Archives for posts with tag: NY

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I was stirred with emotions upon viewing this SAM exhibit. I didn’t think leading up I’d be experiencing something like Kehinde Wiley and later proclaim, “It was the greatest art exhibit I may ever see in this lifetime!”. The vibrancy, scale and power emanating from these works just knocked me clean over. I felt empowered, like weights placed on myself and others (subconscious and conscious) for being different were being acknowledged, lifted and transmuted into this majestic “New Republic”.   

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It’s my understanding that we all perceive from different angles. And Wiley ignites a daunting list of perspectives to analyze. From identity to beauty, class, power, wealth, authority and who “fits” where, to name a few. I’ve taken in words from SAM (Seattle Art Museum, host to Wiley’s “A New Republic”, credits for these photos), the Complex Exchange talk with Cristina Orbe, Karen Toering, and Gabriel Teodros at NAAM, friends and Wiley himself. All have been engaging, weaving an ever more intricate web of energy and reaction.

For me, a recurring word that appears when I view these pieces is “blueprint’. One of Websters definitions states, “a detailed plan or program of action” and I quite like that. When I look at many of the 60+ pieces by Wiley at SAM, I take in this grand presentation of humanity. I’m either viewing people in this kind of ideal, celebrated (and natural in ways) form, or a theme gone awry, such as incarceration/confinement and death by devious means. Overall though, the exhibit leans to the positive side in my eyes. The program initiated in many of these works for humanity is one where individuality, love, self worth, strength and teamwork reign supreme.

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For those near Seattle, these are the last few days of the exhibit ending Sunday, May 8th. Tonight (Thursday May 5th) you can get in at half price for the Downtown art walk from 6-9 . Keep your eyes on Wiley online, to see where his galleries will be headed next. And salute to this masterful artist, you and your team have raised the bar.

Kehinde Wiley – Facebook Twitter

kehindewiley.com

– Jimi Jaxon

 

 

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It’s been a little over two years since Abby stopped by Disco Droppings for a conversation. I’m very grateful she has returned! I observe so many discussions on subjects like the ones below, and it can be a trip to say the least. When I think about a contribution I can make, a big part is building a space for these ideas and energies to be demonstrated. Where distinct individuals can share, and readers can take it in at their own pace, in a site that isn’t difficult to look at. I aim to keep things clean and minimal. So, in we go with this hard-hitting investigative journalist: Founder of Media Roots, Former host of Breaking The Set, Board of Directors for Project Censored, Founder of The Empire Files and quite the artist as well. I soundtracked this feature to The Prodigy album, The Fat of the Land (very fitting I’d say)..

DD Who and/or what moved you the most this past year of 2015, and what message did they bring?

AM My partner Mike, he made me follow my heart across the country. It took a leap to adventure to NYC with me to partner in our show The Empire Files. His support and intelligence has pushed my vision to a whole other level.

DD I want to go back to a past interview you did a few years ago that could use another look. I especially love your conversation with Alex & Allyson Grey, who are said to be “the most prolific psychedelic artists in the world..” There are discussions of “inner sight” and “turning within”. How does this translate to the lens through which you see the world?

AM They are truly beautiful people. I think the most important human component is empathy. Instead of speaking about the horrors of the world in the abstract, we need to start humanizing others and putting ourselves in their shoes. Whenever I report an issue, I try to report it from the peoples perspective, through the lens of the oppressed and suffering.

DD What internal human imbalances contribute most to the external dysfunctions you witness and report on, in your eyes?

AM I don’t know about internal imbalances so much as external ones that force internal strife. We are living in an economic system that institutionalizes inequality and barbarism. Poverty is deepening at an increasingly rapid rate. The extreme consequences of living under the shadow of militaristic imperialism are playing out all around us, driving desperate people to commit crime, violence and terrorism. The propaganda that maintains US Empire breeds division, hatred and discrimination. Unless people can work together to challenge the power structure in the heart of this country, I fear the dysfunction of the system will lead to its violent collapse.

DD I feel this problem with unification. What’s holding us back from coming together? What veils need to be lifted?

AM Behind the veil is the common humanity that unites us all. From nationalism to “otherism”, myths are the glue that hold society subservient. These myths also work to justify untold unjust and criminal policies. I think most division in America is bred from a manufactured fear of what we don’t know or understand. The propaganda behind the endless ‘War on Terror’ is more convoluted and effective now. Many people I related to ten years ago have since followed an extreme Islamophobic trajectory. It’s scary. In times of strife, people’s fears will take hold and fascists will rise–it’s up to those of us that are awake to support and build each other up.

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DD How is life with Telesur, the host of your new show Empire Files? And how would you describe the energy of this show vs. Breaking The Set?

AM Every episode of Breaking the Set was like a punch in the gut of hard truth. For three years I was like a steam engine, with a team of only two people to churn out a daily show. The energy output was insane, and I knew that I couldn’t keep it up. I also knew that I wanted to embark on investigative documentary work, and with The Empire Files, I’m able to invest an entire week’s worth of work to provide important and timeless context to the issues of the day. Although the budget for the show is much less than RT, it’s been an invaluable experience to learn what goes into creating a show from scratch.

DD My favorite art pieces from you are the collages. “Ganesha Nagarani”, “Business Man’s Trip” and “Earth Awakening” really draw me in. There’s this chaotic energy, and at the same time a cohesion and melding together of many elements. How has this outlet been moving for you recently? If you haven’t been focusing on this area recently, are there other visual artists you find especially striking at this time?

AM “Ganesha Nagarani” is my favorite piece! I love creating captivating, psychedelic webs of cultural expression. I still only have a staff of two helping to create the weekly production of The Empire Files, so having free time for art is limited. I’m trying to set up a show while I’m on the east coast, which will force me to produce more. Out of all the art I’ve seen in NYC so far, there is very little cutting political commentary and I hope to inject some before I move on to the next place.

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DD About the election and 2-party system. I’m remembering my high hopes for Obama, going with that “choose the lesser of two evils”, and questioning that mindset later. What’s your take on the election this year, Trump, Clinton and Sanders? What is your option for people who may think, “there’s no other way that has a serious chance”? My gut says, why project barriers and give into limitations? But I struggle with what to align myself with.

AM I think this election cycle is fascinating and promising for many reasons. The entire Republican establishment backed a candidate that its voter base totally rejected. Only good things can come from the corporate duopoly splintering like this. On the Democratic side, I think Bernie Sanders’ support is significant. It’s more than just symbolism. Unlike Obama, Sanders has a decades long record of policy votes to stand behind. Hillary’s upset so far is about a visceral rejection of the status quo and shows Americans are hungry for significant change. Unfortunately, Bernie already pledged to endorse corporate criminal Hillary Clinton as the democratic nominee and not run as an independent, which would be disastrous and demoralizing to his supporters. If he loses the nomination, I hope his base rallies behind Green Party candidate Jill Stein. I always advise people to vote with their heart, because any vote for a candidate that doesn’t represent them is a wasted vote, not the other way around. The more we marginalize third parties the more the two-party dictatorship maintains its stranglehold over the already rigged election system.

 

DD And finally, what is your mission for 2016?

AM To forgive and learn from my mistakes, and to constantly strive to be a better, stronger person.

Abby Martin – Twitter Facebook

The Empire Files – Twitter Facebook Youtube

 – Jimi Jaxon

 

My love affair with Keith Haring is in full swing again. How could I forget?

Just when I need it most, I’m reminded of the vast collection of his work digitally, through Artsy. We are blessed with the now easy ability to view 208 of his works (and counting)! Which really is a super small piece of the gigantic output of this marvelous man. Click on each picture for the larger view.

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I’m always struck by his ability to convey so much with relatively simple designs, that translate quickly to a wide range of individuals.

 

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Just seeing Keith in a video like this is electrifying for me. I just missed him here on Earth, gone way to soon in my eyes. Keith was superb at challenging his surroundings. Not just taking in his surroundings, but zooming out for a more broad picture, discovering his point of view, and then demonstrating that point of view in a forceful, yet playful way. So, in the spirit of not taking “reality” at face value, I encourage the continued research and discussion into the nature of Keiths death. Question. Everything.

I love you Keith, shine on

– Jimi Jaxon

 

Works respectively: Self Portrait, Fertility #3 (1983), Untitled #7 (1988), A Pile of Crowns for Jean-Michel Basquiat (1988)

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Crafting some of the sassiest and most memorable mixes I’ve heard in a while, and looking damn good doing it. It’s time to turn up the heat on Disco Droppings, Joey LaBeija is in control. In this interview we talk about his House of LaBeija family, influence, how his mixes come together and his connection to the CuntMafia Warehouse parties in New York.

 

DD You are a part of the House of LaBeija, the first voguing house ever started. You are also the only DJ in this crew. As ballroom and vogue culture continues to spread, you seem to be in an ideal central spot. How would you describe the house, its significance and your role in the whole thing? 

JL Being a 4th generation LaBeija has been a blessing. Everyone in the house is so loving, supportive, goal oriented and driven.  One of our LaBeija mottos is ‘we are a family first and a ballroom house second’. Every single one of us, even our Father Tommie, has a hustle and a struggle and it feels really comforting to know that we are all in this together. The house was quiet for a while in the ballroom scene, and as members of the house, we are all doing our thing to make sure everyone knows WE ARE BACK.  I got inducted to the house shortly after my first international gig in Tokyo. I knew that my life as a DJ was slowly but surely about to grow, and I wanted to do it in the name of LaBeija, helping bring the name back to the forefront in and outside of the ballroom community.

DD What has influenced your style as a DJ? 

JL I am not much of a voguer, I only vogue when I’m turnt up with my boys smoking blunts at the crib or when I come out the shower feeling soft-n-cunt. Ballroom music is just a fraction of what I like to play…I think growing up in New York has influenced my style as a dj more so than anything. Growing up here I was a floater, never really hanging out with one specific group of people. I went to school with guidos, hung out with punks on St. Marks, cruised for trade with fags on The Pier, and smoked L’s and drank Korbel with my ratchet bitches on the block.  Each crew had a completely different influence on me musically and I think it shows a lot in what I do.

 

DD In addition to an obvious gift with music, you have really rad style. I don’t really have a question about your style, but I just want to commend you on looking fucking awesome all the time. 

JL Thanks boo ❤

DD I enjoy the names of some of your mixes, such as “Tales From The Bedroom” and “Good Sex & Night Terrors”. Do you often think about themes when pulling together your track lists? 

JL Going into a mix with a theme in mind is really important to me. I like to think of those mixes in particular as pages from my journal because they tell a little bit of a story. I didn’t pick tracks for either of them…I recorded them live and played strictly off of my emotions. The titles came to me after listening to them. I wanted Tales From the Bedroom to be a panty dropper mix; something you could listen to while gettin yacked by your [in]significant other. Good Sex & Night Terrors is my favorite..for me, it is story about how much of a nightmare it can be balancing your hustle, loving a dude and being a bad bitch which is exactly what I was going through while recording it.

 

DD I read in a past interview that you’re planning to expand your friend CuntMafia’s Warehouse parties in New York. These look extremely diverse in terms of the crowds you attract as well as extremely successful in general. How is that coming together? I hope you guys come to Seattle, I’d love to help in any way!

JL Contessa and I are always curating something crazy. Me her and my best friend Shawn Leigh had a great success with our monthly party ‘Iconic’ this summer. I decided to pull the reins on it for a plethora of reasons, the main one being none of the venues really felt like home, which is why we moved the party around every time. But when we find the right home we will bring something back to life for sure. Throwing warehouse parties involves a lot and can be really difficult when you don’t have a rich white man fronting/investing the money for you like other warehouse parties here. Thats why I respect Contessa, she may be wild as fuck and will rage on you like no other, but all of her success is self made and self invested. She’ll take a struggle over a stack of cash any day cuz she’s ACTUALLY about that life.

DD What artists have you the most hyped right now?

JL GIRL!. There has been so much good music coming out recently it’s almost TOO much to handle. I’m really loving everything coming out from Fade To Mind right now. That Kelela Album is has been my bible since it dropped. Kingdom’s Vertical XL is genius, and I’m like crying in anticipation of NguzuNguzu’s new ep coming out. Don’t get me started on Drake’s NWTS…that album has me slow winding for hours at end. 

DD Any last words?

JL For booking inquiries contact: JOEYLABEIJA@GMAIL.COM

 

Joey LaBeija – Soundcloud Twitter Facebook Tumblr

– Jimi Jaxon

 

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I feel it’s quite appropriate to post this interview on a Tuesday. This day now has a more sinister nickname, “Terror Tuesday”. Every few weeks, President Obama, John Brennan (new head of the C.I.A.) and other members of his national security team decide who lives and who dies via drone strike. A recent Gallup poll showed that a majority of American’s supported drone strikes in other countries against suspected terrorists, but most do not support strikes against U.S. citizens both at home and abroad. In addition to the secret drone program to kill people around the world, the U.S. is implementing surveillance drones on its soil for the first time in 2013. This invasive approach threatens the privacy and safety of American citizens, giving them no protection from these robot spies. There is one individual doing his part to give power and privacy back to the people, and his name is Adam Harvey. He’s created an intriguing counter-surveillance clothing line called “Stealth Wear”.

 

His newest project has gotten significant press from news outlets such as Wired and RT and even the artist M.I.A., who tweeted about his camouflage gear. Be advised, these items are no longer for sale on the Primitive London site. But have no fear, Adam will soon be selling them at his online “Privacy Gift Shop”. Harvey agreed to do an interview for Disco Droppings, and we talked at great length about his work and the real life issues swirling around Stealth Wear..

DD I first heard about you in an RT article covering the debut of your clothing line, Stealth Wear. Shortly after viewing this, Abby Martin, the fierce host of RT’s Breaking The Set, named you hero of the day for your counter surveillance line. Do you feel the press and promotion are encouraging more dialogue about drone use?

AH It is definitely encouraging conversation and this is really important. It took almost a decade to start having critical conversations about the impacts of the 2001 Patriot Act. And now, we’re having critical discussions about drone usage, including the banning of spy drones in Florida, even before they’re introduced. Any project that generates positive, critical discussion now is worth doing.

 

DD The Federal Aviation Administration has said that by 2020, the number of domestic drones could be as large as 30,000. How much are Americans aware of this massive domestic drone proliferation, and the scope of domestic surveillance in America since 9/11 and The Patriot Act?

AH Releasing this number also generated a lot of discussion. If evenly divided, that’s 600 drones per state. And fleets of at least several dozen in large cities, like where I live, in New York. I think Americans are smartening up to the impacts surveillance can have on privacy. But this is always subject to change. Safety is always more important than privacy. And so we’re always willing to give up more privacy in exchange for better security. That’s not necessarily a true equation though. Giving up privacy can make you weaker and more vulnerable too. It’s important to think surveillance through before implementing more of it, especially after the recent terror incident in Boston. Most all terror attacks in the US have been due to a lack of intelligence, not a lack of cameras or drones. It’s important to distinguish between the quest for safety and the right to privacy. Fleets of drones flying overhead doesn’t necessarily add safety to our lives, but it is very likely to erode privacy.

 

DD Do you feel it’s important to connect domestic drone surveillance to the overseas drone surveillance and strikes carried out by the U.S. in countries such as Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen? I was reading a report titled, Living Under Drones: Death, Injury and Trauma to Civilians from US Drone Practices in Pakistan. They point out a large number of unacknowledged civilian casualties, psychological trauma to many in communities where drone strikes occur as well as only a 2% success rate for drones attempting to kill “high-level” targets. They don’t have as good a track record as some people think, and I see a slippery slope, where domestic drone surveillance could eventually morph to include domestic strikes against American citizens.

AH Yes, that’s a very important point to call out. That once unleashed, it may become impossible to know and prevent armed drones from flying above us. At the very least, it will make a good case for 2nd amendment support.

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DD The private viewing of your line was on January 17th, 2013, with this “Privacy Mode” exhibition happening from January 18th to January 31st. After you were able to get reactions from the public, how long was it before Stealth Wear was available for purchase?

AH The items went up for sale immediately on Primitive UK’s website. Their were several sales including one burqa. Overall the sales were decent. I still have some items available. During the next several months I will be unveiling a Privacy Gift Shop on my website where items from this show, as well as a few new pieces, can be purchased.

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DD One of the pieces featured in this exhibition is an “Anti-Drone Hoodie” and scarf. These are supposed to confuse thermal imaging, which is used by UAV’s (unmanned aerial vehicles) or drones. When thermal imaging cameras are used, warm objects stand out, such as humans and other warm-blooded animals. If for example, someone is wearing these pieces, and a drone is attempting to surveil them, would only body parts such as their legs be picked up, making the drone unsure of the object it is looking at?

AH Yes, that’s basically the idea. Completely masking heat signatures is very difficult. Heat is emitted from your body and this appears as light to a thermal camera. The Stealth Wear garments are made with metalized fibers which reflect heat. This means the outside of the garment reflects the temperature of surrounding objects, and the inner layer reflects your heat. Of course that heat does not disappear. What you end up with is heat signatures that do not match that of a human. This is most effective for automated systems, using artificial intelligence to detect humans. And, to me, the automated unmanned uses of surveillance technology pose the greatest threat to privacy.

DD Your exhibit was presented by Primitive London at Tank Magazine HQ, also in London, England. I read an interview with Primitive heads Lui Nemeth and Andrew Grune, for Still In Berlin in September 2011. They were asked about some of the pieces they carry being pretty extreme. They responded, “Not all the pieces we stock would be considered wearable, but we care more about exhibiting our designers work.”. What attracted you to Primitive London? And, would you describe your “Stealth Wear” as being wearable, and also forward thinking, in it’s style execution and purpose of use?

AH I was invited to exhibit with Primitive through Nick Bates. He was interested in CV Dazzle and we met very briefly last summer at a coffee shop in London to discuss the potential for a show with Primitive. Originally, I had planned to exhibit new designs for CV Dazzle. When I showed Andrew and Lui a prototype for my new idea about anti-drone wear, they were very supportive. At that point, I had only made a hoodie. The next two pieces, the hijab and the burqa were much more directed and provocative pieces.

DD Stealth Wear is in collaboration with fashion designer, Johanna Bloomfield. What do you think are Bloomfield’s strongest qualities as a designer, and how is her aesthetic represented in your new line?

AH Johanna came into this project with a background in men’s fashion and sports apparel. The hoodie is all her design, made to shield the top portion of the wearer’s body and demonstrate the technology. The burqa was our collaboration that went through several revisions. I struggled with the idea of making any burqa at all, which I felt wold only reinforce an oppressive garment. Together, Johanna and I reworked the design into something more sporty. The burqa combines street-wear comfort with Middle Eastern heritage.

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DD Have you experienced any opposition from governments that do not understand or disagree with your attitude towards drones and surveillance?

AH I have not experienced opposition from government entities, yet. Though, I am aware that my project did not go unnoticed. Somewhere between art and national security there is a line that cannot be crossed. I don’t know where it is. And sometimes I’m on both sides.

DD Lastly, Rhizome did an artist profile on you back in June of last year. In their interview with you, writers are mentioned as key artistic influences. Who are some of these writers, and how has their philosophies, attitudes and/or themes influenced your work as an artist?

AH Writers are interesting to me because they must create a story to write about or fabricate one. As a whole, I find this type of person intriguing. The most influential writer to me has been Susan Sontag. She made photography make sense to me. Another favorite critical voice of mine is that of Christopher Hitchens. He would stop at nothing to prove his point. That’s an admirable fault to have.

Adam Harvey – Twitter

ahprojects.com

– Jimi Jaxon