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Bricks from the Kiln—Issue 1

  Given the relative lull of releases in the arena of journals/periodicals/readers focused on graphic design and typography in the past few years, we’ve been intrigued by the recent announcement of Bricks from the Kiln and ultimately curious to check out the iterations of editors Andrew Lister and Matthew Stuart’s approach to assembling varied content […]

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Given the relative lull of releases in the arena of journals/periodicals/readers focused on graphic design and typography in the past few years, we’ve been intrigued by the recent announcement of Bricks from the Kiln and ultimately curious to check out the iterations of editors Andrew Lister and Matthew Stuart’s approach to assembling varied content (where, as the editors elaborate on below, a body of collected content is analogous to a collection of bricks—each “a piece of a larger structure,” each “a part of a sum”—that are fitted together in the process of editing and designing).

This debut issue of Bricks from the Kiln features contributions from Ron Hunt, Natalie Ferris, Ralph Rumney, James Langdon, Mark Owens, Jamie Sutcliffe, Iain Sinclair, Traven T. Croves, Parallel School, Catherine Guiral, and Max Harvey, He Pianpian, & Li You.

For those of you in London, Bricks from the Kiln is set to launch at Tenderbooks on Thursday, February 4th. There will also be an exhibition of material relating to, and stemming from Bricks from the Kiln #1 on display at Tenderbooks until Saturday, February 13th.

To help kick-off this debut issue and to shed some light on how Bricks from the Kiln came to be, Andrew and Matthew have shared with us their insightful Afterword.

 


 

ASIDES TO OUR TIME AND TO OUR CONTEMPORARIES
(An Afterword from the Editors)

Between 1917 and 1921 Ret Marut published thirteen issues of his anarchist, satirical magazine Der Ziegelbrenner (The Brick-Burner or The Brick-Maker). It was ‘the size, shape and colour of a brick’,1 and appeared at irregular intervals from Munich (and later Cologne) before Marut escaped to Holland, London and eventually Tampico in Mexico, where he would become the elusive author B.Traven. As former BBC Television Managing Director turned literary detective Will Wyatt notes, ‘the bricks were fired by Ret Marut to comment upon the corrupt society in which he lived and to begin the rebuilding of a new and better world.’2 Der Ziegelbrenner included ‘sporadic laconic news glosses’,3 which were listed on the cover of the second issue under the heading, ‘Ziegeln aus dem Brenn-Ofen: Randbemerkungen zu unserer Zeit und zu unseren Zeitgenossen’ (Bricks from the Kiln (or Combustion Furnace): Asides to our time and to our contemporaries).4

 

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For us, ‘Bricks from the Kiln’ implies something in flux and liable to crack. A piece of a larger structure. A part of a sum. Fittingly, many of the bricks included here stem from larger bodies of work and ongoing research. Some are chapters lifted from forthcoming books, or investigations begun but forced aside. Others are unrecorded talks, or previously unpublished autonomous editions in their own right.

In preparing BFTK#1 we were keen not to arbitrarily hang the issue on an overarching theme before the fact, but rather to adopt a more responsive approach, allowing connections to develop organically through both the editorial and design processes. In particular, the conversation with Ron Hunt that opens the issue, has begun to shape much of our thinking, and here a number of threads and recurring characters begin to emerge.

 

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Guy Debord and the Situationist International loom large. Explicitly in Ron Hunt’s lapsed anarchism (pp.1–20) and in Natalie Ferris’ essay on the ghostly presence of the artist Ralph Rumney (pp.21–34). And more tangentially in the rural psychogeography of Westering (pp.65–88), in vaporwave’s détourned ‘music optimized for abandoned malls’ (pp.45–55) and in ‘photographs of grand coupes and synthetic sweets’ captured on dérives around Beijing (insert #2).

 

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Ron also identifies a preoccupation with the peripheral and the overlooked, touching on the difficulties of recuperation. Again, this sentiment seems to run throughout these pages, peripheral characters and locales a constant presence. Marut, Rumney, Breakwell, Viollet-le-duc and Faucheux. Langcliffe, Hastings, Newcastle, Changsha, Dorset, Uxmal and Brno. A ‘necessary otherness’, as Iain Sinclair puts it.

An interest in ‘the picking up, turning over, and putting with’5 is discussed in more physical terms in our own talk from the Brno Biennial (pp.89–136) and also extends to some of the structural considerations for the issue as a whole. An initial plan had, in fact, been to produce the issue a signature at a time, as and when money was available.***** A production model not dissimilar to that adopted in Phil Baber’s first Cannon Magazine or Dieter Roth’s Copley Book: ‘a kind of visual diary squirted out during three years of spasmodic labor’.6 But as the inevitable financial holdups, printer bankruptcies and editorial concerns played out, this model seemed less and less appropriate to our needs. In this first collection of bricks we have thus attempted to maintain some of the ‘oddities’7 and specifics of original contexts, whilst still working within a cohesive structure. From Westering by Iain Sinclair, produced to exist as a standalone edition for publishers Test Centre, and to be bound into the issue as signatures I, J and K. To the decision to allow the formatting of footnotes and references to alter from piece to piece, in keeping with their original settings.

Of course, there are precedents for this kind of exploration of the periodical format that have come before and greatly inform our approach. The likes of Typographica, Icteric, Dot Dot Dot, Dieter Roth’s Collected Works and Jacqueline De Jong’s Situationist Times being of particular note. Perhaps the strongest affinity for us, though, is with Theo Crosby’s Uppercase, which ran for five issues between 1958 and 1960.

 

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Crosby was facilitator-in-chief for a specific brand of post-war British design and architecture, initiating the hugely influential exhibition This Is Tomorrow in 1956 and later co-founding the design studio Pentagram. He published Uppercase whilst working as Technical Editor for Architectural Design under Monica Pidgeon, and would subsequently take the editorial reins of Living Arts: a ‘documentary magazine’8 published out of the ICA in London. Despite its short lifespan and modest format (close to pocket size at 5.5″ x 7″), Uppercase intended to ‘deal with the whole field of visual communication’.9 Striking a balance between historical research and current work—and drawing connections between the two—it featured the work of Crosby’s own cast of recurring characters, including among others, Edward Wright, Richard Hamilton, William Turnbull, Eduardo Paolozzi, Kurt Schwitters, John McHale, Magda Cordell, Nigel Henderson and Alison & Peter Smithson. Each issue was, as Crosby put it, ‘an experiment in type within the same overall format’, an attempt at translating ‘a mass of material from an artist’10 into the specifics of print production.

Ultimately, and perhaps selfishly, BFTK#1 presents a collection of texts and projects we simply wanted to read and see more of ourselves, and that we felt would benefit from wider circulation. The hope is that it finds an audience of likeminded readers and that this first iteration provides a platform upon which to build. Inevitably—in the same way that Crosby notes in his introduction to the inaugural issue of Uppercase—‘it will be tentative, incomplete and inconsistent.’11

AL & MS

 

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Notes

1. Wyatt, W., ‘Introduction’, in Marut, R., To the Honorable Miss S… and other stories by Ret Marut a/k/a B. Traven, 1981, Cienfuegos Press, Orkney, p.viii.

2. Ibid.

3. Carr, G., ‘Lion’s heads—or just bricks and tiles? On satirical motifs and chance’, in Rasche, H. & Schönfeld, C. (eds.), Denkbilder: Festschrift für Eoin Bourke, 2004, Königshausen & Neumann, Würzburg, p.188.

4. Marut, R., Der Ziegelbrenner, Heft 2, 1 December 1917, cover, in Marut, R. / Traven, B., Der Ziegelbrenner, facsimile, 1976, Verlag Klaus Guhl, Berlin, p.23.

5. Lichtenstein, C. & Schregenberger, T. (eds.), As Found: The Discovery of the Ordinary, 2001, Lars Müller Publishers, p.8.

***** The signature marks included at the bottom of the first page of each 8-page signature (eg. BFTK#1—A) are a remnant of this initial model.

6. Hamilton, R., ‘Introduction: Diter Rot’, in Roth, D., Copley Book, 1965, William and Norma Copley Foundation, Chicago.

7. This approach to typographic detailing and phrasing is particularly well exemplified in Richard Hamilton’s Collected Words, (Hamilton, R., Collected Words: 1953–1982, 1982, Thames and Hudson Ltd, London) of which there is a more in-depth discussion in our talk from the Brno Biennial (pp.100–102).

8. Crosby, T. & Bodley, J. (eds.), Living Arts no.1, 1963, Institute of Contemporary Arts, London, p.1.

9. Crosby, T., ‘Introduction’, in Uppercase no.1, 1958, Whitefriars, London p.1.

10. Ibid., p.2.

11. Ibid.

 

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Bricks from the Kiln #1 will be released in early February 2016 and is available now for pre-order on the Bricks from the Kiln website: b-f-t-k.info.

Bricks from the Kiln #1
Edited and designed by Andrew Lister and Matthew Stuart
170×224.764mm, 138pp. + 2 inserts
Edition of 700, ISSN 2397-0227
TTC-090, December 2015, London

Bricks from the Kiln #1 is supported by funding from Winchester School of Art

 

 

BOOOOOK: The Life and Work of Bob Cobbing

  Boooook: The Life and Work of Bob Cobbing is the latest release from London-based publisher, Occasional Papers. This is the first comprehensive overview of the life and work of the pioneering British concrete and sound poet Bob Cobbing (1920–2002). Boooook addresses all aspects of Cobbing’s rich career, with new essays detailing his key roles in London […]

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Boooook: The Life and Work of Bob Cobbing is the latest release from London-based publisher, Occasional Papers.

This is the first comprehensive overview of the life and work of the pioneering British concrete and sound poet Bob Cobbing (1920–2002). Boooook addresses all aspects of Cobbing’s rich career, with new essays detailing his key roles in London Film-makers’ Co-op, Better Books, abAna, as well as his involvement in the Destruction in Art Symposium, Fylkingen, and his publishing imprint Writers Forum.

Occasional Papers, with editors William Cobbing and Rosie Cooper, have paid homage to an avant-garde publisher, poet, and verbal artist in a very thorough and attractive way. And we can’t help but admire that book spine as well!

To celebrate this latest release from Occasional Papers, we’re very pleased to share the following chapter from Boooook.

 


 

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Bob Cobbing compiling Writers Forum publications, June 1965. Photographer: Jennifer Pike.

 

Conversation about Writers Forum
Adrian Clarke and Arnaud Desjardin

 

Arnaud Desjardin: So when did your involvement with Writers Forum start?

Adrian Clarke: Not ‘til the mid-1980s. I did encounter Bob a few times at the Poetry Society in the 1970s, but I didn’t rediscover him until I was reintroduced via Gilbert Adair, who pointed me in the direction of Bob’s events at the London Musicians Collective. Bob published me in 1988—I had been going to his Writers Forum workshops for a couple of years by then. The first time I read something at the workshop, he said ‘Hmf, have you got a publisher for that? Otherwise I’ll do it.’

I was involved in another magazine—Angel Exhaust1 with Andrew Duncan, who wrote that Bob’s sound poetry was ‘the ugliest noise in the world’. Bob decided I should be keeping better company and said, ‘Why don’t you come in on AND with me?’2 And so I came over and started issuing AND with him, which had been dormant for 21 years.

 

Bob Cobbing, Description of Writers Forum activities, n.d.


Desjardin: Do you think Bob was looking at any models for what Writers Forum might be?

Clarke: He was receiving a whole range of publications from quite early on in the 1960s. He had a whole run of Chopin’s OU, and a wide range of other magazines and journals. Whether that influenced him I don’t know. But, I can think of one or two American publications from the 1950s that had similar designs.

Bob was one of the first to publish Allen Ginsberg’s The Change, which he distributed through Better Books. The American influence was strong and it seems in turn that Bob took quite a lead from what was being published there.

Desjardin: Conversely, there would have been things that would have crossed the Atlantic from the UK into America and Canada. Better Books was just one of the subterranean networks where you could get access to the counter-culture. My interest is in more than publishing texts—it’s in artists’ publications, and the circulations around them—famous examples being Printed Matter in New York or Art Metropole in Toronto in the 1970s. But there were other networks that were there in the 1960s.

The centrality of Writers Forum to the UK poetry scene seems to have been very much about Bob himself. He was somebody who was continually creating networks. Was that the way you understood Writers Forum when you came into it at that moment?

 

left to right: writers’ forum the manuscript, 1952; Collage for AND magazine, 1955.

left to right: writers’ forum the manuscript, 1952; Collage for AND magazine, 1955.


Clarke: Oh yes. I think that’s as crucial as the press—Bob’s sound poetry, his visual poetry, his verbal stuff. He was an organiser and inspirer. He did it in an extraordinarily laid-back way and somehow things happened around him. He was central to the scene. Bob and his workshop as well as his publications were so clearly associated. Everyone knew the Writers Forum workshops as Bob’s workshops, although he didn’t impose himself in any way—in fact, quite the opposite. He would come up with his pint of beer and sit down and look around the room, and if no one showed an inclination to read he’d say, ‘Well, who’s going to start then?’ Then that was it, and he probably wouldn’t say anything more until the end when he’d launch the latest Writers Forum publication.

Bob rarely came to a workshop without something new—if only a small pamphlet, or even a card. Sometimes there was more. It was slightly irregular, but I guess it averaged out at about every three weeks—so many of the around 1,100 Writers Forum titles in the end got launched there. It sped up when he got a photocopier.

 

Adrian Clarke and Bob Cobbing in the kitchen of Cobbing and Pike’s home at Petherton Road editing AND 9, 1995. Photographer: Jennifer Pike.

Adrian Clarke and Bob Cobbing in the kitchen of Cobbing and Pike’s home at Petherton Road editing AND 9, 1995. Photographer: Jennifer Pike.


My experience of these workshops goes back to the 1970s and the Poetry Society. Before Bob came along, these workshops were very dull. Things were passed round and commented on and there were long arguments about botanical details—what sort of flower was it and so on. Bob changed things: what he insisted on was that if you stood up and read a poem in front of your peers you’d know for yourself whether it was any good or not. Otherwise you were a hopeless case. There was a lot of emphasis on performance, but you were welcome to just read. If you wanted to discuss the work, you would do that in the bar downstairs afterwards.

Desjardin: So at the Poetry Society Bob initiated a shift from a more staid way of working to a more informal one.

Clarke: Bob not only opened the bar there but also the print shop. He initially made his Gestetner available to everybody. And then he acquired an offset litho machine and that was the extent of it. I don’t think he got his photocopier until 1984, when he moved to Petherton Road.

 

left to right: Anselm Hollo, Isadora and Other Poems (Writers Forum Minibooks no. 2., May 1967); Jeff Nuttall, Mr. Watkins Got Drunk and Had to be Carried Home (September 1968); Bob Cobbing, Sound of Jade (1984)


Desjardin: Did you think those particular methods of printing were important to Bob?

Clarke: Absolutely. Changing Forms in English Visual Poetry3 lists all of his methods. From the typewriter—both dirty and clean—to calligraphy, handwriting, hand-drawn letters, pressed-on lettering, and other means like mimeo and its misuse, which relates particularly to Destruction in Art.

Desjardin: That sounds like an important document, like a genealogy of printing. I like the idea that Writers Forum could be one continuous way of outputting things from the late 1950s. Having seen Writers Forum evolve over half a century, what’s your perception of that whole body of work: where it came from, where it’s gone, and what the legacy is?

Clarke: Well, Bob is the constant element and he was just so open that it’s very hard to characterise the press—which was intentional. It was a matter of openness, of encouragement, and having fun himself.

Organisation was not a word that was often on Bob’s lips. He was very spontaneous, so our editorial meetings were a little chaotic. There was that big table there in the kitchen, and very often he would clear the table, and we’d just shuffle stuff around to decide the magazine’s order. Sometimes, if there wasn’t space, we’d move onto the floor, which was very much what he would do with his visual work with Jennifer. He would run off a number of variations and then he’d lay them out on the floor and get her to choose the best.

Bob’s workroom was initially quite spacious: by the end there was just a narrow passage from the door round to the photocopier. Piles and piles of publications, submissions—which were always read—and loose sheets. He worked in what was, at the end, a tiny space.

Desjardin: There seemed to be a political project around transmission, communication and being with people, rather than Bob making a name for himself, for example. For me, it is part of a moment in history when political positions were a very determining factor in one’s activity. But those positions are ultimately very difficult to read through Writers Forum publications alone. It’s not officially or visually Marxist stuff, but it’s quite radical all the same. As a project, Writers Forum is interested in change and pushing an agenda.

In every respect, Bob loved to collaborate, and the collaboration was always genuine. If the edges were undefined in terms of whose copyright it was, Bob was not concerned. His ethos went back at least to the 1960s. In their joint publications in the 1970s, he and Bill Griffiths were very much in accord. Bill’s pirate press carried an anti-copyright statement. Did they ever get into trouble about copyright?

 

W.H. Auden, ‘The Gobble Poem’ (London: Fuck Books, 1967), p. 1.

W.H. Auden, ‘The Gobble Poem’ (London: Fuck Books, 1967), p. 1.


Clarke: Oh yes, particularly over Bob’s pirated ‘Gobble Poem’, where I think he had a visit from the police. Not the only visit he had…

The poem—really doggerel—is by W.H. Auden, recounting an occasion where he picked up a student in New York and took him back to his place for a bit of oral sex. Bob somehow got hold of it and published it, and I think he was hoping that he’d surreptitiously shift quite a few copies. But the police got wind of it, and after the visit he just assigned them to a cupboard.4

Desjardin: Would the police have been involved over copyright, or obscenity?

Clarke: I imagine it was probably obscenity because I don’t think Auden would have known about it—but Bob had a bit of a reputation as a pirate. He later pirated Kerouac’s Old Angel Midnight, which was not available other than in the Evergreen Review. With Writers Forum and its propensity to re-print and re-issue, it’s quite difficult to know what is a first edition, particularly if Bob started reprinting things on the same equipment.

Desjardin: The idea of a first edition for these kind of things is fetishising a form of publication that was totally invested in ideas of immediacy and directness. You do it because it’s now, it’s now, it’s now… It’s not really interested in its legacy, or in its historicisation.

It’s only when it’s over, which is where we’re at now, that there is that possibility to reappraise the production, to corral the publications into a body of work that can then be declared the identity of the press. It’s hard to go about defining that with Writers Forum. Maybe one way of mapping out something could be to think about ‘means to immediacy’—the Gestetners, and then the photocopying machine, and so on.

Clarke: That’s fair, but I wouldn’t want to put a full-stop on it. I think that Writers Forum functioned for so long and in so many different contexts, with the inputs from so many different people, that I still see its identity as provisional.

 

left: Jennifer Pike, Stockholm Images (January 1988); center and right: Poems by Twelve Members of Writers’ Forum: Mary Berry (Leivien), Lois Hieger, Wendy Stockham, Ninette Quinn, Norman Wallace, Bob Cobbing, John Rowan, Nancy Taylor, Gerda Mayer, Maurice Langham, Jean Salisbury and Brian Gould (August 1959)

left: Jennifer Pike, Stockholm Images (January 1988); center and right: Poems by Twelve Members of Writers’ Forum: Mary Berry (Leivien), Lois Hieger, Wendy Stockham, Ninette Quinn, Norman Wallace, Bob Cobbing, John Rowan, Nancy Taylor, Gerda Mayer, Maurice Langham, Jean Salisbury and Brian Gould (August 1959)


Desjardin: If you start to formalise something too much then you start to lose that form of immediacy, which is a form of direct transmission. For instance, discussions of language, typesetting and composition of the text as a visual object reached quite extreme levels, by Henri Chopin through OU, and Hansjörg Mayer through his publication Futura. They really upped the game in terms of quality of production and visuals. But now we’re talking about 1965, and by then those international networks were already quite formalised.

Bob’s production at this time is resistant to this formalisation, to this idea of making something that is going to be a bit more polished, more finished. It’s about directness and openness and this has always undermined the notion of a press’ identity.

 

Spread from Poems by Twelve Members of Writers’ Forum: Mary Berry (Leivien), Lois Hieger, Wendy Stockham, Ninette Quinn, Norman Wallace, Bob Cobbing, John Rowan, Nancy Taylor, Gerda Mayer, Maurice Langham, Jean Salisbury and Brian Gould (August 1959)

Spread from Poems by Twelve Members of Writers’ Forum: Mary Berry (Leivien), Lois Hieger, Wendy Stockham, Ninette Quinn, Norman Wallace, Bob Cobbing, John Rowan, Nancy Taylor, Gerda Mayer, Maurice Langham, Jean Salisbury and Brian Gould (August 1959)


Clarke: One thing I was going to mention, going back to immediacy, are publications I have that Bob and Clive Fencott did when they were touring the States, including CLYDE DUNKOB IN VANCOUVER.5 What they would do was create what they were going to perform in the evening in the course of the day, and take it to a print shop somewhere and produce it. I think that there are four of these that they brought back with them and they’re quite extraordinary.

Desjardin: Almost like a travelogue. This seems to reflect the whole ethos of Writers Forum—that it was somewhat on the hoof.

Clarke: Immediacy, yes. The whole thing relates to the political in the widest sense. Bob was very much concerned that the activities he was involved with should be accessible to everyone—that his publications should be affordable by just about anyone. There was a memorable occasion which kind of shows his position. Every year he used to take a table at the Artists’ Book Fair when it was at the Barbican, where much of the work had high production values, and some of it was quite ambitiously priced. time goes as bought by Lawrence Upton and Bob Cobbing was produced for the 1999 Artists’ Book Fair—it takes a page from an obscure novel, and does some startling things with it. He sold it at the Fair for a pound. And every hour, on the hour, he, and very often Lawrence, would stomp up and down between the tables performing what they had for sale—to the chagrin, bemusement or resignation of other participants!

Desjardin: But they carried on anyway.

Clarke: Yes!

 

Notes

1. ‘Angel Exhaust’ was the name of a automotive spares company on the Holloway Road in North London, not far from Bob’s home.

2. AND magazine was started by Bob Cobbing in Hendon, in 1954.

3. London: Writers Forum, 31 December 1988.

4. There are a considerable number of these publications in the Cobbing family archive, in a large box marked ‘Gobble Poem and Fuck Books’.

5. Writers Forum / El Uel Uel U, 21/22 March 1982.

 


 

This conversation, between Adrian Clarke and Arnaud Desjardin, took place at the Cobbing family collection in March 2015. First published in Boooook: The Life and Work of Bob Cobbing, edited by William Cobbing and Rosie Cooper, published by Occasional Papers, 2015, ISBN 978-0-9929039-5-4.

Boooook is available for purchase at occasionalpapers.org.

Occasional Papers—founded by Sara De Bondt and Antony Hudek—is a non-profit publisher of affordable books devoted to the histories of architecture, art, design, film and literature.

Boooook is the culmination of Bob Jubilé, a three-year long programme of exhibitions and events around the Bob Cobbing family collection, organised by William Cobbing and Rosie Cooper (bobjubile.org). Supported by Arts Council England, The Henry Moore Foundation, The Estate of Barry Flanagan and The Estate of Bob Cobbing.

 

 

Meet The Ventriloquist Summerschool tutors: Kristian Henson

On the weeks preceding the application deadline for The Ventriloquist Summerschool (remember, it’s July 1st), we’re running a series of weekly interviews, 5 questions each with the 4 tutors involved. The dynamic is (hopefully) simple: João (Doria) interviews Kristian (Henson); Kristina (Ketola Bore) interviews Laura (Pappa); Kristina interviews João; João interviews Kristina. Kristian Henson already left a trace […]

On the weeks preceding the application deadline for The Ventriloquist Summerschool (remember, it’s July 1st), we’re running a series of weekly interviews, 5 questions each with the 4 tutors involved. The dynamic is (hopefully) simple: João (Doria) interviews Kristian (Henson); Kristina (Ketola Bore) interviews Laura (Pappa); Kristina interviews João; João interviews Kristina.

The Office of Culture & Design / Hardworking Goodlooking

The Office of Culture & Design / Hardworking Goodlooking

Kristian Henson already left a trace on The Gradient when invited by Dante Carlos in the “2014: The Year According to ————” post series. Together with his partner at The Office of Culture and Design and its editorial house Hardworking Goodlooking — Clara Lobregat Balaguer — they presented a rich list of noteworthy ideas, events and objects encountered in 2014.

Today’s questions, though, are mostly framed through pulling from personal impressions I got (and kept) when meeting him for the first time (again, through Dante). Shortly, Kristian hosted me for a few days when I traveled to New Haven in 2012 for my MFA interview and we kept in touch since then.

When putting together the ideas for The Ventriloquist Summerschool with Kristina, I thought of inviting Kristian as one of the tutors since I still see too little disconnect between who he is as a person and how he performs his own work and ideas, plus a critical interest on matters of cultural colonization (a combination I judge to be quite central to the discussions we’re aiming to raise and work on this coming summer in Oslo).

——

In Darkness, Hardworking Goodlooking 2014

In Darkness, Hardworking Goodlooking 2014

Filipino Folk Foundry (FFF), Hardworking Goodlooking 2014

Filipino Folk Foundry (FFF), Hardworking Goodlooking 2014

João Doria: Kris, let’s talk about center and periphery.

Kristian Henson: For me “center” describes a popular mainstream or a definition of a system with an ordered hierarchy and “periphery” is a subculture, an underground, or the overlooked margin of society. The two must exist together, with the periphery being the element that recalibrates the center forward, and the center being the element that is the ground on which the periphery can run around, disrupt or hack. Without the center there is no periphery, and vice-versa.

In my work I placed myself in the periphery willingly. In the periphery there is actual space to work, things to change and outcomes are unknown. The Office of Culture and Design and Hardworking Goodlooking addresses the margin through different channels, strategies and platforms. Sometimes this requires working with rural art spaces, planning indigenous food events, meeting with local anarchist activists, attending a round table of contemporary artists or maybe teach a workshop in Oslo. I’d like to think my work is in service to the periphery, to foster self-representation and give the marginal a voice.

IMG_3502 IMG_3495 IMG_3450 IMG_2986 Images from Tatlo, a book launch and art event at Ooga Booga 2 / 356 Mission, Downtown Los Angeles
JD: Let’s also talk about voice and representativity.

KH: Voice and representation are very important to me. Often I believe that voice is something many people feel is reserved for the realm of art. However I feel that is a huge oversight and a limited mode of thinking.

Inside all notions of industry, technology, politics, economy, and culture is something humanistic in one form or another. As humans we are the catalyst that set things into action. Everything we make from the eccentric to the functional echoes its maker both knowing and unknowingly. The structure of a building, the wire frame of a website, the steps of a dance routine, the contours on a bottle of shampoo all have an author. Formal, sensual and psychological footprints which map our origins, intentions, motivations can be found even in the most banal of objects. It is clear that in order to live and work with intention we must start by looking at our footsteps and understanding our voice. Intention will only equate to better work and outcomes.

My work with The OCD on one end is a means to define my own voice and work with intention but on the other end a means to help study the voice of contemporary Filipino art and visual culture. Without going too deep into Post-Colonial, Neoliberalist or Globalization theory, for a long time The Philippines and other “developing” cultures with parallel histories allowed outside elements to dictate our voices for us. In our attempt to decolonize I find it critical to invest in projects of self-representation in order to write our own histories and leave behind a body of research for the future to build upon.

Hunt & Gather, Terraria, Wawi Navaroza, Hardworking Goodlooking 2014

Hunt & Gather, Terraria, Wawi Navaroza, Hardworking Goodlooking 2014

Nowhere, Kristian Henson Unpublished Thesis Work at Yale School of Art, 2011

Nowhere, Kristian Henson Unpublished Thesis Work at Yale School of Art, 2011

Untitled (marbled paper), Kristian Henson

Untitled (marbled paper), Kristian Henson

JD: Tell me a bit about the framework you set for yourself to keep things going. It wasn’t like that since day 1, was it?

KH: My “framework” came organically, charting a general direction or field but allowing the work itself to grow on its own terms. I think its important to deeply understand how you work but not necessarily control all outcomes. Lately, I’ve been trying to reference back to my earnest study and interest in Zen (Nothingness) and Wabi-Sabi (The beauty of the imperfect) when describing my design perspective. Allow me for a moment to have some fun and get a little hippie right now – it’ll make sense I promise.

In Zen there is a dialectic that I like between control and decontrol, an essential paradox. In this system of thinking it is most optimal to reach neither end of the spectrum in order to be both at the same time, creating a balance of nothingness (this is fairly obvious). However, since we live in societies built on control, more emphasis must be made on decontrol, letting things go, allowing for imperfection and embracing chaos. Chaos not like the fuzz of an electric punk guitar (actually maybe), but more like the way water falls from a fountain into a glass.

All of that is to say that my “framework” tries to be fluid and adaptive. In urban anthropology this can be termed as fluidity or hybridity, the state in which boundaries are dissolved, identities melt and maps warp—a term that was created to address our current globalized and migratory reality. I find the concept of fluidity beautiful, it echoes Zen / Wabi-Sabi but in social science terms. I try to emulate fluidity by putting my work in positions that allow it to stay active and continue to move into more positions but allowing other people and places to warp my own process. I consider each publishing project as a node or hub that branches into more projects which will flow into new people and more places. The “framework” then can be described not a strict grid but more like a web, something that is adaptive and dynamic to the situation, environment and climate. By considering my work as a constellation of links my hope is that they collectively will speak in dialogue with one another which will create a new understanding or at the very least a landscape of its own.

The Office of Culture & Design, established 2010

The Office of Culture & Design, established 2010

Clara Lobregat Balaguer, shot by Geric Cruz 2014

Clara Lobregat Balaguer, shot by Geric Cruz 2014

JD: Now tell me about your friends.

KH: I love my friends, without them my practice wouldn’t be possible! I enjoy graphic design so much because it is inherently collaborative, it requires social interactions and outcomes rely on the relationships between parties.

When partnering with Clara Balaguer, founder of OCD and co-founder of HWGL, our informal network of friends overlaid in this very powerful way and this specific patchwork of intersecting collaborators strikes as a major character of the project. I also think our skill sets and philosophies compliment each other, sometimes it feels symbiotic-both independent and interdependent. We are based exactly 12 hours apart (Clara in Manila and myself in New York) or half the world away yet we operate this global operation by the most common but powerful tools of this age: skype, gmail, dropbox, whatapp, paypal .etc. The nature of our operation, you could also say, reflects the new potential of the globalize nature of friendships, collaborative partnerships and companies which are being formed in the contemporary “post-internet” space.

Without my partnership with Clara and her view points on social engagement, her extensive patient ground work in the Philippines and her wild humorous aesthetic tastes, I highly doubt the connections and revelations about my own work could be realized and so our friendship has been crucial in my practice and in my life.

Jim, Kara & Cynthia Henson in The San Fernando Valley circa 1976

Jim, Kara & Cynthia Henson in The San Fernando Valley circa 1976

Kevin Henson, detail of In Darkness, Hardworking Goodlooking 2014

Kevin Henson, detail of In Darkness, Hardworking Goodlooking 2014

In Darkness, Hardworking Goodlooking 2014

In Darkness, Hardworking Goodlooking 2014

JD: Last question, still on the same line of thought: tell me about your family.

KH: Family is very important. Being a product of the Filipino diaspora, it must always come back to family in one way or another. Your family is this small raft in which learn about yourself. Growing up in suburban Los Angeles feeling alien, having an identity crisis, finding home in marginal subcultures, handling sibling trauma, witnessing my family repatriate back to The Philippines—all adds subtext that informs my work. I have had many very unique life experiences through my family, we were by no means a prototype, yet it falls part and parcel with a shared broader cultural experience.

My overall feeling is that by grasping onto our own personal peculiarities and narratives, deep rich resources such as our family, conversely open a lens to larger connected human issues if only we allow ourselves to be specific and true to ourselves.

Call for Applicants: The Ventriloquist Summerschool

APPLICATION DEADLINE: Jul 1, 2015 This summer from the 10-15th of August The Ventriloquist Summerschool will happen in Oslo. It is Norway’s first design summer school and welcomes students and professionals from both design and all other creative fields. The Ventriloquist Summerschool will look at how and why designers speak through their own creations. What […]

Maypole Dance at Central Park, New York

APPLICATION DEADLINE: Jul 1, 2015

This summer from the 10-15th of August The Ventriloquist Summerschool will happen in Oslo. It is Norway’s first design summer school and welcomes students and professionals from both design and all other creative fields.

The Ventriloquist Summerschool will look at how and why designers speak through their own creations. What can it mean to use one’s own voice, regardless of the arena of action? What is the difference between speaking personally and professionally? The participants will get space, time and infrastructure to develop their own projects so the discussion can happen through the work itself.

Organized by João Doria (NO/BRA), graphic designer, and Kristina Ketola Bore (NO), design writer – they are joined by Laura Pappa (EE/NL) and Kristian Henson (US) in teaching four workshops that will run parallel throughout the week. The participants will be asked to choose one, which is headed by one of four tutors. During the week three guest critics from diverse fields will also come in to talk about their practice and what role ventriloquism’s metaphor plays in their profession.

The Summerschool is open for anyone of any age, studying or working within design, the arts and all other creative fields. Applications are welcomed from all over the world – both from students and professionals.

The school is free of charge, but participants must apply for the 32 places available through the application form on the website.

http://the.ventriloqui.st/summerschool/

The Ventriloquist Summerschool is made possible by a Grafill stipend.

Kevin Lynch: Overlay drawn for “Composite Photo Identification Map: JJ.” Documentation created as part of the Perceptual Form of the City, a research project investigating the individual’s perception of the urban landscape.

TUTORS

Kristian Henson (1981) is a New York based designer and publisher. After receiving his MFA from Yale School of Art in 2012, he continued his research and extended his design practice by actively collaborating with artists and institutions in The Philippines through The Office for Culture and Design and its editorial branch, Hardworking Goodlooking.

Laura Pappa (1988) is a freelance graphic designer based in Amsterdam. She has graduated from the Estonian Academy of Arts in Tallinn, Gerrit Rietveld Academie in Amsterdam and Werkplaats Typografie in Arnhem. Since 2014 she has been the coordinator of the Critical Studies masters programme at the Sandberg Instituut in Amsterdam.

Kristina Ketola Bore (1986) holds an MA in Design Writing Criticism from London College of Communication. She works as a design writer and critic, editor and is a partner in the publishing house Particular Facts. Some of the places she has lectured include Bergen Academy of the Arts, Oslo National Academy of the Arts, NTNU and the Estonian Academy of the Arts.

João Doria (1982) holds an MFA in Graphic Design from Yale University School of Art. He’s a Brazilian graphic designer based in Oslo, Norway and has taught, exhibited and received awards in countries such as Brasil, France, Germany, Norway and the USA. In 2015 he has, so far, exhibited at It’s a Book (HGB-Leipzig, DE) and at the 26th International Poster Competition (Chaumont, FRA).

From Line to Point – ASSIGNMENTS IN DESIGN EDUCATION

Departing from the exhibition Taking a Line for a Walk (see pdf for further information), which was presented at last year’s 26th International Biennial of Graphic Design in Brno (CZ), we are developing a publication that focuses on the peripheral layer of language that runs neglected through the history of design education. A collection of contemporary […]

Departing from the exhibition Taking a Line for a Walk (see pdf for further information), which was presented at last year’s 26th International Biennial of Graphic Design in Brno (CZ), we are developing a publication that focuses on the peripheral layer of language that runs neglected through the history of design education. A collection of contemporary assignments will make up a key part of the book, and as such we hope it will become as comprehensive, varied, and international as possible. To insure just that, we would like to invite design educators from all corners of the world to share their assignments. We would be delighted to receive your contributions!

For more details and guidelines on the project and how to contribute download this pdf or get in touch with us via email.

Information on the exhibition Taking a Line for a Walk here.

2014: The Year According to David Reinfurt

To commemorate the year that was, we invited an array of artists, writers, designers, and curators—from artists Shahryar Nashat and Korikrit Arunondachai to filmmaker Sam Green and architect/artist Andreas Angelidakis—to share a list of the most noteworthy ideas, events, and objects they encountered in 2014. See the entire series 2014: The Year According to       […]

Reinfurt_BW_webTo commemorate the year that was, we invited an array of artists, writers, designers, and curators—from artists Shahryar Nashat and Korikrit Arunondachai to filmmaker Sam Green and architect/artist Andreas Angelidakis—to share a list of the most noteworthy ideas, events, and objects they encountered in 2014. See the entire series 2014: The Year According to                                 . 

David Reinfurt is an independent graphic designer and writer in New York City. He graduated from the University of North Carolina in 1993 and received an MFA from Yale University in 1999. On the first business day of 2000, David formed O-R-G inc., a flexible graphic design practice composed of a constantly shifting network of collaborators. Together with graphic designer Stuart Bailey, David established Dexter Sinister in 2006 — a workshop in the basement at 38 Ludlow Street on the Lower East Side in New York City. The workshop is intended to model a Just-In-Time economy of print production, running counter to the contemporary assembly-line realities of large-scale publishing. This involves avoiding waste by working on-demand, utilizing local cheap machinery, considering  alternate distribution strategies, and collapsing distinctions of editing, design, production and distribution into one efficient activity. Dexter Sinister published the semi-annual arts magazine Dot Dot Dot from 2006–2011. David recently launched a new umbrella project called The Serving Library with Stuart Bailey and Angie Keefer. David was 2010 United States Artists Rockefeller Fellow in Architecture and Design and currently teaches at Princeton University.


My top 10 are listed in the order they happened. Things often make most sense like this.

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01

Where Were We

This is a shop sign designed by Angie Keefer and Kara Hamilton and hung outside Kunstverein on Gerard Doustraat in Amsterdam to announce an exhibition by Kara Hamilton. The exhibition was staged something like a store and included jewelry, shoes, and other consumables. Angie also contributed a text that framed the show about a certain kind of painted pleat.

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02

Dawn of Midi

In February, I saw Dawn of Midi play at Kaufman Music Center. The three-piece band includes only a prepared grand piano, an upright bass, and drums. With this limited kit, (impossibly) they played their album Dysnomia from beginning to end, note-for-note to match the highly repetitive, manipulated, and poly-rhythmic music on the record. The performance was spectacularly uncanny, I felt as though I had seen-heard it before and I guess I has as I was listening to Dysnomia on constant repeat for much of the last part of 2013. I ran into my friend Prem Krishnamurthy at the show, and now I see that he included this record on his Top 10 of last year. Uncanny.

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part

Arvo Pärt

In May, I went to Carnegie Hall to hear works by Estonian composer Arvo Pärt. Equally spare, repititive, and mystical, the music has some affinity with Dawn of Midi. Anyway, the crowd at the show seemed to know this as well and mixed Eastern Orthodox clergy members in full regalia with tattoo-covered Manhattan School of Music graduates. It was an eccentrically, fantastically fashionable crowd. Arvo was there himself, as was Björk.

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04

Dune

Where was I? I never read this book when I was the age to do so, but found it on a bookshelf this May. Soon, I was enveloped in its world where water is as precious as life and giant sandworms stand in cars. When I read the book, I didn’t know about Jodorowsky’s Dune, the documentary released this year that tracks the previously director Alejandro Jodorowsky’s failed attempts at turning Frank Herbert’s epic book into a film.

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Model for 'Monument to the Astronauts' circa 1966-8 by Naum Gabo 1890-1977

05-a

Claude Parent (and Naum Gabo)

For A Needle Walks into a Haystack, curator Mai Abu ElDahab invited aging French architect Claude Parent to design an exhibition space on the ground floor of Tate Liverpool and rehang selections from its collection. The result felt something like an architectural model built at 1:1 scale. Installed in the ramped space alongside works from Gillian Wise, Gustaf Metzger, Anni Albers, and Francis Picabia, were two of artist Naum Gabo’s maquettes including model for “Monument to the Astronauts.” Perfect.

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06

Yes, But Is It Edible?

Also perfect, this book compiled by Will Holder and Alex Waterman of the works of Robert Ashley was released in September. This is a book to be performed, a collection of scores produced by the authors to allow non-musicians to perform Ashley’s music. It follows that Will and Alex performed a couple of Ashley pieces in a sweltering classroom at PS1 during the New York Art Book Fair.

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07

Christopher Williams

The Production Line of Happiness ran from July to November at the Museum of Modern Art last last year. I saw it, finally, in October. The show is a comprehensive testament to this work which mines the process of image production, and it was great. The best work, however, was in the gift shop where Williams offered his image of a rotated Renault Dauphine-Four auto sitting on its side as a postcard. The postcard’s orientation is ambiguous, but presented in the shop vertically the car seems to be suspended somewhere outside of gravity.

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08

This Equals That

Also outside of gravity, this children’s book by Jason Fulford and Tamara Shopsin moves laterally from one photograph to the next. It was released in November. Photographs are supposed to be toxic in children’s literature, but Jason and Tamara’s light and warm touch makes the guided tour through the visible world a wonderful, strange trip.

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09

Richard McGuire

In November, this issue of the New Yorker showed up in my mailbox. The cover is the work of illustrator Richard McGuire, who was also the subject of an exhibition at the Morgan Library organized by curator Joel Smith. More on this time-space bending cover is here.

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10

Interstellar

Finally, in December I saw Interstellar. Luckily, I’d managed not to read much about the film in advance. I did, however, read a New York Times op ed by David Brooks which is well worth checking out. I was also impressed by an interview on NPR with director Christopher Nolan where he was asked about the film’s uneasy correspondences with Stanley Kubrick’s 2001. He said, simply, something to the effect that you can’t make a space movie in 2014 that does not “know” about 2001 and that he chose to make that explicit, rather than hide it. Nice choice.

2014: The Year According to Andreas Angelidakis

To commemorate the year that was, we invited an array of artists, writers, designers, and curators—from designer David Reinfurt to animator Miwa Matreyek—to share a list of the most noteworthy ideas, events, and objects they encountered in 2014. See the entire series 2014: The Year According to                   […]

Angelidakis-apoGiannisVastardis-0200_web

To commemorate the year that was, we invited an array of artists, writers, designers, and curators—from designer David Reinfurt to animator Miwa Matreyek—to share a list of the most noteworthy ideas, events, and objects they encountered in 2014. See the entire series 2014: The Year According to                                 .

Trained as an architect, Andreas Angelidakis often switches roles between artist, curator, architect, and teacher. His multidisciplinary practice often takes the internet and the perceptive and behavioral changes it has brought on as its starting point. In the past year he worked on the space for the exhibition of instruction-based artworks DO IT at Garage in Moscow, he curated and designed a survey exhibition of the Dakis Joannou collection at DESTE foundation in Athens, he designed a show of contemporary magazines at the Haus der Kunst in Munich, and made the installation Crash Pad, which acted as the preliminary statement for the 8th Berlin Biennial. He currently has a retrospective presentation of his work at the National Museum of Contemporary Art in Greece, and he is included in the Greek Pavilion at the 14th Architecture Biennale in Venice. Upcoming shows include Period Rooms at the Niuewe Institut in Rotterdam, and designing the exhibition architecture for a survey exhibition of film director Alejandro Jodorowsky at the CAPC in Bordeaux. Recent shows include The System of Objects: The Dakis Joannou Collection Reloaded by Andreas Angelidakis at the DESTE Foundation, Athens (curator and architect); PAOLA at Breeder Gallery (curator); Group Mountain at Breeder Gallery (curator and artist, solo and group show); Domesticated Mountain at GloriaMaria Gallery, Milan, April 2012 (solo, artist); The Angelo Foundation Headquarters collaboration with artist Angelo Plessas at Jeu de Paume museum espace virtuelle; and Blue Wave at the MU Foundation, Eindhoven, Netherlands (architect and artist, solo exhibition).


 

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Best Book

Extrastatecraft by Keller Easterling. Easterling is in my humble opinion the most interesting, unexpected and lucid thinker in urbanism. Her urbanism provides a deep understanding of how the contemporary world operates, and Extrastatecraft is just a must read.

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10151936_238597649597637_2712803700929752890_nScreenshot 2014-12-09 11.46.25

Best Experience

Attending the Eternal Internet Brotherhood, in the West Bank in Israel/Palestine. A truly surreal experience, both for the location, but also because it was a like being transported to an artists’ colony, no audience, no age or agenda, sleeping outdoors next to the Dead Sea, thinking about the internet as a desert.

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Dahlem Berlin Biennial

Best Venue for a Biennial

My work for the 8th Berlin Biennial curated by Juan Gaitan was at Kunstwerke, but the Dahlem Ethnographic Museum has to be the best venue for a biennial in a long time. Visitors not only saw the Bienalle works but had a chance to get lost in the corridors of the museum, making for juxtapositions of pure genius.

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Monditalia

Best Exhibition

Monditalia, at the Venice Biennial of Architecture. Koolhaas brought together the dance, film and architecture biennials at the Arsenale, which made for a space where passing an esoteric performance with a minotaur you happened upon a research on Italian nightclubs of the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s, then an elderly group of 50 chanting seniors, then another research on the Berlusconi suburbs and so forth. An exhibition as chaotic and as focused as the internet itself.

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2014-07-24 21.51.14

Best Encounter

Meeting the legendary Chilean filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky at CAPC in Bordeaux, courtesy of its director Maria Ines Rodriguez. Its when you meet somebody who’s fan you’ve been forever, and they just surpass any expectation. Bonus Tarot reading included.

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Best Purchase

A used zCorp450 3D printer. I started using 3D prints back in 2002 when zCorp was a startup and was offering free 3D print samples to users who were curious. Having the printer, even though the running costs are literally studio killers, just takes it to another level. I was never into actually building buildings, but printing brings them closer to home.

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csm_Documenta_14__06_10_14__c__Nils_Klinger__1__2b2ae4db96

Best News

Documenta 14 will be jointly held in Athens and Kassel in 2017.

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2014-08-03 17.58.19

Best Research

Janell Watson’s Literature and Material Culture from Balzac to Proust: The Collection and Consumption of Curiosities. I got this while looking for literature on Bibelot, or tchotchkes. I’m always daydreaming of buildable bibelot bunkers and other places to escape.

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SI_Fin_de_Siecle_25web

Best Collaboration

Was with the Swiss Institute for their first annual design exhibition. Working with Simon Castets on Fin de Siècle was the best, because he went along with my idea to push the show as far as possible from a design exhibition, even when I was having doubts about going too far.

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2014-07-28 21.04.46

Best Swim

Swimming at midnight on the island of Samos, on a dark beach lit only by the frontier patrol and the bioluminescent sea water.

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123Dcatch

Best App

123Dcatch 3D scanning for iPhone has to be my favorite app, even though it doesn’t always work perfectly. Learning to love the glitch.

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Sandberg

Best Biography

I really enjoyed Ank Leeuw Markar’s Willem Sandberg: Portrait of an Artist, for its insights into how contemporary art museums came to be how they are today through the radical decisions of The Stedelijk’s famous director, Willem Sandberg. A must read for those into exhibition histories. The result of my hallucinatory interpretation comes at The Niuewe Instituut in Rotterdam this January, 1:1 Period Rooms.

2014: The Year According to Omar Sosa

To commemorate the year that was, we invited an array of artists, writers, designers, and curators—from artist Kalup to poet LaTasha Diggs, author Jeff Chang to futurist Nicolas Nova—to share a list of the most noteworthy ideas, events, and objects they encountered in 2014. See the entire series 2014: The Year According to             […]

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To commemorate the year that was, we invited an array of artists, writers, designers, and curators—from artist Kalup to poet LaTasha Diggs, author Jeff Chang to futurist Nicolas Nova—to share a list of the most noteworthy ideas, events, and objects they encountered in 2014. See the entire series 2014: The Year According to                                 . 

 

Omar Sosa is a Barcelona-based art director, graphic designer, and publisher. In 2008, after a period of working at Folch Studio in Barcelona as a Business Partner, Omar founded the magazine Apartamento together with his friend Nacho Alegre. Apartamento is now distributed in 45 countries. Two years later he went on to win the prestigious Yellow Pencil Award and Apartamento was awarded the Best Entire Magazine of 2010 by the D&AD association (Design & Art Direction Association, UK). Sosa has worked as the Art Director for a wide range of international clients: Flos, Louis Vuitton Group, Rizzoli International, Carolina Herrera NY, DDG Partners, Corriere Della Sera, Patricia Urquiola, Ricardo Bofill Architecture, among others. His work spans from designing books and magazines to creating brand identities, designing exhibitions and generating successful liaisons among creative professionals.

 


 

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01-NEOPTOLEMOS

Neptolemos Michaelides house, Cyprus

Last January I went to Cyprus for the opening of an exhibition of the Cypriot light designer Michael Anastassiades and had the chance to visit the private house of the Cypriot architect Neoptolemos Michaelides and his wife. They both passed away few years ago and now the house belong to their foundation. We came together with the photographer Hélène Binet who took beautiful pictures that where then published in the last issue of Apartamento (pdf) and in a exhibition in Cyprus that opened last month. The house has an incredible architecture full of sensibility and respect for nature and light, and it’s still full of the furniture and amazing collection of fossils and stones that once belonged to Neoptolemos.

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02 MAX LAMB

Marmoreal by Max Lamb, Milan

April is a great month, not just because the winter is over but also because it’s the Milan Design Week called Salone. This year I’ve been quite lazy, too many offerings usually make me end up remembering nothing. One of my favorite things was this nice project of my friend the British designer Max Lamb for Dzek. A whole room entire made for this special terrazzo.

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04-LA-FABRICA-BOFILL

La Fabrica of Ricardo Bofill

This is the house/studio of one of the biggest architects in Spain of all times, Ricardo Bofill. This is seen from its neighboring building, Walden 7, also by Bofill. It’s a huge recovered cement factory from the beginning of 1900.  The size of a cathedral, it’s an incredible work in progress for more than 40 years.

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05 GIRARD

Alexander Girard: An Uncommon Vision, New York

May is design week in New York and Herman Miller made this amazing exhibition about the legacy of the designer and architect Alexander Girard. Together with them we launched the 13th issue of Apartamento featuring an extensive supplement about the legacy of Girard and his family in Santa Fe (New Mexico).

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06 DONALD JUDD

Donald Judd Foundation, New York

While in New York I had the opportunity to visit the recently restored Judd Foundation. The 5-story Soho iron building was purchased by the artist Donald Judd in the 1970s and served as his studio and house for his family. It has been fully restored this year and is finally open to the public.

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07-1111-LINCOLN-ROAD

111 Lincoln Road, Miami

While in Miami this June I was impressed by this amazing parking deck by the Swiss architecture studio Herzog & de Meuron. I was even more impressed when I heard that the owner of the parking deck lives on the top floor with a huge garden and a swimming pool.

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08-CITY-FLATS-HOTEL

City Flats Hotel, Michigan

Every time I travel to the small city of Holland (Michigan) I have the opportunity to explore new rooms at the City Flats Hotel. The hotel is well known because Holland is home to many of the biggest furniture companies in the US, which means that many, many designers have stayed in the City Flats Hotel. This hotel is peculiar in that every single room is different, with all the possible configurations of queen bed + king bed, double queen bed, queen + double single, etc., that you can imagine. It’s known that you don’t want to receive the kind of room I got the last time, which featured two queen beds facing opposite walls. It was definitely impossible to get a good rest there.

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09-WALDEN

Walden 7, Barcelona

This is another beautiful project from the architect Ricardo Bofill—a subsidized housing complex built in the early 1970s. I always knew it existed but never went to visit it. I was impressed by the color, proportions, and shapes, its little streets inside and balconies make it resemble a small vertical city.

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10 FOUR SEASSONS

Four Seasons Restaurant by Philip Johnson, New York

I had the opportunity to have a drink at the bar and I was impressed by the space, the sculptural ceiling installations, window curtains, and materials on the toilets.

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kiss

Kiss Room, Paris

I met the interior designer and artist Mathias Kiss in Paris and showed me one of his recent projects. This tiny 10sqm bedroom in the backside of a bar in Le Marais could be rented for one night, 1000 nights are for sale and it will be destroyed after. The whole space is skillfully covered in mirror tiles with a geometric architecture that enables the guests to feel like you are underwater. Despite being all covered in glass, the spaces feels incredibly cozy rather than a torture room, and the effect after you have a shower and the whole little space becomes visible because of the steam is something you have to live.

2014: The Year According to The Office of Culture and Design

To commemorate the year that was, we invited an array of artists, writers, designers, and curators—from designer Tiffany Malakooti and musician Grant Hart  to  artists Kalup Linzy and Alejandro Cesarco—to share a list of the most noteworthy ideas, events, and objects they encountered in 2014. See the entire series 2014: The Year According to       […]

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To commemorate the year that was, we invited an array of artists, writers, designers, and curators—from designer Tiffany Malakooti and musician Grant Hart  to  artists Kalup Linzy and Alejandro Cesarco—to share a list of the most noteworthy ideas, events, and objects they encountered in 2014. See the entire series 2014: The Year According to                                 .

The Office of Culture and Design is an autonomous platform for artists, writers, designers and social practice projects in the developing world (primarily, the Philippines). In 2013, The OCD opened a design studio and publishing arm called Hardworking Goodlooking, through which they publish the results of their experiments (and those of others) in print and other formats.

Clara Lobregat Balaguer is a writer who sometimes makes art, has learned to do graphic design, used to host shows on national television in the Philippines, and has experience in advertising. In 2010, she founded The Office of Culture and Design, an organisation through which she executes social practice projects in culturally underserved communities in the Philippines. She has released one book as author, and nine as publisher at the helm of the editorial house, Hardworking Goodlooking. She has exhibited artwork at Singapore Art Museum, Casa Asia Madrid, Galeria H2O, Ayala Museum, New York University (NYU), Hangar and La Capella.  She has lectured at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), Bennington College, Ateneo de Manila and University of the Philippines, Diliman. She has won prizes at the San Sebastian El Sol Festival and Premios LAUS and can say that one of her advertising productions is in the permanent collection of the Museo Centro de Arte Reina Sofia. She was the youngest directorial board member for the international design NGO, Design for the World, from 2007 to 2009. She likes plants and karaoke.

Kristian Henson is a New York–based designer and publisher. After receiving his MFA from Yale School of Art in 2012, he continued his research and extended his design practice by actively collaborating with artists and institutions in The Philippines. He holds the position of art director for The Manila Review, a Filipino literary criticism and arts journal, and is the head of design for The Office of Culture and Design. In 2013, he co-founded Hardworking Goodlooking, a publishing imprint and studio that consolidates the experiments of The OCD. His publishing work has been exhibited at The New Museum, NY Art Book Fair, Printed Matter, Ooga Booga, PrintRoom Rotterdam, Yale University Art Gallery, Asia-Pacific Photobook Archive Melborne, OBSCURA Festival Malaysia, Ateneo University Press, and The Singapore Art Museum.

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BIGGEST MIRACLE

Typhoon Hagupit (known locally as “Ruby”)

Typhoon Ruby downgraded from super typhoon to typhoon classification just before it made landfall in the Philippines on December 6, causing much less damage than expected to areas already hit by Super Typhoon Haiyan in 2013. Lots of deaths were avoided by evacuating over 2.5 million people from coastal areas, and the Philippine government actually seemed to have their act a bit more together this year. Big, big relief for the country most affected by climate change in the entire world. It was no walk in the park and the country has sustained heavy damages, but it was nowhere near the tragedy it could have been.

Hagupit aftermath
Philippines Climate Risk Index

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BEST ART EVENT IN METRO MANILA

WSK 2014: Festival of the Recently Possible

We have always been fans of Manila’s sound bricolage festival, WSK, organized every year by a small team of irreductibles. Tengal, Merv Espina, Joee Mejias and Chesca Casauay did not disappoint in 2014, offering a week-long pirate radio show station packed with different programs, an applied workshop session for a curated selection of artists, field recording sessions, talks and concert-type events at three off-the-beaten-path locations. The roster included intermedia artists, conceptual musicians and research programmers from all over Asia and one dude from the United States.

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Metro Manila’s art scene is dominated by a sale-centric, neo-liberal art market devotion, which can be disappointing in terms of curatorial vision. It also makes the existence of an underground festival such as WSK something akin to breeding unicorns. Their programming, every year, surprises and challenges its audience, something that doesn’t happen all the time at art events in our neck of the woods. It is no small feat for this crazy festival to have survived and transcended the underground (without selling out) over the past six years, getting better and more legit with each issue.

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The festival originated as an act of rebellion against the mainstreamy music festival celebrated simultaneously all over the globe, Fête de la Musique, a promotional event of the French government. WSK used to be called Fête de la Wasaque, and it was scheduled at around the same time as Fête de la Musique, which is also held in Manila. It first emerged as an alternative arena for musicians frustrated with the non-challenging music championed by the global establishment. Over the years, the local festival has matured from mere humorous rebellion to serious experimental conviction. WSK is a contraction of the Tagalog word “wasak,” which means wasted, crazy or destroyed.

WSK2014 website

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3 Joko Widodo, Indonesian president and heavy metal enthusiast

BEST POLITICAL POP CULTURE HEADLINE

Majority Muslim Indonesia elects metalhead Joko Widodo as president

Aside from being into Slayer, Widodo is not related to the military in any way and comes from the humblest of backgrounds, a revelation in itself for a country plagued by elite level, military-government corruption. He has been making headlines since his election for his reformist policies and his collection of metal band T-shirts. We super wish we had the chance to elect someone like him to run the Philippines. So far, we’ve only had oligarchs, ex-movie star political puppets, gangsters and shadies to choose from, come election time, save for a few exceptions like Walden Bello. Side note: Indonesia has a fascinating black metal scene.

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MOST INTERESTING FILMS

The Look of Silence by Joshua Oppenheimer

Oppenheimer’s follow up film to the critically-acclaimed and socially impactful documentary, The Act of Killing, won the Grand Jury prize at the Venice Film Festival and the highest award at CPH:DOX film festival in Copenhagen this year. Both films effectively liquify the borders between art/creation and social agency, without considering either of the two ends more important than the other.

Critics of Oppenheimer’s approach decry the cinematic immorality of testimonial-type documentaries, claiming that it is impossible to truly respect filmed subjects when you are exploiting their stories for their emotional properties, a result ultimately controlled by the filmmaker and not the subject. Oppenheimer, however, gave his protagonists a certain level of directorial responsibility and fomented an interaction between subject and filmmaker, a sharing of filmic control that was reflected in parts of the final edit. His approach may or may not have been enough to allow the subjects to represent themselves instead of ceding control to the “other,” but what is clear (to us) is that there was a real sensitivity, on the director’s part, to portray his characters with respect, and to immerse deeply in their situational and historical context. Whichever side of the argument you may be on, the fact remains that both of these hybrid documentaries have struck a deep chord for change, both within and outside the filmmaking practice.

Trailer
Film site


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How to Disappear Completely by Raya Martin

This is the young Filipino director’s most acclaimed film yet since his breakout period drama, Independencia, and possibly also his most controversial. It is a highly aestheticised story of superstition, fear and violent abuse in small town Philippines. How to Disappear Completely also features a great soundtrack by Filipino musician, Eyedress.

Trailer
Film site
Eyedress


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Manakamana by Stephanie Spray and Pacho Velez

Produced at the Sensory Ethnography Laboratory of Harvard University, this documentary recounts the journey of Nepalese villagers to worship at the temple of Manakamana. It features only 11 uncut shots, but took 18 months to edit. A carefully paced, strangely fictional-feeling piece of sensory ethnography that sees the world from a moving cable car.

Trailer
Film site
SEL site


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Storm Children, Book One, by Lav Diaz. 

Through this slow-cinema chronicle of the devastation left after Typhoon Haiyan, Lav Diaz shows that he “takes his responsibility as an artist [seriously, and that] he is concerned about his people, using film as a means to convey… to a wider public the fact that even though Tacloban and its people have disappeared from the news because they’re not deemed newsworthy anymore, they are still struggling and [they] need help.” That quote is from the film review hyperlinked below, BTW.

Film review

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BEST ART WORLD HEADLINE

Dutch artist Renzo Martens moves to the Eastern Congo to continue a 5-year plan to gentrify the jungle through his Institute for Human Activities
Suspend your politically correct disbelief and moralistic Western anger. Watch Martens’ film, Episode III: Enjoy Poverty, the most significant piece of social practice art (if you can call it that) we have seen to date. Rethink applications of “gentrification,” in vocabulary and in real life (the world is not Brooklyn, Barcelona or Shanghai). Your anger is your own guilt and/or insecurities in disguise.
Martens’ experiment with engagement and social agency in artistic practice has yet to determine results. For now, we follow the IHA’s progress online and in the news, crossing our fingers for their success or, at the very least, for an in-depth analysis of their struggle at the end of the five-year period.

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TOP NEW FRIENDS MADE

Discussion Lab

Really glad we got to know the people at Disclab, a Philippine collective for research and criticism that does some of the most groundbreaking (local) work, to date, in terms of sensory and critical commentary on art politics. They describe themselves as online squatters, because—as almost all of the independent art-related collectives in the Philippines—they are not just chronically underfunded but wholly ignored by our government. Despite claims made since 2012 by current legislators that the cultural class is of high priority (because we make significant contributions to things such as the nation’s GDP and soft power quotient), collectives like Disclab usually have to fend for themselves. It’s inspiring to see the level of quality, professionalism and productivity that groups like them are able to hustle with little to no institutional support.

Website


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Anarchist Infoshops of the Philippines

2014 has marked a lot of collaboration with four particular anarchist collectives and infoshops in Manila: Flowergrave, Feral Crust, On Site and Etniko Bandido. Without them, many of this year’s OCD efforts would not have been possible. To cap off the deepening relationships with these collectives, we got to attend the Philippine Infoshops and Autonomous Spaces Conference, a nation-wide meetup held late this year. We camped out for two nights in a small backyard, somewhere on the provincial outskirts of Metro Manila. The program was super intense, with loads of presentations on what tiny, anti-system collectives are doing to help their communities all over the country. Was quite a lesson in sticking to your grassroots guns and making every little peso stretch as far as it can towards the common good. We also drank a lot of Tanduay rum.

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An infoshop is a community activity space that begins with a library. The books contained in each infoshop’s library are usually titles that reflect anarchist, anti-system and alternative philosophies. They are open to read, borrow and photocopy. In order to disseminate the ideas contained in these libraries, as well as each infoshop’s particular activist agenda, direct action activities are organized. These may include food drives (Food Not Bombs), everything-for-free markets, workshops, skill enhancing sessions, conferences, exhibitions, concerts, rallies or any other form of radical protest.

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7 All Hardworking Goodlooking Books available in 2014

BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT

Finishing 7 Hardworking Goodlooking books in 2014, just in time for the New York Art Book Fair

Seven books in one year on the tightest of budgets and the deadliest of deadlines is a personal best for us. We still can’t quite believe we did it. But we totally did. Here’s the GIF that proves it. (Back patting ensues.)

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8 Kutis Mayaman means Rich People Skin

MOST INFURIATING PIECE OF AUTO-RACIST ADVERTISING

Kutis Mayaman campaign by skin-whitening brand, Glutamax

This questionable piece of marketing logic makes our top 10 because it’s heinous, and also because it’s lighting in us a longstanding fire to do something to counteract the culture of shadism (and its relation to classist elitism) that is rampant in the Philippines. For those who don’t speak Tagalog, the slogan “Kutis Mayaman” translates to “Rich People Skin.” Previous billboards from this same brand, all put up on highly trafficked thoroughfares, boasted equally ridiculous slogans and concepts.

The blog post we link to below, probably sponsored in some way by the skin whitening brand, speaks volumes of how this sort of marketing reflects the darkest side of Filipino self-image issues. Pun intended. The first line of the post is revealing: “Who wouldn’t want to have skin like it belongs to a rich person? I know I do!” 

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MOST “PEG NA PEG” DISCOVERIES MADE ON THE INTERWEBS AND IRL

In Tagalog-English slang, “peg na peg” means that you admire something or someone as a role model. It is an expression born of advertising jargon. At meetings, when clients ask you to send visual references for campaigns, they ask for your pegs. This refers both to the JPG file format in which references are usually sent, and the fact that you are pegging a campaign against these references.

Ghetto Biennale

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Early this year, we discovered through our friend Robert Peterson’s Facebook wall that something amazing called the Ghetto Biennale exists and has been running since 2009 in Haiti. It is a gloriously complex, moving, contradictory and hardcore stand for the cause of social practice in the cultural (developing) world. Here’s a great quote from their website, which we relate to wholeheartedly:

“While the Ghetto Biennale was conceived to expose social, racial, class and geographical immobility, it seemed to have upheld these class inertias within its structural core. The Ghetto Biennale is looking for balance amongst the multifarious and often contradictory agendas underpinning the event. Are we institutional critique or a season ticket to the institution? Are we poverty tourism or an exit strategy from the ghetto? What was the effect of the earthquake and the ensuing NGO culture on cross-cultural relations in Haiti? The straplines for the previous Ghetto Biennales were ‘What happens when first world art rubs up against third world art? Does it bleed?’…Did the Ghetto Biennale bleed, and if so where?”


 

Field Experiments

Kristian Henson, our head of design, came across this company at The Site Unseen design fair in NYC. They describe themselves as a “nomadic design collective exploring traditional crafts,” traveling around the world to create products, printed matter, films, installations and other stuff, inspired by vernacular forms of artisanry. So up our alley, it’s not even funny. And they also have a neat website.

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9 DECENT DESIGNS 2

MOST PROVOCATIVE FOUND BOOK TITLE OF THE YEAR, FROM THE BOTTOM SHELF COLLECTION

Decent Designs of Railing and Stair Case by Experienced Architects

So, this one was tough. We find a lot of really crazy titles in Filipino bookstores, mostly on the forgotten bottom shelves. So many great additions to our collection this year: Being a Social Being, The Cyrupaedia of Body Building (written by a guy named Cyrus), Kosher Yoga, Herpestes: The Electrifying Filipino Martial Arts… but we finally decided upon a title so honest, so real that it could only have been written by someone extremely secure in their own self-worth, someone with experience. Also, the photograph on the cover of Decent Designs… is hyperconceptual. The turnstile in front of the path leading to a residential house, the cryptic picture of the hand holding an American football in the window… so many things post-postcolonially ponder.

Other titles in the series include Modern Designs…, Attractive Designs…, Simple Designs…, and Latest Designs… They are all printed in India at a press called Printer’s Cottage, and the cover was designed by a certain Graphic Boss. Yes, a thousand times yes to all cottage industry printed matter from the developing world.

 

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2014: The Year According to Eric Hu

To commemorate the year that was, we invited an array of artists, writers, designers, and curators—from designer Tiffany Malakooti and musician Grant Hart  to  artists Kalup Linzy and Alejandro Cesarco—to share a list of the most noteworthy ideas, events, and objects they encountered in 2014. See the entire series 2014: The Year According to       […]

portait_2To commemorate the year that was, we invited an array of artists, writers, designers, and curators—from designer Tiffany Malakooti and musician Grant Hart  to  artists Kalup Linzy and Alejandro Cesarco—to share a list of the most noteworthy ideas, events, and objects they encountered in 2014. See the entire series 2014: The Year According to                                 .

Eric Hu is a designer based in New York City and a partner at Nothing in Common, a design and technology studio in Brooklyn. He received his BFA from Art Center College of Design in 2011 and his MFA from the Yale School of Art in 2013. Previously Eric was the design director at digital agency OKFocus.


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Day after violence in Ferguson

BlackLivesMatter / #ICantBreathe

The injustice surrounding the treatment and deaths of Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, Renisha McBride, the unfair sentencing of Marissa Alexander, and countless of other crimes against humanity caused a rupture in the racial discourse of this country. We can no longer deny that white supremacy and anti-blackness still exist at every level of society. It would be completely ignorant to go about our lives in the same way. The acts of cruelty that occurred this year are a wake-up call for this country and there’s no excuses to remain silent now.

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Hashtag Activism

In the same conversation, we’ve seen the rise of social media activism as a true force for change and discussion in 2014. #BlackLivesMatter, #ICantBreathe, #BringBackOurGirls, #YesAllWomen, #NotYourAsianSidekick, #IfTheyGunnedMeDown, #OccupyCentral and many other hashtags played a large role in facilitating organization and discussion. It’s important to note most these hashtags were initiated and spearheaded by women of color, who all too often have their contributions sidelined, re-appropriated or completely erased as their work reaches a wide audience. For example, #BlackLivesMatter was created by Alicia Garcia, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tomet after the death of Trayvon Martin.

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I went with my friend Rob Matthews to see this at Tribeca Film Festival this year. It’s about a 19-year old in Britain, prematurely transferred to an adult prison—the same prison that houses his father. Both of us were stunned at Jack O’Connell’s performance and the bleak hopelessness the director painted.

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It’s pretty safe to say that, in the rap world, every year in recent memory is Atlanta’s year. Still, the music we’ve heard so far from that city has felt completely different during these past twelve months. Without a question the artists of Awful Records such as Father, Ethereal, Archibald Slim (and some indirectly affiliated acts such as ILoveMakonnen, Key! and OG Maco) have introduced new life in the music scene with an undeniably different sound. As head of Awful Records, Father has kept a spirited DIY approach (the label started out as a graphic design project), producing instrumentals from himself as well as other artists on the roster along with a lot of the cover design and illustration.

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JACK댄스 NYC 2014

Simon Whybray’s London club night sensation jumped on a World tour and swung through New York City at China Chalet last October. Everything from the lineup, the visual branding, seeing nearly all my friends from the Internet in one place, the crowd control, and of course, Whybray’s infectious joy were on-point. I don’t remember what I saw or heard half the time, but I remember how I felt the whole time.

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Mould Map 3

Mould Map is a comics/narrative art anthology series that’s one of the most well art-directed, immaculately printed publications in that genre. The third issue features 224 pages of gorgeously reproduced work from artists such as Daniel Swan, Jonny Negron, and Sam Alde rendered in more spot-colors than I care to count. I mean, I’m all about the nice and delicate art books that come out of Roma publications printed on Munken paper with the cerebral essays typeset on twelve columns and everything, but at the end of the day it feels so good to just come across a collection of pure formal rawness. Definitely a moving eulogy to all the haters.

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Rae Sremmurd, “No Type

It was late September; I was getting a burger on South 2nd and Havemayer in Brooklyn. Extremely hungover and not in any sort of mood to hear loud noises, the first line of the chorus comes blaring out of this green Mitsubishi Eclipse a few feet away from me. The opening line was followed by this perfectly timed pause before the second line introduced itself just as vividly. I pretty much jerked my head as if I had been smacked across the face, instantly falling in love with the crescendo and decrescendo of Swae Lee’s voice. The light turned green and the car sped away before I could hear the rest of the track. I’ll defer to David Drake’s take on it: “The hook is obvious, immediate, perfectly calculated in all its brash vitality: just a scant impression of a melody, a quick one-two-three punch that’s as memorable [as] NBC chimes. ‘No Type’ revolves around a simple strand of an idea, perfectly framed and executed—the platonic ideal of a hit.”

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O.G. Maco, “U Guessed It”

If you asked me at the beginning of the year if a rap track, relying on nothing but a juvenile melody consisting of three single piano notes in A# with single note in D# and a loud voice, would make entire crowds lose their minds like this song does, I would’ve said, “I guess that’s theoretically possible, but we’ll have to see.” If you ask me now I would say, “Not only is this indeed possible, there is a verifiable precedent for this exact scenario.” What a great year for music.

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Tobias Frere-Jones / Jonathan Hoefler

One of the largest type foundries in the industry split up, went to court over millions of dollars and a loss of nearly one’s entire life’s work, and made headlines in all major news publications—definitely not on good terms. I can’t really think of a bigger event that occurred in the design world this year. The whole situation is really sad and I’m just glad it got resolved. (#IStandWithTobias though)

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Yuri Kochiyama

Rest in Power.

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