All posts filed under: Culture

Essence Murjani

Doing Things Our Way, The Black Girl Magic Movement

It’s 2016 and there’s something in the air. A thick, wondrous mystical aura clouds the atmosphere and it appears that the world has been cast by a spell. Word has it that it’s a crazy kind of magic but we’re not talking voodoo. This is a special power that shines through any darkness and it’s called Black Girl Magic. By now the term may ring a bell. The hashtag #BlackGirlMagic has been taken off by storm on all social media platforms, accompanied by gorgeous photos of sistas in all shades of dark doing their thang, and damn do they look good while doing it. The phrase was first coined in 2013 when CaShawn Thompson introduced it as a way to celebrate the fierce willpower of black women, resilient to the impact of an oppressive past that dared to defy their magic. Soon thereafter, T-shirts supporting the campaign were in high demand and stars like Amandla Stenberg strutted the electric words with utmost pride. Dear Black Girl, 💕 Do not be afraid to embrace your roots. …

Muxes of Juchitan

The Muxes of Juchitan: Unapologetically Being Who They Want To Be

While the “machismo” social construct continues to root deeply in Mexican culture, and homophobic sentiment still runs high, it may come as a surprise to hear that the country is also home to one of the most gender-bending societies to date; and it’s allegedly been that way for thousands of years. Nestled near the Guatemalan border and a six hour drive from the southern city of Oaxaca sits the dusty district of Juchitan. Not a lot goes on around here, and from a distance the townspeople appear to pursue the mundane rituals of work life and getting their hair done. It’s not until you notice the extravagant make up, fluttering false eyelashes of the hairdresser and the masculine build beneath her summer dress that you realize something beautiful is going on in Juchitan.     Meet the Muxes. Not woman, nor man, but considered a gender of it’s own. Muxes (pronounced moo-shays) is a term is derived from ancient Zapotec dialect to define the vast community of gay men who choose to dress as women …

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MAD NYC, What Have We Done, The Catastrophe of Homelessness

— An exclusive photo editorial piece by photographer Alberto Alcocer. Words by Maya Amoah. Images below were shot in New York City and Madrid.  It’s 2 AM and the lights of Time Square brilliantly shine like no other place in the world. Pixelated images in every direction flash before the eyes of both tourists and New Yorkers alike and if this doesn’t keep them transfixed, the juggling street busker who breathes fire surely does. On a sunny day in hot July, children eagerly lap up melting sundaes and chow on some Coney Island chili fries, strolling the sand dusted boardwalk with mama and old Pops. “Isn’t life grand, dear?” Mom whispers into dad’s ear as she sweetly kisses his head. Indeed it is, for those who can afford it. Nestled under the steps of a merry go round just meters from the Coney Island boardwalk lives an invisible man. His decrepit figure and hapless fortune has deemed him unseen to society, yet he is just 1 of over 60,000 New Yorkers who hold membership to this impoverished underworld. “It wasn’t …

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The World’s Happiest President, José Mujica

It was almost a year ago when former Uruguayan leader José Mujica humbly stepped down and passed the presidential torch to Tabaré Vázquez after 5 faithful years in head of state. As sad as fans across the globe were to see him go, there is no doubt that he had a good run. José “Pepe” Mujica is many things. In the sixties he was a guerilla fighter and one of the leaders in Marxist group Tupamaro, inspired by the Cuban Revolution and opposing Uruguay’s ongoing military dictatorship. Then, he was a prisoner who spent 13 years of his life in solitary confinement, locked away under a well where he would share his crumbs with rats and talk to ants biding time. Mujica was released in 1985 when constitutional democracy was restored in the country and he vowed to change things once and for all. He was the Minister of Livestock, Agriculture and Fisheries until 2008 and then won the presidential election in 2009. Despite his remarkable story and international fame, above all Mujica is a …

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Accepting No Defeat, about former French minister Christiane Taubira

On January 27th, French minister of Justice Christiane Taubira rode her bicycle home from a meeting with the president at Élysée Palace that morning, blowing a kiss farewell as she had no plans on returning to her job. “I left the government over a major political disagreement” Taubira said. “I am choosing to be true to myself, to my commitments, my battles and my relationships with other people.” The former minister is referring to the controversial new anti-terrorism proposals that stemmed after the November 13 Paris attacks, in which 130 people were murdered. Following the attack, President Hollande and Prime Minister Manuel Valls introduced plans of stripping French citizenship from dual-nationality citizens who were convicted of terrorism. [“Because French citizenship can be granted to those born on French soil, the country has many dual citizens who also have citizenship of former French colonies, often in north Africa. Under current law, only dual-national citizens who have been naturalized and acquired French citizenship less than 10 years before a convicted crime can be stripped of their French …

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Mirror for the Middle Class: Duane Hanson in Retrospect

Winning over the general public isn’t always a good thing in the art market, where popularity with the middle class frequently translates to poor sales among wealthy patrons and art collectors. So it’s fitting that the late sculptor Duane Hanson’s body of work is seeing a resurgence of interest just as the middle class — the subject of his life’s work — slowly erodes in the face of technological innovation and industrial automation. Brushed aside by the tastemakers of the seventies, Hanson’s startlingly life-like portrayals of average Americans have been called “achingly beautiful” by The Guardian, drawing comparisons to Edward Hopper and other classic realists. Editorial attention tends to play up the time-traveling effect the works have on the viewer. The appeal is part fashion tourism, part self-recognition. While the clothing choices are garish and the moments captured depressingly banal, the imortalization of seemingly meaningless moments is bound to resonate with the selfie generation (or the older generations trapped in it with us). Pieces like “Young Shopper” and “Tourists II” have a certain voyeuristic appeal, …

Selfridges' gender-neutral store

About Jaden Smith As The New Face Of Louis Vuitton And Gender-Bending Fashion

In a piece of topsy-turvy fashion news, the new face of Louis Vuitton’s womenswear line is not a woman. This turn of events speaks to the legendary designer’s forward-looking fashion sense as much as the androgynous charm of Vuitton’s new model, Jaden Smith. The photographs from iconic fashion photographer Bruce Weber debuted last week on the Instagram account of Louis Vuitton creative director Nicolas Ghesquière. The photo shows Smith decked out in an embroided skirt, fringe top, and moto jacket that debuted during Paris Fashion Week. Although gender-bending is nothing new on fashion or pop culture, Ghesquière’s collection is the most recent example of gender-bending fashion design to hit mainstream media attention. Gucci’s F/W 2015 men’s collection featured waifish men appearing beside boyish women, both wearing silhouettes, fabrics, and items of clothing traditionally associated with women’s fashion. Gucci’s new designer Alessandro Michele collection saw men and women alike wearing pussycat bow blouses, midriff jackets, and low-riding, wide-legged trousers. Male and female models alike sported matching make-up, with loose, flowing, unbound hair. This approach is working …

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Pixel Pushers: New York’s School for Poetic Computation is Art’s Answer to Coding Boot camps

Artists make no money but get to make beautiful things. Computer programmers make money — but have to do boring work. …At least, that’s what most of us who have been shuffled through the American education system are led to believe. New York’s School for Poetic Computation (SFPC) stands in stark contrast to the separation of computer science and the fine arts. Similar to “coding boot camps” like Hack Reactor and General Assembly that have sprung up to provide the practical web development education unavailable in most colleges, the SFPC is small, nimble, and results-oriented. The difference is, while coding boot camps strive to pump out node.js aficionados, SFPC is creating a different breed of computer programmer: the artist as technologist. School For Poetic Computation is equal parts The Factory, childhood blanket fort, and mad scientist’s lab. —Lee Tusman, SFPC student Founded by an interdisciplinary group of creatives and scientists in 2013, the SFPC program centers around a loosely-structured 10-week program that brings together students from a variety of computer science backgrounds to create aesthetic-oriented …

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London Protests I, LGBTI Equality by Alisdare Hickson

Nearly one hundred protesters gathered outside Commonwealth Secretariat Headquarters in London to demand that greater equality for LGBTI people is put on the agenda for [past November] summit. The rally included participants from several LGBTI groups such as the Peter Tatchell Foundation, The Out and Proud Diamond Group, and African Rainbow Family. People can still be sent to prison for homosexuality in 41 of the 53 member states. A recent report by the Kaleidoscope Trust declared: “Across the Commonwealth lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex people are denied equal access to rights, education, employment, housing and healthcare. Once again we see Commonwealth leaders gathering at the Heads of Government meeting, pushing aside the urgent need to protect every citizen under the law. Once again the human rights of LGBTI people are the elephant in the room.” Peter Tatchell explained the purpose of the rally: “Two days before the start of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Malta, 27-29 November, we are rallying outside the Commonwealth headquarters in London to demand that all Commonwealth members states …

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Strelka Press: Architecture, Design, and a New Kind of Book

Strelka Institute has its headquarters on an island in the Moscow river — but for all that their programs resemble the troubled city surrounding them, they may as well be on an island in the middle of the ocean. Design is business; Strelka operates as a nonprofit. Academia is fractured into specialized niches; Strelka students reject discipline, sharing a single course of study with roots in architecture and art, but calling itself by neither title. And most importantly, while Publishing is dying, Strelka Press is thriving. Since launching an initial series of print and ebooks in 2012 from a curated group of writers with urbanism backgrounds, the press has continued to produce a steady stream of beautifully designed books — touching on subjects as diverse as the Internet of Things and the linked histories of Soviet architecture in Russia and China. I’ve never thought that I need to study only to get a profession. —Natasha Kupriyanova, Strelka student While the books themselves are engaging on their own merits (and bound by a minimal 2.0 graphic …