Jazz, as he is affectionately known by a loyal contingency of friends, sits in a low chair by a table stacked high with countless oversized books of photography and the usual assorted magazines, smoking a slim cigarette and flashing his trademark extensive grin, gesturing often with his hands as he keeps the conversation moving at a steady, comfortable pace. His eyes will sparkle behind those black-rimmed glasses like little diamonds when he laughs. He sits next to the large casement windows, left open and silhouetted with shade by breezy California palms overlooking the stone courtyard lush with overgrown local flora (the landscapers are late, or on strike, or on holiday).
Paul Jasmin: a gentleman youth
These are the days
The greatest mistake one can make in viewing Jamel Shabazz’s photography is also the easiest. The nostalgia work in his books, Back In The Days (2001) and A Time Before Crack (2005) after all, is far too seductive. It presents to you a time, a place, and the people who created the music and culture that revolutionized it: Hip Hop. It’s so easy to be swept away by the pull of its swagger, style and bravado that consummated this cultural phenomenon. The old school Adidas and the Pumas with the fat laces, the tight fitting Lee Jeans and Kangols, the gold jewelry and bamboo earrings, spray painted jean jackets, and those high-ass socks, damn, you can almost smell the streets of New York as you flip through his photos. When you see his work you can almost hear the “Apache” beat rattling from a big boom box held high on top of a man’s shoulders as he passes you in the street, walking with flair and finesse. Jamel’s work coaxes that out of you (and it makes you proud). Whether the work exposes you visually to a time you are too young to remember, or it brings you back to a time when you were wild and free, one tends to reflect and utter, “Man those were the days.” It’s so easy to get wrapped up in this, but the cost is that you miss out on the most powerful and profound aspect of his work, the humanity.
Portraits and dialogues
My work—part photography, part sculpture and part performance— explores the combination of the everyday with the strange. I create and transform objects, materials and concepts, which derive from our collective consciousness to mean something different for each viewer intending to reveal in juxtaposition and in ambiguity. My goal is the exploration of the reality, not so much to represent it, but to give replies. My narrative will doesn’t depend on great stories, but to direct testimony of my personal experience.
C’est la nuit
C’est la nuit—it is night. Books talk at night. Even if no one opens them. They pour their shadow on the tables, on the stones of the floor in a vacuum. A shadow spun, dipped in black, chinese red, vermillion or slightly faded white. The books do not disappear overnight. The slow net of words, numbers, doodles, continue to escape from the pages. Shakespeare, Zweig, square roots, pictures from the fifties, the agendas of the time, opened, closed, laying on the edge of the cover, facing the sky, each of them sweep space.
The male gaze under a blacklight
Ryan McGinness, the Virginia Beachbred one-time “skater-punk” turned “celebrity artist” who designed boards for Supreme and T-shirts that were sold at Barney’s, who covered downtown New York with what some critics called “zen-snide” sticker art with taglines like “A lot of Art is Boring,” and “I love my Attention Deficit Disorder” in the late 90’s is all grown up.
Less than one year of founding the creative agency If We Were Two, Marina T Schindler and artist Alex Eagleton have distinguished themselves as a potent and versatile curatorial force. The pair first collaborated during Historical Essex Street Market’s Exquisite Corpse program in early 2012. Schindler served as Corpse Creative Director and invited Eagleton to join her in curating 33 artists in the mode of a famous Surrealist game for charity. The auction event was hosted by model Arizona Muse and gained international coverage from the Wall Street Journal and NO WNE SS, the lifestyle and culture website of the Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy Luxury Group. Schindler, the former Fashion Director of BlackBook and member of the founding team of TAR Magazine, describes the establishment of If We Were Two as a natural curatorial partnership. “From there (the Corpse program) we just kept coming up with ideas of projects we wanted to do together,” she says. “It just works.”
Take a breath
Subject to object
Riley Hooker is an artist whose work is essentially his methodology, as we witness objects sojourn through purposeful iteration. He is an artist who, like many, creates with and against the slew of viral-virtual re-blog culture that makes institutional recognition of artists seem so impossible. At first look, his work playfully explores the relationship between photography and sculpture, distorting color, texture, repetition and spatial arrangements in a way that doesn’t immediately announce its animus nor was it intended to. The work, not unlike the artist’s surname, warrants a serious reflection as much as it does a chuckle. His images are as humorous as they are conceptual and pieces like Material portraits inaugurate complicated dialogue that eventually involves chairs, amputees, tables, faggot bundles and blasts of sand. The dry tone that often frames artistic depictions of everyday things is replaced by one in which the tensions explored take on a surprisingly complex and affective dynamic
The beautiful disturbed
A once profitable geologist in the mining industry, photographer Roger Ballen has become an ardent chronicler of the modern South African condition, and even more so, a “not so typical” chronicler of the individual’s distance from an emblematic god. His thought-provoking archives are filled with crudely sketched drawings, with images of dolls and white birds, snakes and puppies, deformations and filth in a existential mirror; random body parts making brief appearances, parts of all of us possibly connected somewhere in the façade of reality. When his Platteland (“that book of fucked-up inbred characters”) was released, the reaction was loud and varied drastically. While critics openly accused him of manipulation and exploitation (a “curator of props”), others hailed him a visionary (Susan Sontag described the work as “The most important sequence of portraits I’ve seen in years”
All the time i am falling
Daniele Buetti’s mesmerizing “Auf Allen Knien” series, consisting of constructed houses bleeding paint from their walls, elicits an almost psychotropic feel from viewers who feel less like they are part of an art space and more like they are floating through an alluring dream sequence.
Don’t worry be happy
After reading this newspaper article, Eric Nehr starts his new series of portraits. His work is political, anthropological, artistic, human. These photographs relate a journey, meetings with this minority in Cameroon and Panama. In certain African countries, this black man, born white, half-man, half-god, with good or evil powers according to old beliefs, regarded as Market value, can be chased to death. Whereas in Panama, “albinos are mythologized by the Kuna-Dule, the only Amerindian people who think them so, but who do not actually give them an enviable position for all that, for latent discrimination does exist.”2