Features, Greenspace February 26, 2010 By Nika Knight

Photography courtesy of © Jiri Rezac / WWF-UK (Click on Images to Enlarge)

Photography courtesy of © Jiri Rezac / WWF-UK (Click on Images to Enlarge)

dirtyoil title Canadas Dirty Oil

While the world’s attention has been focused upon Canada for the Winter Olympics, another northerly site worth noting has continued to be widely ignored. Far from gold medal glory, the oil sands in northern Alberta continue to be dug up, mined, steamed, and refined in what many have claimed to be the most environmentally damaging process on earth.
     The “tar sands”, as they’re most widely known, refer to bitumen (a dense, degraded form of oil) deposits that lie in the earth’s uppermost layers, heavily mixed together with sand. This form of petroleum is difficult to mine and even more difficult to refine into a usable form. The sands are such an expensive source of oil that it wasn’t until the 1990s that technology had advanced enough for the project to be economically viable. But with the reality of peak oil looming, the sands are now mined in earnest.
     One million barrels are currently culled each day from the sands (of which 80 percent goes to the US) and each barrel requires cutting down forest, the removal of two tons of earth to reach the sands, and the removal of two tons of the sand itself. The whole process unleashes five times more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere than normal oil mining. Not only that, but barrels of water are used in the refining process to steam the bitumen from the sand, and the contaminated water left over is dumped into tailings ponds, which, as of a year ago, covered around 50 square miles.

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Fashion February 25, 2010 By Eugene Rabkin

filler31 Robert Geller Pop UP Shopgellerstore cover Robert Geller Pop UP Shopfiller31 Robert Geller Pop UP Shop
gellerstore title Robert Geller Pop UP Shop

These days Robert Geller, a New York-based menswear designer, is busier than ever, which is just the way he likes it. Besides his successful eponymous line and a collaboration with Levi’s, Geller is launching a new retail venture, called Key Shop. The temporary store, a partnership between Geller and Greg Armas, the owner of the eclectic Lower East Side boutique Assembly, will feature a carefully edited selection of Geller’s products, many exclusive to the store.
 Geller has quietly become a fashion fixture of the downtown scene, his slim and pale dandy aesthetic fitting well with skinny dudes of unspecified occupations that roam the streets below Houston and well east of Broadway. “I feel that the Lower East side is where the Robert Geller guy likes to be,” wrote Geller in an email message. “The area has a lot of stores and restaurants popping up, and is still developing nicely. The guys (and girls) there get our aesthetic and will understand the store. I feel like it is the most exciting area of New York right now.”
 So, if you want your key (get it?!) Geller items, like a poncho made of cupro and cotton and suede ankle boots, they will be waiting for you at 129 Rivington St., but only until April 15, when the temporary shop will close its doors.

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Architecture, Art February 24, 2010 By Nalina Moses

filler30 James Welling

Courtesy Regen Projects, Los Angeles © James Welling

Courtesy Regen Projects, Los Angeles © James Welling

filler30 James Welling
jameswelling title James Welling

Our image of modern architecture is black and white, quite literally. It’s an image of black ribbon windows in white stucco walls, of slender steel columns behind clear panes of glass. James Welling’s contemporary photographs of architect Philip Johnson’s 1949 Glass House, on display now unitl March 6 at Regen Projects, richly confuse this image.
     Welling has captured the house, a landmark of American modernism, with a digital camera and handheld lenses in a series of layered, intensely colored photographs. The prints in the show offer a view of the building that’s tactile, textured, and surprisingly tender.
     Most canonical photographs of the house look on it orthogonally, so that its glass skin seems to disappear and its entire structure to dissolve into its manicured surroundings. Welling shoots slightly eccentric perspectives that take in more of the glass and the landscape, and complicates these views by layering them with fields of strong color. This treatment brings out the stubborn physicality of the building. Immense red and green sunspots mottle a glass wall. An orange-colored spill of light reveals the rough surface of an interior carpet.

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Art, Books February 24, 2010 By Jennifer Pappas

Courtesy of Gestalten Books

Courtesy of Gestalten Books

urbaninterventions title Urban Interventions

I first witnessed urban interventionism at an intersection in La Serena, Chile in 2009. I watched transfixed as a young performer expertly juggled five plastic pins in the middle of the road. He completed his routine and gave a quick bow before darting quickly from one car window to the next, collecting money from drivers’ outstretched hands, jumping back onto the sidewalk seconds before the light turned green again. Though this is a loose example of public art, during the course of my travels through Chile and Argentina, I witnessed beat boxers, mimes, dance troupes and cheerleaders all with the same technique, using the intersection as their stage.
     Urban Interventions: Personal Projects in Public Places, due out this March, could very well turn the new art movement into a household word. A creative conglomerate of graffiti, activism, and found street art, the book pays tribute to the most exciting wave of artwork to hit public spaces since Banksy took Bristol by storm in the late ’90s. Urban interventions use ordinary outdoor components to transform everyday landscapes into interactive artwork for the masses. As a result, alleyways become galleries, bus stops morph into studios, and street signs act as canvases.

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Features February 23, 2010 By Nika Knight

haiti before Haiti

Two young American filmmakers traveled and filmed in rural Haiti for five weeks before the earthquake, and they’ve now decided to release the resulting 40-minute documentary to view for free over the Internet. In doing so, they hope to inform the world about the deep, systemic poverty that existed in rural Haiti even before the devastating earthquake, as well as the community spirit and hope that persisted in spite of it. The filmmakers’ synopsis describes the film as such:

The first interview introduces Sandelwi, a farmer and a mystic, who is riding on top of a bus that is speeding around the treacherous curves of the mountainous road to Port-au-Prince, mindless of the precipitous drop to the valley below. ‘When you’re in Haiti, I consider you Haitian,’ he says. ‘It’s up to us, we have to put our heads together to do development.’ … The Road to Fondwa is not a one-way street, but rather a conduit between two very different, yet intricately connected nations.
 
The film’s exploration of America’s role in creating the perilous political and economic situation in Haiti before the earthquake serves as a potent reminder of our continuous responsibility to help. Head over to the film’s website, to view The Road to Fondwa and/or purchase the DVD (all proceeds go to Partners in Health). And as always we urge you to continue to help the Haiti recovery by donating to reputable relief organizations like Oxfam and Doctors Without Borders.

Music February 23, 2010 By Lily Moayeri

Rough Trade

Rough Trade

themorningbenders title the morning benders: Big Echo

When you are a young, smart group, whose initial recordings are done without much supervision, there is a good chance your later albums will turn out sounding entirely different. This is the case with Northern California’s The Morning Benders. For the band’s follow-up to 2008’s Talking Through Tin Cans, group leader Christopher Chu takes on co-production duties with Grizzly Bear’s Chris Taylor. Attempting a lo-fidelity approach again (as on Tin Cans), Big Echo crackles with the hiss of purported vinyl. “Cold War (Nice Clean Fight)” is the most upbeat with a bouncy acoustic guitar and thrumming bass drum tightened by a simple chorus. “All Day Daylight” has a bit of a bite with edgy riffs and hand claps. But for the most part, Big Echo is slow and calculated, the rhythms moving at a leisurely pace. This unhurried attitude is also adopted by Chu’s vocals, which harmonize fluidly, reverberating with the others. Keeping with Tin Cans’ spirit of brevity, none of the songs on Big Echo take too long to get to the point — or labor it once they arrive there. The Morning Benders may not win any originality points, but they have climbed up a few rungs on the songwriting ladder.

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Buy this at iTunes.

Fashion February 22, 2010 By Eugene Rabkin

faliero cover Faliero Sarti

faliero title Faliero Sarti

Ever wanted to touch a cloud? Now you can. Because that’s what a Faliero Sarti scarf feels like in your hand. For Monica Sarti, the head designer, the tactile experience is of paramount importance – her company’s most popular fabric is a cashmere/silk blend that infuses the scarves with extraordinary softness.
     L’Accessorio Faliero Sarti was founded in 1949 in Tuscany, Italy. It started out as a fabrics house, supplying the newly reborn Italian clothing industry with high quality textiles from its mill. As its reputation grew, so did the list of their clients, which now includes Chanel and Donna Karan.
     But Monica Sarti wanted to take the company further than a mere textile manufacturer. Making accessories seemed like a first logical step, since Sarti already possessed extensive expertise in fabrics. Nevertheless, she wanted to push her obsession with manipulating the yarn further. I caught up with co-owner Federico Sarti at Pitti Uomo in Florence to discuss their fabric choices and methods of production. “We are famous of course for using traditional fabrics like cashmere, wool, and modal,” said he, “but we are now also experimenting with more innovative materials such as protein and bamboo.”

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Music February 19, 2010 By Todd Rosenberg
gorilla Local Natives: Gorilla Manor
Frenchkiss Records

filler29 Local Natives: Gorilla Manorlocalnatives title Local Natives: Gorilla Manor

Nowadays, underground bands typically do something fancy to get noticed — creating baroque arrangements and baffling song structures or using whacked-out instrumentation to impress. So it’s particularly refreshing when a band like Local Natives comes along and does something brilliant without really doing anything radically different. Gorilla Manor, their debut album (which finally hits U.S. stores this week, after building a buzz in import exile) simply has the catchiest songs you’ve heard in a long time, underpinned by fantastic, creative drumming and three-part vocals veteran bands would kill for. At first blush, it sounds like My Morning Jacket performing songs by The Shins, with soaring crescendos that provide gravity to would-be pop songs. While it’s a reference point for their sound, this critic’s “short cut” fails to peg the immediacy this Silver Lake, California quintet creates, like an old musical friend you’ve heard before but aren’t sure where. The early standout “Sun Hands” trickily vacillates between subdued and exuberant, both delicate and raucous, while “Airplanes” trots along nostalgically, nicely measured out. It’s a safe bet that the first part of their name will become a misnomer, as the world beyond California, and even the US, takes notice of this gem in the months to come.

Check out the “Airplanes” video after the jump.

Buy this at Other Music or iTunes.

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Fashion February 19, 2010 By Editors

paulaparrish cover2 Paula Parrish: Angles of Depose

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Art February 18, 2010 By Rachel A Maggart
magda cover Magda
San-Zhr Pod Village, Taiwan, 2008 (Photography by Magda Biernat courtesy of Clic Gallery)

filler27 Magda
magda title2 Magda

In a world subsumed by top tens and to dos, Polish-born photographer Magda Biernat takes aim at our itemized approach to travel. Now running at Clic Gallery through March 2 is her Continental Bounce, culled from a year of transcontinental exploration. Documenting remote spaces through a local lens, Biernat captures Kenya, Australia, and everything in between. Oceanic vistas aside, though, Continental Bounce is no ordinary tourist brochure. Subtly elusive, the exhibit disorients even the most surefooted of jetsetters. Take Tipi Resort in Swakopmund, Namibia, for example, which features an African chalet seemingly plucked from the Sonoran desert. Avoiding major sites in favor of the interstices that define the journey, Continental Bounce is a testament to shifting borders and cultural ambiguity. We sat down with the artist to discover more.

What draws you to interiors and architecture?

Early on, I noticed that I have a good eye for structures and geometrical shapes and combinations of colors. That’s why I decided to go into architecture commercially…. Even though I love good portraits of people, first of all I am taking pictures of spaces.

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