The Secret Life of Dolls

When I was 12, I decided to photograph my barbie dolls having sex, driving fast, smoking, and dancing on lighted mirrors that doubled as a dance floors. Dolls were never just dolls to me, they were a way to “live through” reproductions. When I first saw this collector’s photographs, I was amazed at how well she captured a girl`s secret life with dolls. Because we were never just dressing our dolls and braiding their hair, we were making them human.

*Have you always been interested in dolls?

Not really. A lot of my collecting acquaintances were early enthusiasts and kept their dolls pristine, but I wasn’t like that. Unfortunately, I was one of those children who drew on her dolls and pulled their heads off, or so my mother tells me. I liked them, but only as much as I liked my other toys. I just wasn’t a born collector. I didn’t start collecting until I was about 15. I was always interested in reading and drawing, though. I liked avatars, myths, metaphors, and other ways of recreating the world. I think that’s where it came from.

*What was the first doll that you owned?

Probably a load of fashion dolls that my older sister kept in a shoe box on top of the wardrobe. She didn’t want me to wreck them. I was allowed supervised play with them then back they went. Or maybe all of the chubby tween dolls that I inherited from my cousins — they had hair that grew in rows which appalled me. My cousin’s parrot had chewed holes in their heels. I called them all Susan, probably after Susan in “The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe”. I didn’t like her very much. I have vivid memories of my only childhood Barbie — “Pretty Changes”. I still have her.

*Did you view your dolls as more human and less toy?

As a child, I didn’t distinguish much between people and things. For instance, the curtains in my parent’s bedroom had a personality, so toys were always going to be pretty real to me. I think most children are like that it’s just that adults often forget how that felt. Actually, I still don’t make a clear distinction between people and things… although I don’t mean that in a “my dolls come alive when I’m asleep” way. It’s not something that I can rationalize myself all the way out of and I’m not interested in trying. Anyway, if you give a thing a face and a name, I think you must be slightly psychopathic if you are capable of viewing it entirely as an object. I’m very suspicious of Barbie torture artists.

*How do you seemingly capture human like interactions with barbie dolls?

To pose dolls, you need to be aware of how the human body bends and how it differs from a doll body. One of the main mistakes I see people make when they photograph dolls is to turn the head too far to the side. Humans can only comfortably turn their heads to just in front of their shoulder. It looks unnatural to take it further than that. It’s an empathy exercise.  I think like… “How would it feel to hold myself like that?”

*Are any of your photographs replicas of people that you’ve known or observed?

There are many different reasons why people take doll photos. You could simply be showing off your collection or mimicking high fashion shoots/showing off clothes, illustrating something special and unique about a particular doll, expressing an emotion that you’re currently feeling, telling a story, trying to make the best photograph that you can, or showing something that has happened to you. I have photographed a few scenes from my life using dolls. It was a strange experience and made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. I don’t do it often.

In my doll sharing circle, people (including me) have developed a habit of choosing doll avatars to represent friends in photographs. Mostly, they are people who live far away and won’t get to meet in person. It’s a different way of integrating someone you consider to a be a friend into your life. I think it’s cute.

*Dolls cannot change facial expression so how do you capture emotion without the human element of expression?

Well, that’s a challenge isn’t it!  I love seeing how other people tackle this issue. You can do a lot with lighting, body language, camera angle, context and scene setting. Some doll head sculpts are more versatile than others.  A lot of collector/photographers opt for non-smiling or half smiling dolls because it’s easier to assign multiple emotions to them. My favourite head sculpt is Mattel’s Mona Lisa faced “Lea”. I think Lea can easily be made to look triumphant, amused, sarcastic, angry, or wistful. It just depends on how you approach the picture.

*Would you like to see more “true -to -life” dolls?

No. If I was interested in true-to-life dolls, I would be a BJD collector. Some of those things practically breathe. I am always interested in improved articulation and I like looking at realistic dolls but I don’t collect them – not at the moment, anyway. Stylised, even cartoonish dolls are a more obviously an interpretation of reality rather than a replica and they say something about the concept of beauty at the time they were made… which I find interesting. Just because a Picasso isn’t a Titian or Vermeer, doesn’t mean it’s less enjoyable to look at.

*What is your favorite childhood memory of dolls?

I have a couple. One that makes me laugh: When I was about seven, I made a bikini out of red Easter egg foil for my Pretty Changes doll. It was quite risque because I wanted to see how my mother would react. She was good about it. I remember her first saying “That’s very nice dear, but isn’t it a bit brief?”

The one I think has the most bearing on how I ended up: I remember being in a department store at twilight on a cold day, just as all the lights were coming on outside. I was standing in front of this huge display  of pink doll boxes, a tower of them three times the height of my head. It was breathtaking.

*Have you ever considered marketing your photographs as album covers or art?

Selling them? I don’t know about that. Some people fund or part-fund their collecting habit by selling a particular skill they have – making clothes, repainting doll faces in an attractive way, or re-rooting ( giving dolls new hair). Some people buy up doll stock from shops when they think a certain doll will be popular and try to sell it for profit but that is financially risky. Very, very few people make a living from their doll hobby, and there are a lot of driven and amazingly talented people out there so it’s a competitive field. I’m not a real photographer, I don’t even own a camera. I just take pictures of dolls and mess about them. If somebody approached me to do any of those things, I’d certainly consider it, but I doubt that will ever happen. Plus, you have to remember that Mattel, (the manufacturer of the dolls) have a fiercely overprotective legal department, so I’d probably get sued.

*What would you like to photograph in the future?

I’m just on the brink of getting my first doll room, which is a pretty big thing for a collector. This means that I can finally build permanent dioramas so I can take pictures of dolls in indoor scenes. This will mean that in the future, I will probably be doing more work on my “character dolls”-  dolls with backstories and relationships. I’m quite excited about that!

The blog –

Instagram – @intheplastic








Pavel Lyakhov/Black Metal Art




Decay. Infinite Black.


Landscape #3. Red Vine.


Landscape #4. Devastating the Need.










Emptiness. Arctic Sonata.


Metro People


Landscape#2. Green Ray Among Civilization Ruins.


Decert of Despair


Opposition. Crowd.


Soul Catcher

Darkness is shapeless until we give it form. It is infinite until light cuts through it like a razor and separates it from itself. Pavel Lyakhov’s art is a walk through a crowd of amorphous people. The clean smell of death in winter as sadness goes unnoticed until summer.  Pavel paints shadows with igneous hands.

What influences your work: Atmosphere, experience, or observation?

Really lots of things influences my art, I can’t emphasize something certain: atmosphere, experience or observation.

 What is your method of choice? Create everyday or create when you feel inspired or driven?

I chose painting as a basic tool for creative work. This method (painting) is dead, and it is perfect for visualization of shapes of my creativity. In my Arsenal there are tools such as videos and music. During the exhibitions they complement my paintings and installations.

I create art when I have inspiration, I can afford it.

What is your favorite subject?

My favorite art subject: Sadness; latest autumn, winter, etc.; depressive music; ruins; abandoned places, etc. – such things inspire me to create my art.

I get inspiration in my expeditions to Russian North, where I see snow-capped mountain sceneries. Survival in severe weather conditions gives me Inspiration for my art.

My artwork is my world – it is frozen, cold world. And I feel comfortable in it.

 How important is the spirituality to you and in your work?

Spirituality is very important in my work. Note that I said spirituality, not religion. I see spirituality as relating to how we answer existential questions regarding why we are here, and the relationships  with real life and internal world. I take the dark side from spirituality of things and make art from it.

 The most interesting interpretation of your work?

Pavel Lyakhov’s art is endless falling into infinity, in the darkness of despair. This is a portal to my refined vision of the world.

 Describe your art in 5 words?

The Devastation, misanthropy, destruction, glaciations, entropy.

 Has the Russian culture intentionally or unintentionally influenced your work? Are there certain subjects that you feel are off limits?

In the modern world of Russian culture does not exist. There are also no other national cultures. Our culture is now the same as yours. If in 80-ies and 90-ies of our countries had different cultures, today we are the same as you. Today, most cultures have lost their identity. It’s all mixed up. We all (Europeans, Americans, Russians, etc.) wear similar clothes, eat the same food, listen to the same music, same films…
The world is “collapsing”, and with great acceleration and madly rushes to its end.
Everything that surrounds me definitely affects my art.
I am inspired by the decadence, death and despair, the Russian people and Russian nature.
If everything that surrounds me can be called contemporary Russian culture, then I say “Yes, of course it affects my work”.

 What do you still want to paint?

I am currently working on a project “internal lack of freedom” – it concentrates all that worries me now. The project will be presented to the public in fall and winter of this year.

 What will you never paint?

Never say “never”! Today I don’t paint classic portraits. I’m not interested in realistic painting. I don’t make art to order.

 What do you love, hate, find intriguing?

I love painting and listening to the loud music, locked in my workshop. I love the look of high-quality art (now in Russia it is not so much). I Love travelling, the mud puddle Russian bog and forest roads on my mountain-bike. I don’t like to do socially useful work.  I love listening to music in the style of Black, doom metal, etc. Intriguing for me is to meet new people, travel to unfamiliar places.  – official website  – instagram  – vkontakte – facebook

Machine est mon Coeur/ Dream Machine

MEMC berlin B_72dpi

Photo by Christine Burkart

MEMC live G_72dpi

Photo by Jocelyn Trembleau

MEMC live B_72dpi

Photo By Jocelyn Trembleau

MEMC blue 4_72dpi

Bianca Calandra/Gabin Lopez: Machine est mon Coeur

DYSTOPIUM cover 72dpi RGB

Dystopium/ Machine est mon Coeur sounds like floating, drifting, then reluctantly returning to lucidity. Bianca Calandra is a haunting voice in the distance, calling you to a strange home. Gabin Lopez strips the synthetic from synth by creating a mercurial and fully textured sound with no hint of flat arcade effects. This has less to do with equipment and more to do with the artist. Dystopium, (released in February) was produced in France and mixed in Berlin. It is perfection. One song moves quietly into the next like the dream cycle of a child in waking life.

Beam of Fire –

Trainwreck –

Sweet Memories –

Hansi Oppenheimer/ Girl Trouble

squeefilm6 (1)

Victoria Gonzalez


Julie Mayers


Tea-berry Blue


The Hindi Sisters


Amber Benson


Carol Datura Riot and Jenn Wotchertonks


Carol Datura Riot, Jenn Wotchertonks, and Tea-berry Blue


Documentary Producer Hansi Oppenheimer/Troubled Girl Films

Hansi Oppenheimer is a fan first and a filmmaker second. Afterall, you have to know your audience if you want to reach them. I first heard about Hansi’s work after watching the documentary “Color Me Obsessed”… the fan film about the Replacements.  I knew right away that she probably grew up watching Penelope Spheeris’s Decline of Western Civilization and hanging onto Paul Westerberg lyrics like they were the best relationship she ever had. We were fellow fans of the Replacements and that made us kind of the same. Her new film Squee! is about that very thing. Strangers bonding hard over Star Wars or Star Trek or anything with a cult following. It’s the lunch table at school where no one fits but everyone belongs because fanning over Leonard Nimoy levels the playing field.

Ara: When did you decide to be a filmmaker?

I’ve been an artist my whole life and have worked with a lot of different media. I had done some fairly well known local graffiti in the 70’s.  By the early 80’s I was making these huge “labia flora” canvas painting-sculpture hybrids and I decided to shoot some Super 8 film to use as projections at an exhibition of my work. I guess that was when I found my medium and I just kept working with film and then video.

My early work was pretty conceptual but it was the early 80’s and the art scene was full of that kind of stuff. You know, I was friends with a lot of the artists in the Actualist Movement, Frosty Myers, Nathan Joseph, Richard Thatcher and some of the younger Abstract Expressionists that hung out at Mickey Ruskin’s place so it was a very friendly environment to make experimental works.

Ara: Why film? In particular documentaries?

So I finally went to Film School in the mid 90’s, mostly to get my hands on the equipment which was still pretty expensive at the time. I did make a few short narrative films but I ended up working as a TA for two really brilliant documentarians (Hank Linhart and Fred Barney Taylor) and it was a good fit. I hated trying to get cast & crew together for shoots and it was easier to just go out with my camera and talk to people and record an oral history. I was a Tape Librarian for many years and I guess still have that need to archive information.

Ara: Who is your favorite female filmmaker?

I love the documentary work of Beth B. & Penelope Spheeris.  There are so many women whose work I admire;  Jane Campion, Shirley Clarke, Sofia Coppola, Ida Lupino, Maya Deren, Agnes Varda. I love the new horror films by Jennifer Kent and  Ana Lily Amirpour, The Babadook and A Girl walks Home Alone At Night. I’d love to try my hand at a horror film one of these days but imagine it will end up as a documentary somehow.

Ara: What do you want people to take away from your work?

My films offer an opportunity for people to explore a subculture that they may or may not be familiar with. In the case of those who are familiar, I’d hope that they can relate and enjoy the camaraderie and in-jokes and say “yes, that’s me too” and for those who not a part of that subculture, I’d hope that they learn about a new world and discover the people are as fascinating and wonderful as I do when I’m making the films. Truthfully, I make the films for myself, because I enjoy making them. I hope other people enjoy them but even if they didn’t, i’d continue making them because it’s so much fun talking to all these amazingly awesome people about the things they love. I just have a deep need to document their stories

Ara: I think it’s  interesting to see the early influences in an artist’s life. Take us back to 1985. Describe yourself and your life in 1985. What was playing in your walkman? What were you watching on television and in film?

In 1985 I an artist living in Williamsburg, which was a really funky dangerous (and much cooler) place back then. My daughter was 6 and she used to roller skate in the loft, which was mostly an unfinished work space.

I was making art, working as an artists model and art archivist’s assistant. It was pretty cool, we did the archival work in the loft so there were often Jim Dine’s or Julian Schnabel’s or other beautiful  pieces spread out in the work space.

Musically, I mostly remember listening to a lot of 1930’s Jazz, California Punk bands like Flipper, Black Flag, Dead Kennedys, Minutemen and all the older NYC stuff I grew up with like Johnny Thunders and The Ramones, Television and Talking Heads.

I don’t remember what I was watching on TV except for Uncle Floyd  but I remember enjoying the films of Jim Jarmusch, Scott & Beth B, Nick Zedd, Vivienne Dick, Amos Poe, Eric Mitchell and Richard Kern. That was sort of the end of the No Wave scene around that time.

Ara: What is Squee!? Why did you decide to do a documentary about Fangirls?

Squee is the sound a Fangirl makes when excited. “Squee”, the film that we’re just completing now is a documentary that explores the experiences of Fangirls and how they interact with Pop Culture. They don’t just consume media, they take it apart and recreate it in fanfic, vidding, cosplay etc. It’s totally punk and subversive, they have seized the means of production and are creating the stories that they want to read. It’s beautiful!

As a lifelong Fangirl, I’ve always felt that we get a bad rap and are often depicted as immature teenyboppers or groupies. The truth is Fangirls are so much more than that, we are writers, artists, academics, costumers and filmmakers. We organize campaigns that benefit the needy, we raise money and support the arts, we develop teaching programs and rally the troops. Yes, we do get a little weak in the knees when someone we admire retweets us or gives us a hug at a Con but we are proud of the things we love and we love them passionately.

Fangirls are incredibly generous; when I realized I would need to transcribe over 60 interviews in a few weeks for Squee, I reached out to the Fangirl community for help and they were amazing. They busted their asses to get them done and transcribing a 30 minute interview is a bitch, so they have nothing but my love and admiration.

Ara: Are you a Fangirl? Who makes you Squee?

Yes! Well my number one is Paul Westerberg. I have his autograph tattooed on my  midriff. I got to spend some time with him on his solo tour in 2004 when I was shooting Color Me Obsessed and it was pretty damn awesome. He’s an incredibly brilliant and unique artist.

Admittedly, I have many, many people that I’m a Fangirl of, writers, artists, actors, directors, musicians, other Fangirls.You can see tons of photos on my Facebook page of me and some of people that make me go “squee”. The ones I really adore are as cool in person as you think they’d be. James Marsters, Kevin Smith, John Barrowman, George Romero, Felicia Day, Lauren Tom, Joel Hodgson. Just lovely people who make great art.

Ara: What is your favorite part of filmmaking?

There’s this creative high you get when all the pieces fall into place and it makes sense. I love that! I also love that I am able to meet and talk with all these amazing people. We recently did an interview for “Squee!” with legendary Fangirl Bjo Trimble. She saved Star Trek! She’s 81 years old, still considers herself a Fangirl and has stories about hanging out with Forry Ackerman, Robert Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, Robert Bloch! It’s just amazing to me that my camera gives me the opportunity to spend time with living legends (can you feel my inner squee there? )

Ara: What was the most important moment in your life, creatively?

*crickets* …no idea…

Ara: Give me a song lyric that describes you imperfectly perfect.

How about a quote instead?

“Buy the ticket, take the ride.”

That pretty much covers my philosophy towards life and art and I certainly can’t say it any better than Hunter S. Thompson.


Facebook page:

Teaser trailer:


Rob Mainhattan Frank/ Capture and Release

 31  29

30   27  24

26  22

The ability to see a photograph before it is developed is what makes a great photographer. Rob Mainhattan Frank sees negatives where most people see only space and objects. The world is in color but he develops it in black and white. He has the gift of seeing both angle and subject and he gives life to structures by making them breathe. That is talent. That is the art of photography.

Ara: What inspires you?

Rob: My city Frankfurt/Main, Germany being foggy in the autumn. The opposites of modern and old architecture — everything which is old and trashy.

Ara: What divides you?

Rob: My personal view of photography: It is art for me and a kind of therapy that makes me feel free. I don’t have any idols nor do I want to do pictures like someone else. They are all my own. I don’t even think about if anyone likes them or not. Firstly, I myself must love them.

Ara: What are your favorite subjects — structures or people?

Rob: Trash, old architecture and opposites in the architecture and surroundings.

Ara: What is the most important aspect of any photograph?

Rob: My view on things: I never search for motives. They find me while I’m walking around the city of Frankfurt/Main.

Ara: How does a photograph differ from a painting?

Rob: The difference is: As a photographer, I need to make a decision on pushing the camera’s button within the blink of an eye instead of being able to make a break or paint from memory. Photography is more dynamic and straight.

Ara: Describe your first photograph. Where/when it was taken.

Rob: A moth — maybe 15 years ago. At that moment of “clicking”, I realized that this moment would be unique and never would happen exactly the same again. Similar maybe, but never the same! So, I’ve been fascinated by catching the moment.

Ara: What part of a person is lost and captured in a photograph?

Rob: People are almost rare in my pictures. That depends on moments.

Ara: Who is your favorite photographer?

Rob: Ansel Adams because he and group 1/64 fought for photography being accepted as art. That’s all.

Ara: Your favorite photograph by another photographer?

Rob: None

Ara: What makes a great photographer?

Rob: Seeing a photograph through the camera before it is taken. I know exactly before if it’s going to be a black and white. A good photographer knows all the rules but breaks them to develop his own style and escape the mainstream. Known mistakes in photography can be used as a method to make them unique — such as blur or droplines.

Oleg Korolev/Halcyon

Oleg Korolev ‘s work is a halcyon dream. The kind of art that makes it impossible not to believe in magic, beauty, and God.

Monomakh Hat Oil,Canvas 40x40cm 2004

Monomakh Hat



Peresvet, Oslyabya, Divine Gloom Oil, Canvas, 195cmx120cm 2006

Peresvet, Oslyabya/Divine Gloom

Prodigal Son Oil, Canvas 130x90cm 2013 web

Prodigal Son

The Illusory Fish 55cmx75cm Oil,Canvas 2001

The Illusory Fish

Theseus and Minotaur. Oil, Canvas 50x50cm 2012

Theseus and Minotaur

Vasilisa the Beautiful. Oil, Canvas 130x90cm 2014

Vasilisa the Beautiful

«Ivan Tsarevich as Algiz» Oil, Canvas 60x70cm 2013 (4)

Ivan Tsarevich as Algiz

Oleg Korolev . I swear. Oil, Canvas 130x90cm 2011 (1)

I Swear

“The Golden Fish” Oil, Canvas 40x40cm 2012 (1)

The Golden Fish

My interview

Gary T. Becks/ Comic Rage

Gary T. Becks work is the perfect combination of clever and engaging writing, a potent dose of erotica, and mind-blowing art. Think Vampirella meets Lydia Lunch meets H.R. Giger.




The Hidden Beast


Serial Killer


Mazscara Action



Gary T. Becks was born in the Washington DC metropolitan area June 18, 1968. He became interested in writing and music at the age of 6 and after a few years of collecting comic books became inspired to draw his own. Mostly a self taught artist, his style is a mix of both Japanese Manga and American comic influences.

In 1980, Gary started drawing his own comic stories with school buddies in grade school, mostly from out of pure boredom during certain classes. During high school, Gary was exposed to more mature, cutting edge magazines like Heavy Metal and Epic influencing his art style into a more darker side of the spectrum.

In 1992 he moved to Los Angeles and completed his first published comic book called Vixen 6 which tells the story of a coven of witches who fight against a megalomanic corporation in a dystopian Chicago, it eventually was adapted into a screenplay. He also created the comic series The Humorville Hillarrions, about the adventures of a three foot dwarf cop in a parallel world California. Another short story series called Fiendy, which appeared twice in Heavy Metal Magazine in 2011-2012, and a collaborative comic strip called Joseph!

It was in 1996 he conceived a character called Noir based off of Janet Jackson’s “look” in one of her music videos called Scream. In 2005, after some slightly tragic personal moments in his life, and various trips around the Los Angeles area, a new story and character would now take shape. Noir had become Mazscara.

Starting in 2007, Gary started the Mazscara webcomic, whose story elements mix horror, drama and fantasy. Mazscara draws from various influences such as Italian and Japanese Horror, Fantasy, metaphysics, spirituality, philosophy, childhood nightmares and social commentary. Now on the web for 5 years, Mazscara has gained a very loyal cult following. The underlying theme of the Mazscara character is one of death, beauty, transformation, and retribution, spelling out her moto, Karma is a bitch, and I am her.

At the same time, Gary began to discover 3D software such as zBrush, Cinema 4D and Poser, which took his art in a whole different direction. Gary will continue to expand his concepts and ideas into the future to inspire a new generation of artists and writers as he has been inspired by those of his time.

Besides Mazscara, Gary is currently working on several other projects such as Joseph!, Fiendy and The Humorville Hilarrions with letterset Davis Paul.

Previous interview with Gary T Becks:

Timm Stutz/Motionless Life

Dasammawieda sig



Nach den Feiertagen


Kommunion…1981 Warschau







Fantastische Fotografie sig

Fantastische Fotografie


Herbst auf den Champs-Elysees




Komposition, Paris


Musee d’Orsay

Park Kasprowicza sig

Park Kasprowicza

Museo Guggenheim Bilbao

Museo Guggenheim Bilbao

Timm Stutz captures life at its most simple and complex. His photographs are proof that humans are far more interesting when they are just being.

Timm Stutz was born in Dresden, Poland in 1938. He is a photographer, publicist, and translator and has been a member of the Szczecin Photographic Society since 1983.

1993 Titel Artiste FIAP

2001 Excellence FIAP

Seit 2002 Mitglied im Polnischen Foto-Kunstler-Verband

2003 Ehrenmitglied der Stettiner Fotografischen Gesellschaft




The Smiths/This Charming Band

London/1987. Not England but Ohio. Far from the UK music scene. A small town with one movie theater and a high school with no windows. I am not listening to AC/DC or Aerosmith; I am listening to the second British invasion. It is 1987 and I hear the Smiths/The Queen is Dead at a friend’s house. I am in love with everything about it. I get a copy and begin playing it over and over in my walkman. I lie in the middle of my bedroom lost in the posters on my wall and feelings that I don’t understand. I rewind “I Know it’s Over” until the tape begins to warp. It is still my favorite Smiths’ song. I am 16 and I am not 16. I couldn’t relate to teenagers even when I was one. Until I discovered bands like the Smiths, I felt completely lost — connected to nothing. In towns like mine, you were either inside, outside, or “other”. “Big Mouth Strikes Again” is my most significant song not because I like it but because it transports me to one of my favorite teenage memories.

1988: I am 17. My friend and I decide to sneak into our first club on the Ohio State University campus. It is called the Travel Agency… a tiny little dark hole on High Street where you can hear goth and synth music escaping through a vertical crack in a black painted door. I have my best friend’s sister’s i.d. and my best friend has a fake. I look nothing like the photo, but no one can see a damn thing in the dark or they just don’t care. I get my stamp and order a vodka and cranberry. “Big Mouth Strikes Again” starts and I head straight for a dance floor that is now being invaded by Morrissey look alikes. The night is over in 2 hours. I sneak back into my house through an unlocked bedroom window and fall asleep to “There is a Light That Never Goes Out”. There isn’t a memory that music will let you forget. That’s the beautiful curse of it. The Smiths had such a short career but they were magic. For a melancholic and sensitive teenager, they were the perfect band. Still are.

Twitter Fan Picks:

It is impossible to pick a favourite Smiths’ song. I will go for “There is a Light That Never Goes Out” purely because it is the song that made me discover The Smiths when I was a teen, it’s the song everybody knows. Morrissey’s beautiful voice along with Johnny Marr’s melodic guitar playing…with a catchy chorus thrown in for good measure. What’s not to love!

“Stretch Out and Wait”. I feel like this is Morrissey on full-on adorable mode. His voice is light and sweet and there are some absolutely beautiful musical phrases: “two icy cold hands conducting the way. It’s the eskimo blood in my veins.” Gets me every time. It reminds me of growing up in a small town and teen romances, meeting boys on their estate and discovering each other together. ‘All I do know is we’re here and it’s now’ is such a good way to live life. It’s dreamy and beautiful.

Rush and a Push” will always be very special to me. Around 1988, my then bf gave me a copy of Strangeways to listen to on my Walkman for my cycle home. From that first amazing track, I was hooked for life!

“Hand in Glove” because it’s the way I feel about @TalbotRothwell xx

“A Rush and a Push and the Land is Ours” because it is the sentiment I have tattooed up my arm.

Boris Koller/Painter, Composer, Undefined


Last Morning






Over the Clouds

Austrian born painter, Boris Koller, has such a vast spectrum of styles that his work evades categorization. He resists being labeled as an artist but instead sees himself as a born farmer without a farm to inherit. Like most creatives, his deep inner world finds its way into our world, and for a moment, we get a glimpse of something strangely familiar and beautiful.

Ara: When did you realize that you were an artist?

Boris: First of all, I do not consider myself an artist. Art is quite a new concept, with beginnings in the 18th century, under a definition process during the 19. century, but not fully developed until the 1920s. I have no desire to compete with artists (there is no place for me in the art world), but I love to compete with my painter colleagues, dead and alive. I would rather see me as a born farmer, without a farm to inherit, so I have to do something else. And yes, I knew that I am a painter already when I was about 3 years old. With a cronical kidney disease I was not allowed to move so much in my childhood, I had to sit still, which I did with paper and pencils.

Ara: What was your first piece of work and what inspired it?

Boris: Is there a first piece of work? There is only a last one.

Or: every piece of work is the first, and one is also the last.

Or: imagine a tradition, no first or last painting at all.

Ara: I noticed a few earlier works…when you were 23. I’m referring to the painting “At the Window”. It’s quite a simple painting but yet it doesn’t feel simple. When I look at it, I see a story and many paintings inside of the painting. The scene outside of the window is almost a separate painting yet it moves seamlessly into the focal scene. And the small picture on the pantry door, what is it?

Simple? Try to paint something like that, and call it simple then.

The small print was there in the children´s room. Its a horse in prance above a cascade before a full moon.

This motive is an allegory of creating, and sending Your creations from the studio into a strange world you will never visit. This is, how we kitschpainters think, I guess.

Ara: You have such range as a painter. Your landscape paintings look simultaneously real and surreal. I know that I am looking at a painting yet I do not. Are these actual places or imagined or a combination of both?

Boris: When you are out there, hiking, you remember a moving landscape. When you stand still, to find the motive, this feeling is gone, and any view begins to be banal, the cosmic vibe is lost. I try to recreate the feeling of a moving world around me, sometimes with elements from very different places. Back in the studio I begin to paint from memory, struggling for making it more „real” during a long process. Most other landscape painters begin with a sketch at the place, being human cameras. But yes, I found my perfect landscape on a map. I realised, it would be the world I always dreamed of. Many of the latest motives are from the island „Senja” in northern Norway.

Ara: Can you explain the painting “Aktueller Stand”. It’s a self portrait, yes?

Boris: This painting was not finished, when I showed it on facebook. So, „aktueller Stand” is not the title.

My self-portrait? The viewer of the painting is free to decide: either to hang me, or to let me go free.

Ara: “Stone Age Bison Hunt” is a very interesting painting. What is it about the primal nordics that you find so captivating? What inspired the wildness?

Boris: I got once a commission for the Natural History Museum in Vienna, to fill up a space left on a wall, where a painting from the 19th century got lost after the war. First the idea was to depict a Mammoth hunt scene, but the department in the museum decided, it should become a neolithic theme. Since the sponsor was a lawyer and hunter the idea of a bison hunt stood up.

Ara: I’ve noticed winter as a backdrop in a lot of your paintings. I don’t see a lot of paintings with sunlight or warmth. Is there a reason for that? Do you feel connected to that particular season?

Boris: I would need my portion of snow and ice every day. But I am not lucky enough to live in eternal ice and snow. The shape of a landscape is better revealed by a melting covering.

Ara: The paintings “Devotion” and “Comfort”. Can you interpret them for me? Do you believe that death brings comfort because it is the end of the inevitable and sporadic discomfort of life?

Boris: I am not allowed to tell, where i painted my dear mummies.

In an average horror movie, people are scared by dead beings. In „Comfort” a scared mummy is consoled by loving live.

Ara: You are also a composer and musician. I’ve listened to your piece on YouTube. It is very serene, beautiful, and at times a bit sorrowful. Not enough to make me cry, but enough to make me feel something. How would you describe your music?

Boris: Until now You can hear only one of my pieces on the internet. (The violoncello-harp romance under my video featuring my paintings.)

My music? Hopeless romantic, I guess.

Ara: What type of instrument do you play? Is it hand crafted?

Boris: Its a nyckelharpa, a swedish folk-music instrument, with a great tradition in the area of Norra Uppland.

I have a small collection of custom made specimens. My favorite variant is the old form with a drone string and quarter tone keys (made by my good friend Olle Plahn).

Ara: Do you hear music in paintings or do you see paintings in music?

Boris: No.

Ara: Do you have a favorite composer? If so, what is it about their work that speaks to you.

Boris: There is a lot of good music around. J.S. Bach is maybe the first and the last musician ever.

I have to mention swedish and norwegian folk-music. „Lyarlåter” from Valdres in Norway are maybe the only things one can enjoy after having listened to Bach.

There is a power in traditional music (and „western” „classical” music is traditional music as well) unmatched by any attempt of a composer to create something „new”.

What I like most, are the efforts to trace an arc of tension over longer periods of time. Not three minutes, not eight, but hours, an evening. You get this at the opera, or at a dancing night to a solo fiddle.

Music has to act in concert with the body.

Boris Koller Malerei:




Towards Gradenscharte


At the Window