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.

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.

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.

Books June 21, 2010 By Nika Knight

filler98 José Saramagosaramago cover José Saramagosaramago title José Saramago
Portuguese novelist José Saramago died last Friday on the Spanish island of Lanzarote. He was 87. Saramago is known for his poignant parables on humanity and politics. Awarded the Nobel Prize for literature in 1998, his works have since been translated into more than twenty-five languages. A vocal leftist, Saramago worked for years at various odd jobs before losing his job as a newspaper reporter after the downfall of Portugal’s incipient Communist revolution in 1975. He decided then to become a novelist. His strange, beautiful writing is perhaps best memorialized by these haunting words from his perhaps most famous novel, Blindness: ‘Why did we become blind, I don’t know, perhaps one day we’ll find out, Do you want me to tell you what I think, Yes, do, I don’t think we did go blind, I think we are blind, Blind but seeing, Blind people who can see, but do not see.”

Saramago strived his whole life to help the rest of us to see.

Art, Events June 18, 2010 By Nika Knight

Miranda July, Eleven Heavy Things, Union Square, New York, NY. Photography by Brian Paul Lamotte. Courtesy of the Artist, Deitch Projects, NYC Parks & Recreation, and the Union Square Partnership. (Click images to enlarge)

Miranda July, Eleven Heavy Things, Union Square, New York, NY. Photography by Brian Paul Lamotte. Courtesy of the Artist, Deitch Projects, NYC Parks & Recreation, and the Union Square Partnership.
(Click images to enlarge)

MirandaJuly Title Miranda JulyIf you’ve walked through Union Square recently, you’ve likely come across Miranda July’s Eleven Heavy Things. The cast fiber-glass, steel-lined sculptural works (although July herself rarely refers to them as sculptures) invite viewer participation: a series of pedestals in ascending height read The Guilty One, The Guiltier One, and the Guiltiest One; an otherwordly hanging shape made of lace creates an intricate, alien headdress; a series of tablets with holes invite the insertion of arms, legs, and a finger (which reads, “This is not the first hole my finger has been in, nor will it be the last”). Another pedestal built for two people reads, “We don’t know each other, we’re just hugging for the picture.”
     July seeks here to bring organic performance on the part of the viewer, rather than simply display works of art. And the beauty of these pieces lies in the interactions that they successfully create: tourists and native New Yorkers alike can be seen at all hours of the day posing for pictures as the Guiltier One, poking limbs through bizarre holes, and hugging strangers “for the picture”. A simple search through Flickr for “eleven heavy things” is enough to reveal how extensive public participation has already been in this project.
     Originally created for the Venice Biennale, Eleven Heavy Things is presented in New York by Deitch Projects as its last and final public project. The exhibit will be on display until October 3, 2010 in Union Square.

Art June 8, 2010 By Nika Knight

filler80 A Man Sat Alone in His Room

All photography courtesy of Joscha Bruckert and Andreas Till. (Click images to enlarge)

All photography courtesy of Joscha Bruckert and Andreas Till.
(Click images to enlarge)

filler80 A Man Sat Alone in His Roomamansat title A Man Sat Alone in His RoomA Man Sat Alone In His Room is the result of the collaboration between Joscha Bruckert and Andreas Till, photography students in Dortmund, Germany. The two are self-proclaimed “lonely workers”, which helps explain the subject matter of their project. The self-published book of luminous portraits, collages, and found images, is “about the night and everything that comes along with it”, writes Bruckert via email. “Starting with…the night sky and the phenomenon of darkness itself”, the end result is “a very heterogeneous collection of photographic fragments that add up to what the night means to us”.
     Till writes, “For me, the book is like a thought bubble in which many thoughts, ideas and desires circle around each other like the planets of our universe. They influence each other, but as they differ so much in respect of volume, texture, and maybe size, they will stay in their own orbit.” The subject matter on these pages ranges wide, but the colors and forms reverberate off of each other in their exploration of nighttime, and together evoke what it feels to be awake as the dark lonely hours stretch into morning.
     Joscha Bruckert is the editor of Romka, a photography magazine that features the personal photos of professional, student, and amateur photographers from all over the world. Till is working on several other projects and plans to enroll in an MFA program at Ohio University in the fall. A Man Sat Alone In His Room is available in its first edition of fifty copies, numbered and signed. All copies include four free posters, and can be ordered online here.

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.

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

Art, Features May 25, 2010 By Nika Knight

Photography and Film courtesy of NEOZOON

Photography and Film courtesy of NEOZOON

neozoon title NEOZOONNEOZOON, a street art collective based in Paris and Berlin, forces us to confront the ways in which we relate to animals. The group’s initial project was to take discarded fur coats and cut them into animal shapes, which it pasted to city surfaces. The artwork was often site-specific. In Berlin, for example, the coats were recycled to look like bears, because of the city’s official mascot and the two bears who live in a small enclosure for public viewing in the middle of the city. The fur coat animals force the realization that the pelts were once the skins of living animals, and thus provoke consideration of the public’s celebration and simultaneous exploitation of the captive creatures. In Paris, the collective created a flock of fur-coat lambs that innocently meandered its way across city walls toward Parc de la Villette, which was the site of some of the largest slaughterhouses in 19th-century Europe.
     The latest project by NEOZOON is the non-toed fur-coatie: Pellicusia Urbana. Continuing the collective’s exploration of public attitudes toward captive animals, the non-toed fur-coaties are upcycled fur coats stuffed with moving machinery that creates an effect eerily similar to that of a living, breathing animal. Zoos in the German cities of Münster and Magdeberg have populated a few of their cages with the fur-coaties, complete with signs and descriptions. The fake creatures have also been spotted in public parks and playgrounds throughout Berlin.

Art May 21, 2010 By Nika Knight

Eyjafjalljokull Volcanic Eruption,  April 21, 2010. Photography courtesy of Ragnar Th Sigurdsson/ (Click to Enlarge)

Eyjafjalljokull Volcanic Eruption, April 21, 2010. Photography courtesy of Ragnar Th Sigurdsson/ (Click to Enlarge)

arcticimages title1 Arctic ImagesIn light of the recent cloud of volcanic ash that stymied travel plans throughout Europe, many people might not be feeling so fondly toward the arctic region’s geographic particularities. Here to provide a counterpoint perspective is Ragnar Th. Sigurdsson, a native Icelander and member of the Explorers Club who has worked as a photographer for more than thirty years. In 1985 Sigurdsson established Arctic-Images, a studio and graphic-work firm that pioneered the use of digital equipment in Iceland. His incredible ARCTIC IMAGES collection of photographs captures the awe-inspiring span of natural forms found in the arctic.
     Occasionally reminiscent of the best CGI in recent science fiction and fantasy films, the bizarre and magnificent landscapes captured by Sigurdsson provide a humbling view of our planet: what human forms and structures appear in his photographs are shadowed in comparison to the expansive arctic sky, looming glaciers, mountain ranges and volcanic eruptions. The collection should remind those frustrated travelers that while we were all grounded under fluorescent airport lighting, the cause for the worldwide travel snarl was, in fact, simply and stunningly beautiful: Sigurdsson, as ever, was there to capture it for us.