The official blog of Sketchbook Magazine | Archive | Magazine | Order | Obai & Hill | TV


LaBoca design for Black Swan

As one of the most highly apprehended films of this cinematic season, Black Swan has acquired a great deal of media and creative attention.

LaBoca Design is an independent design firm specialising in art and design for a variety of the creative industries. They too have stumbled across the artistic affection that is Black Swan, creating four official teaser posters for 20th Century Fox.

Swan embodied

Inspired, I assume, by the Constructivism and Futurism movements, each of the aforementioned posters embrace modern geometrics, simplifying each aspect into a fundamental, yet simple blueprint.

View more of the geometric works of LaBoca Design, based in Portobello Road, London. They put "the ape into apricot"

Read the full review of Black Swan on our blogReview- Black Swan by Darren Aronofsky





Review- Black Swan by Darren Aronofsky

My dreams of plié-ing along to Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake were as swiftly diminished as the parallel love/obsession mentality of Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan.

Starring Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis and the classically suave Vincent Cassel, Black Swan is one of the most riveting psychological thrillers since the murderous vengeance of Psycho or the nuclear insanity of Jack Nicholson in The Silence of the Lambs.

Portman plays the lead of Nina Sayers, a conventional recluse with a near obsessive attitude toward perfection. Amongst a troupe of other young ballet hopefuls, Nina is turned toward the spotlight, given the lead role of both the virtuous white swan and her alter ego, the black swan. Although relishing in the stardom of main dancer, her transformation into starlet causes a great deal of unnecessary anxiety in her already erratic consciousness. 

However, the spotlight does not remain at the prestigious New York City Ballet, instead drifting into the life of Nina Sayers, her strive for perfection becoming so near perfect on stage that the real story of Swan Lake becomes that of her own.

Natalie Portman started her work with Director Darren Aronofsky in 2000, perfecting her ballet technique already evident since childhood. Losing 10lbs, suffering a concussion and a dislocated rib for the role, Natalie’s efforts have not been overlooked by the critics, being nominated for a Best Actress Oscar amongst three other nominations for the movie. Also nominated for an Oscar is Mila Kunis for Best Supporting Actress for her role as Lily.

Other than the profound creativity of the movie directorship, Black Swan has gained acclaim from the grandiose costume design of the Mulleavy sisters, Kate and Laura of Rodarte. With the majestic spectrum of tutus and bodice’s graced in feather and embroidered lace appliqués; the sisters, conjointly with director Darren Aronofsky, have created a avant-garde spectacle of a celebrated artistic phenomenon.

Persecuted by her own reflection, the life of Nina Sayers becomes something of a hallucination, the line between reality and insanity broken by a recurring obsession.

Black Swan releases in cinemas this Friday the 21st of January 2011.

View the Black Swan website to see more of Aronofsky’s Tchaikovsky-influenced creation:

Images: 20th CENTURY FOX




Rodarte, Tavi and Target team up with great results

When blogger Tavi Gevinson of Style Rookie was asked by Target and Rodarte to introduce their new upcoming collaboration through a video montage, it was no surprise that a video emerged that not only highlighted the Rodarte sisters new collection but also Tavi herself.

The video just goes to show what great access Tavi has in the fashion world through various short clips of interviews with celebrities such as Kirsten Dunst and Elijah Wood and Vogue writer Jane Herman and Amy Astley, editor in chief of Teen Vogue to name a few.

As well as interesting insights on the collection from the Rodarte sisters as they talk about their inspiration, what’s more interesting is the way the short film is made. Pin hole shots and low angle shots take the viewer on a journey through Tavi’s point of view.

Be sure to be overwhelmed with Tavi’s cute factor with scenes of Tavi picking out her favourite pieces from the collection and trying them on as well as the final shot of Tavi in a photo shoot wearing the fantastic leopard print Rodarte dress.

It is nice to see that the fantastic location used for the shoot in North Dakota is addressed in the video with lots of landscape shots and a particular standout shot, where Tavi is sitting on top of a hay bail interviewing one of the Rodarte sisters.

The video is definitely worth checking out. Even if you can’t make it to America to check out Targets new collection.


Screen grabs: CIARA BOYLAN



School’s out - The Lesson of Shamim Sarif

Fascism is an education. Or should I say that education is fascist for educationalists who don’t teach us what to think, they teach us how to think. In this way all social institutions are pedagogical processes whereby our masters are responsible for closing the gap between knowledge and ignorance, between human and animal. What the master owns then is the ‘knowledge of our ignorance’ and in order to reduce this gap, they have to reinstate it ceaselessly. They are the only ones who know exactly what remains unknown to us and they know how to make it knowable; at what time and what place, according to what protocol as we are fed one piece of knowledge after another piece, one word after another word, one rule after another rule at the right place and at the right time. This is the original lesson that they transmit to us, namely the knowledge that we have to be explained in order for us to understand and that knowledge cannot be understood by our own merits. This is the arrangement of our incapacity, an endless process of progressive instruction towards endless verification. This is how they maintain two forms of intelligence - this is how they maintain inequality. In such regimes we are left with a paradox namely that emancipation can only be given to us by those who are already free, yet those free only provide us further emasculation. We are left with an impossible solution; freedom can only come from those who are themselves held in bondage.

This is the premise that makes up Shamim Sarif’s universe. Whether her novels/films are set in the Islamic confines of the Middle East, the paranoia of Stalin Russia or the ruin of South Africa under apartheid, the pedagogical stage is set between a determined hysterical character questioning their existence and a determined regime of knowledge that constitutes them. Her narratives play out the metaphor of the radical break between two intelligences. In The World Unseen and I can’t think straight we see our female protagonists caught in the totalitarian function that systematically resolves the fundamental hysterical question “What is woman?” with the progressive method of social knowledge. An education which dismisses all groping, all chance occurrences and all natural awakenings as it pushes our protagonists along their social destinations. It is into this mix where the undetermined happens, our protagonist meets another woman equal in her subordination yet from which they spark a relationship that will alter their very destinies.

This is the originality of Sarif’s work. It is not a simple plot of one character teaching the other the ways of their own freedoms; rather it is about characters that teach the ignorant that which they themselves are ignorant about. If the “hysteric” knows only one thing by heart, be it as simple as when Amina gives driving lessons to Miriam in The world Unseen or Tala inspiring Leyla to become a writer in I can’t think straight then such characters can compare this knowledge with something that they are still ignorant about. From it we can learn, sign after sign, the resemblance of what one ignores with what one knows. Sarif’s characters know a lot of things, they learn on their own, by looking and listening around them, by figuring out the meaning of what they have seen and heard, repeating what they have come to know by chance, comparing what they discover with what they already knew and so on.  There is an equality of intelligence between these lovers. Just like the invention of sign language that took place between deaf people with no means of communication, the human animal learns everything as they have learnt their mother tongue, as they have learnt to venture through the world of signs which surrounds them in order to take their place among their fellow humans. So Sarif’s characters do grow! Here then there is no impossible gap between ignorance and knowledge to keep us captivated, no fixed trajectory in which the social transmits its instructions to us, to evaluate us, to keep us at a distance; there is only autodidactic emancipation done through experimentation.

In this way Sarif’s narratives shatter the original pedagogical process and by doing so she has in her possession a war machine that seeks to undermine the very foundations of social hierarchy. Sitting in ‘The Chelsea Teapot’ on Kings Road sipping supercharged espressos it becomes clear to me as I listen to just how far Sarif has taken this conviction.  Hollywood has a simple formula; lesbian films must end with their demise. In a fateful twist that parallels her narratives, we see Shamim Sarif and wife Hanan Kattan resist the control ridden world of cinema as they write, direct, produce and distribute their films. They rub off on each other like the lovers in their films forging ever new connections in their ways of figuring out what crucial tools they can discover and teach each other. Their films offer us no catharsis, and that is the point, they are not wish fulfilments, they are lessons to be learnt and with the predominant Islamic city of Lahore now being their second largest fan base, I am left to confirm that lesson which is now most poignant to us; love shall set you free if you’re willing to change how you think.




Short & Sweet Sessions

'Short & Sweet' is London's only short movie night taking place every Monday at Bricklane's Cafe 1001 for free. A series of short films ranging from undiscovered to established directors are shown there to an ever increasing audience. Even if short movies aren't your thing (though why would they not be?) it's worth going just for JULIA STEPHENSON, the host, founder and presenter of Short & Sweet. A bundle of energy, if there ever was one, her enthusiasm for S&S expressed by regular outbursts of 'Love youuuuuuuuuu guys', 'fuckin' aweeeeeeeesome', and general giggles/hyperness are bound to keep you entertained.

Julia shows about 8 films each Monday night ranging from music videos, to documentaries and animation. Last Monday the list of directors included SIMON FITZMAURICE, DAVID O’REILLY (animator of a U2 music video) and ANTHONY DICKENSON who directed The XX’s video for Basic Space.

My favourite short movie of the night was PHILLIP VAN’S “Dunny”, a very dark humourous movie about a fat 11 year old boy called Dunny, hopelessy in love with his classmate and neighbour Stacey who, of course, is into the jock. VAN has quite a few short films under his belt, having attended the NYU Graduate Film School, he’s already won several awards for his works including the Berlin International Film Festival, HBO U.S. Comedy Arts Festival, Seattle International Film Festival, Aspen Shortsfest and Gen Art Film Festival.

Although the dark lighting, dramatic classical music and depressed puppy eyes of Dunny create a somewhat gloomy atmosphere, the movie remains entertaining through Van’s traditional dry sense of humour in his tragic hero, Dunny. Dunny ends up in Stacey’s house to her dismay (“If you don’t leave now Dunny I will tell my mom you tried to fondle me.”) and after an awkward dinner with the parents, Stacey and the jock, Dunny shuts himself in the bathroom for an hour where he devours the chocolate heart he meant to give Stacey. When her parents finally manage to lure him out of there, Stacey has left for the movies with the jock. Her mother inviting Dunny to stay until she gets back makes the final shot of the movie that much more awkward and hilarious. Picture this: the parents on the couch with Dunny squeezed inconveniently between the two, watching TV as they await Stacey’s return, who’ll be anything but impressed with Dunny’s presence.


SHORT & SWEET is on every Monday night at Cafe 1001, 1 Dray Walk, 91 Brick Lane, E1. Doors open at 18h30; Films start at 19h30.



SHOWstudio exhibit @ Somerset House

The SHOWstudio exhibition, FASHION REVOLUTION, at London’s Somerset House is based around the themes of process, performance and participation. Showcasing over 20 projects from SHOWstudio’s archives from the past 9 years, as well as unique new films, art and live fashion shoots, including the V Magazine Model Search Shoot with photographer Nick Knight and stylist Simon Foxton on Friday, 2nd October.

Throughout the course of the show, which runs until December 20th, a number of live events will be taking place within the space, including a reprisal of Simon Foxton’s 2004 ‘Sittings’ project. 

All the events are streamed live via SHOWStudio’s website, including the photoshoot shot by Model Erin O’Connor.

Watch this space for our behind-the-scenes coverage of today’s V Magazine male model scout shoot coming soon.



In Heaven Everything Is Fine

I finally managed to get hold of a copy of the infamous cult classic Eraserhead, DAVID LYNCH’S first full length film.  This wonderfully weird Lynchean fantasy has all the awkward silences of the modern Meet the Parents and the Fockers and holds contemporary connotations of teenage pregnancy presented with a vigour and sense of dread that was lacking in Tracey Emin’s Folkestone booties last year.  Lynch has an uncanny ability to entice out the nervous laughter along with our disgust and horror while creating beautiful shots.  I love the chicken dinner scene!  So Henry, what do you know…?




Vogue on Film

KJ CUTLER’S newest release, ‘The September Issue’ showed its first screening last week in New York City. The fly-on-the-wall film documents the crisis that surrounds Vogue’s autumn issue.

The screening saw US editor ANNA WINTOUR, along with VERA WANG, DONALD TRUMP and OSCAR DE LA RENTA (to name but a few) flock into the Modern Museum of Art in Manhattan, to see the long awaited film.

The film will also be screened at a bespoke London cinema on the 10th September, before its general release on September 11th