5 Questions for Jena Malone on the Eve of Her First Solo Show

Actress and musician Jena Malone is set to present her first solo photography exhibition titled, The Holy Other, at MAMA art gallery in downtown Los Angeles, running November 21st through 28th. Proceeds will benefit Girl Determined, a charity which works with young Burmese women to educate and empower them through societal shifts in their country. Malone’s debut solo series features 39 images she captured while traveling through Myanmar, Burma this past summer. She was deeply moved by the way of life and the vibrant culture she experienced. As she took photos throughout her trip, the artist was inspired by the many young women who were finding their voice against the new backdrop of democracy in their government. In the following interview, Jena talks about Myanmar and why photography is important to her.

AUTRE:Can you explain your series The Holy Other?

JENA MALONE:The Holy Other is a series of photographs I took while traveling to Myanmar this year. I was drawn there because it is a country on the brink of great change, from its government to its way of life. I wanted to see Myanmar before the modern world rushed in. It was actually a life changing experience for me.

AUTRE: Why is photography important?

JENA MALONE: Its important to me because it helps me see the world in new ways and it is an absolute time capsule for everything I might have forgotten.

AUTRE: Who are some of your photography icons?

JENA MALONE: Mary Ellen Mark , Nan Golden , Boris Mikhailov, Sebastiao Salgado.

AUTRE: What do you think about when you look through the viewfinder?

JENA MALONE:My mind goes blissfully blank actually.

AUTRE: What do you want people to feel when they look at your photographs....

JENA MALONE: I want them to feel whatever they want! Ahha! I just want the images to evoke stories, small intimate stories that touch on giant fundamental truths.

Interview by Oliver Maxwell Kupper. You can check out the opening reception for Jena Malone'ssolo show – The Holy Other – tonight at MAMA gallery (1242 Palmetto Street, Los Angeles). The show will run until November 28. 

Brigette In Bloom: An Interview with Brigette Bloom


With her trusty sidekick Leo (her beloved dog), Bridgette Bloom is a child of the wilderness. With a feral spirit and the abandon of a forest sprite, Bloom follows in the great tradition of American wanderers – documenting with her camera all along the way. Bloom's photographs are like a beautiful dream in someone else's afterlife – a cinematic elysium that explodes in cloudbursts of life altering reminders to never waste even a single moment. 


PAS UN AUTRE: When did you first discover photography?

BRIGETTE BLOOM: I've loved pictures my whole life. sometimes i'd find strangers old family photos on the street when i'd walk home from school and was so fascinated by the things other people took pictures of. I love the idea of photography; how you can hold a moment in your hand, it's like time traveling!

AUTRE: Can you remember the first image you ever took?

BLOOM: The first photo i took was probably of a slug, or my eye or something, but the first one I can remember is when I was very little, I lined up all my trolls on the table and took a polaroid of them, I loved it so much. I took it with me to school in my backpack and would look at it throughout the day. Another early one is one I took of my old hamster, cotton ball, right after she bit my brother on the arm.


AUTRE: You seem like a pretty fervent traveler - where are you now?

BLOOM:  I moved to Portland a few months ago from Alaska, but now that spring is here I feel the need to get up and leave again. I always like to be on the move, passing through, getting my feet dirty. I've had so many beautiful, growing experiences through traveling, I see myself doing it forever.

AUTRE: Who is Leo?

BLOOM: My heart, my gentle but very strong willed dog.


AUTRE: What are some of your biggest influences or inspirations?

BLOOM: I'm deeply inspired by animals. Everything about them is so mysterious and honest, I feel like an animal myself. But really, I am inspired by almost anything- looking into a strangers eyes, drinking fog, listening to the coyotes howl as I fall asleep, silence, intuition, eating good food, finding dog hair stuck to my shirt, courage, the seed of a peach, dripping honey, smile lines, blood, dreamers, cracked lips, whats natural and wild, how the body heals itself, raw feelings, the heart of the sun, self love, feeling connected to everything around you, i'm just in love with life.

AUTRE: Whats next?

BLOOM: I feel that I haven't even touched the surface of my photography yet, there is so much more to be created! Right now i'm just enjoying each day and we'll see what happens when it comes....

Follow Brigette Bloom's journey on her tumblr. Text by Oliver Maxwell Kupper for Pas Un Autre. 



“Living in New York City… has taught me to be extremely compact and intentional about the things I carry with me,” says Maximum Henry Cohen, the slight, unassuming 22-year-old mastermind behind Brooklyn-based leather goods brand Maximum Henry. “There’s a lot of baggage that we carry around with us out of habit.” Cohen is sipping Coca-Cola from a glass bottle, sitting in one of the sweeping factory windows of his Williamsburg waterfront studio, a loft space shared by a few other artisans and draftsmen. In the background, the dull hum of various machines cutting wood and shaping metal creates a strangely comforting white noise. Outside, a tranquil snow of the early-March variety falls on red brick scrawled with graffiti. One of Cohen’s goals in creating his own artisan leather goods brand was to downsize, to eliminate that unnecessary extra baggage, “to make something... that someone could carry and really consider their own.” Everything about Cohen—from his humble, down-to-earth personality to his streamlined workspace to his pared-down website to his handmade business cards— suggests an understated elegance. He pays the utmost attention to detail in the creation of his rustic yet sleek (and amazingly affordable) wallets and belts. “I was… that kid who would make duct tape wallets in the seventh grade and sell them to his friends,” Cohen remembers. Eventually, he set out to make the perfect leather wallet; a wallet that was just big enough to fit everything he needed but nothing more. Beginning in his bedroom with some scissors and a pair of discarded leather shorts that he rescued from their bleak thrift-store fate, he eventually moved into his living room and finally to his own studio, a modest space carefully curated in accordance with his taste for the basic and pure. A weathered steel architect’s lamp casts warm light over the dye-stained wood of his leatherworking table, over which a Singer sewing machine, a relic of vintage Americana, presides. Various tools are arranged neatly above the table, held upright by a homemade leather strap. He keeps his sheets of leather in a beautiful old footlocker and his finished belts, hung from hooks high above his drafting table, cast long shadows on the white walls of the studio. The objects Cohen crafts are simple, functional, full of charm and integrity—the kind of objects one wears or carries for years on end until those objects almost become a part of them. “I get the most inspired when I see something that’s been carried for more than half of someone’s life,” he says thoughtfully, “Once you carry something for a little while, you establish a connection to it.”

ANNABEL GRAHAM: Can you tell me about how you started making your own leather goods?

MAXIMUM HENRY COHEN: I’ve been making leather goods for... let’s see, five years now. It started when I would make duct tape wallets in the seventh grade and sell them to friends, but I don’t really count that.

GRAHAM: I remember those!

COHEN: I was the kid who would sell them to his friends, I made a lot of them. I stopped when I got a little more interested in film, stop-motion animation, and claymation, and skateboarding and things like that... until I started high school, which was actually a reform school in Montana for two years. I learned how to sew there, I made some pants and things like that, but I also made teddy bears and things to send home to my family. That’s where I really started to feel a little more comfortable with a sewing machine, creating things and turning flat fabrics into objects that had character and life and substance. My first leather wallet was in the summer of 2008. A friend of mine’s girlfriend was planning on donating a pair of leather shorts to Beacon’s Closet but she gave them to me instead, I just cut them up to keep the leather. I couldn’t find a wallet that was simple enough and didn’t have an obtrusive logo in it and I was going through a phase of just not wanting to wear or carry anything with anyone else’s logo because I didn’t feel like it reflected my own character. The only wallets that I could find that didn’t have a logo on them were really high-end, and it felt a little silly to me that the cheaper wallets were the ones that were overdesigned and too big… They were also covered in logos, while the really expensive ones were very simple. That was the premise, kind of my mission statement for my first wallet, to make something that someone could carry that had room to be really broken in and age well.

GRAHAM: Did you make your first wallet for yourself or for someone else?

COHEN: I didn’t even know who it was for while I was making it, or what I was doing for that matter. I ended up giving away my first fifteen or so prototypes. I would carry it for a few days and if I liked it I would give it to a friend, then make myself a new one. I would do that with all different styles for a while. Sometimes I would make one and it would feel too big and clunky, or I would make one that would be too small, and couldn’t even fit money or a Metro card, so it would be pretty useless. Once I established the pattern that I still use today, I started taking it a little more seriously. The internal stitch was a big breakthrough for me. I realized that you could sew something inside out and then turn it outside in and the stitching would be on the inside, that way it won’t tear when you carry it through the years, because the stitches aren’t exposed. That was also exciting for me because I was still learning how to sew leather and I had to work around the fact that I couldn’t sew straight, the internal stitch hid my messy stitching until I learned how to control my sewing machine.

GRAHAM: When you started out, were you just making the wallets out of your home?

COHEN: Yeah, I was making them in my bedroom, with desk scissors, a box cutter and a ruler. There were leather scraps all over my rug, all over my desk, in my trash can, just everywhere, and it was really messy, but really fun and kind of... it felt really natural and homemade, because it was, entirely. In the beginning it was literally with things I found around the house, and I just figured things out as I went along. Then I moved into my living room and I had this little table, this really low table, and I was just hunched over it for what felt like five hours a day, just making all sorts of little things, little tobacco pouches, iPad cases, wallets, all sorts of stuff.

GRAHAM: So you’re from New York.

COHEN: Yeah. I was born on the Upper West Side, and then when I was nine my little brother was born and we moved up to Westchester County. I remember I had never really walked in grass without shoes on before, because I was a city kid, and the whole suburban thing was a big transition. It didn’t really fit that well, I didn’t really enjoy it very much and I missed the city a lot. I moved back at my first opportunity after graduating high school early. I was able to live in Harlem and to work for my dad’s company for a few months, then I started college, and I’ve been back ever since.

GRAHAM: Is there anything in particular that inspires you in your work?

COHEN: I get the most inspired when I see something that’s been carried for more than half of someone’s life. My grandpa’s possessions really amaze me, as well as a few pieces I’ve found at flea markets and garage sales, things that have stood the test of time. Not just because they haven’t fallen apart, but because they haven’t been thrown away. Once you carry something for a while, you establish a connection to it. I’ve always been intrigued by people’s wallets, I found it was an interesting way to connect to people, because most people have a very intimate connection with their wallets. Sometimes there’s kind of a strange story behind how they got it, or a happenstance kind of thing, like, “Oh, I got this because it was seven dollars at a garage sale in Missouri,” or something like that. And then they end up carrying that for fifteen or twenty years, and it transforms into a totally different object with different meanings. I found that a lot of people were just looking for something that was really simple, and there were so many brands that were over designing that I just wanted to make something that is simple and functional.

GRAHAM: It’s interesting, you carry a wallet every day, it’s just this one thing that’s always with you, it almost becomes a part of you.

COHEN: Yeah, and it wears in in different spots, depending on how many cards you have in it, or how much cash you carry, or if you hold on to receipts. It wears differently if you keep it in your front pocket or your back pocket, it’s very personal.

GRAHAM: How did you start making belts?

COHEN: It started with the first apprenticeship I did in the fall of 2010. I was working for a guy named Ryan Matthews, who is an oddities collector and leather smith. He collects taxidermy, old medical artifacts and some really beautiful antique lamps. He’s got the most incredible collection of weird stuff I’ve ever seen in my life. He used to do leatherwork for Polo and he would design belts for Double RL and Ralph Lauren vintage collection. He would make these Navajo recreation belts that would sell for something like fifteen thousand dollars at the Ralph Lauren store. He taught me how to dye and edge leather, how to attach buckles and to distress the leather to make belts that looked really old. My next apprenticeship was with this woman named Barbara Shaum, who is, I believe, 87 years old. She has a leather shop on East 4th street between 2nd and 3rd where she makes sandals and belts. It’s a really old-school business, and everything that’s made is made right there, either by her or by someone who works with her. There would be all these guys who would come in saying, “Hey Barbara, it’s time for me to get a new belt, it’s been forty years on this one,” and they would take off this decrepit, old, worn till the very end, belt… something that she had made in the 70s that had lasted 40 years. She taught me how to cut leather from the hide, how to mix dyes to get all different shades, how to attach buckles in a way that they’ll never fall off, and a bunch of other little tricks.

GRAHAM: You’re also interested in film, right?

COHEN: A little bit. My dad works in television and did throughout my entire upbringing, so I grew up visiting his production office on the upper west side all the time, and visiting his friends on sets in LA too. Most of my best friends now are people I met through the SVA film program. I’ve drifted in such a different direction from what they’re doing now, but because we have such different backgrounds, and we spend all day thinking about our specific crafts, we’re able to offer each other advice and insight from different standpoints. My friend Tom just started a production company called Yellow House Pictures, and they’re working on a lot of really cool, exciting projects. I feel like I’m been more in love with written stories than films specifically, just as a form of storytelling. I love reading and I love short stories... historical fiction is my favorite genre. If I were to get back into film I think it’d probably be from a writing standpoint. I dropped out of SVA after one year. I was really turned off because there were all these teenagers who had grown up in the suburbs and were so self-righteous and overly confident, myself included. [LAUGHS] I didn’t feel as though had enough life experience to be a story teller just yet, I was disgusted by how much money I was spending to not be taking school very seriously. I dropped out and started barbacking at a bar in Williamsburg called Hotel Delmano. I was working really hard mentally and physically, I would go home at the end of the day with some money in my pocket, feeling tired and good. It was really fun because while I was working I was also training to become a cocktail bartender. I was promoted to a bartender just after my 20th birthday. I’ve met more people through the bar industry in New York City than through any other social experience of my life. I was fortunate enough to work in three of the best bars in New York over a period of 4 years; Hotel Delmano (in Williamsburg), Elsa and Black Market (both in the East Village).

GRAHAM: All of those bars have a really cool worn-in, vintage-looking aesthetic that sort of matches yours.

COHEN: That’s not by accident. “Objects with character” is sort of a consistent theme... They were all built acknowledging things that have withstood the test of time. A few of the owners of Hotel Delmano are metal workers and furniture designers that make the most beautiful things. They have been and continue to be huge role models for me. I would constantly notice new details about the bar that I had never seen before, like, “Oh my god, I didn’t even see that little chandelier that’s hanging in that corner, or the way that they painted that pipe, how it’s a slightly different color than the wall, or how they distressed the whole room to simulate aging and water damage.” It takes you to a different place. Seeing the way those people have turned making beautiful things into their full-time living is so inspirational, because that’s really all I want to do, is make things that people admire and feel good about.

GRAHAM: You live in Williamsburg now. Having grown up in Manhattan, what’s your feeling about Brooklyn?

COHEN: I’m so happy to be here. It feels like home to me. I’ve made friends with so many people around the neighborhood, from the guy who makes my sandwiches at the deli to the shopkeepers at all of the cool little boutiques around here. I know the buildings so well, and walking down the street I almost always run into someone I know. It has a neighborhood feel that makes me really comfortable. There are so many inspirational small businesses. Sometimes on Sundays I set up a table and sell wallets on the street, which has helped me a lot to see absolute strangers’ gut reactions to what I’ve been working on. After you spend X amount of hours on something, you grow attached to it, almost the way a parent feels about a newborn baby. It takes you out of your bubble. It really helps me to see how differently people react. My products’ quality is a reflection of my level of craftsmanship, even looking at things that I made six months ago makes me shudder sometimes, because my work is constantly evolving.

GRAHAM: Going back to literature and writing, who are some of your favorite authors?

COHEN: I love George Saunders, Denis Johnson. I would say E.L. Doctorow is my favorite author, and Ragtime is my favorite book. It’s set at the turn of the century, and it covers both fictionally and non-fictionally what was going on during that time period, which is my favorite type of book. Before that, I read The Cider House Rules, which I really enjoyed, but my friends would make fun of me for it, ‘cause I guess it’s kind of a girly story. [LAUGHS] I also like some more spiritual pieces, Siddhartha is really beautiful and influential, about how one can live with absolutely nothing. The Prophet, by Kahlil Gibran, has been a staple in my life. I wouldn’t consider myself religious in any way, shape or form, but I do try to stay in tune with my own integrity and karma, and that was a guiding light for me in my late teens. My ideal day would be cooking my own breakfast, riding my bicycle to the studio, working and making things all day, hopefully meeting with some clients who are really excited about the products I’m making, eating a delicious dinner at one of the amazing places in the neighborhood then going to bed to do it all over again the next day. That’s pretty much it.

GRAHAM: The books you named and even your ideal day all seem to go along with this theme of almost simple, Spartan existence—making things yourself and existing without all the “noise.”

COHEN: We’re living in the information era and there’s just so much everywhere, and it can be really overwhelming. To take a step outside of what’s going on and to look at what you connect with and why you connect with it... I don’t think you connect with things for the reasons you think you do right off the bat, there’s usually something underneath it. That’s what I strive for in my work, to make things that look upon first glance like something that’s almost normal, but then once you wear it and once it becomes a part of you, you fall in love with it. It has a much longer life span then something that is flashy and will end up falling apart one day.

GRAHAM: And the more you study one of your wallets, the more little details you notice.

COHEN: I tried to design them to be as simple as possible. I try to leave room for character to be developed, to just lay the foundation and then the rest is up to whoever wants to carry it. I have friends who have drawn on the insides of their wallets with Sharpies and things like that, and it’s the coolest thing because they’re taking something that I made and just transforming it into something that is theirs. I did start putting my brand on the on the inside of the wallets, but they are also available without them. I don’t want to throw my image in anyone’s face, you know, if they want it, they can have it and adapt it to their own style. The original concept for things without logos came from Hotel Delmano, which is really inspiring. They don’t even have a sign outside, they don’t have a business card, they don’t have coffee to go with their logo on the cup. There is no logo for Hotel Delmano. You can seek it out and go there, but you can’t take any of it out with you. That’s why people keep coming back, it’s because their product and experience stands on its own, not a commercial piece of branding. My favorite client is someone who has been referred by someone else who already has a piece and really appreciates it. I’d rather have those people tell their friends, or get them for their friends, instead of having advertising to bring in customers.

GRAHAM: So you don’t want your face on a park bench anytime soon? [LAUGHS]

COHEN: [LAUGHS] No, definitely not. That’s kind of the wrong idea... At least for right now.

GRAHAM: What’s your goal for the future?

COHEN: I’ve been in a developmental stage for a really long time, making different prototypes and styles and colors, and I would really like to go into production mode and be able to make ten times what I’ve been making in the past, and expand to make new products... eventually even a clothing line. For the time being, I’m just focusing on nailing down my craft and making some things that feel like they can be taken through anything. I’ve been working on some guitar straps and some small bags. I’m also looking for retail stores outside of New York to carry my pieces. I’d really like to see the wallets around the world, in France and London and Italy and Australia. It feels really local right now. I’ve already gotten them in pretty much all of my friend’s pockets, so I’d like to start moving on to other likeminded people that I don’t know just yet. I’m also really excited about a couple projects I’m working on with my friends that are using their skill sets and combining them with the things I’ve been working on. I just shot a look book with my friend Dave, and my friend Alex is putting it together in a little printed book that I can pass around to friends and shops around the world. Basically, this craft is so exciting for me because it’s given me the excuse to base a profession around the things that I like doing and the people I like interacting with. And to me, that’s what it’s all about—work that doesn’t feel like work. I look forward to coming to my studio in the morning, which is a sign of moving in the right direction.

GRAHAM: If you could be anywhere in the world right now other than New York, where would you be?

COHEN: There’s this lagoon in Jamaica called the Blue Lagoon, which is fresh water that comes from the center of the earth, so they say, and it tastes amazing. Swimming there is one of my ideas of paradise. It’s pretty easy to think about being other places when it’s wintertime in New York. [LAUGHS] But whenever I leave New York, I find myself missing it after just a few days. I guess it’s another implication that I’m going in the right direction, missing my home when I’m on vacation.

GRAHAM: Is there a way in which living in New York City and growing up here has inspired or affected your aesthetic?

COHEN: Most people that live in other parts of the world travel everywhere they go in a car that allows them to just throw things everywhere, and they have more space than they know what to do with. Living in New York City on a budget has taught me to be extremely compact and intentional about the things I carry with me, the things I keep in my home. A lot of people’s wallets are bigger than they need to be, because they’re carrying things that they don’t even remember they have in there. It’s essentially baggage from the past that’s unnecessary and weighs you down. Because my wallet design is smaller than the standard one, it almost forces people to downsize, to simplify their lives. There’s a lot of baggage that we just carry around with us out of habit. It’s pretty important to have a streamlined existence [in New York], because extra things just drag here, and that’s why I like the “no frills” design policy.

Text and photography by Annabel Graham for Pas Un Autre. Visit the Maximum Henry website to view more. 

Southern Gothic: An Interview With Bradley Bailey

Visit artist and musician Bradley Bailey’s bandcamp page for his one-man band, oxymoronically called Platonic Sex, and you’ll find a single song tiled Sweet Nothing available for download for $1000. Watch a youtube video made last summer in Brooklyn and you’ll find Bailey playing a fifteen minute long, psychedelic and cacophonous set with a human femur. The Atlanta, Georgia based musician doesn’t have much of an online presence, but what he does have so far is a curious teaser for what might be to come, or not to come. Bailey seems content just figuring out who he is an artist and making music. Autre contributor Abbey Meaker got a chance to catch up with Bailey where he is currently in Atlanta thinking things over. 

ABBEY MEAKER: How are you doing right now and where are you? Describe the environment in which you are sitting.

BRADLEY BAILEY: Things are this way and that, I am doing fine, I am sitting in a facet of the broken home of Atlanta, Ga. for a visit, figuring out where to go and what to do with myself next

MEAKER: How old were you when you were compelled to write your first song and what were the circumstances?

BAILEY: I wanted to be a songwriter for as long as I can remember, when I was a little child I loved pretty much all music, practically absent of discernment as children can often be... I would often come up with songs in my head and always write and improvise a little bit on my grandparents piano while visiting, until getting SHUSHED! It was when I was ten I began writing songs and really learning the guitar, bass and keys.

MEAKER: How would you describe the music that you're making now? Has it changed over the years?

BAILEY: The music I'm making now is and has always been eclectic, though it has undergone many twists and turns, many things have remained the same since always, some sounds and emotions continue to show through many very contrasting styles... The difference is that now I feel I have reached and transcended many of the the goals I've had in the past... Where some things were desired they are now manifested and enjoyed... For example the inspiration to really express the vast music that exists within a single sound used to be a fleeting and very personal accomplishment at best, mostly a dream, however now I have developed methods of expressing that in ways I only hoped and dreamed I could... Namely what I've been doing with strings and objects...

MEAKER: Is there a particular recent performance that stands out as being more interesting than others? If so, why?

BAILEY: Lately what stands out as being more interesting than others would be the bone song... I've been bowing strings with a human femur. I started with some kind of animal bone but the size, shape and weight were not ideal. The human femur is the perfect bone for it functionally and also provides for a profound example of the fact that music is vibration and with its creation carries with it destruction, its a very natural phenomena, it courses through us at all times and extends beyond our very perception and sensory experience of it.... In performance I have generally been using an acoustic guitar because I like to keep the method organic, keep the effect of it unaffected by even amplification and at the same time non verbally express that no effects are being used, no tricks, which people still think there are unseen amplifiers and effects... Though many wild sounds can be made with this technique I keep it simple and repetitive live, very zen, as I often do alone, expressing how the dynamics of the method can change so vastly in doing so, that one thing can sound so many different ways, actually unearthing the many sounds within a sound that this method can provide... I gently rub the bone on the strings in one place a certain way that makes it vibrate, then I focus on maintaining and expanding that vibration... In doing so, just one string can move through a great spectrum of notes tones and sounds and harmonize with itself... with the 6 strings of a guitar I can even get limitless orchestrics, choirs of shifting harmony that really sound like voices to the naked ear... and because the technique is so delicate, the very subtlest change in motion changes it, thus it becomes like a narrative of my very experience, my very physical emotion, its like improvising from the soul but having a whole ensemble of selves following every nuance of conduction... its very execution is very personally expansive and rewarding. I've been experimenting with friction in music since my teenage days and i now feel it has more than paid off creatively and existentially... I simply discovered it while doing what I do at a friends house that had some animal bones... I have discovered many special ways of making music using objects on strings, the bone just works so well. Also shells work very well in their way, they have an amazing percussive element with their textures and resonate like bone because I suppose the material is practically the same, but the size, shape and weight are not as dynamic... Clay and such materials wail, theyre really hot and easily screech, but they wail... I imagine there are some stones and crystals that will work as well as bone, probably selenite... that will be my next venture with it.

MEAKER: Do you have any philosophies - spiritual or otherwise - that influence your music or any other medium you might use to express yourself?

BAILEY: There are so many inspirations that influence all of my mediums of expression, philosophical, existential, even spiritual... Most simply and basically the notion that whatever medium it is bears wonderment beyond what one could ever perceive, as do our very selves and I like to treat them as such, purely as such, solely undergoing the wonderment of what they are, enjoying them, not taking them for granted, always a gift, of expression, joy, healing, catharsis, insight, interest, mystery, twerk, etc... and total wonderment.... And the notion that we can really have a very great time together as people, ya know... It boils down to expressing inspirations of how manifesting a very great time in this crazy world and actually undergoing the experience of its wonderment even beyond only a contenting extent is entirely plausible... Within that, much philosophy, spiritual and otherwise is to be expressed...

MEAKER: When we spoke, you said that "Sweet Nothings" is a sketch - do you know what you plan to do with the song?

BAILEY: "Sweet Nothings" was a sketch when I recorded it, I hadn't even played it all the way through before I recorded it but I like the sound of it so I kept it. Fresh, raw, new material, when undergone willingly and passionately always has substance that can't be found further in its evolution and I, as many others do, like to capture that and often prefer it, though there is much to be had with polished work as well that can only be achieved through its evolution.... "sweet Nothings" was released on the album "Advances" by "Platonic Sex", an ongoing and thus far very loose and open ended project of mine... "Advances" was a very loose and open ended, somehwhat experimental project of an album that I felt was good for such a raw performance as "Sweet Nothings". It was released on Atlanta's "Big Blonde Records" alongside a diverse mix of awesome Atlanta musicians. I'm touching the album up a little bit and putting it up online soon and printing CDs... As far as what's to come with the song, it will undergo various arrangements that I have conceived in my mind and also have yet to imagine... The first verse, which is in the format of simple love poetry, changes often where the last verse always stays the same "We're always whispering sweet nothings... and little phrases we repeat ... how could they be sweet if they are nothing? How could be nothing if they're sweet?"

MEAKER: Any upcoming projects or plans for an album?

BAILEY: I have so much material and so many albums and projects planned out in my mind, circumstances have been so very difficult, I've hardly done any of it, that's a whole collection of long stories.... I hope you can expect a broad spectrum of things....

MEAKER: Where can we hear more of your music or see you perform?

BAILEY: I hardly have anything up online right now, mostly its just random things people have captured and posted on youtube, check out "Bradley Bailey-Bone Song" on you tube or "Platonic Sex" on bandcamp for now and hopefully in the next year I will have more material available... In the meantime I play live in many facets regularly and randomly around the US.

Intro text by Oliver Maxwell Kupper and interview by Abbey Meaker. First three photographs by Bradley Bailey. Photo below by Ryan Callahan

Preschool Tintoretto: An Interview With Adam Green

Adam Green is standing under the fluorescent pink glow of the Veniero’s Pasticceria sign on East 11th Street. Lanky, shaggy-haired and clad in olive green corduroy pants, a red paisley 70’s Western shirt and a somewhat ironically ostentatious two-toned fur coat to fend off the icy December air, he could almost pass as another twenty-something traipsing about the East Village—yet I immediately recognize him as the anti-folk wunderkind. Most know Green as one half of the Moldy Peaches, the quirky indie duo that achieved sleeper mainstream success via the Grammy-winning soundtrack of Diablo Cody’s Juno (2007). Green met Kimya Dawson, the other half of the Moldy Peaches, in the 90s in Mount Kisco, NY, where they both grew up. “She worked at the record store, and I worked at the pizzeria, so I would come to her on lunch break and I’d bring my guitar,” he recalls. At seventeen, Green moved from Westchester to Manhattan and began following the path of the New York troubadour, playing his guitar and singing on the street and in subway stations. “For a time I almost became one of the kids that’s just sort of like at Astor Place near the cube,” he laughs. Green has come a long way since then—between releasing seven solo albums in just eight years, exhibiting his paintings and drawings both in the U.S. and abroad, and releasing his first feature film, which was shot entirely on his iPhone—the “screwball tragedy” The Wrong Ferrari, which he wrote, directed, produced, and acted in (along with Macaulay Culkin, Devendra Banhart, BP Fallon, Alia Shawkat and Sky Ferreira. In just a few weeks, Green’s duet album with Binki Shapiro (of Little Joy) will be released. The album, which Green describes as “a nighttime album,” is sweetly melancholic, a fluid indie-pop mélange of the two singers’ styles.

Green, who describes himself as “basically an adult who likes to draw with crayons,” is pensive, focused and effervescent. As he talks, sipping peppermint tea and twisting the various silver rings on his fingers, he radiates enthusiasm and passion. He possesses an endearingly neurotic, Woody Allen-esque demeanor and an offbeat, deadpan sense of humor. He shows me a photo on his iPhone of the engagement ring he designed for his fiancée, using one of his own cartoonish color-block paintings as inspiration. Later on, at his covetable Gramercy Park studio, strewn with oil pastels, tubes of paint, guitars, books, records, paintings and playful set pieces from The Wrong Ferrari, he shows me a framed drawing that Pete Doherty did of him, using, of course, his own blood as ink. What’s next for the charmingly unpredictable Adam Green? Anything is possible. “My next venture is to make my own [film] version of Aladdin,” he says. I’m going to play Aladdin… I already have the lamp.”

ANNABEL GRAHAM: My first question is about 3 Men and a Baby.

ADAM GREEN: 3MB. [laughs]

GRAHAM: 3MB. Can you tell me a bit about that, how it started, what your most recent projects have been?

GREEN: Yeah. It was an extension of The Wrong Ferrari. I made this movie, The Wrong Ferrari, and it’s an iPhone movie, and it stars Macaulay Culkin. And Toby Goodshank, who I used to play in The Moldy Peaches with, he was the cameraman on The Wrong Ferrari, and he helped me to build the sets of the movie. So I guess me and him and Mac were working pretty closely at that time, and I think as an extension of that, we began to treat his house as an art studio. At first it was because some of the sets of The Wrong Ferrari were in his house—for example, in the corner of the room—and they would become like an installation, kind of. I remember we were shooting a scene from The Wrong Ferrari around the time of Halloween a couple of years ago, so the set from that scene sort of became a part of a Halloween party. And I think that he liked that, he liked the idea of having art in his house, and installations… so it grew from there. Mac does a party at Le Poisson Rouge called “Macaulay Culkin’s iPod,” so he has a relationship with that club. So they asked him if he’d like to do an art show, hearing that he was doing paintings, and he said that he would, and that became the reason why we did that show. Because they asked him to. I think it’s kind of funny, I guess almost in a way… you know, people would do lots of stuff, but it’s just that no one ever asked them to.

GRAHAM: So you’ve been painting for a while.

GREEN: I was always really interested in art history. When I was young, I read art history books. Even when I only did music, I would still continue to read art history, and I was a frequenter of museums and exhibits. But for some reason I just hadn’t really had the confidence to make my own artwork. It was actually a weird situation where I got divorced, and I returned back to my old house and found a huge stack of paper, and so I started to paint on the paper, and I kind of made the house really messy, I think I wanted to… mess up the house, and make it my own again, or something… so I think that’s how I started doing artwork. I’d always sort of done drawings, I’d even had an exhibit of drawings at a Swedish gallery called Loyal, back in 2005. Also, I guess I could say when I was a kid I did comic books; I was interested in comic book art and cartoons.

GRAHAM: Your prints are reminiscent of comic book imagery.

GREEN: I was interested in it, but I started to take it more seriously, and I think definitely making a movie, which was largely… the sets were made out of papier mâché, and they were sort of my own visual aesthetic… I think that was my introduction to really doing visual art, and then I guess I really concentrated on it for a few years, probably the last three years, I did mostly visual art, except I did the duets album with Binki [Shapiro]. But besides that, I mostly painted. I made so many paintings… I had three art shows.

GRAHAM: Making music, making films, painting… do you feel that you get something different from each of those forms of expression?

GREEN: I like painting because I almost attribute it to having a social element… I like to just listen to music and hang out with friends and paint at the same time. I like that I can sort of zone out and do it. I think painting, for me, is in the category of something I’ve been doing the longest. I’ve probably been drawing pictures since I was five or something, so I feel really comfortable… it’s relaxing to me. But I guess I was looking for a way to connect all of those different things. I’m obviously always looking for a way to paint the way that my songs are, to sing how my paintings are… I want to all sound like part of the same universe, and I think The Wrong Ferrari was a good attempt to fuse those worlds. It’s written in a half-poetic style, almost like song lyrics, and the script is much in the same pool of writing that I’d write my songs out of. The difference is that songwriting for me is special, because it’s very soothing for me. It’s almost like a meditation, I can kind of walk around and… I just sort of, I guess maybe at my core I think of myself as a singing man, maybe like if there was a circus attraction, or something, I’d be the “singing man” in the tent. I guess I grew up wanting to be a folk singer, and now that I have so many different songs… this is my ninth album, so I guess I’m more of a folk singer now than I was when I was a kid, and I was just thinking of it more as just a style or something. I do think that my songs are kind of like cartoons. I also feel like maybe my artwork is a little bit like a preschool Tintoretto. [laughs]

GRAHAM: A preschool Tintoretto. That’s great.

GREEN: I guess ultimately you just look for fulfillment in any creative area. My next venture is to make a film, my own version of Aladdin. I’m going to play Aladdin. In doing that I think I can write the music and combine my music with the film.

GRAHAM: Would you shoot it yourself as well?

GREEN: I don’t know if I’d shoot it, but I want to direct it, I want to have it look like my paintings, to have my music in it… it’s a cool chance, to have the wishes and stuff. I already have the lamp, so…

GRAHAM: Oh, wow. Where’d you get it?

GREEN: Antique store.

GRAHAM: Have you tried rubbing it?

GREEN: I haven’t rubbed it in a while. [pause] So, the unifying theory of art, music, writing… I think I’m pretty close to being able to do it. Sometimes I think when I’m at my best is when I’m tracing exactly what’s in my head and just making it real. I feel like there’s a world inside of me and I’m just pushing it out through my skin. So I’m taking an inside world and pushing it into the outside. And that’s a good feeling.

GRAHAM: Where can we see The Wrong Ferrari?

GREEN: It was released in a weird way. I wanted it to come out with a bang, and I guess I wasn’t even really sure about the protocol of how to release a film, because my background is in music… and I thought it’d be cool to do it over the internet, and to release it as a free movie. Even though it’s really long, it’s 72 minutes, so it’s a feature-length film. I decided to have the premiere at Anthology Film Archives on 2nd and 2nd, and I decided to release it on the internet the following morning. So I got to have the premiere, and then they released it to the whole world at the same time. And that actually worked pretty well, I think the movie got 300,000 downloads in entirety, which is really cool. So actually a lot of people have that file of The Wrong Ferrari. At the time it was up on thewrongferrari.com, but I took it down because it was really expensive to host it, and now if you go to the film section of my website, there’s a link to download it. You can stream it. But anyway, as it was, the movie got… I don’t know how I feel about the way it was released. I went to Italy and did a screening of it, and I played it in Mexico City, and I played it in LA. But aside from that, I didn’t get to do as much traveling as I wanted to do to promote it. Because of the method that I chose to release it, it was ineligible for any film festivals. So basically, I released it, and a bunch of people downloaded it, and that’s what it is. My intention wasn’t to make it an internet movie at all. I didn’t want people to watch it on their computers, I want people to put it on their TVs and watch it in groups, or to watch it in a movie theater. I think it’s an unnerving and tense movie that I think is interesting to watch in groups. The plot is… we take Ketamine and turn into pets… and I think that’s well-suited for a midnight movie demographic. On a broader spectrum… I really thought that the whole point of the movie was that, you know… the movies we see in movie theaters, like romantic comedies, are so old-fashioned. I thought that all movies in the future would be things that people would make on their phones. I’m surprised that now we go and there’s a new 40-Year-Old-Virgin type movie in the theaters right now. I thought that was over… I don’t understand why the world always stays the same. Have you ever had a friend who was in a bad relationship, but they stay in it for like five years? That’s like our culture with movies.

GRAHAM: So you grew up in New York?

GREEN: I grew up in Mount Kisco, which is a small town about an hour away, in Westchester. It was nice. My parents lived in the city and they moved to Westchester to raise kids, which I think is really noble. I think it’s really good to grow up around trees, parks, fields, fresh air… I think that’s nice. I just got in an argument with this lady who was like “It’s perfectly great to raise kids in Manhattan.” I was like, “Yeah, you’re saying that ‘cause you have some nanny or something…” I think my parents made the right decision, they were pretty selfless in doing that. I think my parents were pretty good. I’ve got a high opinion of them.

GRAHAM: When did you move to Manhattan?

GREEN: Well, my parents moved back when my brother and I grew up. When I was about seventeen, they moved back here, and I just kind of started wandering around. I became a folk singer.

GRAHAM: Did you ever play in the subway?

GREEN: Definitely. I played in the subway, on the N R train, on the 8th Street stop, quite often. Sometimes by myself and sometimes with Turner Cody, who’s a really great singer. We would alternate. I also played on the street. I guess for a time I almost became one of the kids that’s just sort of like at Astor Place near the cube. For a little while I was kind of a cube kid. But then I also found my way to the Sidewalk Café, which is a folk club, and I started performing there. I think I was a decent subway singer, and I played mostly original material… I think that was cool. I don’t know why, when I get on the train, I don’t see as many people doing it. Maybe they’ve cracked down or something. I definitely think I wrote some pretty barbed lyrics to get the attention of people walking by. It was cool, because I met the local peers of mine in the subway… they were my first friends.

GRAHAM: Is that when you realized you wanted to make music a career?

GREEN: I really, really didn’t want to work at McDonald’s or something, and I didn’t have any training to do anything but fine arts, so I knew I had to do music or something like that… and I guess I got cracking really young, I was just everywhere. I was always on the street, and I always had a bunch of CDs and flyers, I was just on a mission. Maybe also because I think my parents didn’t really want me to be a singer, so that helped to motivate me. I feel like for years, my dad really couldn’t look me in the eye because he thought I was delusional.

GRAHAM: Doesn’t it feel good now to prove him wrong?

GREEN: Sometimes, and then sometimes I feel like they were right. [laughs]

GRAHAM: How did your first album come about?

GREEN: Well, I recorded a set of songs around the same time as The Moldy Peaches album came out. The Moldy Peaches is a collection of different home recordings that are mashed up together. I think the main difference between my first album and The Moldy Peaches is that it’s just songs that Kimya [Dawson] didn’t sing on. I think I’d probably offered or showed

GRAHAM: How did you and Kimya Dawson meet?

GREEN: She’s from Mount Kisco… from a neighboring town, Bedford Hills. She worked at the record store, and I worked at the pizzeria, so I would come to her on lunch break and I’d bring my guitar. I met her at a poetry reading at the art center in Mount Kisco. She’s a lot older than me, and I think at the time everyone thought we were really an odd couple. She was like 21 and I was like 14… She’d come over to my house, and my parents would think, like, “Who’s your older friend…?” But that seems to be in keeping with me. I’ve always been friends with whoever I thought to be friends with, and I never really cared if people thought they were the “right” friends that I should have.

GRAHAM: Can you tell me about your collaboration with Binki Shapiro? Your album’s going to be released next month, right?

GREEN: It was my idea to make a duets album with her, just because I thought she was really talented, and I really liked listening to her sing. I thought it’d be fun to try to write with her, and work with her, and we’d known each other as friends for a bunch of years. I’d toured with Little Joy in Brazil; I was a supporting act. Little Joy is really popular in Brazil. I think [Binki and I] had kind of bonded on that tour, and then a couple of years later the idea popped into my head… it wasn’t like there were a bunch of other people I wanted to work with, she was really my first choice. So I just went with it. I think I also wanted to write with somebody because I’d just done something like six or seven solo albums that followed The Moldy Peaches. That’s like a decade of having no one ever give their opinion about anything I did artistically. So it was pretty fun to work with her creatively, because I hadn’t let anyone in for a long time. GRAHAM: I read about it being a breakup album of sorts… can you elaborate?

GREEN: I definitely think it’s a nighttime album. I would encourage people to get the vinyl and listen to it like that. It’s far from a collection of pop singles, it’s much more of an album –album. It’s not very long, only about ten songs. I think in my head I can sort of piece together a narrative about a dysfunctional relationship inside of the track listing. The track listing was one thing that Binki and I really agreed on, so we must see some sort of picture of the album as a whole that we share. But I don’t know, we both were going through different kinds of weird relationship stuff during the writing of the album. I think when we both started writing, she just came over to my house… we drank a bottle of wine, we were writing a bit, we went out and got Chinese food… maybe it was our third writing session that we started to realize that we were in some really messed up relationships. We didn’t even really talk about it, but during the course of writing the record, we found that our relationships fell apart. So we were using each other as confidantes in the writing process, and it was great to be making these composite situations, sort of Frankenstein-ing together different things… also putting ourselves in the head space of each other, so that we could know or at least propose things for each other to sing, which was interesting, and I liked the result of it. We did a lot of articles and interviews on it, and really now we’re just waiting for it to come out. I just feel like… are the people that are reading the article ever going to hear the thing? So that’ll be cool, when it comes out. I feel like it’s a bit like Groundhog Day, it’s like every day of the year I wake up and think, “Oh, this album’s not out yet?” It’s been pushed back quite a bit. We recorded it without knowing what was going to happen, we just made it to make it. And then we both had to change management during the course of it, so it slowed everything down, which was kind of annoying. But I’m really proud of it, and excited for everyone to hear it. And honestly, people have been so kind about it. I think most of my things have a punk element to them that is distasteful to many… People brush off a lot of my stuff immediately, but people seem to be acting kinder about this album. Maybe they’re able to hear it because they think I’m not trying to be a punk about it. I guess my natural inclination’s always been to punish the world until they learn to love me for who I am.

GRAHAM: Do you think you’ll stay in New York forever?

GREEN: I’m certainly not tempted to spend any more time in LA if I can help it. When I was there, I found myself to be really isolated, because I don’t drive, so I was kind of at the mercy of anyone who had a car. I think I’ll probably stay here, but you know, you have fantasies, touring around… But this is how I know that they’re fantasies, essentially that whenever you tour anywhere vaguely vacation-y, like Italy or Spain or something, I think to myself, “Oh, it’d be so nice to live here,” but I probably need the hustle and bustle of New York to feel good. I spend almost every weekend at the Met, or somewhere, and it would be really disappointing for me to not have access to the things in New York that I like. It’s also the only place I know how to get around. I don’t have a good sense of direction, and I’m actually starting to feel confident that I know how to get around everywhere in Manhattan.

GRAHAM: What inspires you?

GREEN: Probably the same things that inspire everybody… definitely love, sex, anything romantic… seeing visual art, anyone that’s interested in analysis, I love critical thinking. I hate when people are like, “Oh, you’re overthinking that,” that’s the worst thing you could say to me. I love when someone wants to go straight in, really deep on something. In art, I love when something’s so mind-blowing that you don’t even have to question how amazing it is. Something like Alejandro Jodorowsky’s “Holy Mountain.” I really, really like him. When you see something that is unquestionably so amazing. I think I’m basically an adult who likes to draw with crayons, I guess I’ve accepted that I’m sort of charmingly a man-child. I think I’m basically a naughty boy who’s grown into a man.

GRAHAM: Who are some of your favorite artists and musicians?

GREEN: I like visual artists like Georges Rouault and Erich Heckel. I like Jodorowsky a lot. I like that new Dirty Projectors album, Swing Lo Magellan. I’ve been listening to that a lot. I’ve been listening to George Jones, Nick Cave… I really like that album Let Love In, I’ve been listening to that a lot lately. Shirley Collins, just because I think she has a really natural voice, I love that album Oar by Skip Spence. Eddie Martinez… and George Condo.

You can purchase limited edition artwork prints by Adam Green by going to Exhibition A. Adam Green and Binki Shapiro's album will be officially available on January 29, but you can preorder here. All photos and text by Annabel Graham for Pas Un Autre

Father Strangelove: An Interview with Father John Misty

Josh Tillman's (Father John Misty/ J. Tillman / Fleet Foxes) new album, Fear Fun begs many questions and alternatives. To open the door or burn it down? Is there a battle between Good and Evil for which humanity is the fulcrum, or is it all a grey comedy on the stage of Life? Just as importantly, how does one make the most of their situation with such questions looming over their head? In the Book of Revelation, 'Babylon' represents a city containing every evil in the world. In his song Fun Times in Babylon, Josh refers to his newly-adopted home as a strange land to be conquered with revelry: "I would like to abuse my lungs/Smoke everything in sight with every girl I've ever loved/Ride around the wreckage on a horse knee-deep in blood/Look out Hollywood, here I come." I met with Josh in Los Angeles to talk about his album and how to survive as an artist in the pre-apocalocyptic world. Read interview by Marielle Stobie for Pas Un Autre. 

MARIELLE STOBIE: What would you say are the benefits of playing solo?

JOSH TILLMAN: The creative process in general isn't closely related to 'benefit'. I was pretty sure that when I made the decision to stop what I was doing before [Fleet Foxes], one of the chief understandings that I had was it may not be a beneficial decision. Those are usually the most liberating decisions creatively. I really kind of felt like the end of [the Stanley Kubrick film] Dr. Strangelove, like the cowboy on the nuclear bomb. It felt more like a reckless decision than a rational one. I will say that what I was looking for out of the decision I think I've achieved.

MARIELLE: So it was worth the risk…

JOSH: It still would have been what I had to do. And it still may go down… Even my first decision when I was 20 or something, to disconnect from the world of 'benefit' or rational decision-making or anything was all this one big decision that happened a long time ago and now benefit, or worth, or whatever, was disestablished a long time ago. I didn't really have any doubt as to whether or not it would be of more benefit to me. Whether it's successful or not is still to be determined. It was something that I had to do.

MARIELLE: You went on a road trip to write this new album, right?

JOSH: Well, no. I went on a road trip to stop playing music entirely. It barely even classified as a 'road trip'. It was closer to me like 'running and screaming' out of town. I did not foresee any of this [Father John Misty] at that time. At that time, I just needed to get as far from the distortions I had created around myself creatively. At that point it's like, the sound of an acoustic guitar made me nauseous. I just had to disassociate with myself. One of the by-products of that, for one reason or another, was writing this novel and under the process of writing that, I accessed my conversational voice creatively and was actually having fun writing the novel… Which begged a certain question: why had you never had fun in the creative pursuit before and what relationship does 'fun' have to the creative process? The music [I was playing] was so romantic at the time. I wasn't me, really. Whatever romantic singer-songwriter alter-ego I cultivated just didn't work. It was powerless to address my actual concerns or interests.

MARIELLE: Could you briefly address what the novel is about?

JOSH: The book itself is literally in the album. There are two posters with the {album}. It is in type six font.

MARIELLE: So you need a magnifying glass to read it.

JOSH: Just post-magnifying glass. The book is more or less a surrealistic trans memoir attempt at looking at the trajectory of humanity as a thing.There are two end points: One is a transcendence into whatever next plane of human consciousness we're in store for and the other is just apocalypse, self-destruction and how more or less every human life…collectively, is on a speed trial towards one of those options.This really ridiculous book about bed bugs, jet packs, sea otters, and shit…

MARIELLE: In a past interview, you mentioned that you were not a strong student growing up. Today, however, you come across as not only charismatic, but eloquently spoken. When did this transition develop?

JOSH: I think I wrote my first poem in fourth grade. I don't know if what I'd call what I have 'intelligence' so much as 'rigorous thoughtfulness'. Intelligence, as a metric, is determined by a culture. Being able to operate and flourish within the cultures' paradigm is (a lot of the time) determined as 'intelligence'… The reason I didn't do well in school was that I hated it. I hated everything about it. I didn't perform well.

MARIELLE: Before you became a musician, your career path was painted as one of a pastor. That has obviously changed…

JOSH: Has it, though? To describe what a performer does, or an artist, and to describe what a pastor does, but leave out all of the signifying language, it is very difficult to discern one from the other. The way I grew up, you don't decide what you're going to become as an adult or at the age of accountability. You are "called" to do something. For certain kids like me who are very loud and talkative and charismatic, whatever, these kids, they're 'called' to be a pastor or a used car salesman… I wasn't good at music as a kid, so that was the demand proposed onto me by weird adults in my life.

MARIELLE: So this is the "Father John Misty traveling road show of 'reality as you know it'"… Correct me if I'm wrong.

JOSH: I think that quantifying reality is the work of other people. I am really interested in truth. But truth, a lot of the time, doesn't always look like reality. Humans' ability to perceive is not determined by their idea of 'truth'. That's the trap door of any ideology and we live in a very ideologic culture. There's an innate trap door for exceptions to make it pragmatic for living. My version of reality is way bleaker than the music I'm playing.

Fear Fun by Father John Misty is available in stores and online. Text by Marielle Stobie for Pas Un Autre.

Art And Ecstasy: An Interview With Artist Sara Falli

The artworks of Florence based Sara Falli are both mythic and phantasmagorical. They tell visual stories with simple, but complex devices a chaotic, dark, and beautiful world of strange creatures, women seemingly contorted with desire, and the veins of stained water color that conjure blood and ritual. Falli is telling us secrets with her brushstrokes, but keeps them deeply hidden in a labyrinth of multidimensionality. Falli has also published an autobiography, entitled Vita di Saragaia, which hints at a dysfunctional past which adds yet another layer.   

PAS UN AUTRE: When did you know you wanted to become an artist?

SARA FALLI: I began to think of myself as an artist in a very hazy way when I was 10. I noticed that art made me feel good and this happened before I even started to become aware of things... I really began without making a decision and it has become a need I cannot help but satisfy, otherwise I think I'd be a very sad person. However I started using the word "artist" to definemy status only ten years ago when I owned my first studio, after finishing my studies at the Academy of Fine Arts.

AUTRE: When did you start drawing in your current style?

FALLI: My style now is really just a stage that I am exploring, I do not know where it will take me, but I love to experiment and give myself new goals. I am very different when I work on canvas than when I work on paper, because as materials and type of paints change, I am very much guided by the impact of color now.

AUTRE: How would you describe your artworks?

FALLI: My works are anchors of an underground work that is within me. Those that I have been able to do are perhaps a thousandth part of what I would like to do; my job is to keep on trying to make visible to myself and others my underground world.

AUTRE: What are some of your inspirations/influences?

FALLI: I am inspired by everything that moves me and captures my interest. I place these feelings aside for a long time, then one day the whole or a part reaches out, always transformed by my use of color, for me the mediation through the matter is crucial, the ink pigments mixed with water, the smudge of graphite ... I do not know if I would be able to be a conceptual artist and never get my hands dirty, but one day it could be stimulating to try there too.

AUTRE: What do you think about when you are making art?

FALLI: When I create art I am either intractable or in ecstasy, almost "I can't draw a single line" or "I will do it, I am invincible". It takes me a while to find the right dimension, I need good music, space and time to "lose".

FALLI: In 2007 I wrote an autobiographical novel that was published by a major Italian publishing house. I had a very "offbeat" infancy, to use an euphemism, and I wanted to tell it. On the cover of the book there are 4 of my oil paintings; in that period I was painting people's objects, and those were my objects. Now besides painting I'm writing short stories.

AUTRE: Whats next?

FALLI: Then, for the future, I can only say that I will always be doing, never trying to reach a finality. I am terrified of finding myself at the finish, but the goal is not so much the finish, it is nothing but a mirage, you can see it only while walking.

You can find Sara Falli's book Vita di Saragaia here. You can also follow her on flickr to see new works.  Text by Oliver Maxwell Kupper for Pas Un Autre.

Joie de Vivre: An Interview With Photographer Josh Farria

Josh Farria's photograph is a candid diary of his life in San Francisco. His images include a plethora of beautiful women smoking weed, hanging out in laundry mats, eating cupcakes on the toilet, and teasing the camera. There is a certain amount of joie de vivre in Farria's subjects as they interact with their surroundings that range from urban landscapes to intimate interiors. I got a chance to ask Farriah a few questions about his photography, art, and inspirations. Read interview after the jump.

PAS UN AUTRE: Why did you want to become a photographer?

JOSH FARRIA: Im not sure.. I never had any plans on taking photos at all. It wasn't until I moved San Francisco at about 23. I just really fell in love with the medium, I had a few friends that were taking photos and I decided to try it. As time progressed I wanted to learn more about it.. Especially by me being a film shooter, it takes patience and lots of trial and error. Before I started taking photos I would draw portraits. Looking back at my drawings, now I can see why I was so interested in learning photography. It makes lot's of sense.

AUTRE: Can you remember the first photograph you ever took?

FARRIA: Fuck.. I wish.

AUTRE: Who are some of the subjects in your photographs?

FARRIA: Most of the girls in the photographs are my friends. Some are models, and some are not. I like the balance of both.

AUTRE: What is your favorite thing to photograph?

FARRIA: Women and moments.

AUTRE: Who are some of your major inspirations?

FARRIA: As of right now I would have to say Hawthorne Headhunters, Charmaine Olivia, Metronomy, and Darlene Farria my moms.

AUTRE: What goes through your mind when you look through the viewfinder?

FARRIA: A million things! Usually im thinking about how many exposures I have left. That's a probably a boring answer but it's true.

AUTRE: Whats next?

FARRIA: My first book, im aiming to release it before the end of 2012.

Follow Josh Farria on his tumblr diary. Text by Oliver Maxwell Kupper for Pas Un Autre. 

Chanteuse Fatale: An Interview with Sophie Auster

Singer-songwriter Sophie Auster got her start at the age of eight, when a teacher spotted her potential, singled her “shaking little voice” out and gave her a solo in the school choir. At just sixteen years old, she had already collaborated on a record with musical duo One Ring Zero (using English translations of French surrealist poems and other famous literary works as lyrics) that was picked up and released in Europe. After that, it seemed, the writing was on the walls. Auster’s first full-length solo album, Red Weather, which she produced herself, is slated for released later this summer—the title pays homage to a Wallace Stevens piece, giving a nod to Auster’s literary upbringing (her parents are celebrated writers Paul Auster and Siri Hustvedt). Though she has, inevitably, been dubbed an “It Girl,” the Brooklyn native (“I lived in Brooklyn when no one lived in Brooklyn, and I moved out of Brooklyn when everyone moved in,” she laughs) is not your typical 24-year-old singer/actress. Auster’s demeanor is gentle, poised, thoughtful, warm and quirky. Her TriBeCa apartment is filled with the trappings of an intellectual aesthete: books, paintings, photographs, guitars. She is well-spoken and well-read; a graduate of Sarah Lawrence College, where she studied a mixture of philosophy and art history.

Auster’s stage presence is commanding, even disarming— she engages fully and passionately with her audience, baring her soul through a powerful physicality: Piaf-esque hand gestures, the soulful eyes and voice that have (not surprisingly) garnered comparisons to the likes of Fiona Apple and Dusty Springfield. Wary of being perceived as “too soft, strumming the guitar, dandelions in my hair and that sort of thing,” Auster explains that she gravitates towards grittiness and eclecticism in her music. She cites Leonard Cohen, Tom Waits and Antony & The Johnsons as some of her favorite lyricists; Nina Simone, Peggy Lee and Ella Fitzgerald as inspirational female vocalists; dreams and emotional states as sources of artistic fuel. It’s hard to believe that the steady, husky croon she has cultivated was once that “shaking little voice.” Auster’s hopes for the future? Just “to keep going.”

ANNABEL GRAHAM: Can you tell me a bit about your first experiences with singing and songwriting? How did you start out and how did you realize it was something you wanted to make a career out of?

SOPHIE AUSTER: Well, I started singing when I was eight years old in my school choir. I was always a kind of rambunctious kid, and I was always pretty creative, but when I was in my really early life, I thought I was going to be a painter or an illustrator or something like that; that’s kind of what I was gravitating towards. And then I really think that this one teacher helped me realize that I had this passion for performing. She singled me out and gave me a solo in the school choir when I was eight. I still have a recording of it, it’s like this… shaking, shaking little voice that… you can tell that there’s something there, but it’s quivering! [LAUGHS]

GRAHAM: Because you were nervous?

AUSTER: So nervous! I thought I was going to die. I had never sung in front of anyone before; that was really my first foray into it. So [the teacher] told my parents that I should start doing music, start taking voice lessons and all this stuff. It really started then, but then I didn’t really know that I was going to be a singer-songwriter until much later. So I collaborated on a record when I was sixteen, and I would record during the weekends and my summer holidays, and that record got… through a family friend, the record got picked up and released in Europe, just accidentally. It was very lucky, and kind of before the record business turned. I think it was then that I started realizing that I could really do this as a professional thing. And I think that record, because I was only collaborating to some degree on that, so I wasn’t writing everything myself, and I wasn’t… I didn’t collaborate on the music, so I just stepped in as a singer and contributed lyrics and that kind of stuff. So that kind of pushed me into trying to find what kind of sound I wanted to make on my own, and I think after that experience, that was when I started taking it very seriously. So I guess around my late teens, seventeen, eighteen, was when I decided what I wanted to do. I always knew since I was a kid that I wanted to do something in that area, in the arts, but I didn’t know… if I had Broadway aspirations, if I was going to sing and act and combine everything together… so I didn’t figure out that I was going to be a singer-songwriter, until a bit later.

GRAHAM: And you started writing your own songs around your late teens?

AUSTER: Yeah. I had always written poetry and kept a journal, so I was always writing and penning things of my own, but then composing music and playing and putting it all together came a little bit later.

GRAHAM: Can you describe your musical aesthetic and style? Influences?

AUSTER: I think that when I was a kid, I really gravitated towards female torch singers, and this is what I really liked. Even the video [for “Run, Run, Run”], I think there’s some of that, bringing it back. So I really liked Roberta Flack and Nina Simone and Peggy Lee and Ella Fitzgerald when I was growing up, and I sang a lot of Gershwin when I was younger. So I think these things kind of influenced me, and it’s the base of a lot of things that I do, but then obviously it’s developed, when I started branching out and listening to different types of music. As songwriters, I really like Tom Waits and Leonard Cohen… Antony & the Johnsons is someone I really like… so my style would be kind of… it’s definitely eclectic, if you hear the mini-record I just made, Red Weather, there are a lot of different influences on it. I think that I gravitate towards something that’s a little bit more gritty, so I always had this fear that I would be too… because I had a “pretty” voice, that it would automatically put me in this category that I didn’t want to be in… Feminine, too soft, strumming the guitar, dandelions in my hair and that kind of thing. So I think I always wanted to get some kind of dirty thing in the music. I wanted my voice to contrast some of the musicality of the songs. I mean, there are actually literally trash cans on one of the songs. So there’s that kind of contrast that I like. I think it’s always developing. I do think that I’ve found where I feel comfortable, and I don’t feel like I’m all over the place anymore. I was writing all these different kinds of songs and they were in such different genres that it was a little like, “Who am I? What am I doing?” But I think it’s come more into focus now.

GRAHAM: How has it been working on your new album, Red Weather? Can you tell us a bit about it?

AUSTER: It was very difficult, I have to say. It was a lot of fun, the experience was very empowering… but you know, there were just hours and hours spent in the studio trying to figure out what I wanted, what kind of sounds I wanted. I produced it myself, which I’ve never… I’ve never done anything like that before, so I was really there alone in the studio with the musicians and the engineer, and then also stepping in and doing the vocals and listening back. Your ears get so much better after a while that you start hearing things that you weren’t hearing before. So it was a great experience. Would I want to self-produce again? Yes, but maybe not the next step. I would probably like to work with someone next time around, and then go back. I do feel like it taught me so much that I can now, if I do work with someone maybe more established, or who’s been doing this for many years, at least now I can have an in-depth conversation with that person, so I’m not just coming in completely naïve. It’s a whole different ballgame once you get in the studio. It’s one thing to write a song, and then to produce it, make it come out, all the things that you’ve envisioned in your head, to actually put that together is a totally different game. I’m really happy that I did it, and even more happy that I’ve gotten something that I was happy with. That was the main thing. But there was a lot of trial and error, and just figuring out what I wanted. I would go and listen to songs that I really liked and try to pick apart why I liked them, what instruments, what’s going on in the track, so that I could use that as some kind of inspiration.

GRAHAM: You’re also an actress. Do you feel that acting provides a different sort of creative outlet than singing? What do you get from each?

AUSTER: Yeah. I think that for me, my main focus is on music, just because I feel like I have so much more creative control than I do when I’m acting. But I love acting, I love the kind of communal thing that goes on, and these little families that are formed within a set, or a play, and I’ve always really liked being part of a group. I think it’s probably because I was teased as an adolescent, so I love being a part of things, so I always gravitated towards being a part of a little clan, a little theatre clan, or something like that. When you’re working with really great people, it can be a completely different kind of experience. I think for me, like music, I get a lot of catharsis out of what I’m doing, so I channel something that’s going on in my life into the creative thing… I think they’re similar in one way, but I do think that some of the obsessive control I have over my music… it’s kind of nice to relinquish that control when I’m working with other people in an acting atmosphere, because I have to trust the director and then I can just kind of do what I think I should be doing. It’s kind of nice not to be the director of everybody, telling people what to do, also making my music and all this stuff… so as much as I like that, I also kind of like just being an actor in something too.

GRAHAM: How do you feel about the creative atmosphere in New York?

AUSTER: I’ve been lucky enough to travel a bit recently, and I always feel like it’s great to get away from New York, but it’s so good to come back. It’s this funny thing, because New York is so alive and there are so many different things going on that, you know, at any given moment, someone will be performing or having an art show… you’re constantly finding out about different things that are going on. Even the film that you and Sam were in… just that there’s this communal life in Brooklyn somewhere where all these films are going on… All these little subcultures are going on. So that’s a really nice thing, and especially that there are so many avenues for people to go. There are so many venues, so many things that you can do creatively… People play on the subway, people play in the street, people show their artwork everywhere. It’s a nice atmosphere for that.

GRAHAM: Do you think you’ll stay in New York?


GRAHAM: You grew up here, right?

AUSTER: Yeah. I grew up in Brooklyn, in Park Slope.

GRAHAM: How do you feel about Manhattan vs Brooklyn?

AUSTER: I always joke that I lived in Brooklyn when no one lived in Brooklyn, and I moved out of Brooklyn when everyone moved in. So, maybe just to be contradictory or something, I don’t know. [LAUGHS] I love Brooklyn. It was a nice place to grow up, I still like it, but for me I like being kind of in the middle of things right now. I think if I wanted to have kids and found someone I fell in love with, I might eventually want to move back to Brooklyn.

GRAHAM: If you wanted to have a backyard or something.

AUSTER: Yeah! I mean, I have been thinking about… I don’t know, in a few years, building a studio or something for myself and selling this place… I just don’t know where I would go yet. I like Red Hook, but there’s no transportation, so…

GRAHAM: Can you tell me about your musical-literary project, As Smart As We Are?

AUSTER: The musicians that I did my first record with when I was sixteen, they had a duo called One Ring Zero. The way we met was because they were doing a literary project using lyrics written by famous writers. So they got lyrics from my father [Paul Auster], who is a writer, and then made this project using different well-known contemporary writers. They came over to the house when I was in high school, and they were collaborating with my dad, who gave them some lyrics, and then we sat down and started talking about music. I think my dad told them that I was interested in music, and they were like, “Oh, why don’t you sing one of the songs on the record?” So I stepped in, sang a song, and that’s how that art project came about. They were like, “Oh, you’re a great singer, we should do something together just for fun.” So that record that happened just for fun actually turned out to be getting released. I found poems that I really liked, and put them to music with the guys, and also gave them a few of my lyrics as well. So that was a kind of novelty project that we did, and this record [Red Weather] is really my first record of all original lyrics and music.

GRAHAM: You grew up in a literary family. Did that influence your songwriting?

AUSTER: I think so, because I think that I had a big advantage because I grew up reading a lot, being around a lot of literature, knowing about a lot of writers that maybe a lot of people don’t know about. My mother also read to me for about two hours every night until I was about twelve, I think. I mean, we read serious books together, she used to read to me before I could read, and then once I could read we took turns reading to each other back and forth. But it went from The Secret Garden to, you know, David Copperfield. It was those kinds of leaps that really helped my writing a lot. I just think that the more that you read, the more you know, and if you have some kind of gift for language it just helps you even more.

GRAHAM: They say that if you want to be a writer, you should be reading a lot.

AUSTER: Yeah. And I think that a lot of writers don’t. A lot of writers have a few books that they gravitate towards, but they’re not devouring literature all the time. My parents are so well-read, they’ve just read everything. I have a lot of catching-up to do, but I did get a good background with that.

GRAHAM: Who are some of your favorite musicians?

AUSTER: Let’s see… I have to throw The Beatles in there.

GRAHAM: Who’s your favorite Beatle?

AUSTER: George Harrison, I think.


AUSTER: Because I like his solo stuff the best. The Who, David Byrne, The Velvet Underground, Lou Reed, I like Fiona Apple obviously… and… God, I have so much music going around in my brain.

GRAHAM: What inspires you?

AUSTER: For me… obviously there’s inspiration everywhere, but I find that emotional states influence me a lot, whether I’m really exuberant or really sad. I also find that I have very vivid dreams, and that usually finds its way into something that I’ve written. So I would say being an emotional person with all these different energies, as well as my subconscious.

GRAHAM: Any projects for the future?

AUSTER: I’m just crossing my fingers that I have a fall tour set up, and that I’ll start, you know, playing a lot. That would be what I’d really want right now. And that people buy my record and like it. Just to keep going… and make some money. That would be nice. [LAUGHS]

Visit Sophie Auster's website for more. Text and photography by Annabel Graham for Pas Un Autre. 

Man on Fire: An Interview with Brian Duffy

The end of the 1950s saw a drastic change in fashion photography—a kinetic, freewheeling, rule-breaking “documentary” style pioneered by three unlikely East London working-class “bad boys”—David Bailey, Terence Donovan and Brian Duffy. Perhaps the most technically sophisticated of the three, the inventive and wildly acerbic Duffy initially picked up photography “as an easy way to make money” after seeing a few contact sheets in the office of a fashion magazine he was working for as a freelance illustrator. It turned out that his instincts were correct, for him at least—Duffy soon found himself at the forefront of a rebellious, groundbreaking new photographic sensibility that would document and reinvent the image of 1960s London.  Duffy, Bailey and Donovan, who quickly became notorious throughout London press as “The Terrible Trio” or “The Black Trinity” (the latter nickname bestowed upon them by photographer Norman Parkinson) ushered in the visual spirit of the “Swinging Sixties,” meanwhile completely changing the image of the fashion photographer established by the predominantly upper-class “gentleman” photographers of the 1950s like Parkinson and Cecil Beaton. As Duffy himself once said, “Before 1960, a fashion photographer was tall, thin and camp. But we three are different: short, fat and heterosexual.” The three even inspired Michelangelo Antonioni’s first entirely English-language film, the cult hit Blow-Up, about a jaded young fashion photographer working in mod London. Irreverent, short-tempered and wholly unafraid to take risks, Brian Duffy embodied the playful dynamism and vibrancy that would come to characterize the 1960s, replacing the static, untouchable ambiance of 1950s imagery.

Throughout his incredibly successful career as one of Britain’s reigning photographers, Duffy created revolutionary spreads for Vogue, Elle, Glamour, Esquire, Queen, The Observer, The Times and The Daily Telegraph. He generated some of the most iconic images of the 1960s and 70s—from the album cover of David Bowie’s Aladdin Sane to some of the most renowned images of celebrities like Jean Shrimpton. Grace Coddington, Jane Birkin, Michael Caine, William S. Burroughs, Debbie Harry and others. Within the realm of advertising, the prolific Duffy lent his unique vision to two Pirelli calendars and shot award-winning campaigns for both Benson & Hedges and Smirnoff.

In 1979, Duffy grew tired of the business and decided to give up photography, going out in a characteristic “blaze of glory” as he spontaneously set fire to most of his negatives in the back garden of his London studio. Though a great deal of his images were lost, his son, Chris Duffy, has spent the past five years archiving those that remain—and this arduous process (which remains ongoing!) has culminated thus far in both the publication of a book of Duffy’s images and the openings of several retrospectives around the world. These exhibits showcase, for the first time ever, the oeuvre of Britain’s own enfant terrible: a visionary who created his own unique visual language, changing the face of commercial and fashion photography for good. I was lucky enough to sit down with Chris during the opening of the first-ever stateside Duffy retrospective at Clic Gallery in SoHo for a brief chat about his father’s legendary life, work and the infamous negative-burning incident…

ANNABEL GRAHAM: Your father captured and helped create the image of the “Swinging Sixties.” What about his particular method, style and personality do you think most set him apart from other photographers of the day?

CHRIS DUFFY: Ultimately… and it’s changed today, but I think photographers of the sixties had a lot of power. Clients came to them because they had a particular look and way of doing things. I mean, if you think of Helmut Newton pictures, no one else did that kind of picture, a Guy Bourdain could only be done by Gilles, and that was because photographers did have immense power, they could say how or what they wanted to do, which I don’t think really exists today. Most pictures that I look at, I mean I see hundreds of names all the time, but I couldn’t tell you one photographer from another. It all looks exactly the same. I think in part that has to do with technology, because the digital medium now has changed the game plan. I mean, in this period, in the sixties, all these pictures you look at are a fraction of time on a piece of film. The digital medium, with your recorder there, which is also a camera… if I take a picture of you, first of all, where does it exist? You can’t see it, taste it, smell it, touch it… so, I take a picture of you now, you email it to someone, they change the color of your hair on PhotoShop, they email it to someone else, and they put a background in, and then it comes back to me, where does it exist? There’s no way of knowing what the picture is, because you’ve extended the envelope of believability by digitally compositing elements. Now, traditional mechanical photography, the dynamic it deals with is a metaphysical condition, it’s about a slice of time, a moment in time. And a great picture is not a moment before that or a moment after that, it is that moment… and so it’s a very different, I think you need to differentiate between traditional-style photography and the new digital medium. So, in a roundabout way, in answer to your question about what made Duffy different, ultimately, it was a reflection of his personality. Every photographer infused and had different techniques to get people to react in certain ways or they had affections for certain styles, certain looks with cameras and lenses and techniques… it’s just a reflection of his personality.

GRAHAM: Which was?

DUFFY: Which was, well, he was a natural anarchist… he pushed himself very hard and always tried something new. I think that’s always risky, in a way, it’s much easier to be safe and keep producing the same kind of image, and people like that and you get paid for doing it, but he always wanted to kind of push it as far as he could go. He had a short fuse, he didn’t suffer fools lightly, and he was an incredible intellect; his depth of knowledge on so many subjects, from jazz to food to art to furniture to poetry… So photography was just one part of his makeup, really, I mean it was the medium that he expressed himself in.

GRAHAM: I read that he originally just picked up photography as an easy way to make money.

DUFFY: Well, yeah, originally, he started out, he went to St. Martin’s [School of Art], and he wanted to be a painter. And then what he realized in his class was that there were so many brilliant geniuses, so he went into the dressmaking department. So he had an innate understanding of fashion. Then he started illustrating and got freelance gigs for magazines like Harper’s, and it was when he was in the office of one of the magazines that he saw a set of contact sheets, and he said, “Oh, these all look the same!” and the fashion editor said, “No, no, if you look carefully they’re all different!” And then he realized at that point that that was probably much easier than sitting down drawing things. So he took up photography.

GRAHAM: And he happened to be good at it!

DUFFY: And he happened to be good at it. Well I think actually he would be good at anything he put his mind to.

GRAHAM: Yeah. It seems he was good at a lot of different things.

DUFFY: He was incredibly talented. He then went into film, into commercials, and then when he jumped out of that he’d always had a love of furniture and he was very good with his hands, at making things, he had an amazing workshop at the back of his studio, and he went into furniture restoration. I think by ’79, after working from the late fifties, he saw the writing on the wall, or what was going to happen with photography, and its demise.

GRAHAM: That was actually one of my next questions. What do you think sparked his ultimate disenchantment with the world of fashion and photography, and the burning of most of his negatives in 1979?

DUFFY: Well, I think that after being in the business that long, he felt that he wanted to go out while he was still at the top, and not just water down, you know, become a pale imitation of what he’d done before. I think he’d just had enough.

GRAHAM: He went out with a bang.

DUFFY: He did. I mean, you know, he actually burned a lot of his… well, we’re not really sure how much he burned, but there are big gaps in the archive where you look through and for example you get Job #900 and the next job will be #1008 or something, you know, there’s a big chunk missing. He just started arbitrarily burning things in the back garden on the bum fire to get rid of them. Luckily, he got stopped by the local council… we’ve got a lot of stuff, but I still keep finding things. There are archives around the world that have got pictures that I’m still uncovering. I mean, he was working every day for 25, 30 years. I worked for him from ’73 to ’79 and we just worked all the time, just continually. Nonstop.

GRAHAM: What was the experience of working for him like?

DUFFY: Well, you couldn’t have had a better apprenticeship or grounding. He was the ultimate craftsman. It was demanding, but in the end, a privileged position to be in… to fly around the world and work with a top photographer and meet incredible people and learn so much, really.

GRAHAM: This is the first-ever U.S. exhibition of Duffy’s work, right?

DUFFY: That’s correct. We had a small David Bowie exhibit last year, but this is the first solo retrospective.

GRAHAM: Now that you’ve been archiving his work since 2007, are there plans for more exhibitions in the U.S. and worldwide?

DUFFY: Well, we just got approached by a gallery in San Francisco, it’s the Modern Book Gallery, I think? So we’ll see how it goes. This year we’ve had… Gosh, I think this is about our eighth exhibition already this year. We started out at the Alinari National Photo Museum in Florence, and that’s been a major success, they extended it twice… We are in Monash Art Gallery in Melbourne, we just had the original Aladdin Sane dye transfer at the Victoria & Albert in London, we’ve got this show, we’ve got one in LA, and then we’ve got plans for Spain and Germany at the end of the year. We’ve got another UK exhibition at the Montpelier Gallery in Cheltenham at the end of the year, so it’s pretty full.

GRAHAM: Will those exhibitions show these same photographs?

DUFFY: Well, in the end, it’s up to the gallery, what they think works. For me, all of the pictures work in whatever way you want to put them together

GRAHAM: Do you have a favorite of your father’s photographs?

DUFFY: Well, there are so many pictures that I like… but one of my favorites is this portrait of William Burroughs over there, taken in 1960, with the soft machine and the typewriter, which actually William Burroughs offered to my dad for 15 francs… which he said he bought, but I haven’t found it yet. If I do, that will be an amazing feat… But he photographed him again in 1974 in London, and the portrait was Burroughs holding that picture, and it was shot for Rolling Stone, but he cut Burroughs’ head off. It’s just his body holding the picture of himself taken in 1960. It’s in the book. That’s one of my favorite pictures, because it’s just so anarchic. To take a portrait of someone, and cut their head off… I mean, if I told you I was going to take a portrait of you and cut your head off, you’d say I was mad.

Text by Annabel Graham for Pas Un Autre

Duffy: A Retrospective of Photographs by Brian Duffyis on view until June 3, 2012 at Clic Gallery, 255 Centre Street, New York.

I LOVED YOU: An Interview With Richie Culver

Richie Culver: provocateur, bearded mystic raconteur, tattooed romantic, enigmatic rising contemporary British artist. Culver falls in line with some of the great rebels of creative expression that have made the United Kingdom a landscape of artistic rebellion for the past 40 years in contrast to its powdered wig, high tea, keep calm and carry on reputation. From the social dissatisfaction that gave birth to the punk movement, Vivienne Westwood, to the gothic angst of new wave, to Damien Hirst, to Tracey Emin, Culver is part of a cultural evolution of artists with extremely unique and inspiring ideas. Art has treated Culver well – almost as soon as he started exploring art as a career he was featured in a group show at the Tate Modern and now his list of collectors and demand for new work is growing exponentially. Culver was also recently invited by Eastpak to design a series of bags to support a charity alongside other artists such as The Smiths' Johnny Marr. Pas Un Autre contributor Christopher Lusher caught up with Richie Culver to chat about everything from the current state of the art world, his passion for music and the difficulties of living ones life as an artist. Lusher mentions, "It's only a matter of time before Culver catches fire stateside." 

CHRISTOPHER LUSHER: Being an artist working in London what do you see as the differences in the contemporary art scene there as opposed to the one in the States?

RICHIE CULVER: There are many differences! London is very much stuck in a time warp, the 1990's. Its really sad to see. It depresses me in fact. We all know the artists in question. I'm not disrespecting them! (well not all of them) They are all old now, I'm not saying age makes a difference, cos it doesn't. Great art is great art but times are changing, musics changing, fashion is changing. The YBA's [Young British Artists] paved the way – but paved it for who exactly? The bigger major contemporary galleries seem scared to bring a new crop through & when they have attempted to do so have failed miserably. I personally am a fan of Damien Hirst ( hate me nor love me for that ) but I just like what he does, I like him as a person. He causes controversy what ever he does. He is a working class lad from Bristol done good, but in this country we love to slag the ones, the pioneers off once, they get to a certain level which is a shame. Hirst is Hirst, he does his thing. You have Coventry, Emin to name but a few. They are all just still doing their thing. Good luck to them I say but its 2012 now not 1993. (thank fuck) I'm not gonna divulge into Bacon etc. as I see there works in a totally different light....In America on the other hand the art world is scattered with really interesting people and works which translate into the modern world we live in. Also the curators are far more open minded and slightly more youthful, willing to take a chance of the likes of Dan Colen at the Gagosian Gallery. Dan is a fantastic painter & continues to do his thing. Once all that "Warhols Children" died down Dan continued to make strong work and shows. Scott Campbell for instance is another amazing young artist who is moving things forward. Of course you have the not so good artists such as Nate Lowman, whos work is neither here nor there. I'm sure he is s nice guy and all but his work strikes no chords for me. Agathe Snow is great. I'm not too clued up on Dash Snows work but I shall delve deeper. In a nut shell I see the NY scene as much more open to new ideas and the galleries & curators are much much more on the ball than over here in London. Their moving things in the right direction. London unfortunately is still stuck and wanking over pieces that were made over 20 years ago. LET GO FOR FUCKS SAKE! There are some realy cool artists & photographers living in London at the moment. To re cap ... Londons still in the ice age .. NY is daring to change the game and give young talented artists shows in historical galleries. The past is gone now. GONE.

LUSHER: Do you draw any inspiration from the young American art scene? If so, from who?

CULVER: I dont draw inspiration from anything but personal experiences. Being hung upside down from my ankles on the 34th floor was one of them....but back to young American artists, there's so many I hate (not personally)... I love as I said Scott Campbells work, always did even before we became mates. He is doing something totally different. My mate Jose Parla is doing his thing and such a lovely guy! Dan Colen is a great painter for sure! There used to be so many of them now I can only think of a few. Asger Carlsen is good. I'm not gonna even go into the street side of things. That's kinda joke at the moment. Even photographers, they're all way past their sell by date. It really is all in London now when it comes to artists / photographers under the age of 35 but they're not getting the scope they need. It's young and fresh. Like never before.

LUSHER: Do you find it difficult to earn a living as an artist?

CULVER: I was finding it hard for awhile but I now have a strong driven team behind me who all have the same vision I do. Since I had my Jesse Owens piece in the Tate Modern its all just fallen into place really quickly. My prices for my photography have rocketed so much its hard to keep up with. Same with my "I loved you" paintings!! It's unreal. I now only do a certain amount per year because the orders were getting silly. My main talent is painting. I've kinda kept that for last. I'm super excited for the world to see them. But no I don't find it hard anymore. I have a huge collectors list, ranging from musicians, art collectors, actors, government people and mates. As soon as word gets out I've finished a set of photos, collages or Polaroids etc. they have usually all sold which makes it hard to work towards the next show. I usually sneak off to my mates studio in the country side with no phone then hide them before they get hung. For whatever reason my work is in demand at the moment especially my photos, my collages and my "I loved you" painting. I'm bracing myself for my first collection of painting. That will be ready for next year though.

LUSHER: If you weren't involved in the arts what other career would you have chosen or has that ever been an option?

CULVER: If I were not an artist I'd probably be a stray street cat. Hustling and telling peeps I'm gonna be starting a band and stuff. Shoplifting, dead or in prison.

LUSHER: Describe your process. Is there any specific routine or is it more of a spontaneous action? How much forethought goes into your works?

CULVER: None. I get an idea and run with it down the street with a stolen TV in my hand.

LUSHER: Alot of your work has a relation to sports. What is the genesis for this or the ideas behind it?

CULVER: I love sport. Boxing. I love football too. I like bare knuckle fighting.

LUSHER: I know your a big music lover. What do you usually have playing in your flat or when you create? Any up and coming musicians we should know about?

CULVER: I'm listening to Death Grips new record, Charlie Parker, Kilo Kish, Joey Bada$$$, Capital Steez , Fila Brazillia , Bullet Nuts, Das Racist, Gil Scot Heron, Boldy James, Mr Muthafuck Esquire ,Waka Flokka, Danny Brown, ( shout out to my good mates now) - Eliot Sumner, Adele, Paloma Faith, Hurts,The Macabees,Tribes, Liam Bailey, Jack Penate, Jai Paul, The Weeknd, GG Allin, Miles Davis etc.

LUSHER: Whats lined up for the future for you project and gallery wise?

CULVER: So much. Shows in LA, NY, two shows in London, Berlin, Oslo, Rome, Barcelona. There's loads more but I can't remember! Thanks for having me! Fo real...

You can follow Richie Culver at his website. Text by Christopher Lusherfor Pas Un Autre.

Life On Film: An Interview with Iva Cukic

It would be easy to mistake Iva Cukic's photography for film-stills.  Between posed subject portraiture that contains a strange, seductive quality and landscapes that sometimes stretch on verdantly into snowcapped mountains and meadows populated by flocks of sheep, you'll realize that Cukic's photography is actually a film about her life.   Cukic, who is based in Belgrade, Serbia, is also an architect and designer, and fell into photography almost serendipitously. Pas Un Autre caught up with Cukic to ask her a few questions about her photography and inspirations. 

PAS UN AUTRE: How has Belgrade inspired your work?

IVA CUKIC: Belgrade is special city. It has some unique energy. I love its cityscape, people I meet or already know, things I do, etc. But it’s not only Belgrade that inspires me. It can be any ambient or any person anywhere.

AUTRE: How would you describe the images you take?

CUKIC: Ordinary things that make my everyday life. My friends, my family, time we spend together or places I visit; I love to catch those moments. It is a kind of my visual diary. What brought you to photography? Photography was always magical to me. I remember few years ago, when my uncle forgot his Canon A-1 camera at my place, I took it and went outside to make some photos. I was playing with the settings, and even though I got most of the photos overexposed, I was so thrilled! That was how everything began.

AUTRE: Can you remember the first image you ever took?

CUKIC: Yes, me with a phantom mask. It was the first photo I took with analog camera. Yet not the first ever in my entire life, that one I cannot remember.

AUTRE: What are some some of your thoughts as you look through the viewfinder?

CUKIC: I’m looking for an intimate moment; either I’m taking photos of people, or just of some indoor or outdoor space. When I want to take a photo I wait for a while so I could capture the instant when everything gets spontaneous and more natural. For instance, when you ask someone to take a photo of him, usually he/she makes a pose, but if you wait enough you can catch more natural expression.

AUTRE: Major inspirations?

CUKIC: Few days ago I watched movie Le Havre directed by Aki Kaurismäki and I’m still under the impression of its esthetics. Besides that, I would point out Michel Gondry, Stanley Kubrick, Nan Goldin, Lee Friedlander, Lukasz Wierzbowski.

AUTRE: Whats next?

CUKIC: Titled photos. That’s what I’m working on right now. Something like movie frames.

See more of Iva Cukic's photographs on her flickr. Text by Oliver Maxwell Kupper for Pas Un Autre. 


The editor-in-chief of The Paris Review, Lorin Stein, doesn’t watch Gossip Girl. He does, however, stand on tables when giving toasts—something he is quite adept at. Tonight’s is in honor of Pulphead, a new collection of essays published by the esteemed literary journal’s Southern editor, John Jeremiah Sullivan, or “JJ,” as Stein lovingly dubs him. Ever charming and poised, Stein relates from his lofty perch, to a mixed audience of bright-eyed Ivy Leaguer interns and lit-world “old boys” alike, the story of his trip to Scotland with JJ, their semi-successful hunt for the mythic beauty of Loch Lomond, and JJ’s baffling wildflower-picking excursion (“When I find a really good wildflower, I like to take a picture of it so I can look it up and identify it when I get home… don’t worry, I don’t use it in my writing or anything like that”). The first time I met Stein, he advised me not to go into the editing/publishing business (find out why in the interview below).

The second time, we ended up having an in-depth discussion about Gossip Girl as I photographed him sitting in an armchair in his spacious, book-lined office at the very back of The Paris Review’s Tribeca loft (the inside of which resembles the late George Plimpton’s living room, cozy and replete with books, framed black-and-white photographs and old Paris Review posters, oriental rugs and taxidermied birds—purportedly the addition of Philip Gourevitch, the second editor-in-chief, who Stein succeeded in April 2010). To be fair, the conversation arose in an academic discussion—but I was nonetheless surprised, and pleasantly so. With Stein, it seems there is never a dull moment. At just 39 years old, he is the third and youngest-ever editor-in-chief of the prestigious literary journal—and while he plans to steer the Review back in the direction of its Plimptonian, purely fiction-and-art roots, there is no doubt that he brings a fresh, unique and decidedly hip perspective to the table. His attention to detail in combination with a certain facetiousness make him into a perfectly Baudelairean mixture of the ephemeral and the permanent, the modern and the classic— much like the Review itself—and though (like George Plimpton) he enjoys a good party, the eloquent Stein radiates editorial dexterity and pure, joyful devotion to his work.

“They’ll of course use the smoking picture, won’t they?” he smirks when I ask him to hold the hand with the cigarette up for another shot. He drapes a leg over the arm of the chair, sipping his whiskey—and yet somehow, in his revelry, he remains utterly composed. About a week later, I was lucky enough to spend some time picking Stein’s enigmatic, highly coveted brain. We talked about the editing and publishing business, the future of print and the effects of technology on the literary world (and later, off the record, about Morrissey and David Bowie).

ANNABEL GRAHAM: When we spoke last spring, you told me not to go into the editing/publishing business. Can you explain why? Do you have any advice for young people who want to go into the literary business?

LORIN STEIN: Well, because… book publishing is contracting, and within book publishing, and within literary book publishing, the sales forces are contracting, but the editorial departments are also contracting, so I don’t think I would have had the kind of luck I’ve had if I were to do it now, and I’d hate to see someone spend three years… you know, slaving away as someone’s secretary, essentially, and then not even having the chance of a promotion. It was always true that most people who worked didn’t then get to become editors, but I think it’s gotten even trickier now.

GRAHAM: Are sales contracting?

STEIN: I don’t know whether sales are contracting, but in literary publishing, new literary publishing, it seems to me that there are fewer jobs. There are fewer books that are… there are fewer houses that are devoted to that… I think that there are fewer books that are in that kind of very special corner of the world of letters. I think the publishing business has pretty quickly gotten used to the idea that the future is going to be gizmos, and they’re getting smarter, quickly, about gizmos.

GRAHAM: You mean like the iPad, the Kindle…

STEIN: Yeah, reading devices. E-books. So, if you and I talk in a year… and I hope this won’t be true… it may be that the climate has changed.

GRAHAM: Right. Well, going off of that, do you feel that publishing is a dying art? Will print ever be obsolete?

STEIN: I think print is in more trouble than most people think. And less trouble than some people think. James Wood just wrote this very good piece about trying to sell off his late father’s library—in last week’s New Yorker—and he stumbled on this fact, which is that there isn’t really the market for second-hand books that there used to be. That market is changing so quickly, and nowadays what’s going on is that these used bookstores, these used book-dealers are buying up, very cheaply, they’re filling these warehouses full of these books that they’re making available online, but more and more, you can pay a low price—you may not get to see a photo of the book the way you have been able to do for the past five years, you’ll get a book in some condition that you don’t know what it is, maybe you’ll buy five copies before you get an okay copy, but right now the price of these books is very depressed, so they’re very available, but the shelf space, I think, is about to disappear, and in about 10 or 15 or 20 years, I think there are going to be books that are actually very hard to find. Which is really different from the way it is now.

GRAHAM: Yeah. You can find anything.

STEIN: You can find anything, which is not going to last forever, it’s going to be very hard in cases where you need the hard copy, and there are a lot of books that are not going to be easily found. And I know your question was about print, and presumably what you mean is new books or magazines?

GRAHAM: Well, no, I think what I was asking is whether you think the internet is going to completely take over, if for example in the future The Paris Review might be only online, or books may only come in the virtual form, like on an iPad.

STEIN: I do think that there will be more and more books that will only come in the virtual form. There’s a really good argument, one of the really good arguments, for The Paris Review to always put out a print edition, which is, do you have anything stored on CD? Emails or anything, stored on CD?I worked for a publishing house that, around 1999, started using email regularly. It didn’t happen all at once; different editors took longer to do it. You would still hear people giving dictation and typing when I started.


STEIN: And I had never had an email account. And my boss and I both learned how to use email together. And if you look at the archives of that publishing house, all of our correspondence—the company would delete things after 90 days or something—so we were keeping email files but we realized… I took my email files, the ones that I’d saved, I copied them and put them on a CD, so that I could have them… it turns out that CDs that you buy at the drugstore, they only last for a few years! And even just getting the email off my computer, it took someone who was an expert, really, because just in the 12 years I’d been there, the systems had changed so much. Now, if you put a book on a shelf, if you put a piece of paper on a shelf, it stays there until you tear the shelf down. If you store things electronically, you need always to be… what’s the word I want… every time you switch hardware, you need to re-save them, you need to transfer them to a new medium, essentially. And sooner or later, you’ve done it, you know? And that’s part of the reason for publishing stuff on paper, if you do care about the lasting value, I mean maybe you’re kidding yourself, but I don’t want something to have that—that as soon as the hardware finishes it will disappear. I want to be the hardware, I want to own the hardware!

GRAHAM: Makes sense. So… I’m sure you get this question all the time… How has The Paris Review changed since you’ve taken over? I understand that when Philip was the editor, there was a distinct move towards nonfiction and photography that created a bit of controversy, and that you have begun to steer the magazine back in its original purely literary and artistic direction, much like George Plimpton. Can you talk about that a little bit? What is your ultimate goal for the magazine, and where would you like to see it go?

STEIN: It’s true, Philip was interested in publishing pure reportage. And reportage just isn’t something that I know that much about. And I also think that—especially now—even on the web, there’s so much good reportage, that it would be hard for us to distinguish ourselves, I mean Philip could do it, I don’t think I can—and my real love, I mean, I think the thing that needs the most help, is short fiction and poetry. And essays. And by essays, I mean something very…

GRAHAM: Like what John Jeremiah Sullivan [the Southern editor of The Paris Review] writes?

STEIN: Like what John writes. Though he sometimes writes reportage. Some of what he writes wouldn’t be right for the Review. And I guess I think of reportage as things that are tied to matters of real concern in the world, the essays that John writes that we’ve published are more personal essays. I want the Review to be what I think it often has been, which is America’s literary magazine. I want it to be a laboratory for the best new fiction and poetry and this funny thing that you call the essay. And I want it to maintain its integrity of, especially, it seems like choosing the writers—I want it to reflect what we really think is important, not just what’s fashionable or what sells, but the writers who really interest us as writers. And I think that there’s more work for a literary magazine to do now than there used to be.

GRAHAM: How so?

STEIN: Well, the world doesn’t have much room for literary magazines. And, well… you and I could put out a web magazine tonight. And we could take a Xerox machine, and we could pretty easily distribute a magazine together. In fact, there are many, many magazines. But it’s become very hard to reach a large circulation—of people who really read it and care about it. And to make them feel the importance of what you’re doing, that’s what’s gotten to be hard, for lots of reasons.

GRAHAM: Especially since there’s such an inundation of stuff being put out, all over, you know, blogging, and…

STEIN: Bingo. And, well, a lot of it’s very good. There’s a lot of crap, but that’s always been true. The tricky thing is that people like you and me have some very good claims made on our attention. I mean, Breaking Bad is really good!

GRAHAM: Is it? I’ve been hearing that.

STEIN: It is. But the thing is, there are only so many hours in a day. And even—I’ve never owned a TV as a grownup. But now, on our computers, the very things we use to do our work... we have these distractions. That’s the trouble. It’s not the crap so much as it’s the good stuff… that edges out the kind of reading that happens with short stories and poems. And, for that matter, novels.

GRAHAM: Yeah. Did you always know you wanted to go into editing, and can you tell me a bit about the trajectory of your career, how you got started… and what you find to be the differences between editing books and editing short stories for the Review?

STEIN: There was a guy who came to visit my school when I was in second grade and talked about how a book gets made. And I thought that was what I wanted to do. And I started making books, I was always making books. I found it, just… the idea that you could just make a book was just such a big deal for me. I did think I was going to be a writer… I didn’t realize I was never going to be a writer, but… I went to a writing program, I tried to write a novel, and realized that I had absolutely no talent.

GRAHAM: Did you study writing in college?

STEIN: No. After college I didn’t know what to do with myself, and my college advisor said that he thought I could get a teaching fellowship in a writing program. Well, I’d been writing, of course I’d been writing in college. I’d been trying to write poems, and fiction… in high school too, I always wanted to write, and I thought… that maybe I could be a professor of English, and I got turned down from the PhD program that I wanted to go to, and… another PhD program called me and made an offer to me, and they said… maybe you’ve had this phone call… you have x number of years to finish, and just to be clear, you’re going to be working mainly on the 1890s, and also the 1840s, and I’m thinking, I can’t do this…

GRAHAM: So there were restrictions put upon you in terms of what you had to study?

STEIN: Well, no, it was my idea; I had applied. I’d said I wanted to be an Americanist and that the periods that interested me were the 1890s and the 1840s. Once it became an actuality, once it became an actual phone call, I thought, Christ Almighty, get me out of here! My advisor said, the only thing I can suggest is that I bet you can get into this poetry program, and it’ll be a teaching job, so you’ll be paid, and you’ll be able to see what you’re like as a teacher. Well, it turned out that I was a terrible teacher, and I couldn’t write, and… so I came to New York thinking I’d be a novelist, and couldn’t do that, so I got a job as a secretary, essentially, at Publishers Weekly, and started editing a lot of the little reviews. And because I was there, I got to know which publishing houses interested me… and there was one that I really, really liked, so I just decided that I’d get a job there.

GRAHAM: Which one was that?

STEIN: It was the one I ended up working at, Farrar, Straus & Giroux. So I tried to get different jobs that would make me more attractive to them, but no one would even give me a callback, because I was so obviously out of their… [LAUGHS]

GRAHAM: So how did you realize that editing was your calling, so to speak?

STEIN: I edited the literary magazine in high school, and in college, and when I was a kid my father hired me to edit for him.

GRAHAM: Was your father a writer?

STEIN: No, he and my stepmother ran a nonprofit in Washington, where I grew up. I think I must have been kind of good at it, because I loved it from the beginning; I loved it much better than I liked writing. I’ve always found writing very hard and I’ve always found editing a lot of fun. To answer your question, about the difference between editing short stories and novels, it’s very different. With a novel, you really live in the book for a few weeks, and a short story, you read it in a few minutes and think about it, and then you go back to it.

GRAHAM: This is a bit of a loaded question, but who are some of your favorite contemporary writers?

STEIN: Oh, I can’t tell you. Not unless you’re willing to become my bodyguard.

GRAHAM: All right, then how about a few of your favorite authors that have passed away already?

STEIN: Dead people? Recently dead, or long dead?

GRAHAM: Your choice. Either.

STEIN: Last night, as I was falling asleep, I was thinking about how hard it would be to explain to someone who’s not American how much Mark Twain means to us… and to me. I mean, I know that he’s a national hero and stuff, but it’s kind of weird that our national hero writer should also be our greatest writer, and to me he is. And he is an icon for us. And then… Proust matters a lot to me, Tolstoy matters a lot… David Foster Wallace, among the recently dead… I mean, it’s hard to answer that question, you know.

GRAHAM: What is your favorite aspect of your job, and the literary world in general?

STEIN: It’s a lot like being in college. I think I’ve been able to read more than I’ve been able to read since I graduated from college. It’s also like being in college in the sense that there’s often a gathering about to happen with people that you like, and I miss that about college. I think the amount of freedom, and also the chance to… put out a magazine. And a web magazine, too. It’s really fun. It’s all really fun.

GRAHAM: I think The Paris Review definitely looks one of the more “fun” literary journals. Serious, but also fun.

STEIN: We try. If it looks like fun, it’s probably because it is fun to do. We’re all very… we can’t help being serious, and we work very hard but there are not very many of us, its’ a very tiny team, so we’re always up in each other’s business, but it’s really great in the sense that our deputy editor is also in charge of the t-shirts, and that our associate editor, he used to be an assistant but he’s also the guy who organizes the interns and designs our advertisements and thinks about computer stuff.

GRAHAM: That’s nice… not so many fingers in the pot, like a lot of magazines and newspapers.

STEIN: Right.

Text and photography by Annabel Graham for Pas Un Autre. 

Visit the Paris Review for more.  

(Annabel Graham is a photographer and writer who travels regularly between Los Angeles, New York, and Paris – she has worked for Interview Magazine as well as the Paris Review, and she is a regular contributor to Pas Un Autre and Autre Quarterly. Read all here articles for Pas Un Autre here)


In the summer of 2010, a particularly dapper Yale sophomore, wearing a pair of distinctive, gold-crested Stubbs and Wootton slippers, encountered Kanye West while shopping at Barney’s in New York. As the story goes, West complimented Cassius Clay (no relation to Muhammad Ali—but Clay is, in fact, a descendent of the renowned abolitionist Cassius Marcellus Clay) on said slippers, introductions were made, a conversation ensued and email addresses were exchanged. One thing lead to another, and by the end of the summer Clay had taken a leave of absence from Yale at West’s request and moved to New York to become the rapper’s personal full-time confidant and right-hand man (he eschews the term “stylist” for its unsavory connotations; a more detailed explanation can be found in the interview below). Once the news got out, some were dumbfounded by what they perceived as an abrupt trajectory from diehard academic to celebrity stylist— envy, resentment and incredulity arose with fervor (one has only to peruse the anonymous commentary under any online article published in late 2010 about the Cassius/Kanye partnership to surmise this), yet the always-resourceful young aesthete seized the opportunity to help shape the rapper’s professional and sartorial choices, bringing his unique, quirky perspective to the table and turning the coveted job into an artistic and intellectual experience that furthered his education just as much as his missed year at Yale would have (though in a very different way!). If that’s not enough to convince the aforementioned internet haters of his academic seriousness, Cassius is now back at Yale and currently in the process of completing a simultaneous bachelor’s and master’s degree, both in Art History—a hefty task for any college student, especially one with the unspoken responsibility of remaining impeccably dressed! I hadn’t seen Cassius since we attended Phillips Academy Andover together (I remember quite clearly the feather bowties, pocket watches and other striking accoutrements he sported—I don’t think I spotted him wearing sweatpants once during those three years, not even during finals week—as well as the memorization skills and admirable command of the English language he showcased during the art history class we shared). I spent a beautiful October afternoon walking around New York’s Nolita and Lower East Side with the poised, and drily witty Cassius as he shed some light on “the whole Kanye thing,” his plans for the future, his sources of aesthetic inspiration and his illustrious taste. 

ANNABEL GRAHAM: Tell us the story of how you initially met Kanye West and ended up becoming his personal stylist; what was the whole experience like, what kind of responsibilities did you have, what did you find most interesting/take away from it and how did it end?

CASSIUS CLAY: I met Kanye on several occasions during a summer I spent working at Christie’s in New York. We got along very well talking about fashion, art, film and the relationships between each of them. I was already great fan of his music, of course, but was most impressed by his ambition and the assiduousness with which he pursues those objectives. Those qualities alone convinced me I could learn a lot from working with him. He wrote to me that fall, when I had just started my second year at Yale, offering me a position to work with him on a series of projects related to the release of the My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy album. I’m uncomfortable with the word “stylist.” The word risks either oversimplifying fashion’s broader significance to identity and aesthetics, or somehow glorifying dressing-up as some glamorous veneer du jour. I admire Kanye in that he collaborates with many people in realizing a vision, whether it’s a particular outfit, music video, apartment redecoration, or concert performance. I was a creative consultant responsible for working on many of those projects simultaneously, so seeing and developing the connections between those different endeavors was immensely rewarding.

GRAHAM: I’m sure you learned a lot about both the fashion world and the music business while working with Kanye West—can you talk a bit about that? Did it further or change your interest in either of those realms?

CLAY: In fashion-related projects I enjoyed applying academic approaches – research, analysis, criticism – to the generative processes of creative work. I think works that synthesize those modes are always the most successful. Though I’m a great fan of Kanye’s work and convinced of music’s power to induce and communicate a feeling, I must confess that I’m musically inept. My childhood attempts in learning to play an instrument were abortive, and I sidestepped the music requirement at my high school by taking music history rather than music theory. I found the different ways in which the fashion and music industries treat products or talent particularly interesting. The power figures in fashion are often on the critical or receptive end of production: editors, department store buyers, celebrity style icons, etc. In music, the creative side of star singers and major producers have more direct control on the popular outcome of an album or single. That is, I think that Vogue can have a greater impact on a fashion brand than Rolling Stone could have on a musician.

GRAHAM: As you told me during the shoot, you are in the process of finishing a simultaneous bachelor’s and master’s degree (both in art history) at Yale. What intrigues you about art history in particular, and do you plan to do anything specific with those degrees?

CLAY: Many animals have means of communicating with each other – but creative representation is unique to humans, which makes art history very important. I like the idea of art being one of the only pure and universal forms of expression, mathematics being the other one. Artistic production continues to have meaning across centuries and cultures, irrespective of how unfamiliar its context of production is to the time or people that examine it.At the same time, art history is an instrument of social and political history by manifesting the questions, achievements, and fears of a culture. In that sense I think art history has plenty of applications to fields that are not strictly academic, advertising being just one example.

GRAHAM: What intrigues you about fashion? How would you describe your own personal style? Who are your favorite designers, and why?

CLAY:I’m curious about the way that fashion has evolved from something purely functional – Neanderthal necessity for warmth – to its more sophisticated uses today. It can indicate mood and personality, sexuality and sexual availability, wealth, class, or social alignment. Fashion condenses a lot of human civilization into a few bolts of cloth. I respect formality because it requires some effort, but also demand because that requires some thought. Collections by Antonio Azzuolo, Lanvin, Bottega Veneta, Burberry Prorsum, and Alexander McQueen usually achieve that balance. I’m not terribly interested in trends, and I don’t care much about comfort. I’ll be very disappointed if I don’t still wear most of the clothes I have now in ten or twenty years.

GRAHAM: We talked briefly during the shoot about your Halloween costume… I believe you said you were thinking about dressing as the Greek mythological character of Daedalus… did that end up working out? Explain…

CLAY: I ended up using things I already had in my closet, which probably suggests an unsettlingly close relationship between costume and daily wear. I went for pathetic and conscientious this Halloween: a bird in an oil spill. I wore black jeans, black button down, a crinkled Jil Sander blazer with a metallic petrol sheen, an inky coq feather Martin Margiela cape, gold leaf on my nose for a beak and drips of black face paint for the oil.

GRAHAM: Do you have any plans yet for what you’d like to pursue in the future? Or rather, what field intrigues you?

CLAY: Broadly speaking, my decision to do undergraduate work at Yale rather than Oxford was driven by a desire to study both the visual arts while taking courses in departments that are more explicitly political, like history and political science. I have competing interests in aesthetics, analysis, and ethics, I suppose. Still, I’d like to be able to reconcile all of them in some complementary capacity. I’m very keen on the economics of fashion and the art market – particularly in moments of downturn and recession. I’m interested in the dual nature of curation: literally “caring for” by definition, but also meaning critical assessment in practice. I’m sure I’ll be considering applications to law schools.

GRAHAM: What do you find most inspiring?

CLAY: I’m constantly assessing, planning, and thinking of contingencies, so surprises – rain, kindness, a mixed-up seating arrangement – are the most inspiring in that they force you to generate new ideas, reactions, and solutions. Travel involves all of these surprises.

GRAHAM: Do you have a favorite artist or work of art at the moment?

CLAY:My favorite young artist is Winston Chmielinski, based in New York, for his incisive use of color and ability to define and obscure forms in portraiture. The academic art of the 19th century and kitsch art of Soviet Socialist Realism in the 20th century need to be reassessed in most museums. I want to collect Albrecht Durer prints and drawings, sculptures by Lorenzo Bartolini, and paintings by John Everett Millais; I would have wanted Giovanni Boldini to have painted my portrait and William Morris to decorate my house.

Text and photography by Annabel Graham for Pas Un Autre

(Annabel Graham is a photographer and writer who travels regularly between Los Angeles, New York, and Paris – she has worked for Interview Magazine as well as the Paris Review, and she is a regular contributor to Pas Un Autre and Autre Quarterly. Read all here articles for Pas Un Autre here)

Les Testaments Trahis: An Interview with Gian Cruz

Gian Cruz is an up and coming photographer from Manila, Philippines who is also studying art theory and criticism at university.  With hints of Daido Moriyama, Cruz's photography are a quotidian, photographic diary  of his life. Razor sharp grainy black & white images capture his subject often with their heads, arms, legs, face cut out from the photograph entirely.  Gian Cruz is definitely a photographer to keep an eye on.  See interview after the jump. 

PAS UN AUTRE: What brought you to photography?

GIAN CRUZ: There are a lot of things that brought me to photography, but the two major motivations would be my fascination with cinema and the inherent paradox with taking photographs which I got from reading [Milan] Kundera. Being a cinéphile led me towards this desire to render my quotidien into cinematic images or to fashion photos that I take as if they are from some film or collectively as if they are film stills. My aesthetic was much inspired by the films I’ve loved from childhood which were Wong-Kar Wai films and a lot of films from the Nouvelle Vague cinéastes.

As for the paradox that charmed me with photography, it’s something lifted from the pages of Milan Kundera’s Les Testaments Trahis that has gone to a state of hyperawareness each time I take photographs. He said something about remembrance as to not being the opposite of forgetting but rather a form of it. Ever since, I have read that, it hasn’t failed to escape my mind. As memory is often seen through images, I find photography as a means of forgetting or forging elsewheres. For instance, you could be having a difficult time in your life yet on the surface these photos look like images of utmost sophistication and as these images further themselves into reproducibility, it turns things into something else. In a lot of the things that I do, I often like to see it in this love/hate relationship, or in this ironic manner because I believe it’s something that makes your images richer perhaps with meaning or some other unspoken aspect that your spectator could fathom from them.

AUTRE: Can you remember the first image you ever took?

CRUZ: I can vaguely remember the first image I ever took. When I started taking photos, I wasn’t really too big on the quality of my images but things started to change when I started to find my photographs as a crucial means of self-expression and of exploring my identity. Probably, maturity and the things I exposed myself to over the years- films, books, etc. paved way to take photography more seriously.

AUTRE: How does living in the Philippines inspire your work?

CRUZ: Living in the Philippines present itself as some form of paradox. I often come up with this love/hate discourse about my country. Quite specifically, it’s more about Manila, the city I live in. At times, my images could be some declaration of love for Manila and the things I love about it. On other occasions, it is this profound accumulation of anguish of being in it and this difficulty of living in a city wherein you feel you’re always underrated because the things you love do not fall into the aesthetic canon of the public here. And in this sort of love/hate relationship, I find it enriching my creative process. I think if it was all about loving something, it would turn out to be a dead-end because there wouldn’t be a sense of self-reflexivity working its way. Irony is crucial these days or perhaps humourising yourself finds itself more entertaining.

AUTRE: Who are some of your biggest influences?

CRUZ: Well, in the domain of photography my biggest influences include Nan Goldin, Jeurgen Teller, Robert Doisneau, Richard Avedon, Peter Lindbergh, Helmut Newton, Evelyn Jane Atwood, Sally Mann, Inez & Vinoodh, Robert Mapplethorpe, Karim Sadli, Sofia Sanchez et Mauro Mongiello, to name a few. And quite recently, I’ve also developed a deep admiration for the photography of Sunny Suits because of the palpable intimacy resting on her images.

Photographic references aren’t necessarily an impulse for taking photographs chez moi. Other domains like art, music, dance, literature, and cinema often inspire me as well. A few names I find indispensable and always inspiring me would be: Eric Rohmer, Claude Chabrol, Georges Bataille, Patti Smith, Bertrand Bonello, Serge Gainsbourg, Paul Eluard, Wislawa Szymborska, Alain Resnais, Johannes Brahms, Wong Kar Wai, Jean-Luc Godard, Friedrich Nietzsche, Dries Van Noten, Melvil Poupaud, Jean-Pierre Melville, Yves Saint Laurent, Jacques Demy, Maria Callas, Grégoire Chamayou, Nicolas Bourriaud, Pina Bausch, Mehdi Belhaj-Kacem, Elizabeth Peyton, Michel Maffesoli, Jean Baudrillard, Susan Sontag, Merce Cunningham, Joris-Karl Huysmans, Marguerite Yourcenar, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, J.M. Coetzee, Marguerite Duras, Marcel Proust, Walter Benjamin, Alain Badiou.

AUTRE: What do you think about when you look through the viewfinder?

I often am intuitive when I take photos. I can easily get lost in the moment and get into this frenzy of taking one image after another. At times, it could also be this subject gesturing you towards these particular angles I’d find aesthetically pleasing. There’s really no singular thought that comes into my mind each time I look through the viewfinder, it is dependent on my mood, the subject, what’s currently going on.

You can follow Gian Cruz's blog here.  Text by Oliver Maxwell Kupper for Pas Un Autre. 

AUTRE: Who are some of your favorite subjects to photograph?

CRUZ: My friends are often my favourite subjects to photograph. I like taking images of people I am in close terms with because you’d have a way of fashioning how the images would turn out to be that speaks of your relationship with them. That in itself already says a lot of things or would have the potential of taking your photos to some profound elsewhere. It’s like taking pride of being able to see things the way only you would. Often times, my bestfriend Mark Arvin ends up in front my lens and he humorously declares himself as my official muse. Other than my friends, I like taking photos of objects that create narratives of something in lieu of the person. I’m quite the romantic often taking interest in something like a photo of my belongings like the books I’m reading (I seem to even find them more charming when they’ve gained creases or the usual wearing out because I bring them along with me a lot) or the albums I’m listening to, a well worn article of clothing and many other possible objects as being able to tell more about yourself yet not giving everything away in a photograph.

AUTRE: Whats next?

CRUZ: By now, I ought to finish my postgraduate thesis on how death is being represented in contemporary Philippine art, as I am currently an Art Theory and Criticism major at the University of the Philippines-Diliman. Other than that, I ought to pursue photography or fine arts overseas. Perhaps if opportunities come into place an institution in Paris, New York or London or elsewhere would do me good. I like the idea of moving to a new city, which would enable me to grow as an artist. Moreover, there is also this growing concern to find platforms on which to exhibit my photographs, as I’d like to share them to a bigger audience. And if there is some more time, I’d probably be painting self-portraits although a bigger dream project would be to extend my photography into a full-blown film since cinema has always been something I’m passionate about.