Like a moth to the flame, Blanche DuBois, opens the show as a curious creature drawn to a single light bulb; a stunning piece of imagery for a stunning ballet. “This vibrant adaptation by Scottish Ballet of the classic Tennessee Williams tale, A Streetcar Named Desire, brings the heat and music of New Orleans straight to The Music Center. The definitive Pulitzer Prize-winning drama is transformed into a powerful and emotional ballet that not only excites, but further enhances the story’s suspenseful take on lust, desire and betrayal that can only be conveyed by the honesty of dance. In collaboration with director Nancy Meckler and choreographer Annabelle Lopez Ochoa, the production explores the boundaries of narrative ballet through a range of dance styles. Accompanied by a specially commissioned jazz-inspired score by Peter Salem that accentuates the sensuality of the dancers, Scottish Ballet’s A Streetcar Named Desire is a one-of-a-kind take on an American classic.”
In this beautiful and dynamic production, Scottish Ballet pushes the limits and takes audiences on an emotional and chilling journey through the life of Blanche DuBois. “Our storytelling, unlike Williams' play, begins by relating the story of Blanche DuBois while she is growing up in America’s Deep South. The year is 1935, and the lifestyle of the landed gentry is in steep decline. Blanche is a beautiful young girl with her life ahead of her”. Her life drifts in and out of ecstasy and turmoil. Finding out that her husband had been having an affair with another man resulting in him committing suicide and leaving home after the death of most of her family traveling to the sex-crazed; jazz filled streets of New Orleans night life scene. After being run out of town for seducing a young boy, she finds comfort in her only living relative, Stella who has taken up with Stanley Kowalski, an aggressive bad boy we know so well because of Marlon Brando.
The dancers of this company are stellar performers. According to an interview with Neckler Meckler, the dancers also went through some acting training to give voice the characters of Tennessee William’s play without words. It is truly a company of beautiful dancers that are quite focused and passionate about their art and conveying a story. Eve Mutso(Blanche) and Sophie Laplane(Stella) stole the show with pure energy and heart-wrenching performances.
“Scottish Ballet is Scotland’s national dance company. The esteemed company has built its reputation on strong bold work and vast touring. It regularly presents at premier theatres and events such as Sadler’s Wells and Edinburgh International Festival, as well as leading venues and festivals abroad including Europe, Asia and North America. Scottish Ballet continues to build on its heritage as a bold, adventurous company with ambitious creative programmes and touring, working with groundbreaking choreographers such as Ivgi & Greben, Bryan Arias, David Dawson and Crystal Pite.”
Make sure to check out The Music Center website for upcoming performances!
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During Wednesday’s visit to the Vatican, 45 exchanged gifts with a dour looking Pope Francis. His holiness’ awesomely unsubtle gifts to our president included the pontiff’s 2015 treatise on climate change along with a large medallion reading, “I give this to you so that you can be an instrument of peace.”
Trump, in return, gifted the Pope with a bronze sculpture of lotus flowers that just screams dentist waiting room. Seriously, the seafoam green figure makes Dale Chihuly seem like Auguste Rodin.
The piece, called “Rising Above,” is the work of Florida-based artist Geoffrey C. Smith, whose sculptures often depict various species of plants and wildlife. “Art is important. It was man’s first form of communication and still one of the most powerful forms today,” Smith quotes himself as saying on his website.
According to the White House, Trump selected the sculpture because the sacred flower “evokes two universal values: unity and resilience.” In comparison to the Pope’s pointed presents, however, the floral arrangement seems to evoke the universal value of sleepiness. (From which Trump is probably suffering.)
It’s hard to gauge exactly what Pope Francis is thinking in the photo below, though we wouldn’t be surprised if a good friend of the Holy Father’s winds up with something very similar to the lotus sculpture come Christmas time.
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As news of the devastating concert attack in Manchester broke, people around the world turned to social media to share words of sorrow, fear and hope.
“Life is short, though I keep this from my children,” the powerful poem begins.
“Good Bones” first went viral on social media last June following the Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando and murder of British parliamentarian Jo Cox in the U.K. After the 2016 presidential election, the poem made the online rounds again with posts from celebrities like Alyssa Milano and Megan Mullally.
The Washington Post declared that Smith’s poem “captured the mood of a tumultuous year.”
Smith lives in Ohio and has a 4-year-old son and 8-year-old daughter. “I wrote the poem in 2015, thinking about how to spare my children from the harsher parts of the world, at least while they’re so young, without lying to them about it,” she told HuffPost. “How do we stay honest and also stay hopeful? Sometimes it’s hard enough to be optimistic, let alone project optimism to others.”
Watching her poem’s rise to internet fame has been an interesting experience for Smith. “I was just telling Jen Benka, the executive director of the Academy of American Poets, how strange it is that when my mentions start blowing up on social media, I know something bad has happened somewhere in the world,” she said. “That’s when people start sharing ‘Good Bones’ again.”
The poet said she found out about the Manchester attack Monday night through Twitter. “It breaks my heart that women, girls, and the LGBTQ community were targeted,” she told HuffPost. “I have a daughter who is 8 years old, and I’m sure someday I’ll take her to a concert as a special night out, just the two of us. I can’t imagine what those parents must be feeling. My heart is breaking for the families in Manchester.”
Because her kids are young enough to have limited access to the news, Smith plans to keep the Manchester attack from them while she can.
Smith, whose upcoming book of poetry, Good Bones, will be published this fall, says she has mixed feelings about the titular poem’s role in the aftermath of public tragedies.
“It’s incredibly gratifying and moving to see the poem travel so far and touch so many people, but it’s also heartbreaking and strange that when the poem is being shared widely on social media, it’s because of a tragedy or injustice,” the poet explained.
Still, she added, “All in all I’m glad that the poem is bringing people comfort or at least helping them see a bit of light in the darkness.”
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Justin Bieber might need to brush up on his Spanish.
The Canadian singer remixed Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee’s global hit “Despacito” last month. The new version shot to the top of the U.S. charts last week and became the first Spanish-language song to be No. 1 in the country since the “Macarena.”
The remix marked the first time Bieber had sung in Spanish on a track. And according to E! News, he appeared to forget some of the lyrics to the hit song during a performance at the 1 Oak nightclub in New York City on Tuesday.
During an interview with AOL Build, Fonsi explained that the remix came out quite suddenly and was recorded in the span of about four days. The Puerto Rican singer also said that Bieber had insisted on singing in Spanish and learned the lyrics phonetically.
“He wanted to sing the chorus in Spanish, we had lyrics for the whole song in English but he’s like ‘uh uh uh’ I’m doing it in español,” Fonsi said during the live interview on May 17. “He went there and he learned phonetically ‘Despacito.’ He did his thing, let me tell you.”
Watch Bieber do his thing in the videos above.
Jacqueline Boxx is a burlesque performer, dancer and cat-owner. Oh, and she also happens to be disabled.
“As a disabled person, I have a body that isn’t often celebrated,” Boxx told The Scene. “A lot of times it feels like disability means that your body should be hidden. Like I shouldn’t be pleased and happy and feel sexual as a disabled woman.”
When Boxx was in college, she was diagnosed with a rare and incurable syndrome called Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome which makes the joints in her body dislocate easily. She had always been a dancer, and was actually teaching dance at the time of her diagnosis. Boxx had to stop dancing and accepted the fact that she would never perform again.
It wasn’t until a few years later that she went to a burlesque show and remembered how much she missed dancing.
“I went to a burlesque show and I thought how much I missed being there,” Boxx told The Scene. “I remembered the glitter and the rhinestones and how powerful I felt; and I thought ‘Man, it would feel really nice right now to feel powerful.’”
So, Boxx started choreographing a burlesque performance ― from a wheelchair. She quickly found out that performing burlesque made her look and feel damn good.
“When I’m performing I am showing that I love and accept my body as it is,” Boxx told The Scene. “The way in which burlesque is so in-your-face-aggressive about owning your body is inspiring. I think that the time has come for that to include disabled bodies.”
Boxx hopes viewers take away two things from the video. For disabled people, she hopes they can “start viewing their own bodies as sensual and sexual and confident.”
And for everyone else? “I don’t necessarily want to be know as the disabled burlesque performer,” Boxx said. “I want to be known as a burlesque performer who is a disabled women who lives authentically and encourages others to live authentically.”
Deepen your mind while you deepen your tan.
Microsoft founder, philanthropist and avid bookworm Bill Gates has a few book recommendations for the summer. Each of the titles, which he listed in a blog post on Monday, are meant to help readers better understand the larger world around them.
“Some of these books helped me better understand what it’s like to grow up outside the mainstream,” Gates wrote. “As a child of mixed race in apartheid South Africa, as a young man trying to escape his impoverished life in rural Appalachia, or as the son of a peanut farmer in Plains, Georgia.”
He adds, “I hope you’ll find that others make you think deeper about what it means to truly connect with other people and to have purpose in your life. And all of them will transport you somewhere else — whether you’re sitting on a beach towel or on your own couch.”
One book Gates recommends is Born a Crime, by Trevor Noah of “The Daily Show,” which details the comedian’s life growing up in apartheid South Africa.
“I loved reading this memoir about how [the] host honed his outsider approach to comedy over a lifetime of never quite fitting in,” Gates wrote.
To find out Gates four other picks, just watch the video above. Happy reading!
There are a lot of things to be said about the new “Baywatch” movie starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Zac Efron. Yes, it’s absurd. Yes, there are cringeworthy moments. No, it’s not as bad as “CHiPs.”
As The New York Times put it in their review of the movie, out May 25: “Like its source material, ‘Baywatch’ is sleazy and wholesome, silly and earnest, dumb as a box of sand and slyly self-aware. It’s soft-serve ice cream. Crinkle-cut fries. A hot car and a skin rash. Tacky and phony and nasty and also kind of fun.”
This ability to be self-aware is what sort of saves the movie from falling into the trap of the stereotypical, sexist comedies we see as of late. Jokes that worked 10 or even five years ago no longer have the same effect. Women don’t want to be in nude scenes while their male counterparts get away scot-free.
The creators behind “Baywatch” know that ― so they tried their best to add in some role reversal.
“I think it was very important for all of us ― the cast and obviously the producers and director [Seth Gordon] ― to create female characters that weren’t just dumb and funny because they were dumb,” star Alexandra Daddario, who plays Summer in the film, told HuffPost during a Build Series interview on Wednesday. “The point was that Baywatch takes itself very seriously ― we’re all like CIA operatives but on the beach ― and all the women are very tough and strong and I think that made a lot of sense in the context of this film, and I think it actually makes it funnier. It’s a little cliché to just have the women there as eye candy ― part of the joke is that we’re all supernaturally hot, but that’s not just what it is.”
Jon Bass, who plays the “chubby” techie trainee Ronnie, echoed those sentiments, proving the point by saying he’s the only person who’s naked in the movie.
“We do a really good job of sort of flipping the script and making sure that, yeah, the guys get their due. Because it’s 2017,” Bass told HuffPost.
“The essence of ‘Baywatch’ in and of itself is, you know, is sexy. It’s sexy, it’s beachy and it’s fun ― and we’re not throwing that out, we’re saying, ‘Look, that is a part of this movie, but we also know how absolutely hilarious and ridiculous that is.’”
Ridiculous is the right word to describe one scene in particular that kicks off the film. Ronnie, clearly smitten with lifeguard C.J. (Kelly Rohrbach), accidentally gets himself caught in a tricky situation after an incident on the beach.
“He gets his erect penis stuck in a beach chair,” Daddario revealed, laughing while explaining that the scene is one of the reasons she signed on for the project. “I felt that it was pushing the envelope and was just laugh-out-loud funny and ridiculous and I think that was the right tone for a film like this.”
As for Bass, he’s privileged to join the likes of Ben Stiller and Jason Biggs on the list of actors who “get their dicks stuck in things.” (Yup, he went there.) But in all seriousness, he’s happy to be a part of a movie that pushes the boundaries without being self-serious.
“I remember reading the script and just being like, ‘This is going to be just such a fun movie to be a part of,’” Bass said. “We had so much fun on set; we had so much fun every scene that I got to shoot with every one of the cast members. It was like a fun day at the beach. It was like summer camp.”
Camp being the word to remember before seeing “Baywatch” this weekend.
Watch the full Build Series interview with Alexandra and Jon below.
A new animated short film is in the works that tells the story of a gay boy falling in love with the most popular boy in school.
“In A Heartbeat” follows Sherwin, an awkward young teen who is unsure of his sexuality. After crossing paths with Jonathan, a classmate, Sherwin’s heart literally pops out of his chest and chases after his new Prince Charming. Sherwin then has to try and stop his heart from revealing its true feelings ― not only to Jonathan, but the entire school.
Slated to be completed and then debut this summer thanks to a Kickstarter campaign that raised over $14,000, “In A Heartbeat” is a completely dialogue-free and created by Esteban Bravo and Beth David.
“When we first started working on this film, we knew that we didn’t want it to be preachy,” the pair, both filmmakers at the Ringling College of Art, told HuffPost. “There isn’t even dialogue, so we never have the characters speak to persuade the audience of anything. We simply wanted to show the audience what growing up was like for us through this story about a sweet, red-headed boy who feels just as confused and scared about his feelings as we did. Hopefully, it’ll resonate with those who identify with this character - and for those who don’t, we hope they’ll gain an understanding for people who go through this experience.”
We can’t wait!
Much of the scripts had been written, the characters formed ― and then America voted in a leader who supports the kinds of oppressive, totalitarian policies that seem better suited for fictional Gilead than present-day U.S.
“It was horrible for the world but great for me,” showrunner Bruce Miller told The Hollywood Reporter.
His series was bound to be relevant anyway. (After all, Atwood said she based the story on very real, historical circumstances of women around the world.) But Trump’s election undeniably carried the show’s import to new heights. Since it debuted, audiences have not held back in drawing terrifying parallels between the show’s portrayal of Gilead ― a theocratic regime whose continued existence depends upon its ability to force women to surrender control over their own bodies ― and the divided state of America today.
Neither has the cast and creative team behind the series.
“[Joseph Fiennes and I] are the villains,” Yvonne Strahovski, who plays the commander’s wife Serena Joy, explained to THR. “Suddenly Trump is elected, and all this negative behavior comes to light. I start seeing these parallels between [my character’s] actions and what Trump’s doing. It’s in a weird way an inspiration but also a horrid parallel.”
”People were all of a sudden saying the venomous things that they had always thought out loud — things I didn’t think people thought anymore in my little bubble,” Miller added. “It made me change one or two things [in the show], but I’m not going to tell you what they are.”
Of course, in countless other interviews, series star Elisabeth Moss (who plays Offred) and director Reed Morano have reiterated that the story would be effective regardless of Trump’s position at the White House.
“The whole message that Margaret was sending in the book is that big changes like this don’t happen overnight,” Morano told audiences at 92Y in early May, “they happen very slowly over time, almost so that you don’t know that they’re happening until it’s too late.”
And yet, as Miller makes clear, the election had its effect. “I think that I definitely had personal feelings about [the election],” Moss told HuffPost in April. “All of a sudden I felt like [the story] was much more personal, much more relevant. It wasn’t so crazy. And this whole idea of ‘it couldn’t happen here’ kind of started to fade away. And that’s kind of what everyone else has felt as well.”
The parallels might be tough to stomach, but there’s hope, Samira Wiley (who plays Offred’s friend, Moira) told THR:
One of the things that’s so interesting about this show is the caste system, specifically within the women. It is, I think, a false sense of authority. We have Serena Joy and Offred, who are of two totally different statuses in the society, but how different it would be and how amazing it would be if they could see that banding together could be a revolution? Pitting women against each other is something that also happens in our world today. I hope people have conversations that they wouldn’t be having otherwise.
Miller agrees. In a previous interview with HuffPost, he said he wants the series to encourage people to “appreciate the freedoms that we have, and see little ways that they’re chipped away and what that can lead to.”
“There’s been just an unrelenting assault on [...] women’s sovereignty over their own bodies,” he added, “that’s been happening at the state level and the national level, that’s been head-spinning.”
Moss put it best to THR. When asked which women’s right she thought was the most vulnerable in our current political climate, she responded:
Damn. How much time do you have? The easy one that comes to mind is sort of a blanket: the right to do with your own body what you want to do. Which covers a lot of things, frankly. It doesn’t just cover the right to have a child or not have a child.
Most high school students choose a photo studio or tranquil outdoor setting for their senior portraits.
Andrew McBurnie chose Taco Bell.
The student from Bourbonnais, Illinois posed for his glamour shots at the table where he sat with his friends throughout high school, he told BuzzFeed. And the images are magazine worthy:
McBurnie had his photographer friend Wesley Taylor set up the shoot, and Taylor says T-Bell was totally cool with it.
“We ordered a taco and a couple drinks at first and then realized we needed way more, so went back and got more tacos and nachos,” Taylor told HuffPost. “Fortunately we were able to polish it all off at the end! Andrew loves his Taco Bell.”
The setting turned out to be the perfect complement to McBurnie’s suit and bowtie.
“I loved combining the fashion magazine aesthetic with the retro vibes of the restaurant ― plus, Andrew’s basically a model,” Taylor said.
But then again, they didn’t brave nacho cheese while sporting crisp white suit cuffs. Congrats, Andrew!
The list of corporate and local sponsors withdrawing their support of the 2017 Puerto Rican Day Parade continues to grow, with some citing the event’s decision to honor Puerto Rican nationalist Oscar López Rivera as their reason for backing out.
AT&T, Coca-Cola, JetBlue Airways and the New York Yankees announced Tuesday that they would not participate in the 60th annual parade. The companies and baseball team join Goya Foods, which cited a “business decision,” and several New York City police organizations in parting ways with the annual event. This year’s parade is set to take place on June 11 in Manhattan.
“While we are saddened and disappointed by certain sponsors pulling out of our Parade, we respect their views and decision to do so,” the National Puerto Rican Day Parade’s board of directors said in a statement Tuesday. “Equally, we respect our Parade’s mission and commitment to inclusiveness, and the responsibility of representing the broadest possible blend of voices that make up the Puerto Rican community.”
Despite publicly pulling out of the parade, Coca-Cola, the Yankees and JetBlue have all vowed to continue their financial support of the scholarships given by the Puerto Rican Day Parade organization.
“The New York Yankees are not participating in this year’s Puerto Rican Day parade,” the Yankees organization told USA Today on Tuesday. “However, for many years, the Yankees have supported a scholarship program that recognizes students selected by the parade organizers. To best protect the interests of those students, and avoid any undue harm to them, the Yankees will continue to provide financial support for the scholarships, and will give to the students directly.”
In a statement to HuffPost, the parade’s board of directors applauded the sponsors who intended to continue funding the scholarship program and expressed hope that any future companies would follow suit if they chose not to participate in this year’s parade.
“While we cannot predict whether other sponsors and/or organizations might choose not to join us on Fifth Avenue this year, we expect they will do so with the same level of responsibility and professionalism as JetBlue and the Yankees,” the statement said. “This community deserves no less.”
The parade is expected to honor López Rivera as its first “National Freedom Hero.” He was a member of the Armed Forces of National Liberation (known by its Spanish initials as FALN) and served more than 35 years in prison until former President Barack Obama commuted his sentence in January.
López Rivera was released last week and received a hero’s welcome at a Chicago rally that recognized him for his controversial actions fighting for Puerto Rico’s independence in the 1970s and 1980s.
The FALN was linked to over 100 bombings in five cities across the United States, including Chicago and New York, during that period. López Rivera was sentenced in 1981 for his involvement with the militant group but was never linked to specific bombings. He was instead convicted on multiple charges that included seditious conspiracy and plotting to overthrow the U.S. government.
On Monday, NYPD Police Commissioner James O’Neill said he would not march in the parade because he refused to “support a man who is a co-founder of an organization that engaged in over 120 bombings.”
The NYPD Hispanic Society and the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association also issued statements boycotting the parade. The PBA pointed to the four officers and detectives injured by the FALN attack at Fraunces Tavern in 1974, which killed four people.
“The annual Puerto Rican Day Parade is a magnificent celebration of a proud heritage shared by New Yorkers and police officers alike,” PBA President Patrick J. Lynch said in a statement on their website Thursday. “Honoring a remorseless terrorist who refuses to condemn acts of violence effectively steals the parade from the good and honorable people who are proud of their Puerto Rican heritage.”
That same day, the board of directors doubled downed on their decision to honor López Rivera:
The history of Oscar López Rivera is complicated, some call him a terrorist and others call him a freedom fighter, but Oscar López Rivera, as the New York Times recently wrote, was never charged with carrying out acts of violence. After 35 years in prison, 12 years of which were spent in solitary confinement, President Obama concluded, that at the age of 74, Oscar should be free.
It has been disappointing and unfortunate to see the progress of this Parade undermined by the circulation of false information, and the targeting of loyal sponsors by people who disagree with the Parade’s decision to recognize the freedom of Oscar López Rivera.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio took a similar stance when he announced he’d be marching in the parade during a Tuesday news conference in the Bronx.
“I believe this parade is a very, very important part of the life of our city,” de Blasio said, according to The New York Times. “The parade committee made a choice this year on someone to honor. That does not change the basic nature of the parade. Whether you agree with that choice or not, it’s still the Puerto Rican parade and my point is, I will be there to honor the Puerto Rican people. I intend on marching. It’s as simple as that.”
In 2014, the Puerto Rican Day Parade honored Calle 13 rapper René Pérez without any controversy despite the artist’s vocal anti-imperialist stance. That same year, the parade also launched an awareness and solidarity campaign for the liberation of López Rivera.
In the wake of the deadly attack at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester Arena on Monday night, artists including Blondie and Take That have postponed or canceled shows in the United Kingdom “out of respect” for the victims.
But two other major names have already come out to make one thing clear: They will not let terrorists scare them away from playing for their fans.
“Concerts are events people should never be afraid to attend, they are places for love and complete happiness [and I] am so sorry that things took an opposite direction last night,” Mendes wrote on Instagram.
“I hope I speak for every [a]rtist by saying that we will not stop spreading positivity and love through music no matter the situation.”
Minaj said much of the same thing when she was approached by TMZ at an airport. “We don’t operate in fear,” she said. Canceling the shows, she said, would imply “that they [the terrorists] win.”
She added that she planned to head to Manchester to play a show for the people there, although it sounds like that won’t happen until next year.
“Of course I’m going to perform for my Manchester fans,” she said. “They deserve it.”
Mendes and Minaj are the biggest names to publicly say they will not live their lives on terrorists’ terms. But others have implied as much with their actions. Celine Dion’s publicist said she has no plans to cancel her upcoming dates in Europe. According to the AP, Guns N’ Roses, Phil Collins and Iron Maiden will continue on with their planned touring schedule, as well.
The music festival known as BBC Radio One Big Weekend sounds like it will also go off in Hull this weekend, as previously scheduled. Acts booked to perform include Haim, Lorde and Lana Del Rey.
In light of the tragedy, though, Grande’s team released a statement announcing their plans to cancel part of her Dangerous Woman tour:
Due to the tragic events in Manchester the Dangerous Woman tour with Ariana Grande has been suspended until we can further assess the situation and pay our proper respects to those lost. The London O2 shows this week have been cancelled as well as all shows thru June 5 in Switzerland. We ask at this time that we all continue to support the city of Manchester and all those families affected by this cowardice and senseless act of violence. Our way of life has once again been threatened but we will overcome this together. Thank you.
Spanish actress, dancer and model Gemma Marin has racked up more than 1 million views on her viral dancing maternity videos. The videos became so popular that it seemed fitting for Marin to celebrate the arrival of her daughter with one epic first dance.
In February, Marin posted a video that showed her dancing at 33 weeks pregnant alongside her partner, boxer Israel Duffus.
“Three people one soul,” she wrote in the caption.
As of Wednesday, the video had been viewed more than 1.2 million times. Its popularity encouraged Marin to share more dancing videos. The couple even tried dancing when Marin was 40 weeks pregnant in April to help induce labor.
“We’ve tried everything!” she wrote in the Instagram caption. “Spicy, famous salads, teas, walk, sex, chocolate... even yesterday we did another dance! Alexandra is just too comfortable inside.”
A few days later, she gave birth to her daughter, Alexandra. The dancer and her partner celebrated with ― you guessed it ― a first dance with their daughter.
On Tuesday, Marin posted a video on Instagram and Youtube that showed clips of Marin and (a baby-wearing) Duffus dancing as well as clips from their first viral dancing video.
“We are so grateful for having all of you following the last part of my pregnancy, and our life with Alexandra,” Marin wrote in the caption. “Her FIRST DANCE is dedicated to all of YOU.”
According to her Instagram, the proud mom plans on sharing her love for dance with her daughter. In a caption to one of her dancing maternity videos, she wrote, “Dancing is in our veins.”
The HuffPost Parents newsletter, So You Want To Raise A Feminist, offers the latest stories and news in progressive parenting.
“Two out of three of my friends have body image issues,” photographer Caroline Fahey told HuffPost. “Most girls I know do.”
In her series “Silver Lining,” the 22-year-old photographer unravels her own complicated relationship with her body in front of the camera. Her self-portraits, captured in bedrooms and bathrooms, backyards and hotel rooms, reject an oversimplified idea of body positivity ― one that implies a hashtag here or a selfie there can yield unremitting self love. Rather, Fahey invites viewers to revel in her moments of confidence, self-loathing and ambiguity, privileging not one above the others.
In one image, Fahey looks out at the viewer from the shower, the clouded-over glass obscuring the edges of her form. A small area of the door smudged clean reveals an egg-shaped sliver of flesh, a fog-framed abstraction that hardly resembles a human form. In another, Fahey bathes in an outdoor shower, while drops of water ricochet off her bathing-suit-clad form. She is Boticelli’s “Venus” in a bikini, both nonchalant and sensual as she gazes off-camera.
Fahey, who first became interested in photography after creating a pinhole camera her freshman year of high school, started snapping self-portraits as a college student at NYU. Her first series was about being a fat woman and the emotions her physical stature inspired ― as Fahey put it, “What it felt like to be bigger.” She soon found the subject made her peers react rather awkwardly.
“Talking about being fat makes people really uncomfortable,” Fahey said. “People really shut the conversation down or they say something like, ‘You’re not fat.’ But it was really important for me to challenge people, to make them talk about it.”
In 2013, Fahey’s relationship to her body transformed radically when she was diagnosed with a blood clot in her brain, the result of changing birth control medications combined with obesity. “It was extremely painful both physically and emotionally,” she said.
Then a sophomore in college, Fahey left school for eight months of recovery. “My eyes hurt, I couldn’t hear that well, I was very sensitive to light and sound.” The artist’s mother would temper her frustration with an uplifting mantra, reminding her that the pain she was going through had a silver lining, though for a while, Fahey was unaware of just what that brightness would look like.
“As time went on, I started to realize what the silver lining was,” Fahey said. “Me learning my health needs to be my first priority. Being healthy doesn’t mean losing weight and being skinny. It means being mindful of what you’re doing with your body.”
Oftentimes the narratives concerning “body positivity” and “getting healthy” do not overlap. Following her near-death experience, Fahey went on a strict diet and exercise regimen, attempting to love and accept her body as is along the way. There was no one goal, no simple answer. It’s this journey she documents in her “Silver Lining” series, a nuanced portrait of trying to better oneself and accept oneself at the same time.
“My project became about loving my body while also struggling with the emotions of being fat,” she said. “It’s more complex than just, ‘I love my body!’ Some days you’re going to feel really shitty about yourself, and it’s important to me that my photography reflect that. Sometimes I feel sexy, sometimes I feel hideous. It’s okay if some days you don’t feel good.”
Since publishing the series, which was also her senior thesis, online, Fahey has been inundated with support from other women, many of whom write anonymously, who too have difficult relationships with their bodies. The experience, Fahey said, has helped her feel more confident in discussing her emotions and struggles on a larger platform, even if it makes some people uncomfortable.
“At the beginning I was really shy and timid,” she said. “It would be very scary for me to have a conversation like this. But the more I showed my work, it started to feel seamless and easy. You don’t expect people to be going through similar issues as you, but they are.”
A new exhibition in Berlin’s neighborhood of Schöneberg epitomizes one of the central schisms that has vibrated through Street Art and graffiti for years: the question of where to draw boundaries between these two scenes.
Each may have been born in the margins of society but are now evermore commingled. Debates aside, everyone agrees that once in the gallery space, street become fine art after all. “The graffiti and Street Art movements – they have all these tentacles and they can be non-linear,” Evan says as we walk down a subterranean parking ramp to see a low, long outdoor mural by Sweden’s EKTA; an abstract series of roughly square patches that closely emulate the sewn panels he has suspended from the ceiling inside the gallery.
As Editor-in-Chief of the San Francisco based art magazine Juxtapoz and curator of this “What in the World” show at Urban Nation’s project space, Evan Pricco is well aware of the landmines that can explode when one is negotiating the terminologies and practices of sundry sub-cultural art manifestations that have bubbled to the surface in the last decades and which now often melt with one another inextricably.
“The graffiti and Street Art movements – they have all these tentacles and they can be non-linear,” Evan says as we walk down a subterranean parking ramp to see a low, long outdoor mural by Sweden’s EKTA; an abstract series of roughly square patches that closely emulate the sewn panels he has suspended from the ceiling inside the gallery.
Speaking of the tentacles, he continues, “It can be starting points to end points – it can be end points to starting points. There are all of these different cultures that grew out of that 1970s-80s set of counter-culture art movements.
“I think the people that I really wanted in this show are kind of on the periphery of that. They clearly dip their toe into those movements, are clearly influenced by them. Their practice doesn’t necessarily fit in with what is going on in Street Art and graffiti but also its informed by it.”
To introduce a new crop of artists to Urban Nation that haven’t been shown here yet, Pricco choses some of Europes street/mural/conceptual artists who emphasize color and mood, an expansionist approach that he welcomes at the magazine as well. Not surprisingly, the range reflects some of the same interests you’ll find flipping through the influential art publication; old school graffiti, commercial illustration, comic book history, abstract fine art, political art, some lowbrow, some conceptual. There is even Grotesk’s newsstand, the actual one that he designed and constructed with Juxtapoz that sat in Times Square in October 2015.
Primarily from Europe and raised in the hothouse of the 1990s epic graffiti scenes that enthralled youth in many EU big cities, this group of 7 artists each has moved their practice forward – which may lose them some street cred and gather new audiences.
Included are Berlin’s Daan Botlek, Sweden’s EKTA, Ermsy from France, Erosie from the Netherlands, Hyuro from Spain, Serge Lowrider from Switzerland and Zio Ziegler from the US. If you speak to any of them, you may find the commonality is the freedom they actively give themselves to pursue an autonomous artistic route not easily categorized.
Lowrider is clearly in love with the letter-form, as is the graffiti tradition, but he steers sharply toward the calligraphic practices of crisp sign-painting and inverting the pleasantly banal messaging of advertising from an earlier era. Perhaps the tight line work overlaps with tattoo and skater culture, two creative brethren frequently in the mix in graffiti and Street Art scenes.
Hyuro uses a figurative symbolism heavy with metaphor and a color palette that is too understated for the flashy graphics that many associate with today’s mural festivals, yet she’s built a dedicated following among Street Art fans who admire her poke-you-in-the-eye activist streak. Daan Botleks’ figures wander and cavort amidst an abstractedly shaped world calling to mind the shading of early graffiti and the volumizing pointillism of Seurat after some wine.
Painter Jeroen Erosie emphatically will tell you that he was in love with graffiti when he first did it on the streets as a teenager – and for many years afterwards. But he says he ultimately bristled at a scene that had once symbolized freedom to him but had become too rigid and even oppressive in its rules about how aesthetics should be practiced by people – if they were to earn respect within the clan.
At Saturday nights opening along Bülowstrasse with the front doors open to the busy street and with the sound of the elevated train swooshing by overhead, Erosie explained with a gleeful certainty his process of deconstruction that led him to this point. “I removed one of the pillars of graffiti from my work and I liked the result, the change. So I started to remove more pillars, one by one,” he says, describing the evolution that transformed his letter forms and colors into these simplified and bold bi-color icons that may call to mind Matisse’s cut outs more than graffiti bubble-tags, but you’ll easily draw the correlation if you try.
The Project M series of exhibitions over the past three years with Urban Nation, of which this is the 12th, have featured curators and artists from many backgrounds, disciplines, and geographies as well. The myriad styles shown have included sculpture, stencil, wheat paste, collage, calligraphy, illustration, screen-printing, decoupage, aerosol, oil painting, and even acrylic brush. It has been a carefully guided selection of graffiti/Street Art/urban art/fine art across the 12 shows; all presented respectfully cheek to jowl, side by side – happily for some, uncomfortably for others.
The ultimate success of the Project M series, initiated by UN Artistic Director Yasha Young, is evident in just how far open it has flung the doors of expectation to the museum itself. When the house opens in four months it will be a reflection to some extent 140 or so artists who pushed open those doors with variety of styles emblematic of this moment - converging into something called Urban Contemporary.
“What in the World” indeed: this show is in perfect alignment with the others in its wanton plumbing of the genres.
“I was trying to find people that are not part of the regular circuit – and I don’t mean that in a negative way but I mean there is kind of a regular circuit of muralism and Street Art right now – but I was looking for people who are really sort of on that periphery,” Pricco says. “Also because they are coming from these different parts of Europe, which to me sort of represents Juxtpoz’ reach, and they all kind of know each other but they’ve never really met – they all kind of bounce off of each other.”
Brooklyn Street Art: This grouping sounds anathema to the loyalty that is often demanded by these scenes – particularly the various graffiti scenes in cities around the world. You are describing an artistic practice that has a sort of casual relationship to that scene.
Evan Pricco: Right. And I think all of these artists have these graffiti histories but they weren’t completely satisfied with that kind of moniker or label. So it is slightly expanding out now. And then there’s something about them that makes me think of crafts, especially with Serge who is more of a sign-painter. I felt that all of these people approached their work in a way that felt very craft-oriented to me, and I really appreciated that. That’s kind of what I wanted to show too.
Brooklyn Street Art: Each of these artists appears to have a certain familiarity with the art world that is outside a more strict definition of street culture – graffiti and Street Art and their tributaries. Would you say that you could see a certain development of personal style in this collection of primarily European artists that might be due to exposure to formal art history or other cultural influences?
Evan Pricco: Good question, and that could be the case for a few of the artists in the show, but I think the characteristics of each artist in the show is more of a result of the world getting smaller and influences and boundaries just blurring. You can see it Ermsy’s pop-culture mash-ups, or Erosie’s exploration of lettering and color; it’s not really about one place anymore but a larger dialogue of how far the work reaches now than ever before.
Erosie and I were having this conversation this morning about this, this idea of access and influences being so widespread. And that is exactly what I wanted to do. “What In the World” is sort of a nod to not really having to have boundaries, or a proper definition, but a feeling that something is happening. Its not Street Art, its not graffiti, but its this new wave that is looking out, looking in, and finding new avenues to share and make work.
Brooklyn Street Art: From comic books to politics to activism to abstract to sign painting, this show spans the Hi-Low terrain that Juxtapoz often seeks to embrace in many ways. Is it difficult to find common threads or narratives when countenancing such variety?
Evan Pricco: We have been so fortunate with the magazine that we have been able to expand the content in the last few years, and the threads are starting to connect solely based on the idea that the creative life is what you make of it. There may not be a direct connection between Serge Lowrider and Mark Ryden, but there is a connection in the idea of craftsmanship and skill and how one goes about applying that skill in the art world. That is always wanted I wanted to help bring to Juxtapoz – this idea that variety in the art world is healthy and finds its own connections just in the fact that it exists and is being made.
Brooklyn Street Art: Many of these names are not household names, though some have ardent fans within more narrow channels of influence. What role does a curator play by introducing these artworks/artists to a new audience and what connections would you like a viewer to make?
Evan Pricco: First and foremost, these are some of my absolute favorite artists making work right now. I do have the advantage of traveling a lot and meeting different people and seeing their process, but I really wanted to bring together a group that I hadn’t personally met but admired and communicated with from afar.
I was thinking about this when I walked by Hyuro’s wall this morning. Her work is incredibly strong, and it has this really fascinating way of being a story and narrative from wall to wall while remaining fresh and really site-specific. Her work here just blew me away; its so subtle, has this really unique almost anonymous quality to it, but has a ton of thought and heart in it.
Really it would be great if the audience sees this and finds her other work, and starts seeing this really beautiful story emerging, these powerful political, social and economic commentaries. So really, I want that. I want this to be a gateway of looking at work and artists and then jumping into their really fantastically complex careers.
Brooklyn Street Art: Urban Nation has invited curators from around the world and Berlin during these 12 “Project M” shows, each with a take on what “art in the streets” is, how it has evolved, and how it is affecting contemporary art. What makes this show stand out?
Evan Pricco: I really do think what makes it stand out is that it represents all the things Juxtapoz stands for; Opening up an audience to something new and different. I think there is an aesthetic that the Project M shows have had, which I like, but I didn’t want to repeat what everyone had done before.
This is most definitely a Juxtapoz show; I mean our damned Newsstand that Grotesk designed is right in the middle of the space. But that is like this “representation” of the print mag, and all the walls around it are the avenues the magazine can take you; sign painting, textiles, graffiti, abstraction, conceptual art, murals, comics, politics. … So maybe in that way, the fact that the magazine is 23 years old and has covered such a big history of Lowbrow, Graffiti and other forms of art, this is a nice encapsulation of the next wave and generation.
“What In the World: The Juxtapoz Edition” presented by Urban Nation will be on display through June 2017.
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