleries in Chelsea, Darren Almond: Hemispheres and Continents at 522 W22nd, and Nayland Blake: What Wont Wreng at 502 W22nd. 

Darren Almond’s exhibition features 17 large format landscape photographs taken at night under the light of a full moon. Shot across all seven continents between 2002 and 2012, these long exposures are the result of a specific process, where Almond vets locations for his photos ahead of time and then returns at night to execute his planned shots. In addition to the photographs, the show features another piece, a glass sculpture designed to function as a radiometer whose moving parts rotate when exposed to light. 

The work on view was magnificent. The long moonlight exposures convey night’s quiet stillness, but the quality of the light also creates an alien setting, one we are familiar yet also unfamiliar with. The gallery’s press release notes Almond’s forgoing of technical control by working in the darkness as an important aspect of the work. Though he is unable to control the camera, Almond’s photography is by no means haphazard or accidental. On their large scale, the work has a transportive effect.  

Down the street, I was similarly pleased with Nayland Blake’s exhibition of 6 installation pieces. Blake incorporates both found objects and his own fabrications into his work, including such media as fabric, metal, paper and vinyl prints, plexiglass, denim, stuffed animals, furniture, mirrors, and more. 

Using found objects in art is often helpful when aiming for a rough or worn aesthetic. Blake doesn’t allow for this type of quality to come through in his work. Much like Almond’s photographs, Blake achieves a refined quality in these installations. His pieces are clean-cut, and where they incorporate found objects, these recycled elements attain a sense of rehabilitation. I especially liked the two floor installations, Eleventh and Buddy, Buddy, Buddy. Each of their four sides is almost its own separate installation. The 3 wall mounted pieces were also strong, but were not quite as versatile. 

Mr. Struggan sends his Highest Regards

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