Photography by Noah Greenberg

Photography by Noah Greenberg

landerson title Laurie Anderson: Another Day in AmericaThere’s something comforting yet mystifying about Laurie Anderson. In a single breath, Anderson can wax provocative about economic apocalypse before discussing an upcoming Christmas record by her piano-playing dog, Lola Belle. Yet, no matter how hyper-intellectual or flat-out absurd her words and works might seem, in conversation she somehow straddles the line between pretentiousness and preposterousness without ever succumbing to either. Since her breakthrough work from forty years ago, Duets on Ice, in which she wore ice skates frozen into a block of ice and played violin until the ice melted away, through her ten-plus albums featuring collaborations with William S. Burroughs, Brian Eno, Philip Glass, Antony Hegarty, and husband Lou Reed, Anderson has mastered the far-flung worlds of avant-garde art, literature, film, experimental music, and even technology, inventing instruments such as tape-bow violins and voice filters. Using the voice filters in much of her spoken word and musical works, Anderson cultivated a male alter-ego (in an act she calls “audio drag”) named Fenway Bergamot, whose visage and voice take center-stage on Anderson’s latest album, Homeland, which continues her critique of American identity and injustice.

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Buy Homeland at iTunes. Visit Nonesuch Records to hear song samples. And for more remixes of “Only An Expert”, visit Indaba Music.

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Art June 30, 2010 By Roxanne Fequiere

filler111 Refuge: Five Cities

Cooling Plant, Dubai, 2009. All images courtesy of Storefront for Art and Architecture. (Click images to enlarge)

Cooling Plant, Dubai, 2009. All images courtesy of Storefront for Art and Architecture. (Click images to enlarge)

refuge title Refuge: Five CitiesIn the novels of Edith Wharton, a bygone era of New York is immortalized, one in which New York’s burgeoning urban space exists alongside sprawling wilderness. The cartography of the Manhattan isle has long since been charted — but in parts of the Middle East, newly-constructed skyscrapers stand against a seldom-interrupted backdrop of desert sand.
     Rotterdam-based artist Bas Princen was introduced to this curiously disparate landscape as a research project for the International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam. However, his photographs of rapidly-developing urban centers in areas like Dubai, Beirut, Amman, Cairo, and Istanbul reveal differences that extend far beyond architecture.
     While most of his images are absent of people, when he does juxtapose human figures with the structures-in-progress, their physical proximity belies the two entities’ social distance from one another. Clad in blue workman’s uniforms and clustered near piles of rubble, groups of laborers gather in front of a massive slick black cube of a building. It is clear that these workmen occupy a very different world than the one that they are working to create for others.
     The cities portrayed in Bas Princen’s images have the feeling of a work in progress. Yet while the landscapes he has captured are certainly progressing toward urbanization, the somewhat desolate atmosphere of his pictures impose a looming question mark over this new generation of flourishing cities.

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Music June 29, 2010 By Jessica Ferri

filler112 Robyn: Body Talk Pt. 1

Cherrytree Records

Cherrytree Records

robyn title Robyn: Body Talk Pt. 1 Since her explosion onto the American pop charts in 1997 with “Show Me Love”, when she was 18 years old, Robyn has graduated from the school of hard-knocks. Her 2005 comeback album, Robyn, featured songs filled with strife and swelling egoism — the songbook of a girl who’s not going to take it anymore. Her new album, Body Talk Pt. 1 (of what she promises will be a three-part series) is no different. Though these tracks are composed of pulsing, straight-forward dance beats, the lyrics reflect an endless string of heartbreak, boredom, and violent confidence. In the video for “Dancing on My Own”, Robyn proudly presents her biceps like a champion fighter before the ring. While she admits, in the opening track, that her drinking, smoking, PMS, mother, and shoes are killing her, she also posits, “Don’t fucking tell me what to do”. Then, as if the posturing had become exhaustive, she finishes the album with a ballad, “Hang With Me” (whatever you do, “don’t fall recklessly, headlessly in love” with her), and a sweet traditional Swedish folksong, “Jag Vet En Dejlig Rosa”, that shows off her vocal prowess.

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After the jump, check out the video for “Dancing on My Own”. Buy this at iTunes.

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Art June 28, 2010 By Roxanne Fequiere

filler108 Rivane Neuenschwander

I Wish Your Wish, 2003.  Installation view, St. Louis Art Museum. All artwork by Rivane Neuenschwander.  (Click images to enlarge)

I Wish Your Wish, 2003. Installation view, St. Louis Art Museum. All artwork by Rivane Neuenschwander. (Click images to enlarge)

filler108 Rivane Neuenschwanderrivane title Rivane NeuenschwanderThe veritable hodgepodge of influences that define Brazilian artist Rivane Neuenschwander’s work is reflected in her own heritage and training. Born in Belo Horizonte of mixed ancestry, Neuenschwander has darted back and forth between her home country and the European continent for much of her career. Rivane Neuenschwander: A Day Like Any Other, now on display at the New Museum, presents the last decade of the artist’s multi-genre work.
     Dabbling in film, painting, and sculpture, Neuenschwander relies on a fluid relationship between herself and the audience. The hundreds of colorful ribbons that make up I Wish Your Wish are printed with wishes submitted by past visitors. Viewers are encouraged to take one of the ribbons and tie it to their wrist, and replace the empty spot with a written wish of their own. The inspiration for the project stems from a tradition practiced by members of the church of Nosso Senhor do Bonfim in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil.
A Day Like Any Other is curated by Richard Flood at the New Museum. On Thursday evening, Flood will discuss the exhibit with the artist herself, touching on Neuenschwander’s contributions to Brazilian Conceptualism and the ways in which her rich background has allowed her to surpass her predecessors, creating work that at once references the past yet is still uniquely her own.
     Rivane Neuenschwander: A Day Like Any Other will be on view through September 19, 2010 at the New Museum. Rivane Neuenschwander and Richard Flood in Conversation takes place on June 24 at 7 p.m.

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Events June 25, 2010 By Nika Knight

filler110 Breathlessbreatheless cover Breathlessbreatheless title BreathlessFifty years ago today, Jean-Luc Godard’s Breathless broke new ground and heralded the arrival of what came to be known as French New Wave Cinema. Breathless was shot in a single summer, in a style unprecedented by previous films. Godard was 29. Determined in equal parts by practical and aesthetic concerns, the film’s distinct jump cuts, long shots, and vivid visual style — combined with its exploration of existential themes through Michel, the petty, Humphrey Bogart-obsessed criminal, and his lover, Patricia, played by Jean Seberg in the role that made her famous — came to define an iconic moment in contemporary film.
     A fully restored version of the film was released last month by Optimum. While it’s hard to imagine seeing this movie for the first time, seeing it restored today reminds us of its stand-alone style and hopefully brings new admirers to what remains a revolutionary work.

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filler97 Red Hook Green

Photography courtesy of Garrison Architects.

Photography courtesy of Garrison Architects. (Click images to enlarge)

filler97 Red Hook Greenredhookgreen title Red Hook GreenWhile “sustainability” is possibly the hottest buzzword in the world of contemporary design, the term “net zero-energy” is comparatively unknown. Red Hook Green, the newest project by the Brooklyn-based Garrison Architects, is likely to change that. The project is poised to be New York’s first net zero-energy live/work building — it will sustain itself through natural means, and contribute no pollution to our beleagured city air.
     The US Department of Energy defines a zero-energy building, or ZEB, as “a residential or commercial building with greatly reduced energy needs through efficiency gains such that the balance of energy needs can be supplied with renewable technologies”. What’s most revolutionary about the concept of a ZEB is that it asserts that city structures can meet all their energy needs from such low-cost, locally available, and renewable resources as solar and wind power.
     Red Hook Green is approximately 4,000 square feet and includes space for a studio/workshop, corporate offices, garages and a residential apartment — as well as an outdoor green space. Inspired by shipping containers (whose creative potential we covered earlier), the building’s form pays homage to the its Red Hook location, which has long been defined by its active shipping port. Composed of stacked, modular units, the design also takes advantage of the area’s incomparable harbor views. Here’s hoping that this initial effort allows the most greenest of design concepts to take root in the most urban of settings.
     Red Hook Green is to be completed by December 2010. Until that time, those interested can follow its progress through its blog.

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Art June 24, 2010 By Nika Knight

filler99 Jan Smith

Photography by Jan Smith. (Click images to enlarge)

Photography by Jan Smith. (Click images to enlarge)

filler99 Jan Smithjansmith title Jan SmithJan Smith has worked as a businessman and entrepreneur for much of his life. After selling his company five years ago, he committed himself to what he had long considered just a hobby: photography. His recent project captures the shells of abandoned ships in the world’s largest “ship cemetery”, in Nouadhibou, Mauritania. Smith spoke to PLANET about his body of work and the rugged journey that led him to Nouadhibou.

How would you characterize your work?
I’m really drawn to things that are overlooked, what most people don’t seem to pay attention to. If you pay attention to what I’m taking a picture of, you’ll see the story behind it. But I don’t really want to tell you that story up front.

Can you explain the story behind the approximately 500 abandoned ships?
In the 1980s, the fishing industry was nationalized. And rather than turning in some of the ships to the government, some of the smaller companies simply left them languishing there. When the government took over the boats they realized they didn’t really have the expertise to maintain them. And so when eventually they’d break down, or they’d need an overhaul, and they ended up being abandoned in the bay as well. That made it into an ideal place to then cover up abandoning other ships [for] insurance fraud. Rather than recycling the boat or bringing it all the way back to the waters of Europe or China, it was easier to write them off as sunk or unusable and claim the insurance.

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Music June 24, 2010 By Areti Sakellaris

filler109 Feufollet: En Couleurs

Feufollet Records

Feufollet Records

Feufollet title Feufollet: En CouleursChris Stafford was ten years old when Feufollet formed and the dusty troubadour has returned thirteen years later with the well-seasoned and magnetic En Couleurs. Navigating the waters from childhood musicianship to that of maturing adult is treacherous, but add to that critical acclaim for 2008’s Cow Island Hop and the result could be lackluster. However, the Lafayette, Louisiana-based band geared up to color outside the lines and freed their creative gusto on a slew of original songs. For a band with a reputation rooted in traditional Cajun music, there is nothing staid about En Couleurs with its breezy blend of folk, country, and indie rock. Feufollet, literally translates to “crazy fire” but the band prefers the colloquial “will o’ the wisp” for its amorphous meaning.

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Buy this at iTunes.

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filler86 Flying Sauna

Photography courtesy of H3T Architects (Click images to enlarge)

Photography courtesy of H3T Architects (Click images to enlarge)

filler86 Flying Saunaflyingsauna title Flying SaunaSuspended above the river Elbe, a simple wooden cube hangs from an abandoned bridge. The structure, executed by H3T architects, was crafted hastily from cheap and recycled materials, but this cube is not intended to remain intact for more than a couple of weeks. While it stands, visitors are encouraged to gather firewood from the surrounding wilderness, hoist themselves through a trap door accessible only by boat, and enjoy the pleasures of an aerial sauna.
     Called the Flying Sauna, H3T warns potential visitors to proceed with caution when attempting to use it, noting that the underlying river’s current is strong. Indeed, the bridge that it hangs from marks the site of a weir that was dismantled during the mid-1970s. The sauna is meant to serve as a way of calling attention to the abandoned structure.
     The Flying Sauna is the Czech studio’s second public sauna project. In 2009, H3T erected Sauna on the Water, a four-day construction project that produced a floating steel and plywood cube with a cast iron stove installed for heat. H3T advises using the saunas by moonlight in order to emphasize the contrast between the “beautiful lantern light” and the glistening lake. Both projects are a certainly a far cry from the glossy, tiled saunas that accompany many modern gyms and swimming pools. Instead, the humble cubes are reminiscent of traditional saunas that interact with their natural settings, whether they were burrowed into an earthen pit or built entirely from stone and wood. By reclaiming the origins of the sauna, H3T has managed to celebrate the natural and the manmade simultaneously.

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Books June 23, 2010 By Nalina Moses

filler107 African Arenas : For the Love of the Game

Photography by Thomas Hoeffgen. Courtesy of Hatje Cantz. (Click on images to enlarge)

Photography by Thomas Hoeffgen. Courtesy of Hatje Cantz.
(Click on images to enlarge)

afarenas title African Arenas : For the Love of the GameTo host this year’s FIFA World Cup, the first ever held on its continent, South Africa spent almost 1.5 billion dollars to build five new stadiums and refurbish five others. In a country where many live without adequate housing, water, and medical care, the decision provoked criticism that the government cared more about its international image than problems in its own backyard. But after looking through photographer Thomas Hoeffgen’s new book African Arenas, which documents soccer fields in South Africa as well as Namibia, Nigeria, Botswana, Zambia, and Mali, one can’t help but feel that the expense is commensurate with the country’s deep love for the game.
     There are all sorts of playing fields here, from the immense, ultramodern stadiums built for the World Cup, to shabby schoolyard pitches and sandy lots with goals fashioned from scrap wood. The boys and young men pictured play joyfully, without proper uniforms and often without shirts and shoes. Hoeffgen’s photographs, which are low and flat and have a slightly faded-out finish, capture a broad, dusty, sun-drenched landscape. And in their sparse, uncluttered compositions they suggest that soccer is the most elemental of sports. It can be played anywhere: on concrete, artificial turf, sand, or grass. All that’s needed is a bit of space, a ball, and a way to mark the goals.

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