Art May 31, 2010 By Nika Knight

filler73 Malwine Rafalski

Photography by Malwine Rafalski

Photography by Malwine Rafalski (Click images to enlarge)

mallwine bs Malwine RafalskiMalwine Rafalski is a German photographer based in Cologne. She began studying photography only six years ago, and has worked as a freelance photographer since graduating last year. Her work focuses on the edges of society, the fringes of civilized communities. She has photographed gypsy populations outside of Bucharest; young, single mothers in their homes in Germany; and in her most recent project, Holon, she photographs forest-dwelling communities that have rejected today’s mechanized society for a utopian vision of communion with the natural world. She answered via email a few of our questions about her work and these mysterious off-grid lives.

What does “holon” mean?
The term holon describes something that is simultaneously a whole and a part. Each holon has two tendencies: to exist as an autonomous, self-reliant unit and to be also an integral and dependent part in sub-ordination to controls on higher levels. It is a system (or phenomenon) which is an evolving self-organizing dissipative structure, composed of other holons, whose structures exist at a balance point between chaos and order. It is more a scientific term, but it describes the people of my series perfectly.

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Design May 31, 2010 By Roxanne Fequiere

Tree: copyright Simon Heijdens and slowLab

Tree: copyright Simon Heijdens and slowLab

slowlab title slowLabThough the pithy proverb of The Tortoise and the Hare entered our collective cultural lexicon long ago, the increasingly rapid digital age has made it somewhat difficult to believe that slow and steady can triumph in any endeavor. For an organization like slowLab, however, taking first place in any competition is merely tangential to a much broader goal. Dedicated to promoting slow design and the six principles it embodies — to reveal, expand, and evolve while encouraging viewers to reflect, engage, and participate — slowLab is the brainchild of director Carolyn Strauss. Founded in 2003, the slowLab prototype focused on slow dialogues, or public discussion forums that elaborated on the notion of “reflecting more, reacting less”.
     Since then, the nonprofit organization has supported several projects that embody the ethos of slowLab’s defining principles. A “shining example” of slow design, according to Strauss, is former filmmaker Natalie Chanin’s lifestyle brand, Alabama Chanin. Instead of cycling through trends and seasons to turn a quick profit, Alabama Chanin challenges the fashion industry’s breakneck pace by producing sustainable, hand-stitched garments in Chanin’s hometown of Florence, Alabama. “I was initially drawn to her work because of how it honors and has revived local traditions,” says Strauss. Alabama Chanin’s products are all sewn by local women in traditional communication-fostering work circles, which in turn has also created jobs in a rural region.

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Art May 28, 2010 By Jeanette Wyche

filler76 Aki Sasamoto

Photography courtesy of Whitney Museum of American Art

Photography courtesy of Whitney Museum of American Art (Click images to enlarge)

filler76 Aki Sasamotosasamoto title Aki SasamotoIn mathematics, a strange attractor occurs when a “trajectory of a graph seems to be attracted to certain point(s)/line(s)/plane(s) in a seemingly unpredictable manner,” explains Aki Sasamoto. Strange Attractors, her show in the Whitney Biennial, explores the question of whether one can experience this mathematical phenomenon in everyday life. How do we end up in certain places? Why are we drawn to certain things? Sasamoto asks, “Can I feel that math through my life?”
     During her performance, Sasamoto talks about her current fascinations — hemorrhoids, psychics, and doughnuts — as well as seemingly real-life experiences, such as ominous encounters with a series of psychics. As she speaks, she roams about her large, found-object installation, echoing the mathematical phenomenon that obsesses her.
     Observing Sasamoto’s performance is akin to running into a stranger who volunteers inappropriate personal information — intense discomfort arises as the artist describes, for example, her most recent hemorrhoid. In the case of the stranger, however, it’s relatively easy to excuse oneself; with Sasamoto, listeners feel compelled to linger in order to see where her trajectory will lead her.
     The specificity of the dates and times of her performances at the Biennial echo the mathematical theme: Sasamoto performs at 4pm only on dates that have a 6 or 9. Anyone interested in the mathematics of randomness has until the exhibit closes on May 30 to join Sasamoto on her occasionally discomfiting — yet often enlightening — exploration of this obscure mathematical principle.

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Photography courtesy of Imaging Atelier.

Photography courtesy of Imaging Atelier. (Click images to enlarge)

arcticcircle title Arctic Circle AirportWhen an Oslo-based architectural firm committed to “boldness” and “innovation” joins creative forces with the “international outlook” of a young London firm, it seems likely that their collaborative efforts will favor universal appeal over landscape-specific subtlety. Judging by the concept sketches and feasibility report presented by Narud Stokke Wiig Architects and Planners and Haptic, however, the firm’s proposed design for a Norwegian international airport located just below the Arctic Circle manages to fit both criteria.
     Avoiding the harsh juxtaposition of a thoroughly modern structure against the backdrop of an otherwise remote and forested region, NSW and Haptic have instead molded their sharp lines to mimic the local terrain. Shoving the terminal building’s roof into a series of jagged peaks, the design pays homage to the nearby mountains of Traena, with a control tower enclosed within the structure’s tallest peak.
     The Nordland, Norway airport certainly isn’t the first of its kind to take inspiration from the surrounding landscape. Yet similar structures like the Denver International Airport, known for its peaked white tensile fiberglass roof reminiscent of the Rocky Mountains, supplement their visual tribute to the environment with sustainable design and environmentally sound materials. Since 2008, DIA has vastly reduced its annual carbon emissions with a massive on-site solar energy system.

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Art May 28, 2010 By Eugene Rabkin

filler76 Christian Boltanski at the Armory

Photography by James Ewing courtesy of Park Avenue Armory. (Click images to enlarge)

Photography by James Ewing courtesy of Park Avenue Armory.
(Click images to enlarge)

filler76 Christian Boltanski at the Armoryboltanski title Christian Boltanski at the ArmoryChristian Boltanski, the French artist who works in various media, has always resisted all but the most abstract interpretations of his work. His new exhibit, titled No Man’s Land, on view at the Park Avenue Armory deals with “human identity, memory, and loss”, according to the press release. Still, I couldn’t avoid the overwhelming feeling that this impressive and grandiose installation, with its 60,000 pieces of discarded clothing, is about the Holocaust.
    The exhibition was held earlier this year in Paris, in the Grand Palais. But the glass ceiling and the Art Noveau cuteness of the space negated the poignant effect of the exhibit. The Armory’s vast Wade Thomson Drill Hall, with its industrially grim ceiling, is cold and uninviting, which suits No Man’s Land well. Boltanski is much more famous in Europe than in the US, and while I had to wait in the ticket line in Paris, at the Armory I had the entire exhibition just about all to myself, which added to the experience.
    Upon entering the hall the viewer is greeted by a tall, wide wall of rusted tin boxes, each randomly numbered and illuminated from above. This unwelcoming structure invokes the systematic nature of the Holocaust, where Jews were exterminated with machine-like efficiency.
    Rounding the wall, the visitor is surprised by the spaciousness of the gigantic hall, successfully juxtaposed against the claustrophobia of the tin box wall. Thirty tons of discarded clothing lay on the wooden floor in a grid.

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Art May 27, 2010 By Jenna Martin

filler70 Narrow Streets: Los Angeles

Narrow Streets Rendering, Little Tokyo. All images courtesy of Narrow Streets. (Click to Enlarge)

Narrow Streets Rendering, Little Tokyo. All images courtesy of Narrow Streets. (Click to Enlarge)

filler70 Narrow Streets: Los Angelesnarrowstreets title Narrow Streets: Los AngelesLos Angeles-based designer/writer David Yoon transforms LA’s overwhelmingly expansive thoroughfares into more digestible streets in his blog, Narrow Streets: Los Angeles. The project — “a fantasy urban makeover” — began one Fourth of July weekend when Yoon was strolling along Montana Avenue and was struck by the sheer emptiness on the otherwise bustling five-lane road. Inspired by the narrow corridors of old Europe, Yoon took carefully framed photos of the street then went home and narrowed it down to a single lane in Photoshop. The result was “irresistible in its suddenly human scale” and the start of Narrow Streets: Los Angeles.
     Designed to provoke the viewer’s imagination, Narrow Streets emphasizes the importance of street design in dictating car speed, traffic, and ultimately our perception of urban environments. Through narrowing L.A.’s oversized streets, Yoon hopes “to re-calibrate people’s standard of space”, and in doing so “provoke people into re-examining their urban environments in a way that is immediately visual and visceral”. While Yoon considers Narrow Streets to be more fanciful than practical concept art, “the project has definitely struck a chord with people who are hungry for a city that’s less car-focused, less about being a place to plan getaways, and more about enjoying life on an everyday basis”. Narrow Streets may just be a pipe dream for Los Angeles, but it’s certainly redefining the way we view our vast city of asphalt.

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Fashion May 27, 2010 By Eugene Rabkin

filler76 Freemansfreemans cover Freemansfiller76 Freemansfreemans TITLE FreemansSusan Sontag once said that an off-putting contemporary cultural phenomenon may become endearing with the passage of time. And while the ’50s Americana, conservative and conventional, has disconcerted many a person of liberal views, today its trappings have been adopted by a growing army of hipsters who would not touch suits and dress shirts, traditionally reserved for the gray Wall Street drones, with a ten foot pole just a decade ago. Freemans Sporting Club, the men’s Lower East Side store — pardon, a haberdashery! — has been instrumental in pushing this style, along with the nostalgic “hand-made-in-the-USA” tag.
    Nostalgia notwithstanding, we live in modern times, and so Freemans recently launched their website. Staying true to the brand image, the website is a carefully executed time-machine that transports you from today’s Williamsburg to the Suburb, USA of the yesteryear. The website features cheeky images of suburban pastoral in the Norman Rockwell style — here are a couple of Dads sipping beer around a lawnmower while a younger guy is working on his trusted motorcycle and there is another Dad taking his son fishing.
    The merchandise matches the image — three-piece suits hand made in Brooklyn, oxford shirts made in New Jersey (albeit from Japanese cotton) — all are timeless, as the website assures. And do not forget the jeans — raw indigo selvage denim, of course! All fine and dandy, but what would Allen Ginsberg say about flannel suits and the best minds of his generation?

Events May 27, 2010 By Nika Knight

filler76 Beyond the Street Event

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

beyondthestreetevent title Beyond the Street EventTonight sees the North American release of Beyond the Street: The 100 Leading Figures in Urban Art, which we reviewed several weeks ago and which collects for the first time 100 of the biggest players in the world of contemporary street art in one giant book. It juxtaposes artists with galleries, auction houses with collectors, and in so doing attempts to capture the sense of community integral to the ever-growing street art scene. The heavy tome consists of 400 pages of interviews and photos with such illustrious names as Wooster Collective, Shepard Fairey, and Juxtapoz Magazine. Present at tonight’s signing will be featured contributors Dzine, Elbow-Toe, MOMO, Labrona, WK Interact, José Parlá, Gaia and more.

Book release and signing for Beyond the Street will take place tonight, 6-8 pm at Dietch Projects, 18 Wooster St., New York, NY. RSVP at

Music May 26, 2010 By Benjamin Gold

filler76 LCD Soundsystem: This Is Happening

DFA / Virgin

DFA / Virgin

lcd title LCD Soundsystem: This Is Happening“I’ve always been a good imitator. I love music. But I’m just not that original,” said James Murphy, bandleader and songwriter of LCD Soundsystem, to The New Yorker a few weeks ago. It’s true, Murphy’s music is many things, original not being one of them, but that’s the point. LCD Soundsystem is a great band because, like all great rock bands, Murphy distills his influences (namely Brian Eno, ’90s House, and New York in the late ’70s) and re-formats them in his own unique style.
     Murphy made his creative breakthrough as LCD Soundsystem with 2007’s Sound of Silver, a giant leap beyond his 2005 self-titled debut. This Is Happening, supposedly Murphy’s last under the LCD moniker, doesn’t have as many breakout moments as Silver — it doesn’t reach the peaks of “Someone Great”, “All My Friends”, or “New York I Love You…” — but it doesn’t reach Silver’s relative lows either. The result is a more consistent, though flatter sounding, album.

Buy this at iTunes.


Art May 26, 2010 By Rachel A Maggart

filler74 Rosalind Solomon

A Holy Man, Katmandu (1985). All photography by Rosalind Solomon. (Click image to enlarge)

A Holy Man, Katmandu (1985). All photography by Rosalind Solomon. (Click image to enlarge)

rosalind titel Rosalind SolomonThough hardly a stranger in photography circles, Rosalind Solomon is gradually gaining prominence in the mainstream. After four decades trekking Japan, Guatemala, Peru, India, Nepal, South Africa, and Poland with a medium format point and shoot, the veteran photographer and recent octogenarian is being celebrated in New York in multiple ways. Her single-artist exhibition, RITUAL (now on view at Bruce Silverstein Gallery through June), and the MoMA’s Pictures by Women: A History of Modern Photography (taking place nearly twenty-five years after her first Ritual show at the MoMA) feature the artist in bold documentary form. Reflecting an ongoing theme in her work, RITUAL documents private meditation and communal rites binding people of various cultures. A humanist to the core, Solomon captures expressions sharpening the ebb and flow of ordinary existence.
     Known for her window-into-the-world immediacy rendered via the use of square format and strobe lighting, Solomon’s work has often been likened to that of Diane Arbus (with both women’s penchant for deviant subject matter only augmenting the comparison — the former favoring battered baby dolls, the latter, society’s castoffs).

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