Photogrpahy by Alexander Wagner
Sally Hawkins isn’t used to air conditioning yet. During an interview in a midtown hotel room, the automated A/C unit kicks in with a not-so-discreet roar. “It sounds like we’re taking off,” she laughs. “I imagine you very quickly get used to this sort of thing.” She’ll probably have to. Before this year, Hawkins was a well-kept secret, best known in the UK for turns on miniseries like Fingersmith and elsewhere for supporting roles in Mike Leigh’s last two films, All or Nothing and Vera Drake. Now that she’s taken the lead in Happy-Go-Lucky, a higher profile is almost certainly in the offing; her recent Silver Bear award at the Berlin International Film Festival is already generating a fair share of Oscar buzz. In the film, Hawkins plays the maniacally cheerful Poppy, whose perpetual perkiness evolves from grating to endearing in the course of two hours. It’s an intense collaboration between Hawkins and Leigh, and I started by asking about their mutual bonding over art.
Photography by Derek Peck. White Shirt Raquel Allegra Navajo Shawl Perez Sanz
By the time she was 13 years old, Florence Faivre had already been living in Bangkok for five years, having relocated with her family at age 8 from the picturesque town of Aix en Provence, in Southern France. The move was a culture shock, to say the least, and her new home was hardly as quaint and easygoing as her old one. Still, youth was on her side. Her Thai was progressing moderately, and she was quickly becoming fluent in English (her parents thought it best to send her to an American school). She was also tall for her age, not to mention, a striking sight — owing partly her to half-French, half-Thai lineage.
One day, as she made her way down the stairs of her family’s house to get a glass of milk, still in her pajamas, she found herself face to face with a Thai film producer who happened to be meeting with her brother. The producer took one look at her, remarked on her impressive height, and mentioned that she might look good in front of the camera. “I was like, ‘Okay I get to be on TV!’” says Faivre, who now lives in New York and remains fully amused by the happenstance that’s been guiding her life ever since that life-changing moment. “All the parts that I ended up getting were kind of recommendations.
With Flowers and Open Wings III, 2007
Over the ages, people have looked to visual art to do many things. Whether the images they made, studied, and revered represented their cosmological beliefs, recorded the ins and outs of their survival systems, delivered them from banality to a place of fantasy, or simply sniffed out hidden beauty in the world around them, these classic aspirations have preceded and outlived the trappings of so-called postmodern art, and have more recently infused it with new tenor. Ernesto Caivano’s work reaches each of these art historical golden rings.
In the summer of 2001, after a long trip to Europe, the artist began After the Woods, a series of drawings made with ink gouache, watercolor, and graphite on paper that can only be described as epic. At the time the contemporary art world was busy decrying the end of irony (an ironically befuddling death sentence) and dismissing classically beautiful work as “low brow”. Caivano had the fortitude to work against the grain and the foresight to launch a series that still keeps him engaged so many years later. Nonetheless, it’s a surprisingly complex project to define. “I’ve been trying to come up with a one-liner for eight years now,” says the artist. His work revolves around a master narrative he wrote at the beginning of the project.
Photography by Thomas Beale
A Child overlooking the Hudson River at the right time and place during the late summer of 2008, may catch a sight that to most eyes will appear, at least for an instant, as either enigma or hallucination. Seven boats, crafted from scrap wood, metal, foam, barrels, bottlecaps, fabric, and a host of attendant detritus are due to leave port from Troy, New York in mid-August and arrive in New York City during the fi rst week of September. Titled Swimming Cities of Switchback Sea, the craft resemble less boats or cities than fantastical hybridizations of tree houses and shantytowns, playgrounds mixed with refugee rafts — Miyazaki-like contraptions woven together from bits and pieces of a known world, though seeming to arrive from some imagined past and headed fully prepared toward an uncertain future. Swimming Cities is the vision of Swoon, a 30-year-old artist who first came to attention nearly four years ago for her ambitious, expertly skilled prints and cut-paper portraits that she was pasting on derelict walls and construction sites around New York City. The simultaneous beauty and ephemerality of her work — the focus apparent not only in her attention to detail in the portraits themselves, but also in their contextual placement — brought her wide acclaim and quickly set her apart in the genre of “street art”. In 2005, Swoon made her New York gallery debut with an installation at the infl uential downtown gallery Deitch Projects.
Alice Braga photographed in New York City by Christian Witkin. Grey Wool Jersey Kerrigan
This year at Cannes everybody wanted to see the new Fernando Meirelles film called Blindness. I should know, I half-patiently waited in line on the last day of the festival after missing an earlier screening because it got too crowded. It was then that I rediscovered Alice Braga on screen, the sultry vagabond from Lower City (2005) whose youngish good looks instantly turned the dangerous boys of City of God (2002) into oafes. Braga’s characters belie half-undisclosable truths that are ready to boil over. But in real life she’ll likely confront you with a disarming combination of buoyancy and coyness.
We spoke on the phone while she was in Sao Paulo, taking a break from too much traveling and not enough time out. But then, Sao Paulo wasn’t exactly conceived for relaxing. The sprawling metropolis pulsates night and day. And it happens to be the home of Meirelles, the director who put resurgent Brazilian cinema on the map and with whom Braga has been acquainted since City of God. Braga told me about her first steps in the film business and that funny Canadian band she’s been listening to
Illustration by Peter Karpick
God bless term limits…. After suffering through eight long years of incomprehensibly disastrous leadership by George W. and his bloodthirsty hoard of flying monkeys, it’s hard to believe that we’ve finally made it to a point where we can see a glimmer of political light at the end of the deep, dark tunnel that the regime has bored through our frontal lobes. Of course, we still don’t know for certain whether that glimmering light is the glow of a new day dawning or the diesel-fired headlamps of an oncoming republican campaign bus, but we do know that even a head-on collision with the Straight Talk Express is likely to be far less disastrous than the global carnage we’ve seen as the result of eight years of “Compassionate Conservatism”. At the very least, soon we won’t have to care about anything George W. Bush says or does ever again and that gives us all something remarkable to celebrate. Then we, as a culture, can do what we do best… we can relegate him to the historical obscurity that he so richly deserves and ignore him until he dies and is resurrected as a Republican Saint. Perchance then to be lifted out of our willful forgetfulness just long enough to honor our solemn vow to one day urinate upon his grave.
Illustration by Tracy Robinson
Photography by Derek Peck
Coke. Semen. Viscera. Shit. These are the greatest hits of subject matter (and materials) among New York’s so-called “downtown” scene of artists. Like a diamond-dusted bauble, Terence Koh has floated to the top of this sea of curious creatures. The artist has literally sold gold-plated nuggets of his own poop for hundreds of thousands of dollars. And this was in the early days of his young career, with collectors at Art Basel fighting like agro moms over
Cabbage Patch Dolls, circa 1984, to wrap their fingers around his scat. Now they’ll pay upwards of half a million for anything the artist has dipped in chocolate.
Among the downtown kids, the radius of Koh’s circle is a bit wider than most. It includes child stars, art stars, their financiers, and those who write about them, and on given occasions in this milieu, the whole machine turns into a giant ferris wheel, where everyone’s on top eventually and there’s no more slowing down than there is speeding up, just a state of being akin to floating, a vantage best characterized as “high”.