Fashion July 28, 2011 By Mary Biosic

Image: Todd Anthony Tyler 

Image: Todd Anthony Tyler

uw title Uma Wang
It takes something special to get fashion’s more jaded tongues to start wagging and Uma Wang has it. The designer, who emerged seemingly from the shadows this season with a near-visionary collection of directional knit pieces, many by hand, has even “seen-it-all” industry-insiders a little stunned – and a lot excited. She also has them fooled, as this is no newcomer to the fashion scene. Wang put in 10 years designing clothes for various Chinese labels before launching her own in 2005, and with a few key dots connected along the way, seems now on an unstoppable trajectory toward “overnight success” – 15 years in the making. One such “dot” that connected was when Anna Wintour, Vogue’s legendary editor in chief, met up with Wang during her visit to China last November. When arguably the most powerful woman in fashion comes knocking, you must be doing something right.
     Wang studied her craft at China Textile University in Shanghai, and London’s Central Saint Martins, respectively, but her real education came when an early employer sent her to “a knitting factory”, as she calls it, to learn the ins & outs of the knitwear trade through a rigorous, almost labor camp-like experience. When I ask her to elaborate, she reveals “I was living in the factory for a while. It wasn’t a very nice place and working long hours every day..”, but immediately follows the recollection with a statement of gratitude: “When I look back, this was one of the most important periods in my life and I treasure it.”

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Books, Greenspace July 27, 2011 By Jordan Sayle

Jacket design by Ariana Abud, Jacket image from Panos Pictures

Jacket design by Ariana Abud, Jacket image from Panos Pictures

ct title Chaos Theory
While much of the present concern over climate change has more to do with rises in temperatures and sea levels, could it be that one of the major consequences of a warming planet will end up being a rise in the occurrence of armed conflicts? That’s the scenario proposed in Tropic of Chaos, by the writer Christian Parenti. The recently published book warns convincingly of a “catastrophic convergence” in which long-term political mismanagement and instability collide with deep-seated poverty, along with the added threat of climate shocks in cases where each problem intensifies the magnitude of the next. And what’s more, the convergence is already taking place. If devastating cycles of flooding and drought weren’t reason enough to worry about our climate systems, there’s also the resulting violence that might go with them.
     It’s an interesting thesis from a journalist who has spent more time covering war zones than climate zones. But as Parenti explains, his travels through the parts of the world most rife with conflict led him to observe that a common factor was contributing to the problems in each of them. He noticed that unpredictable changes in weather patterns were putting populations at risk of falling into the trap of poverty and of then fighting over the limited resources that remained. The isolated wars that he thought he was witnessing were but minor skirmishes in a greater war taking shape on a global scale.

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Art, Events July 26, 2011 By Thomas Beale

All images: Benjamin Heller

All images: Benjamin Heller

Artist and Honey Space director Thomas Beale has been a friend of PLANET for several years. When he recently wrote to ask if I would consider covering an exhibit that was showing at his space, one that he felt was truly extraordinary, I was so struck by his compelling description of it that I suggested he write it himself. Conflict-of-interest concerns aside, I felt no one could write as intimately about how his gallery space had been transformed by this unique art piece and the various emotional dramas and resolutions that have unfolded there through it. – Derek Peck

I honestly didn’t know if it would work. I knew we could pull off the installation, and that the artists were prepared to step into their performance roles. Yet the question remained in my mind: would New Yorkers take 45 minutes out of their day to step into a private exhibition experience, with no more indication of what lay on the other side of a door than the vaguely suggestive title Panties For Diamonds– A Psychodramatic Audition For Love In The Age Of Abandonment? And would enough people do this to keep the space active for five hours a day, five days a week?

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Art, Features July 25, 2011 By Editors

Features, film July 19, 2011 By Rachel A Maggart

Joyce Mckinney in TABLOID directed by Errol Morris. A Sundance Selects release.

Joyce Mckinney in TABLOID directed by Errol Morris. A Sundance Selects release.

t title4 Tabloidfiller29 Tabloid
With manacled Mormons, oddball accomplices, bondage modeling, and fantasies of celestial unions, Tabloid, the new film by Academy Award-winning documentary filmmaker, Errol Morris, has been said to contain something for everyone.
     A reflection on love and self-delusion, it’s enigmatic and hyperbolic even for Morris’s standards, chronicling the misadventures of beauty queen cum sex vixen, 1970s British tabloid starlet, Joyce McKinney.
     “She’s a real cipher…” Morris muses, as if puzzling over a combinatory algorithm. “A mystery, but a truly romantic sort of mystery.”
     To discuss his new film and its storied femme fatale, I’ve met the director on a hot July afternoon. From his hotel suite in Soho we overlook 180 degrees of Midtown’s shimmering skyline.
     ”[Joyce]’s volatile, and crazy, and smart, and vindictive…I really don’t know what she is, but she’s a great subject for a movie.” He concedes, smiling.
     Joyce McKinney may be a handful. I suppose she’s not the existential conundrum of Abu Ghraib or Iwo Jima (two topics of his past Standard Operating Procedure (2008) and The Fog of War (2003)).
     Morris has always been an expert at locating the mad hatters and outliers in society (be it teenaged assassins, ex military commanders, or pet cemetery proprietors). It might be an inane headline that sets afloat his sail of inspiration.

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Art July 13, 2011 By Chloe Eichler


Bersidi, Mursi Man, March 2011

MM title Mario Marino
Austrian-born photographer Mario Marino has spent the last few months in the South Ethiopia’s Omo River Valley taking what he calls “photographic psychograms” of its inhabitants. Each gorgeously spare portrait represents a different micro-culture of the region, which Marino chose for its incredible density of distinct ethnic minorities.
      “Faces of Africa” is a race against time of sorts. Marino searches the smallest, furthest villages for people whose heritage is under assault by the potent forces of tourism, technological advancement, and social globalization. His chosen method of preservation is to record a culture’s mark upon the body: white chalk used as face paint, intricate patterns shaved into hair, and throughout the portraits, ornaments made from the matchless leaves and shells of the South Ethiopian terrain. The sitters literally wear their homeland, supporting the claim of couturiers and choreographers everywhere that the body is simply one more medium for communication.

Click for slideshow

Art, Events July 12, 2011 By Jennifer Pappas

Caption Here

Sergey Zarva, Ogonyok, 2001. Courtesy the artist and Regina Gallery, Moscow/London

ost title Art from Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union
Fresh on the heels of civil unrest and hard-won liberation in places like Egypt, Libya, and the Ivory Coast, Ostalgia, a new show featuring more than 50 artists from 20 different countries across Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Republics is opening at the New Museum. The three-floor exhibit takes its name from the German ostalgie, a word that was on everyone’s tongue in the 1990s, nostalgic and morose for the golden era prior to the disintegration of the Communist Bloc. The show explores the full spectrum of emotional deviances that arose when the Soviet Union fell and Communism was permanently hobbled —a time before, during and after nations were forced to change their names, currency, constitutions and to a certain extent, their identities. Borders blurred, people felt the tumultuous aftershakes of their fallen ideologies and were forced to recommit themselves to a new history, a fresh place — despite the inexpressible trauma of losing one’s entire foundation.

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Features, Music July 7, 2011 By Lily Moayeri

m 1 Memphis: q & a with Torquil Campbellm title Memphis: q & a with Torquil Campbell
“When the apocalypse comes, you can race up to Canada,” muses Torquil Campbell. “It will be delayed by a week in Canada. You get an extra week.” Along with his fellow band-mate, Chris Dumont, Campbell is traveling through upstate New York while the two (and their touring band of friends) play shows as Memphis, promoting their third album, Here Comes A City, along the eastern seaboard. “Is that an esoteric question or a literal one?” Campbells replies when asked how long before Memphis reaches its destination. This roundabout way of looking at things, be it the apocalypse or a road trip, has guided Campbell throughout his musical career. As an active member of Montreal’s Stars, in addition to Memphis, the half-American half-British resident of Vancouver, Canada, makes band decisions as an excuse to hang out with friends.
     “To be in a band with someone is a way of keeping current in their life,” Campbell states. “If you stop doing things with your friends, it turns into getting together and recounting the past twice a year over coffee. Your friendships turn into a series of memories and brief meetings and it gets increasingly distant. Every project I’m involved with is initiated by my relationship with the people in it.”

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rp title Remembering the old Berlin
Just as New Yorkers are scrutinizing the development of the World Trade Center site, Berliners are scrutinizing the development of the Palast der Republik site. The Palast, an immense, East German government building completed in 1976, was condemned for asbestos in 1992 and demolished from 2006 to 2010. Located along the River Spree, amid stately nineteenth century buildings, at the very heart of Berlin’s cultural and tourist district, it had become, after the wall fell in 1989, a very visible symbol of all the wrong things: communism, oppression, censorship, and very, very bad style. A long, low concrete slab covered with gold mirrored glass, it looked like a flashy high security prison. Inside, it housed administration spaces for the city’s communist government and public spaces (lounges, bars, cafes, a bowling alley) where citizens could socialize in state-sanctioned splendor. The interiors were finished in the style of the time, with shag carpets, colored wallpaper, and chrome chandeliers studded with globe lights.
      To replace the Palast the city chose to reconstruct the shell of the eighteenth century castle that previously occupied the site, which was damaged during World War II and demolished in 1950. This new castle will house a museum, a library, and shopping mall. It’s a brazen act of historical amnesia, one that looks past an unattractive chapter in history to one that’s more palatable. The project, which was suspended for financial reasons, is slated for completion in the next decade. Just last month a temporary structure, with exhibition space and a lookout point for tourists, opened at the site.

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Image courtesy of Roadside Attractions

nim title James Marsh
For his previous documentary, 2009’s “Man on Wire,” James Marsh won an Oscar. That film told the story of Philippe Petit’s death-defying walk across a tightrope stretched between the towers of the World Trade Center. Now comes the director’s new release, “Project Nim,” which revisits the 1970s animal cognition experiment headed by Columbia University professor Herbert Terrace that attempted to teach sign language to a chimpanzee. That chimp, whose name was Nim, happened to be born the same year as the opening of the Trade Center, and as Marsh’s engaging and ultimately poignant film makes clear, the emotional life of one of our fellow primates can be as delicate as a high-wire balancing act.

The director spoke to PLANET about communication, evolution, and other monkey business ahead of “Project Nim’s” release:

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