Kai D. Fan, a seasoned designer with many years of experience working in the fashion industry for such well-known brands as Lacoste, Converse by John Varvatos and Sean John, launched his own menswear collection in 2009.
Fan’s meticulously designed store Kai D. Utility, located in the heart of Williamsburg, feels more like a Wunderkammer or Cabinet of Curiosities of Fashion and Design than an exclusive boutique. Take a close look around and between the well-crafted menswear pieces and archival images of explorers, you will discover various witty and provocative aphorisms posted on the walls that reflect Kai’s unique personality and philosophy. And don’t be surprised if the salesperson you are having a very engaging conversation with turns out to be Kai D. himself.
S2S: Kai, why did you decide to opt out of the corporate fashion world you have been part of for so many years and start your own collection?
Passing Stranger is an audio poetry tour through the East Village that guides you to various locations that were frequented by seminal American writers from the Beat Generation and their disciples. The Tour is narrated by Jim Jarmusch, with a soundtrack from John Zorn, and is easily downloaded to a smart phone. A lot of care and attention to detail were edited into the audio tour that allows participants to time travel back to the days when Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, Frank O’Hara and others were just ordinary fixtures on the streets of the East Village. The tour is produced by Pejk Malinoski and The Poetry Foundation and lasts about 90 minutes, but it will stay with you forever. We talked with Pejk about the tour, Jim Jarmusch and poetry at large.
S2S: Pejk, you have always had a passion for poetry. Today, there is spoken word but poetry is often thought of as rather antiquated. What was it about poetry that made you want to become a poet? What were some of the poems that influenced you?
New York Style Stories is a series of short documentary portraits by Maaike Holvast. The different episodes portray various New Yorkers with distinctly outspoken styles and document not only their vivid visual expressions, but also the personalities that motivate such display. We showed you one of those exciting short films last year, now we finally found the time to catch up with Maaike and discuss everything style and her latest project +1 Significant Others.
S2S: Before becoming a documentary filmmaker you studied Fashion, worked as a stylist, brand consultant and fashion editor. What is it about fashion that fascinates you and why did you choose documentary film-making to explore the subject more in depth?
Maaike Holvast: I was always more interested with the WHY, then the HOW of fashion and style. People spend so much time, effort and money on appearances, yet many of us never really think about what motivates us to choose our clothing, hairstyles etc. At the same time we all categorize and judge others by it. During my education this was already obvious. I was most interested in the classes that dealt with the psychology of style and the influences of societal trends on fashion. After graduating and working in the industry for a while I realized, not many people in the fashion world share my fascination.
A couple of weeks ago, on a freezing evening the debut opening of du weißt, ich liebe das Leben (You Know, I Love Life) by Superuschi from Berlin took place in NYC. Even though people were turning to ice in the unheated space, nobody wanted to leave. It must have been because of the the warmth that Jonny Star, artist and curator who organized the event exudes. Jonny, who lives and works in Berlin, comes from the urban subculture of the 80s in Berlin (West) via a study of psychology at TU Berlin, extended stays abroad, operating a cult bar, fashion and farming to finally arrive in the Fine Arts. S2S immediately felt that we had met a kindred spirit. We asked Jonny about her past and plans for the future.
S2S: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and Jonny Star?
Jonny Star: I made art under my given name Gabriele-Maria Schedafor for 20 years. For 4 years now, I’ve been working under my artist name, Jonny Star. Four years ago the timing worked out well – I was participating with my art project “sweet home – private art space” at the art fair SCOPE Miami. I added “Star” as an amused finger pointing at the art market, as they often seek stars and “enfant terrible” instead of good art or interesting concepts. And of course the name is a critique of the patriarchal structures of the art market and the discrimination of female artists that results from it.
We at S2S don’t care so much about some of the hyper commercial art fairs in town this weekend, but we couldn’t ignore the strong presence of Berlin galleries at The Independent this year. In it’s fifth year, The Independent 2014, drew a total of nine galleries from Berlin, some like Société attending the fair for the first time, while others like Galerie Neu have already been a part of it for several years in a row. Participation in the fair is by invitation only. Located in the light filled former exhibition space of the Dia Art Foundation, this year’s fair was conceived by founders Elizabeth Dee and Darren Flook, developed in conjunction with creative advisor Matthew Higgs of White Columns and Director Laura Mitterrand.
S2S had the chance to talk to Alexander Schroeder of Galerie Neu, Monty from Société, and Nikolaus Oberhuber, co-owner of KOW.
Since 2005, Samantha Box has dedicated herself to documenting New York City’s community of homeless lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) youth. Her on-going project, INVISIBLE, has been recognized by the Anthropographia Award for Photography and Human Rights, EN FOCO, and the New York Foundation for the Arts. Her photos have been widely exhibited and Box has received numerous awards and honors. Born in Kingston, Jamaica, she was raised in Edison, New Jersey and is now based in Brooklyn, New York. S2S talked to Samantha Box about her long term photography projects and her teachings.
S2S: Was there a particular event in your life that made you want to become a documentary photographer?
Samantha Box: There was no particular event that made me want to become a documentary photographer, as far as I know – it seems that wanting to do this kind of work is something that has always been with me. Realizing that being a documentary photographer was something that I could do, and then a point of claiming the title as my own, those were my foundation moments.
Concurrent with her latest exhibitions in Berlin and Antwerp, Belgium, the Berlin based artist Andrea Pichl spent the last few months in residency at ISCP, in Brooklyn, NYC. S2S spoke to Andrea Pichl about her recent work and her time in delirious New York.
S2S: The title of your exhibition in Berlin is ‘delirious Dinge’ – a reference to Rem Koolhaas’ Delirious New York?
Andrea Pichl: It’s just a question of semantics. Granted the title was inspired by Rem Koolhaas. But in the case of my exhibition it means something completely different and has no relation to Koolhaas’ excellent book. To be ’delirious’ – “auser sich sein“ in German isn’t really a good equivalent.
The word luxury comes from the Latin word lux, meaning “light” or “brightness” – in other words BLING, right?! Not so fast. Sure most of us think right away of expensive cars and jewelry, but the term ‘luxury’ is actually not easy to define. One man’s trash is another’s treasure. What does luxury really mean in today’s global society? An upcoming exhibition of Berlin artists at the German Consulate General in New York City is exactly exploring this question. Station to Station discussed the subject with our very own, Frieda Bellmann, the curator of Luxus: A Study of Luxury from Berlin Artists.
You’re looking for some fundamental answers in your life but are not the granola type who sits around in woolen socks cherishing a cup of chamomile tea? In fact you are sporting a bunch of tattoos, curse like a sailor, and in general have a rebellious streak in you? Well, welcome to Dharma Punx – not your mother’s meditation class. We talked to Josh Korda, who has been teaching meditation with Dharma Punx in New York City for the past eight years.
Eva Schweitzer, is a seasoned journalist, author and founder of the Berlin based publishing company Berlinica Publishing, which introduces English-language books about Berlin to Americans. Bi-continental and always on the move, we had to belt along to catch up with Eva in NYC before she boards her next flight back to Berlin.
S2S: Your career as a journalist started in Berlin, writing for the taz and the Tagesspiegel before you moved to New York nearly 15 years ago. What made you decide to live in the Big Mango?
From November 20 to December 6, MoMA will host The Berlin School: Films from the Berliner Schule. These films were created in the aftermath of the collapse of the Berlin Wall, during the unification process of East and West Germany. Beyond presenting a rare opportunity to catch a glimpse of independent filmmaking by Berlin based auteur filmmakers, the films of the Berliner Schule give an insight into contemporary German cultural identity.
The Berliner Schule or Berlin School is probably easier to define by what the filmmakers and their films do not have in common versus what they do. None of the directors of the Berliner Schule are from Berlin but hail from much smaller West German towns.
Last week, acclaimed director Thomas Ostermeier and the Berliner Schaubühne returned to BAM | Brooklyn Academy of Music with a contemporary adaptation of Henrik Ibsen’s 1882 play An Enemy of the People. S2S went to see what contemporary German theater is all about these days.
I highly anticipated Thomas Ostermeier‘s Berliner Schaubühne adaptation of Ibsen’s An Enemy of the People, since my first love of all the arts was the theater. Sitting in the dark, all by myself in immediate vicinity to the stage, without the protective arms of my parents, I got hooked at an early age when the company my father worked for would send kids to see The Wizard of Oz and other age appropriate plays during the Christmas holidays.
Last week Eva Koethen‘s show The Creation of New Spaces of Perception opened at the German Consulate General in New York. The photographs in this new exhibition, installed on the floor of the lobby, are not only to be viewed but also to be walked on – in a corporal as well as metaphorical sense. S2S talked to Eva Koethen about the concept behind her current work, her home town Berlin, her frequent visits to New York and the changes she has witnessed throughout the years in both cities.
S2S: You are known for your Tritt-Bilder (Step-on pictures). You have stated that in your work “the field of potentiality at the feet of the beholder is no longer limited to visual observation but the images have to be walked on and across.“
This past weekend was the third installment of the Dumbo Arts Festival, showcasing over 400 artists, 50 plus galleries and at least 100 studios. The Festival might have been bigger than ever but unfortunately not better. Well, what do we expect from a spectacle that draws masses of people who ultimately are there for consumption and entertainment. Nevertheless, Station to Station‘s Jamie Kulhanek and Susanne Boswell ventured out to discover a full range of artistic productions, from the trivial and rather mundane to the unexpected and even sublime. Here are our choices for the three categories.
“We make garments that inspire and activate the wearer to go beyond the daily grind.”
Fashion week is still upon us in NYC, but the hyper-commercialized branding fest nowadays referred to as “Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week” at Lincoln Center is none of our concern. Instead S2S ventured out to see artist’s Aliya Bonar‘s art performance and pop-up store PowerSuits Boutique. We’re not talking about those tacky 1980s shoulder pads here but hand-made garments and even objects.
“I am a huge champion of Brooklyn. It’s my hometown. Though I have been fortunate enough to travel the world, I have always had one foot firmly planted in Kings County. I am Brooklyn through and through…. strange, but true.”
Contemporary art curator and entrepreneur, Dexter Wimberly, was born and raised in Brooklyn. Curatorially, Wimberly focuses on contemporary urban history: “I love art that reflects our times, and I am excited to be in the position to work with artists who are shaping contemporary culture and bringing the beauty of under-exposed aspects of modern life to a greater public. I feel that this is my calling within the arts.” A passionate collector and supporter of the arts, Wimberly has personally exhibited the work of nearly 100 individual artists. S2S talked to Wimberly about the hood that defines him, his recent exhibitions and what tips he has for emerging artists and curators.
We are still recovering from all the hustle and bustle. Our team here in NYC and in Berlin did an incredible job. I want to especially thank Stefanie Tendler, S2S’s Editor-in-Chief in Berlin for bringing it all together across the Atlantic. You can read about the Berlin launch party in the column next to this one.
Despite the gloomy weather last Thursday in NYC, which was very reminiscent of Berlin, and the challenging location of the Knockdown Center, many of you came out to celebrate with us. Thank you – we had a blast! How much we enjoyed your company, you can see in the video below.
“‘Just do it’ and be prepared to do anything and everything and dive into the city.”
Cassis Birgit Staudt, is a German singer, songwriter and composer. She studied music in Germany and at Juilliard University in New York City. Working for director Jim Jarmusch brought her to New York City. She won a Golden Palm at the Cannes International Film Festival for being one of the producers of the Iggy Pop and Tom Waits segment ‘Coffee and Cigarettes.’ For several years she has called Berlin and New York her home. S2S talked with Cassis about the many hats she wears and the two cities that have captured her heart.
You have probably never heard of Maspeth, Queens. It’s an industrial area that borders on Bushwick, not too far from the Jefferson L Stop. And we really shouldn’t tell you about this, but we can’t help wanting to turn people on to this amazing place called the Knockdown Center. If you have been to Berlin in the past, you are familiar with old, decrepit buildings that have been turned into art centers (think Tacheles) or clubs (the original Tresor), but the situation here in NYC is way different. Real estate in this town has always been traded like gold. Having a vast space like the 50,000 square feet former glass and door factory at your disposal to indulge your creative spirits is a curator’s surreal wet dream coming true. A while back, S2S interviewed the curatorial team, Michael Merck, Kate Watson and Tyler Myers about the beginning and future of the KDC. The most recent events that took place at the Knockdown Center were Memory Place, a sound art show curated by Kate Watson, Red Bull Music Academy’s Drone Activity in Progress and Tiki Disco.
“Fashion is an expression of a life-style – your clothes and what you wear should reflect your everyday activities and interests – for us it’s painting – that’s what we love to do – if you are a chef maybe you should have food stains…”
If you have been to an art opening in Soho lately, chances are you have encountered Marcus and Sidi, the creative forces behind the new fashion label CLR THERAPY. Very charismatic guys who not only get a lot of attention for their good looks but the fact that their clothes are covered head to toe in paint like walking canvases. The two ‘Blipsters’ have an aura that evokes an era before the ‘SoHo Effect’ took place, where South of Houston was still a gritty playground for young artists who could actually afford to live in huge lofts with natural light, thanks to low rents. Those times are long gone, but Marcus and Sidi, strike one more as contemporaries of Basquiat than Jay-Z.! Somehow they appear to have time traveled unscathed to the galaxy of gentrified now. S2S talked to Marcus and Sidi about the history and future of CLR THERAPY.
An exercise in faith!
Jon Bonito Saturday at BOS
In typical fashion, my invasion of BOS – Bushwick’s Open Studios Event was an exercise in faith; a man with a plan without an agenda. I stumbled into this one studio on Wyckoff Ave and entered into this building full of graffiti, tags, and random phrases. Following the sign to the fourth floor we were greeted by a young man who simply introduced himself as Strauss and were directed to follow him through a maze of a studio into a back room where an area was sectioned off in a black tarp. Inviting us to step in, an assault of dub-step began playing and a wide-screen illuminated.
“Whole New York cramped in one basement.”
Nicolaus Schmidt is a German artist, photographer and historian. He studied at the Hamburg Art Academy (HfBK) in the 1970s. In 1975, he founded ROSA, one of Germany’s first gay-themed magazines. During the 1980s, he was a volunteer with the German branch of the children’s rights organization Terre des Hommes, serving for a time as its chairman. Since 1991, he has been living and making art in the Berlin neighborhood of Prenzlauer Berg. Station to Station talked to Schmidt about his latest project Astor Place | Broadway | New York – a photographic portrait of New York City’s most iconic hair salon.
S2S: Nicolaus, you are a photographer who lives mostly in Berlin but frequently visits New York City. When was your first visit to NYC and what made you want to come back here on a regular basis? How much time do you spend here every year?
The King of Now!
We agree that the competitive nature of the event was frivolous. However, GO Brooklyn made it possible to meet some incredible artists in their studios. One of them is Eto Otitigbe, a polymedia artist who combines sculpture, video, installation, and performance to create illusions, sensitive spaces, and dynamic actions. We talked to Eto about the time he spent in Berlin last summer.
S2S: Eto, you just returned from Berlin where you finished your MFA from the Transart Institute. Can you explain what this program is and talk about your experience in the program in general and in Berlin specifically (i.e. who was your advisor, what was it like to live in Berlin as a New Yorker, etc.)?
Eto Otitigbe: Transart is an international low residency MFA program. The faculty and students come from all around the world with a majority from North America and Europe. TI is unique because it brings together a diverse group of art practitioners to one space that doesn’t have a rigid departmental structure.
“Just please look past the uniform!”
Mostly silent and stone-faced, blending into their environment security guards are often disregarded by visitors. Yet, historically they are in good company: Jackson Pollock, Sol LeWitt, Robert Mangold, and Mel Bochner, to name just a few, were security guards in museums before their names were added to the canon of art history. Be aware, the person in uniform advising you not to get too close to the art work might someday be an art star. Not surprisingly, Linda Smith—an artist who is a security guard herself—curated “Guardists,” an exhibition of works by her co-workers at the Baltimore Museum of Art. Since security guards generally only speak when spoken to, S2S interviewed Senior B. and Camisha B. to hear first hand about the trials and tribulations of a SG or “rent-a-cop.”
New York Style Stories is a series of short documentary portraits by Maaike Holvast. The different episodes portray New Yorkers with outspoken style and document not only their vivid visual expressions, but also the personalities that motivate such display. These short pieces – which focus on people who are trying to define and express their individuality in the anonymity of New York City – constitutes the first chapter in the filmmakers’ ongoing fascination for visual identity and its underlying psychological mechanisms.
One would think that living next door to a chicken slaughterhouse in Brooklyn means you’re practically on skid row – light years from the next gentrified, bourgie-hipster camp. Wrong! In the heart of trendy Greenpoint, a condominium building turned rental went up right next to a long-standing temple of poultriatic doom. Tenants shell out $2500 a month to get an earful of constant squawking combined with the persistent stench of death of the expiring yellow-bellies. The residents morbidly refer to the situation as ‘fowl play.’ But their protest against the 1928 killing factory has finally been successful, offering a new space for comedic relief.
Street music is continuously facing regulations all around the world and unfortunately Berlin is no exception. Often due to poor transparency and enforcement of unclear busking regulations, there is a need to make a change in order to preserve an active cultural scene that takes its vibrancy from the streets!
Berlin Street Music is an advocacy group set up supporting Street Art – in particular Street Music in Berlin. Their attempt is to unite musicians, the public, policy makers, advocates, businesses, lobby groups, and anyone else involved in creating a thriving, culturally rich, and economically sustainable street art scene.
S2S met up with Geordie Little, Bennet Cerven and Stefanie Tendler who are the founders of the initiative Berlin Street Music to speak about what it takes to keep busking alive in Berlin.
S2S: How did the idea for Berlin Street Music come to life?
“What has always made Berlin such an interesting place are the many different characters that come and go as well as the the fact that this city is always changing.”
Being a relative newcomer to Berlin, Katerina Oikonomakou found an interesting way to explore the city and meet its colorful people. She started an online magazine called Berlin Interviews which is all about talking to strangers who happen to be artists and thinkers whose work she finds stimulating. But Katerina is no stranger to journalism, she is editor-at-large for the online fashion magazine ladies & gents, as well as a contributor to the Greek monthly “the books’ journal.” S2S wanted to find out more about Berlin Interviews and what brought Katerina from Athens to Berlin.
S2S: Katerina, you are usually the one who asks the questions – how does it feel to be the interviewee vs. the interviewer?
KO: A little strange. I’m tempted to put some questions marks here and there!