1. Slightly overwhelmed by all the magic in this photo: Adwoa Aboah and her green feather sandals, Hôtel de la Païva, petite red florals, and MIU MIU.
2. A visit to MoAD's bookstore after work (a block from SFMOMA, why it took me this long to visit is a wonder), where I found, devoured, and then very nearly purchased John Paul Goude's book. It's filled with his collage works, storyboards, illustrations, photographs and art direction, with icons like Grace Jones, and it's ravishing. And I can't stop thinking about it...
3. Which brings me to the Grace Jones and Dandy Lion exhibit at MoAD. I've visited twice in the last few days- once with Jack and once by myself. It's a small but really powerful two exhibits that between me and Jack, resulted in at least a hundred collective oh my gods, plus another few in my head alone the next day. All while scribbling down statements in our notebooks like "a dandy doesn't grow, he evolves." and "dandy- just returned from Venus" (!!) In the confidence Grace exudes, her androgyny and her fearless, boundary-pushing interpretation of music and style, she continues to be an icon- a trailblazer, inspiration, and reference point for countless others after her. These shots of Grace Jones by Andy Warhol are a few of my favorites from his book of polaroids (discovered on lunch break at my own museum store), a heavy collection of his factory days well worth the sore arms required to hold the book up.
One summer ago, I travelled around Europe for the first time. I left home with a list of recommendations and too many expectations- an itinerary impossibly packed, and then maybe glanced at twice the entire trip. My two months there was the most exhilarating and exhausting thing I've ever done. It's a test of endurance in a way, and to come back home (disheveled but fulfilled, and still craving more), is a sure sign of individual strength. Somewhere in the middle, when everything started to blend together and look the same, checking off monuments became far less important. Two of us at 2am rain-drenched walk down a paris alley, the little cinema house we fell asleep at, the lady who designed daft punk's album cover and told me her favorite cafe and where Sofia Coppola stays, pressed flowers from a sad day in Stockholm. The incredible thing about travel, especially returning to the same cities a year later, or even your own city, is that in the places you visit, and people you meet, you can tell how much you've changed in between, and will change again, how much you let go, and how you become a little more open each time.
My friend Ian Tulud, who works at William Stout Bookstore in SF, just came back from his first Europe trip, a two-week exploration of Berlin, Stockholm, and Helsinki. He documents his life and travels on film, and when he shared the developed photos after his two weeks, I was blown away by the exuberance and personality, the eclectic style and just LIFE that he captured in his travel photos. He brings a sharp architectural eye to his photos, and through his lens, observes the contrasting parts of each city beautifully. I asked Ian a few questions about his travels, the young artists he met, and the details that caught his eye there:
Who is the girl in the killer floral-on-floral-on-floral combo?
Her name is Linnea. It was taken during Sideways Festival, inside what used to be a slaughterhouse at Teurastamo. Heavy rain came down throughout the two-day event, but it did not stop her colorful look during the unlucky weather we had.
You visited three incredibly vibrant European cities. Can you describe each city in a few words/ memories?
Helsinki—Jugend architecture and its door frames, buoyant air along the Ring Rail Line, Suomenlinna morning (sea fortress), birch tree in kulttuurisauna, Kelela at Sideways Festival, ruisleipä, Alvar Aalto's plants on his balcony, karaoke at Mann's street, Kallio church
Stockholm—Vasterbron bridge, Hornstull flea market, 3:33 AM sunrise, Stockholm Public Library, Fika that was given to me by a Ménage à Trois, Emmaus flower arrangement entrance, Yayoi Kusama at Moderna Museet, discovering Hilma af Klimt's abstract work, running into Lykke Li twice, view from Fotografiska café
Berlin—the sleepy black cat at Motto Books, biking over the bridges of Spree River, a glass of wine for 3€, Holocaust Memorial, JEK football club at Lenaustraße, Vaso at Sing Blackbird, Tempelhofer Feld
As you were wandering the streets of Helsinki, Stockholm, and Berlin did any interesting details stand out to you- moments you would never find back home?
How the cobblestones affect everyday life in all three cities. It makes you slow down, look around, be more present. Smartphones aren't ubiquitous like they are here. I was sitting outside a cafe on my first morning there, and a young woman takes a seat across from my table and starts reading a newspaper. I never see that in the Bay Area!
"Anna lent me her road bike during my stay in Helsinki, after only knowing me for a day. Fininish people are the nicest, I swear. I felt a sense of liberation after pedaling around the compact city.
One morning, I took it with me on a boat ride to Suomenlinna, a fortress built around six tiny islands. It was a peaceful time there. At one point, I had the whole beach and the Baltic Sea to myself. It was the first time I saw something different in between the three cities."
I’ve never been to Berlin, but films like Wings of Desire and Christiane F. and Bowie’s influence on youth culture have always fascinated me. I imagine a large city amplified by extraordinary history and change- young, sad, bleak, alive. How did being in Berlin in 2016 make you feel? Did your experience differ from what you expected?
I came to Berlin without any expectations. My accommodation wasn't booked until the day before flying there. There was a rainstorm and I had a stomach pain that would not go away. Despite that, I rented a three-speed bike that helped me see the sprawling city through a panoramic window. I caught a glimpse of the interplay between decay and growth. Tempelhof Airport is a good example of this; an iconic pre-World War II commercial airport, now turned public space. Berlin is a beautiful and scary place to get lost in. At one point, I stopped using Google Maps because some of the places I visited were either closed or under construction.
Wow. And do you feel like you changed from when you first started traveling to when you left?
Absolutely. Traveling opens up space in you. You take in the experience and share it back home. I got used to the slower and quiet pace there. The main difference here is the over-saturation, loudness, and the dangers of a cyclist. But you come to accept this country for what it is. I was lucky enough to travel to these places without expectations or major setbacks. Aside from breaking my phone the night before leaving for my trip ha.
Actually, not sure if the roses were abandoned or the owner intended to come back and wheel the cart somewhere, but I took a withered white rose home anyway. Who abandons a shopping cart full of dead roses?
"I want to give you the secrets of the constant alchemy that we must practice to turn brass into gold, hate into love, destruction into creation- to change the crass daily news into inspiration, and despair into joy. None need misinterpret this as indifference to the state of the world or to the actions by which we can stem the destructiveness of the corrupt system. There is an acknowledgement that, as human beings, we need nourishment to sustain the life of the spirit, so that we can act in the world, but I don't mean turn away. I mean we must gain our strength and our values from self-growth and self-discovery. Against all odds, all handicaps, against the chamber of horrors we call history, man has continued to dream and to depict its opposite. This is what we have to do. We do not escape into philosophy, psychology, and art- we go there to restore our shattered selves into whole ones."
hi little online space, it's been a month and two days & i've missed you.
So much has happened in the time between, it makes my head spin I guess I'll just start by sharing a little of today's better bits...
1. Visited the DeYoung to catch the last week of Oscar De La Renta's retrospect, colorful & lovely as expected but what really made my knees weak was witnessing Bruce Davidson's "Brooklyn Gang" in person for the first time ever. This collection of photos is electrifying and full of life- Davidson in his mid 20's capturing the angst of 16 year olds in white shirts, sleeves rolled up, open hearts and sullen faces, time infinite in the presence of each other's bodies. There are many many more beautiful shots to be found here, and two that I'd never seen anywhere before:
Other favorites from today...
2. Sat by the window of the Beanery later, flooded by lovely afternoon light and started Rimbaud's Une Saison en Enfer (A Season in Hell).
Jadis, si je me souviens bien, ma vie était un festin où s'ouvraient tous les coeurs, où tous les vins coulaient. Un soir, j'ai assis la Beauté sur mes genoux. -Et je l'ai trouvée amère. - Et je l'ai injuriée. Le malheur a été mon dieu. Je me suis allongé dans la boue. Je me suis sèché à l'air du crime. Et j'ai joué de bons tours à la folie. Once, if I remember well, my life was a feast where all hearts opened and all wines flowed. One evening I seated Beauty on my knees. And I found her bitter. And I cursed her... Misfortune was my God. I laid myself down in the mud. I dried myself in the air of crime. I played sly tricks on madness...