Art April 30, 2010 By Rachel A Maggart


Mount Mongaku Does Penance in Nachi Waterfall, 1851. All artwork by Utagawa Kuniyoshi, All photography © Trustees of the British Museum. Courtesy of Japan Society. (Click Images to Enlarge)

graphicheroestitle Utagawa Kuniyoshi

From embattled warriors to writhing sea creatures, ukiyo-e aficionados and comic book collectors will find their niche in the fearsome and fantastic, now on display at the Japan Society through June 13. Showcasing exquisitely detailed woodblock prints by the godfather of modern video games and anime, Graphic Heroes, Magic Monsters: Japanese Prints by Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1797-1861), from the Arthur R. Miller Collection,” is a not-to-be-missed exhibition organized by Timothy Clark, head of the Japanese section of the British Museum. An action-packed show grouped in warrior, landscape, kabuki, beautiful women, and kyoga (literally “crazy pictures”) categories, the 130-print pictorama includes gems from the collection of NYU legal scholar Arthur R. Miller, rough sketches unearthed from the Victoria and Albert Museum and even onsite drawing by the mangaka-in-residence Hiroki Otsuka. Moved by the master printmaker, Otsuka will create a full-length comic strip as an interactive “meta-narrative” for exhibition goers.
     Having created roughly 10,000 prints, Kuniyoshi can be viewed a powerful Pop Art progenitor who worked to satisfy the insatiable appetite of Edo period manga fan equivalents (at a rate of two soba platefuls per print, scholars estimate). But apart from his staggering output, the artist is celebrated for his spirited defiance and slew of creative tangents despite his censorial 1840s Tokugawa shogunate.

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Music April 29, 2010 By Todd Rosenberg

filler57 Flying Lotus: Cosmogramma

Warp Records

Warp Records

flyinglotustitle Flying Lotus: CosmogrammaFlying Lotus’ commanding second album conjures alternate titles in my mind: “2010: A Space Oddity” or, perhaps more appropriate, “Sketches of Space”. Yet Cosmogramma is quite fitting — a journey into an alternate musical universe, seemingly worlds beyond ours. It’s a giant leap forward for this LA-based producer; not that his debut wasn’t impressive, but as its name Los Angeles connotes, he still had his feet firmly on local ground. Jet-pack strapped, FlyLo has taken along on his fantastic voyage a time capsule of jazz, funk, and psychedelics that leaks out across his electro blueprints. With its spastic, virtuoso bass line courtesy of Thundercat, “Pickled!” is the sound of droids dancing, while “Mmmhmm” is like an Outkast or Foreign Exchange track in orbit. “Computer Face/Pure Being” (stream below) is what Parliament-Funkadelic might be doing today if they were still making new music and using a Galaga machine as an instrument. Most promising is the showcase Flying Lotus creates for top musicians and vocalists including relative Ravi Coltrane on sax, harpist Rebekah Raff, and fellow cosmonaut Thom Yorke on guest vocals — it’s the deft trick Massive Attack and UNKLE employed to great strength when coming up, and it’s potent here. Most likely, the best electronic record you’ll hear all year and yet it’s so densely packed with multiple styles and layers, it could take through next year to fully decode its wonderful complexity.

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Cosmogramma comes out May 4. Buy this at Other Music or iTunes.

Art April 28, 2010 By Nana Asfour

“The self-taught Syrian artist Sabhan Adam produces paintings filled with nervous, dripping lines and blocks of intense colour. . . In a culture in which the viewing and depiction of the body are bound by religious and social rules, Adam’s radical rethinking of the human figure and face is particularly challenging.” Credit: Sabhan Adam, Untitled (Figure in Yellow Coat), 2006, Private Collection, London

Sabhan Adam, Untitled (Figure in Yellow Coat), 2006, Private Collection, London

artinthemiddleeasttitle1 Art of the Middle East

“It is a very exciting time for Middle Eastern artists: there is a real spirit of innovation and creativity in the air,” the famed architect Zaha Hadid, who is based in London but hails from Iraq, writes in the foreword to the newly released The Art of the Middle East.
Here’s a personal note just to put things in better perspective: When I began reporting on Middle Eastern arts and culture, some fifteen years ago, there were but a handful of notable players worth writing about — or so it seemed at the time. Now, as this book makes all too clear, not only are there enough artists to fill a hefty, 300-page coffee-table book but the number has swelled to the extent that such a compendium can’t make enough room for all of them. As thoroughly exclusive as The Art of the Middle East tries to be, several people — most notably the Hugo Boss Prize winning Palestinian artist Emily Jacir, who had her own retrospective at New York’s Guggenheim last Spring — have been left out. The author, Saeb Eigner, a British-Lebanese financier and self-assigned Arab arts champion (his credentials include acting as the senior adviser for the British Museum’s exhibition Word into Art: Artists of the Modern Middle East) apologizes for the omissions in the Afterword.
     He’s forgiven. Especially since this book is so beautifully and impressively rendered.

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Fashion April 27, 2010 By Nika Knight

fluidforms cover Fluid Formsfluidforms title Fluid Forms

Physical places have an uncanny way of evoking nostalgia. Maybe it’s the street corner in New York where you first met your significant other or the club you went to practically every weekend that semester you studied in Berlin. It could be your childhood home, the campus of your alma mater or even that park in Copenhagen you spent one perfect day just lounging in—whatever the place or connection, our most visceral memories are inextricably linked to their locales.
     Fluid Forms, an Austrian design firm, has come out with a design called Streets Earrings that allows anyone to adorn themselves with a satellite street map of any location in the world—a physical reminder of one’s best memory. In a process similar to developing photos, thin metal sheets are photo etched with satellite images of a location selected by the customer. The result is a delicately engraved satellite map, enclosed in a simple, dangling hoop.
     Hannes Walter and Stephen Williams, co-founders of Fluid Forms, collaborated with New York-based urbanist and designer John Briscella to make the Streets designs. The series came after the firm’s initial line of custom products, which are all based on topographical maps of the Earth. “Realizing that our Earth concept often doesn’t work in large cities, which tend to be flat, we had been looking to something that would work well in cities for a while,” writes Williams vie e-mail. “Urbanism is becoming a trend, and since a lot of emotions are tied up to locations within cities, the streets concept became the perfect extension to the Earth concept.”

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Art April 27, 2010 By Nika Knight

Photography courtesy of Jason deCaires Taylor

Photography courtesy of Jason deCaires Taylor

underwatersculpture title Underwater Sculptures

Underwater sculpture is an environmental art form invented by British diver and sculptor Jason deCaires Taylor, who is now hard at work creating more than 400 life-size sculptures that will form the world’s largest underwater sculpture museum. Located off of Cancun — Mexico’s largest tourist destination — the waters where the sculptures are located are visited by over 750,000 people each year.
     Taylor’s sculptures are made of environmentally safe materials that encourage reef regrowth, and located on the ocean floor in areas that won’t harm existing ecosystems, thus allowing the much-damaged coral to regrow and create whole new ecosystems to support fish, crustaceans, and other invertebrates. The eery underwater presence of the life-size human sculptures involved in various activities (reading the paper; lounging in underwater gardens; maintaining an archive of messages in bottles) serves to distract the tourists, whose dives have thus far only worked to harm the Caribbean reefs, in order to prevent them from doing further damage.

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Fashion April 27, 2010 By Eugene Rabkin

filler51 Linda Farrowlfarrow COVER Linda Farrowfiller51 Linda Farrowlfarrow title Linda FarrowWhen creative fashion designers such as Yohji Yamamoto or Raf Simons want to try their hand at creating sunglasses, they call on Simon Jablon, the owner of the London-based eyewear brand Linda Farrow. The company boasts an unparalleled heritage. It was established in 1970 by Jablon’s mother, whose name the line carries today. Linda Farrow started out as a fashion designer, before realizing that she could approach eyewear the way designers approach fashion, putting a creative spin on a quotidian product. The London scene quickly caught onto her quirky designs, and Farrow became their go-to brand for sunglasses. Remember those famous wraparound shades that Yoko Ono wore in her photos from the ’70s? They were Linda Farrow.
    The company was successful through the ’80s and then slowly drifted out of sight. It wasn’t until Jablon stumbled upon Farrow’s archive that a light bulb went off in his head. Thus, the company was resurrected. “What makes the company unique,” Jablon said when we caught up at Pitti Uomo in Florence, “is that there was never any business plan behind restarting it. As a child I could never quite grasp my mother’s achievement because you don’t think about your parents in terms of their career. The whole thing happened by chance. One day I was helping out my father, who asked me to clean out our family warehouse. So, I went over there to go through my mother’s stuff. There were boxes upon boxes of samples, and only after handling the eyeglasses I realized that I stumbled upon a treasure.”

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Music April 26, 2010 By Lily Moayeri

filler56 Caribou: Swim

Merge Records

Merge Records

caribou title Caribou: Swim
No one can accuse Caribou’s Dan Snaith of stagnation. The one man behind Caribou’s experimental operation delves into dance music deeper than ever before on his latest full-length, Swim. Looking back rather than forward, Swim re-imagines the rave sounds of the early ‘90s with ‘00s geek-chic style. Snaith’s signature psychedelic swirls oscillate in and out of the arrangements in varying volumes. This provides the backdrop for the minimal techno bumps and distorted vocals Snaith himself is providing. More than the passing reference to Hot Chip and Arthur Russell must be made, as Snaith borrows his ideas generously from Hot Chip’s nerd-electro and Russell’s fringe-disco. The scratchy plinks of “Hannibal” and falsetto-voiced “Leave House” are fodder for adult dance music. The ambient burps and messy synths of “Lalibela” make it sound like it’s being played backwards (if it weren’t for the incomprehensible vocals), where one can snatch a word or two here and there and realize this is the direction the song is meant to go. This is the type of dance music grownups can get with.

After the jump, check out the video for “Odessa”.
Buy this at Other Music or iTunes.


Greenspace April 26, 2010 By Nalina Moses

filler54 Rising Currents:

ARO and dlandstudio, section showing green infiltration streets.

ARO and dlandstudio, section showing green infiltration streets.

filler54 Rising Currents:risingcurrents title1 Rising Currents:

We move through New York City largely unconscious of the bodies of water that surround us. Our neighborhoods turn inward, onto streets and parks. Even when we’re on the waterfront our rivers and inlets remain lovely backdrops; we don’t fully understand the forces that move them and the life they support.
     In fact the city’s sea level is rising due to global warming, and could be nearly two feet higher fifty years from now. This would endanger much of the city’s existing waterfront, overloading sewers and eroding foundations. The curators of Rising Currents: Projects for New York’s Waterfront, on display now at MoMA through October 11, selected five regions of the waterfront that are particularly vulnerable and asked five local design teams for their solutions.
     Their vivid proposals all highlight “soft infrastructure”, that is, broadly-based ecological interventions rather than purely structural ones. So instead of wrapping the shorelines in a concrete super-wall, the teams employ inventive planning, planting, and building to meet the challenge.
     Somewhat audaciously, three of the five schemes continue building the city out over the water. ARO and dlandstudio extend the tightly-woven fabric of downtown Manhattan outward, building porous streets from an engineered mesh of concrete and seawater plants.

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Music April 23, 2010 By Timothy Gunatilaka

filler55 David Byrne & Fatboy Slim: Here Lies Love

Todomundo/Nonesuch Records

Todomundo/Nonesuch Records

byrneandslim title David Byrne & Fatboy Slim: Here Lies Love

In one of the unquestionably oddest releases of the year, David Byrne and Fatboy Slim memorialize the notorious First Lady of the Philippines and shoe connoisseur Imelda Marcos (as well as her nanny Estrella Cumpas) with this 22-track concept album. In exploring the life of one of the last century’s most infamous female figures, Byrne and Fatboy Slim have enlisted quite an array of strong women behind the mic, including Sharon Jones, Santigold, Cyndi Lauper, Tori Amos, Florence Welch, Nellie McKay, Natalie Merchant, as well as lone male guest, Steve Earle. In largely writing all lyrics in the first person, Byrne casts his subject as a wannabe disco diva reflecting upon her innocent teen-beauty-queen hopes and doomed dreams for fame, fortune, and power. Throughout the two discs (which also come in a deluxe edition with a DVD of music videos and a 100-page book), it is hard not to think of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Evita — both in concept and aesthetics. The title track, with Welch (of Florence and the Machine), starts the album with soft-rock flourishes, kitchy cabaret, and Seventies-era strings and horns befitting this twisted take on the Broadway biography.

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Buy this at iTunes.


Art April 23, 2010 By Derek Peck

filler50 Shirin Neshat

Shirin Neshat Feature Film Still, Women Without Men, 2009. Copyright Shirin Neshat, Courtesy Gladstone Gallery, New York.

Shirin Neshat Feature Film Still, Women Without Men, 2009. Copyright Shirin Neshat, Courtesy Gladstone Gallery, New York.

filler50 Shirin Neshatneshat title Shirin Neshat

From my regular column in AnOther magazine.

The day of my visit with Shirin Neshat, the internationally renowned Iranian artist, just so happens to be her birthday. I didn’t know this; she tells me upon my arrival at the Soho loft she shares with her partner (in life and art), Shoja Azari. Although Shirin and I have met a few times before and share friends in common, I feel bad about intruding on her special day for something as mundane as journalism. However, I soon realise she’s not much in the mood for celebrating it anyway. In fact, she seems even to be wishing it away. I don’t understand why people are making such a fuss, she says. I don’t really have time to think about my birthday this year anyway. We’re leaving for Toronto tomorrow and there’s still so much to do.
The “so much” Shirin is referring to has to do with pre-release events and official openings of her first feature film, Women Without Men, in various countries. There are emails and phone calls to answer, travel plans to arrange, screenings and parties to attend, and, of course, a deluge of interviews on the horizon. I’m so glad it’s you today, Shirin says, I can just be myself.
     She takes visible enjoyment in telling me the story, over Iranian tea and a bowl of green raisins and walnuts. It’s the one thing that seems to excite her out of her birthday humbug and the apparent sense of anxiousness that must accompany such breakthrough periods in one’s life.

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