Greenspace December 29, 2009 By Valentin Santos Miller

copenhagen cover Copenhagen Twofillers14 Copenhagen Twocopenhagentwo title Copenhagen Two

As a follow-up to Anthony Smith’s mid-conference coverage of the climate talks in Copenhagen, check out this excellent article by journalist Mark Lynas on The Guardian website. This is a must-read for anyone baffled by the outcome of the talks (i.e., the lack of a credible, binding agreement) when so many nations seemed prepared, for once, to act. Especially interesting in light of how the early fallout has settled on Barack Obama. The title says a lot:
How do I know China wrecked the Copenhagen deal? I was in the room.

Art November 20, 2009 By Valentin Santos Miller
nadavkander cover Nadav Kander
Wu Gorge Nadav Kander, courtesy of Flowers Gallery. (Click image to enlarge)

nadakander title Nadav Kander

From 2006 to 2007, Nadav Kander, the celebrated London-based photographer and multiple-time contributor to PLANET, traversed China’s Yangtze River documenting the rapid pace of change occurring along its banks and the effect on the Chinese people. For this impressive body of work, Kander recently won the prestigious Prix Pictet, which was awarded two weeks ago in Paris by former U.N. secretary-general Kofi Annan. The international award recognizes important photographic works with a focus on sustainable development and the environment. Kander’s subject, the Yangtze, is China’s most storied river, stretching from its source in the Kunlun Mountains down through the country’s southern heartland and back north again through China’s main industrial and commercial centers: Chongqing, Wuhan, Nanjing, and Shanghai, where its mouth opens to the East China Sea. At 4,100 miles, the Yangtze is considerably more than a river, having touched every aspect of Chinese cultural, economic, and spiritual life for over 5,000 years. For literally hundreds of millions of Chinese — more people live within a mile of its banks than in the entire United States — the Yangtze is a source of fresh water, food, energy, and is the lifeblood of a rapidly disappearing traditional way of life — in just the last decade over 3 million people have been displaced by the construction of the Three Gorges Dam. Kander’s work brings to light the enormous scale of change now underway, not just along the Yangtze but throughout China as it attempts to take another great leap forward, this time into the 21st century — and hopefully with less disastrous results.

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Art, Books August 10, 2009 By Valentin Santos Miller
jacques cover1 Jacques
Photography courtesy of Jonathan Leder

jacques title Jacques

The great American pin-up is back, in a freshly minted magazine straight out of Brooklyn. Jacques, a quarterly art and “nudie” mag (in the classic retro sense of that term), is composed at least as much of nostalgia as it is of paper and ink. Founded by editor Danielle Luft, Jacques does a good job of blending mostly ’60s and ’70s aesthetics with a bygone nudie innocence that feels quaint and even incongruous to our times — in a good way. In an era when porn proliferates and has been embraced by every cultural medium from art to filmmaking to music and so on, when you can download double and triple penetrations right into the privacy of your home — or work cubicle — there’s something unexpectedly wholesome, even downright respectable about a naked girl dallying in an open field. Jacques hits on a longing, both among women and men, for sweet, charming, debonair smut. And Jacques delivers.

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lyleshow Lyle Owerko – Samburu

lyleshow title Lyle Owerko – Samburu

PLANET was the first magazine to publish photographer Lyle Owerko’s stunning work on the Samburu people of northern Kenya, one of Africa’s last great warrior tribes, in September of 2007. It’s nice to see these images getting the public exhibition they deserve in the large and evocative format currently on view at the Clic Gallery on Broome Street in Soho. Owerko is best known for his shots of the Twin Towers collapsing (the famous Time magazine cover is his) and of the gut-wrenching yet eerily beautiful shots of those who leapt to their deaths from the floors above the raging fires, who became known as the “Jumpers”. Perhaps as witness more than photographer, that was a morning of infamy (and destiny) that Owerko says will live with him forever. Samburu displays Owerko’s genuine interest in different types of people and his talent for getting to know his subjects (he has made several trips to Samburu tribal lands and visited them as recently as this year), cultivating intimacy, and allowing them to show their selves unguarded. The exhibition is up through June 14. It’s definitely worth a visit. Clic Gallery, 424 Broome Street, New York, NY 10013.

To view our archived coverage of Lyle’s work, click here.

jones Grace Jones
Photography by Danny Bensi

jones title1 Grace Jones

Grace Jones performed last night for a lucky crowd of about 200, at a private boat party on Pier 17 in New York to celebrate the launch of Matthew Williamson’s line for H&M. At 60, Jones is as daring, magnificent, and regal as ever; it’s incredible what a commanding presence she has. During her performance, in trademark Grace Jones fashion, she pranced around half-naked singing her classics. Then models came out wearing Williamson’s clothes, writhing from side to side. But truth be told, neither the models nor the crowd could take their eyes off of Grace. She’s literally a force of nature.

Music April 2, 2009 By Valentin Santos Miller
am Amadou & Mariam
Because Music/Nonesuch Records

am title Amadou & Mariam

Since we first wrote about Amadou and Miriam in 2005, we’ve remained enchanted by both their music and their affecting story – that of two blind Malians meeting at the Institute for Young Blind People in Bamako, Mali nearly thirty years ago, becoming friends, falling in love, making music, and becoming their nation’s most celebrated contemporary musicians. Their first album, Dimanche à Bamako, was made in close collaboration with Manu Chao. For their second album, Welcome to Mali, just released last month, Damon Albarn produced the opening track, “Sabali”, a mesmerizing blend of Gorillaz-style electronica and traditional Malian music, which you can listen to below.

This summer the duo will tour with Coldplay in the U.S. and play a number of festivals, including Bonnaroo in June.

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