Author: VAGA Editor

Image courtesy of http://terralta.org

Permaculture: Off Grid Living in Portugal

“Rather than love, than money, than fame, give me truth.” —Henry David Thoreau It’s a complicated world we’re living in. One not only of unexpected election results but also a world today where no concept of time can catch up with the fleeting tails of the present moment. The incessant rate at which life seems to be passing by is thanks to our ever growing demands in technology and this speed that only seems to accelerate at an unstoppable force can become overwhelming. But beyond the flipbook momentum is also the humdrum lifestyle that is all laid out for us. The monotonous 9 to 5 office jobs that make us question whether we are living to work or working to live. That conflation of sameness met with the inability to chase the minute results in confusion as to why we allow our life to slip away rather than spending each waking moment living it. Suddenly, there is an urge to seize the moment, to breathe in and out at a peaceful pace your heart can …

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“Young in Cuba”, photographer Cheney Orr Captures an Optimistic Youth Culture in Havana

New York City-based photographer Cheney Orr chases the less depicted places and faces of society all over the world. His images range from raw yet deeper-level relatable (partying New York kids) to the force that pulls the wool back from one’s eyes (the streets of Kabul). Orr is not only willing to go where many don’t go; he feels a drive to seek it out and capture it. That drive has brought him to places like Ukraine, Nepal, Rwanda, Egypt, Afghanistan, and Ethiopia. Most recently, it brought him to Cuba. Orr’s knack for simultaneously observing and communing his subjects provides an intriguing perspective on the youth culture in a country that has just become open for tourism business for Americans. The scenes in Orr’s photographs are poignant and thought-provoking, but also new and novel for many. Here, he shares why he’s pulled toward the subjects he’s pulled to, what he found in Cuba, and the stories behind his photos. —Interview by Courtney Iseman How did you get started with photography, and what initially attracted to you …

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Taiwan Set To Become First Asian Country to Legalize Same-sex Marriage

Taiwan looks set to become the first country in Asia to legalize same-sex marriage. Lawmakers of the country’s ruling political party, the DPP (Democratic Progressive Party) have introduced a new bill that would make marriage equality legal by removing gender from the constitution’s definition of marriage.   Yu Mei-nu, a  lawmaker from the Democratic Progressive Party who is sponsoring the bill, says that “it’s a big step forward for the history of human rights. If Taiwan can get this passed… it will give other Asian countries a model.” Efforts to make marriage equality legal in Taiwan have been ongoing since 2003 when proposed legislation that would allow same-sex marriages (and adoption by same-sex couples) faced opposition from the DPP and the ruling coalition led by conservative political party Kuomintang. Since then, support for marriage equality has steadily grown, with a 2012 poll by Taiwanese publication United Daily News suggesting that 55% of people were in favour, and 37% against. The Taiwan LGBT Family Rights Advocacy group says that 80% of 20-29 year olds support marriage …

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Like Looking Through a Glory Hole—Inside “The Matter of Absence”, Florian Hetz’s First Photo Book

The Matter of Absence, Berlin photographer Florian Hetz’s debut book, released in early October, is a thorough exploration of the male form and gay sexuality. But you won’t find any people within its pages. The subjects are fragmented, dissected through careful framing and extreme close-ups. In this way, Hetz preserves his models’ anonymity. The closest we get to a face is the back of a head; a cheek, turned away; a mouth, half open, lips dripping with saliva and cum. Although he didn’t start shooting until a while later, Hetz’s journey as a photographer arguably began at fourteen, when, according to his publisher’s website, he stole his first Robert Mapplethorpe book. As an adult, he got his start taking photos by accident. In an interview with Out Magazine, he spoke about how he borrowed a camera from a friend in the drag scene and began taking pictures at their parties. Eventually he got his own camera, and continued to take photos to chronicle his experiences. Hetz had a Tumblr account around this time, frequently re-blogging …

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Broken and Saved in Rural Vietnam

After the chaotic rush of dodging semi-trucks and a million scooters, we’re finally out of Hanoi and in the northern mountains of Vietnam. I’m travelling with a Canadian and an Englishman I met in a hostel days earlier. We’re heading for the Chinese border, riding along roads that cut through limestone mountains and diverse ethnic minority villages. It’s getting dark and the road is turning steeper. Our recently purchased $200 motorcycles are rolling along nicely. The next guesthouse is a few kilometers away, but there’s still light and we have a long way to go in the next few weeks. Our map shows another place to sleep 40 kilometers up the road. “Let’s try for the second one,” Harrison says. Adam and I agree. Pulling the throttle, we continue up the mountain as the road turns to gravel and pavement disappears. Harry is leading the pack and while we’re riding along the rutted path, I hear a loud clunk and his bike skids to a stop. We discover his chain bounced off the gear and …

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LA-based Photographer Richard Ramirez Jr. An Intimate Diary of Ethereal Images

Richard Ramirez Jr.’s photographs are reminiscent of an intimate diary from which the poems it contains reveal people’s beauty and their most inner thoughts. The simplicity of the settings is disrupted by the lighting, the unfathomable stares, and the innocence emanating from the subject matter. There are no noisy elements of surprise in his series. Ramirez Jr. confers to each photography the effect of slow motion, as if time had stopped and each picture was telling its own story. He captures the essence of a moment: soul-searching, satisfaction, content, or doubt; and translates it in his soft and opaque tones, spread out through the surface of the image, making it hard for us to leave the world we have just delved in. The sequence of the photographs resonate with how the scenes of a movie would stream. Inspired by movies and the process behind it, the photographer envisions moods and settings and restores them in real life for his cinematic art. The renderings are effortless and ingenious. Richard Ramirez Jr. is a self-taught L.A. based photographer. …

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Artist Emilio Pérez Takes Times Square on a Visual Trip

Artist Emilio Pérez creates a unique visual vocabulary of sinuous and spontaneous shapes in his precise drawings. They are infused with his fascination for classical paintings, music and nature. Style Curator, Natalie Kates sits with the artist to learn about his latest project “Dream Season” part of Midnight Moment, a Times Square Arts initiative in which the artist will take the public on an abstract, visual road trip from 11:57 p.m. to midnight every night in November. Natalie Kates: When did you realize you wanted to be an artist? Emilio Pérez: I’m pretty sure that I was an artist all along. It just took time for me to understand what that meant and how I would apply it to my life and pursuits. Your paintings have been described as abstract, organic, fluid forms and otherworldly. To achieve this you paint layers of pigment and carve out the layers with an X-Acto knife to create the artworks. How did you come to use the X-Acto knife in your paintings? I have always been attracted to the immediacy of …

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Delaney Allen’s Inner World of Enchanting Imageries

Delaney Allen’s visuals are a collection of mystical natural landscapes and enigmatic self-portraits. With the aim of depicting life’s odd moments, he renders dramatic scenes which involves himself posing in costumes or framing nature in a poetic narrative. The Texas born, Portland based artist lists Dutch still life, Cubism, Dada, and Surrealism movements, among his many inspirations. His work is a mixture of still life images, mixing physical and digital manipulation to convey his personal vision on his travels. “I’m constantly traveling, seeking out isolation, confusion, and beauty”. Allen’s imagery is the consequence of his introspection. For the viewer, the experience is akin to accidentally stumbling upon his creative process. In his most recent collection of photographs and objects, ARTIFACT Allen blurs the line between reality and surrealism. He incorporates and then erases his portraits, making it less obvious for the viewer to understand the facts in his photographs. Rather, the viewer is invited to interpret the fiction and dive into the author’s imagination, contemplating the beauty and the oddity of the world. He uses …

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Ben Zank Captures Minimalist and Surreal Scenarios

Born and raised in NYC, now relocated to New Zealand, photographer Ben Zank came to the lenses by chance during his time studying journalism. His photographs are a reflection of his inner world with self-portraits and individuals in unrealistic situations. His inspiration mainly comes from the photographer Rodney Smith and painter René Magritte but also from browsing on Tumblr. His thought-provoking work is meant to capture a moment in time and leave the viewer to his own interpretation. Zank uses minimalistic backgrounds to create dramatic images. Most of the time, a person and a landscape suffice to produce an intriguing and disturbing photography. According to the artist, the image itself is the emotion and it should not be distracted by too many subjects and crazy environments. Lines from a tennis court, a river, a mountain or a slide; his requirements for a good shooting location is simply a feeling of comfort and balance. The renderings are surreal and poetic. It’s an amalgam of floating bodies frozen in time, an action paused in a bizarre set-up. The photographs …

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Red Lights District a photo editorial by Julien Bernard

I often think that the night is more alive and more richly colored than the day. — Vincent Van Gogh An editorial by photographer Julien Bernard, stylist Laetitia Gimenez, makeup Caroline Fenouil, hair Rimi Ura, models Imogen and Bee @ Marilyn Paris Turtleneck MM6 ARCHIVES, dress YVES SAINT LAURENT ARCHIVES (from CITIZEN GALLERY, 8 rue du roi doré, 75003 Paris)   Top NATTOFRANCO, coat WANDA NYLON, trousers OFF-WHITE   Pants ADER ERROR, top NATTOFRANCO, coat ADER ERROR, shoes AMÉLIE PICHARD Top MERCED RIVER, jacket NATTOFRANCO   Top WANDA NYLON, jacket ALICIA PRÉVOST   Hoodie ADER ERROR, dress AINUR TURISBEK, trousers ASHISH, shoes Jil Sanders archive (fROM CITIZEN GALLERY)   Necklace & dress NEITH NYER, shoes AMÉLIE PICHARD   Necklace HÉLÈNE ZUBELDIA, glasses HOUSE OF FLORA