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IS INVISIBILITY THE NEW VISIBILITY ?

How secrecy can be a way to stand out

From one year to another, many things change...  The society of the spectacle seemed to have reached its highest peak in 2010, with Lady Gaga being named as one of the top 100 most influential people in the world. 2011 is, on the opposite, a good time for the public to reconsider the power that lies in secrets, through the ambiguous face of Julian Assange, or the key role played by the outcome of the Anonymous, nexus of faceless hackers, in the Arab spring.
After years of an open-space society marked by excessive show-off, a turning point seems to have been reached. Where the tell-it-all and show-it-all prevailed, self-effacement and re-partitioning are now taking over. Mystery over the great outpourings, secret over super-accessibility...

Brief review of a tendency taking shape in fields where, so far, the rules of the spectacle widely prevailed. When music, clubbing and retail rediscover the virtues of discretion, and well-dosed secret...

 

Artists without a face

From left to right : 1. Monarchy,''maybe I’m crazy'' EP  2.  Cascadeur, ''the human octopus'' album 3. SBTRKT, ''SBTRKT'' album

They are called Monarchy , Cascadeur or SBTRKT (images above)… The first ones form an electro-pop duo, the second ones stand between Radiohead and Eric Satie, and the last ones are announced as most promising artists of the emerging dubstep scene. Their common characteristics: often hidden, not entirely though, they have chosen an almost anonymous status, at the opposite of the exhibitionism trend that surrounds us.

From left to right : 1. The residents, photo © D.R  2. The Knife, photo © D.R  3. Daft punks , photo © D.R 

Direct descendants of a small line of bands, just as mysterious, such as pioneer band The residents, Swedish band The knife, or Daft punk (images above), this new generation of artists without a face has discretely managed to impose itself, while maintaining a high level of secret around their identities. An art of ostentatious hiding that continues to fuel the craziest fantasies... and to create events. Intriguing, fascinating, today the most discussed are finally those we see the less. A (non)communication, inspiring lesson for many more to follow...

Clandestine party

The nightlife scene (bars, clubs, restaurants), appears as a privileged space for social interaction, yet paradoxically it welcomes the culture of dissimulation as well. But think about it: in a see-it-allsociety, what more robust a social cement could you possibly find than sharing a secret?

Therefore, more and more urban night birds go for ''clandestine parties'', in hidden bars, secret restaurants and clubs... This new partying, less civilized and more genuine, for it is less coded, comes as an answer to a regulation overdose (anti-smoking, anti-noise...) as well as the desire to reinvigoratesome spirit of unplanned, in a universe where the rules are too clearly mapped out.

After flashmobs and other facebook events, now is the time for obscure passwords and secretly distributed addresses.

Die nacht evenings, Paris, 2011. Photos © www.die-nacht.fr

  • In Paris, evenings organised by Die nacht collective in reference to the Berlin night scene (images above) invigorate the extra underground spirit that the French capital had been lacking. In the margin of an all-too normative, show off clubbing, these evening parties, bordering on legality, passed on solely by word of mouth, cultivate ambiguity. Unlikely places : an old printing house, a disused swimming pool, factories, ...  are kept secret until the last minute. A true alternative to all night-outs without surprise and big clubs with  their overworked codes.

 

Milk & Honey, NYC, photo © Robert K.Chin

  • In New York City, this insignificant façade, seemingly hosting a sewing workshop, hides one of the City's most popular spots. In line with the illegal bars and restaurants that are fast growing in all major capitals, the Milk & Honey, ''for (non)famous members only'', has its own rules...

From the ''pop-up store'' to the ''secret store''

Pop up stores (short-term temporary sales spaces creating buzz by producing scarcity) are now followed by secret stores, taking the uniqueness of the shopping experience even further. Very similar principles apply: limited time, exclusive products... On the opposite of the all-accessible, by playing the card of secret, these shops revive the hottest of prohibition hours. Tracking them down can reveal a true treasure hunt experience.

 Topshop secret store, Oxford Circus, Londres. Photo ©  Christopher Deluca &  www.myfashionlife.com

  • Recently, English fashion brand Topshop created the buzz via a secret store, in the back shop of a common London flower shop on Oxford Circus. Once they discover the entrance, feeling they are part of the secret, shoppers' egos inflate, in the middle of an improvised shop with exclusive products signed by Nasir Mazhar, Meadham Kirchhoff, Ann-Sofie Backet Pamela Love…

  Entrance to the Argumento building photo © rio-daminhavida.blogspot.com, and inside Gilda Midani space, photo © www.gildamidani.com

  • In Rio's Leblon district, what seems to be an office building, the Argumento building, hides one of the city's most high-end shopping centres, home to Glida Midani and Antonia Bernardes' beautiful creation, among other vintage finds. 

 

 

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