Art, Features June 1, 2008 By Sarah Coleman

Parade — Hoboken, New Jersey. All Images Courtesy of Steidl


Features May 27, 2008 By Jeremiah Kipp
korine Harmony Korine
Photography by Ari Marcopoulos

korine title Harmony Korine

Best known, perhaps, as the writer of Kids and director of Gummo and Julien Donkey-Boy, indie filmmaker Harmony Korine first turned heads in the ’90s with his wildly expressionistic style. Collage-like in their execution, the latter two films were portraits of alienated youth and, at the same time, absurd and hilarious comedies about the lives of outsiders. Odd bits include a man wrestling a chair to the ground, a boy in pink bunny ears playing the accordion in an empty bathroom stall, and Werner Herzog as a domineering patriarch expounding on the merits of Dirty Harry. Some found the films indulgent; others found them poetic and beautiful. Either way, it’s clear that they were at least original.
     After dropping off the map for several years, art-house darling Korine is back with a new feature called Mister Lonely, which follows the adventures of a Michael Jackson impersonator, played by Diego Luna. While performing at an old-folks home in Paris, he encounters a woman resembling Marilyn Monroe, played by Samantha Morton. The two run away to the highlands of Scotland to join a commune of impersonators, including ones who portray Charlie Chaplin (Denis Lavant), the Queen (Anita Pallenberg), the Pope (James Fox), and Little Red Riding Hood (Rachel Simon, a.k.a. Mrs. Korine). Meanwhile there’s a subplot that involves nuns skydiving over the jungles of Latin America.

Tom Waits, 1992. Bleddyn Butcher/Rex USA


santogold1 Santogold
Photography by Zach Gold

santogold title1 Santogold

For those in the know, Santogold is already here, already it. This summer, with her first full-length album on the way, she’s poised to take over America with her genre-smashing sound. Santi White is a bridge. She mediates the space between commercial pop and underground art. She partakes in the party scene but critiques it as well. She’s a practitioner of musical alchemy, spinning punk, dancehall, rap, and electroclash into sonic gold. Santi White is culture-clash, a walking, breathing, singing, and dancing mash-up of personalities and musical preferences. Even her stage name crosses the bizarre boundaries of late-night TV, bombastic jewelry, and wrestlers from a planet called Zoran.
     The first time we tried to interview the artist formally known as Santogold, on a Saturday morning in Miami, she forgot. And so, we waited a few hours. We hold no grudge, for this seems to be her nature. Santogold is no morning lark. But she’s no night owl either. “I was supposed to do a show at two in the morning,” she sleepily says, referring to a party thrown the previous night by DJ-cum-friend Diplo at Miami’s Winter Music Conference. “But instead I was asleep. I tried to but I couldn’t do it. I’m not really a late-night person. I don’t even know if my voice works at two in the morning.” Maybe there is some noontime avian option, for it is in such midway, transitional spaces that Santogold shines.

Features April 2, 2008 By Xerxes Cook
ali khadim ali
All images Untitled, Courtesy Green Cartamom and the artist

ali title khadim ali

The old proverb that a picture’s worth a thousand words
is probably never more beautifully illustrated than in the works of classical Persian poetry. The stories told with both crafts — poetry and painting — from their inception over a thousand years ago to the present day serve as a common consciousness for Farsi speakers in Iran and beyond. Completed by the poet Ferdowsi in 1010 AD, The Shahnameh (often referred to as The Persian Book of Kings in the West) tells the mythical and historical past of Iran from its Zoroastrian genesis 6,000 years ago up until the Islamic conquest of Iran in the 7th century AD.
Roughly seven times the length of Homer’s Iliad, most of the abridged English translations of The Shahnameh focus on the allegorical tragedy of the hero Rustam killing his son Sohrab — whom he had never met — by accident in battle. Though elegantly written like the divans (works) of other Persian poets Hafez, Saadi, Rumi, and Omar Khayyam, whereas their works encouraged transcendent sublimation through love, drink, and dance, Ferdowsi intended The Shahnameh as an antidote toward any apathy of the past so as not to make the same mistakes in the present or the future. The book’s sheer popularity cemented the Farsi language in even the remotest stretches of the ancient Persian Empire, from northern India to the Persian Gulf.

Features March 23, 2008 By Anthony Paul Smith
marco Marco Polo
Illustration by Peter Karpick

marco title Marco Polo

A funny thing happened recently during a book launch party in lower Manhattan. I had just received word from one of my seedy underworld contacts about an assignment for PLANET° magazine concerning the adventures of Marco Polo and the brilliant new biography by Laurence Bergreen, Marco Polo — From Venice to Xanadu. There I was, trying to remember everything I could about the Polo expedition, busily stuffing my face with the rather good assortment of canapés and attempting to erase the effects of the day by tossing back an inordinate volume of red wine that was both disappointingly cheap and encouragingly free. By then the roving servers were starting to avoid me (like surfers who’ve spotted a shark), and I was forced to make my way through the crush of people toward the bar to beg for booze like an inebriated Oliver Twist. Halfway there I was halted in my tracks by a rather stunning redhead and her equally arresting blonde companion. “Wait!” she said with a dramatic hand to my chest. “You’re Anthony Smith, aren’t you?” They were clearly too pretty to be trusted so I made a quick survey to see if they were concealing weapons or FBI badges around their necks before I hedged with a cautious, “Maybe yes, maybe no…” The redhead turned to the blonde and insisted, “Oh my God! This is that guy I was telling you about…”

Features March 11, 2008 By Steven Chen
brady Brady Corbet
Photography by João Canziani

brady title Brady Corbet

Leaning over his laptop, Brady Corbet is busy downloading a movie. It’s not what you think. The film is a self-written-and-directed 11-minute short called Protect You and Me — one edit of it anyway. He’s “screening” it for me in a living room on a 17-inch screen and laptop speakers. The first of a series of short films he’s planning to make, themed around protection, this one takes place at a New York restaurant, where a man meeting his mother for dinner grows increasingly uneasy about a stranger lurking in the window. From there, the story takes a surreal, manic turn and then ends abruptly. It’s not done yet, he explains, and illustrates this at one point by making L’s with his fingers to indicate where the camera needs to push closer into the frame. Another scene needs to be re-cut, and so on…
     A feature film director? Someday, Corbet supposes. As for now, the young actor has managed to land one of the lead roles in acclaimed Austrian director Michael Haneke’s first (and possibly only) American film — a close remake of his own 1997 drama, Funny Games — opposite Naomi Watts, Tim Roth, and Michael Pitt. Haneke’s last film, Caché, won him Best Director honors at Cannes in 2005, along with a formidable array of other awards.

Art, Features March 10, 2008 By Sarah Coleman

All images Courtesy of Paolo Pellegrin / Magnum Photos.


Features October 5, 2007 By Dennis Lim
image1 asia Asia Argento
Asia Argento at the Chelsea Hotel. Black Silk Spider Gown Maison Martin Margiela. Photography by Mary Rozzi

title asia Asia Argento

Asia Argento turns 32 this year, but the movie star, cult auteur, sex symbol, and multilingual, multi-tattooed polymath has already squeezed more chapters into her willful, unpredictable career than most people manage in a lifetime. She started out as a teen ingénue in her native Italy, starring in romantic comedies and the horror movies of her father, Dario Argento. Crossing over to American films, most conspicuously as a sultry spy opposite Vin Diesel in 2002’s extreme-sports thriller xXx, she briefly attained It Girl status in Hollywood. Keen to retain her outsider credentials, though, she poured her energies into her own filmmaking, directing herself in two brash, image-warping vehicles: Scarlet Diva and The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things. She continued to pop up on the periphery of other people’s movies, gravitating to fashionable filmmakers like Sofia Coppola (Marie Antoinette) and Gus Van Sant (Last Days). And that’s not even counting her extracurricular roles as author, model, musician, and DJ. Without sacrificing her trademark aura of transgression, this international woman of mystery has now entered her mature phase as a serious actress — albeit a serious actress who’s not above tongue-kissing a dog onscreen if so required. Argento’s unofficial coronation as a pan-global art-film icon took place at the Cannes Film Festival this year, where she had the lead role in two new movies by pedigreed directors: Olivier Assayas’s Boarding Gate (which will open in the U.S. this winter) and Catherine Breillat’s An Old Mistress (slated for a 2008 release).

Art, Features September 15, 2007 By Marisa Olson
olafur Olafur
Photo by Paul Pedersen, Beauty, 1993

olafur title1 Olafur

In recent years, Icelandic-Danish artist Olafur Eliasson has become a prime exemplar of the international art star. He’s received no shortage of praise for his installations, which frequently incorporate light, water, and various natural or unnatural representations of the earth’s elements, to become the fine-tuned infrastructure for an experience of the perception of beauty as it manifests in the world. His work often inspires the kind of gee-whiz wonderment that youngsters first experience in learning about the physical sciences, but they rest clearly in the domain of fine art, drawing on crafts as much conceptual as technical.
     Four years ago, at the age of 36, the artist experienced a major career breakthrough when the Tate Modern commissioned him to fill their massive Turbine Hall, with a site-specific installation. Eliasson’s Weather Project tapped into a global phenomenon — the weather — in a way that particularly resonated with UV-deprived Londoners. The large former power plant became a literal and metaphorical mirror of the local landscape, with a giant “sun” regulating the accumulation and dissipation of mist beneath a mirrored “sky”. Visitors came repeatedly to bask, frolic, and picnic. They also came to meditate. By taking the weather’s core elements out of circulation and re-creating them within the museum, the artist offered witnesses the space and time to reconsider their relationship to reality. This is his oft-stated agenda, which tends to be met in very visceral, participatory ways.