It was one of my great writing pleasures to write the text for Vincen Beeckman's Claude and Lilly (which you can see here on Vogue Italia).
The project isn't really a project. It is simpler than that. It's a series of pictures that Vincen made of Claude and Lilly hugging and kissing in the final years they were together, now published as a book by APE.
See a video of the book here.
It doesn't tick the boxes of collaboration especially. It's not complete, it's not life changing, there's no staging or performance, no high-minded statement, there's no reflexivity, it's not challenging the conventions of anything. It's not distant or cool, it doesn't fit into any kind of meta-narrative, it's a love story of two people living on the margins of society. It's something you don't see very often presented in a direct and simple way..
It simply is and it's kind of beautiful for that. Writing the text was about matching that simplicity and beauty. It was very difficult until it became very easy.
I read Sol LeWitt's advice to Eva Hesse (via Robin Cracknell) this morning and it made me think of Claude and Lilly.
Just stop thinking, worrying, looking over your shoulder wondering, doubting, fearing, hurting, hoping for some easy way out, struggling, grasping,…Stop it and just DO!…
Don’t worry about cool, make your own uncool. Make your own, your own world. If you fear, make it work for you – draw & paint your fear and anxiety…
You must practice being stupid, dumb, unthinking, empty. Then you will be able to DO!…
Try to do some BAD work – the worst you can think of and see what happens but mainly relax and let everything go to hell – you are not responsible for the world – you are only responsible for your work – so DO IT. And don’t think that your work has to conform to any preconceived form, idea or flavor. It can be anything you want it to be…
So there you go. Claude and Lilly is a love story, so it's not very cool. It makes its own world, it makes its own uncool. Which is cooler than any cool could ever be. The story of Claude and Lilly begins like this.
“I met Lilly when I was working at the Foire du Midi fair in Brussels,” says Claude van Halen of his late partner, Liliane Maes. “I met her on the 14th of July 1995. The boss of a bar asked me, ‘Claude do you want to go with her, because her man is beating her?’ I said yes. I even left my job for her. I went with her and we stayed together for so long, for 23 years.”
Thank you Alessia Glaviano and Francesca Marani for featuring it. I like that it fits into Vogue Italia, a magazine centred on fashion. But fashion is body, subcultures, it's sex, music, emotion, it's political. It's love.
And that's what Claude and Lilly is. A love story.
Buy the book here.