METHOD: Tatyana Fazlalizadeh

WORDS BY Rachel Fagiano

Meet Tatyana, the artist defending women’s right to not smile.

 

Photograph by Brian Felix.

 

Tatyana Fazlalizadeh is reclaiming public space with defiant portraits plastered on buildings across the U.S. Part of an ongoing series, “Stop Telling Women to Smile,” these portraits are derived from interviews Fazlalizadah has conducted with women from all over the nation on their personal experiences with gender-based street harassment.  Powerful statements accompany each drawing, culled from the stories that the interviewees have shared with Fazlalizadah—some read, “my name is not baby, shorty, sexy, sweetie, honey, pretty, boo sweetheart, ma,” “women are not seeking your validation,” “critiques on my body are not welcome” and “my masculinity is not a threat to yours.”  “Stop Telling Women to Smile” has elicited a strong national response—spurring conversations on gender, race, autonomy and misogyny—since its 2012 inception in Brooklyn. Fazlalizadeh traffics in the dialectics of power with her work, highlighting that catcalling is not about pleasure but, rather, control. We recently sat down with the now very-much-in-demand artist (her work has been featured in The New York Times, The Guardian, the Huffington Post and Beautiful Decay Magazine as well as on CNN and The Melissa Harris-Perry Show) to talk with her about her daily routine:

 

Fameless Quarterly: How do you begin your day? Do you have any morning rituals that are particularly important for preparing you to engage with the sometimes-difficult subject material you work with day-in and day-out? Tatyana Fazlalizadeh: I’m working on making a better morning routine. I’ve never been a morning person but I think I’d be more productive and have more successful days if I had a better and earlier morning routine. I usually wake up, drink some water, open my laptop, and start tackling emails. Some days I wake up early and go to the gym, come home and begin painting.

FQ:  Walk me through the rest of your day. Your project has received a good deal of media attention and you are expanding “Stop Telling Women to Smile” to be more participatory–spread over various locations in the U.S. You must be busy! TF: The rest of my day sort of depends. If I’m working from home for the day I’ll possibly be doing one of a few things: working on back-end, administrative stuff, or painting. I prefer to paint during the morning and day, so sometimes I’ll wait to handle work that’s done on my computer until the evening. Some days I have phone or in-person meetings, some days I work in a local coffee shop, some days I’m out on my bike running errands. Being a freelance artist gives me the freedom to have days that widely differ from each other.

FQ: So much of your work deals with the basic ability of women to have autonomy of movement, free from harassment. Prior to this project in what ways did street harassment affect how you proceeded with your daily routine? Has that changed since you began “Stop Telling Women to Smile”? TF: The thought of street harassment doesn’t really affect my daily routine. While some days I do take a moment before leaving the house because I know my outfit might elicit some unwanted attention, I still leave my house and go about my day. The act of street harassment is what affects me once it happens. It can affect my mood but it still doesn’t interfere with my routine. Since STWTS, I’ve become more assertive in responding back to men who harass me. Responding gives me a feeling of empowerment.

 

FQ: On average how much time do you spend interviewing, photographing, and drawing your subjects before replicating and wheat-pasting their images? Do you dedicate specific days just to interviewing and photographing and days to wheat-pasting or do you only work with one subject at a time? TF: Right now, I’m doing more pasting than interviewing. This year I’ve spent a lot of time in other cities meeting many women, interviewing and photographing them. I still have a lot of potential portrait subjects from all of these cities that I’m working through. I’ve accumulated a lot of content, and now the more important part is getting that work out to the public. I don’t dedicate certain days to pasting, as long as I’m going out and doing it consistently.

FQ: Your preferred medium, and what you have always worked in prior to this project, is oil painting. Do you still have time during your day to work on painting or has your focus completely shifted to the “Stop Telling Women to Smile” project? TF: I’m a freelance illustrator so I’m always painting. STWTS requires a lot of administrative work that takes up some of my day, but I’m still very much painting.

FQ: You have made a conscious effort to include representations of women of color in your images. You have stated in the past that this is a result of your experiences as well as a way to include women of color in a feminist conversation–especially since, historically, they have been left out of these discourses. As you have continued to work on this project and have conversations with women about street harassment what more have you learned about the intersection of race and street harassment as well as race and feminism? Has this changed the way you approach your project? TF: I’ve learned that not everyone is harassed in the same way and that there isn’t a standard definition of what harassment is. What a young black woman who lives in a black neighborhood experiences will be different from what a white woman who moves into that neighborhood experiences—or, the experiences may be similar but the perspective on harassment is very different. That’s why when it comes to race and feminism, it’s important for all voices to be heard and listened to. It’s the reason why I’m now trying to curate the subjects in the project even more. Street harassment may happen to everyone but the way that is occurs will differ if you’re a 16 year-old Latina from Brooklyn, versus a 23 year-old queer Santa Monica student, versus a 50 year-old black woman from South LA.

FQ: During your day do you often encounter men who are interacting with your art? If you do, what are their reactions to the project like? TF: No. I never see men interacting with the art. I spread these pieces out so I’m not often walking past them unless I’ve put them in my neighborhood. These, I don’t see people interacting with them—but I do see how they evolve over time. Sometimes pieces of the work get ripped away; people write on them; street artists add slaps to them, etc. But I don’t usually see anyone stopping, looking, and reacting—though I know that does happen.

FQ: Some of the pieces you have pasted around the city have been defaced. Do you replace those pieces with new work or do you leave the defaced pieces so that people can see the misogynist statements written on them? TF: I don’t replace them. I let them live there as long as they can. I might revisit the same spot months later after the first piece has gone but, I don’t replace them simply because they’ve been defaced. They are consistently defaced and that’s not something I can really prevent from happening. I do think it’s important for people to see the defacement because it usually highlights the point of the work—that women’s bodies are abused in public spaces.

FQ: Speaking of place and autonomy of movement–do you have any favorite spaces in the city? TF: I’m kind of an outdoors girl, even though most of my time is spent indoors. I like being in the park or at the beach—I love Prospect Park and visiting different beaches. I work in coffee shops often and have a few favorites that I go to. I also love riding my bike around Brooklyn and discovering different neighborhoods.

INVENTORY: Cecilia Doan

During a lunch break last year, Cecilia Doan’s co-worker mentioned she was coveting a pair of shoes she had seen a favorite blogger wearing in a photograph online. Cecilia blurted out the phrase “shit bloggers wear!” and an idea was born. Doan started creating black and white drawings of sartorial items that seemingly “appeared” at the same time on all of the major fashion blogs—thanks to brand endorsements—and uploaded her drawings to her newly minted website, “Shit Bloggers Wear.” The sense of humor inherent in Doan’s skillfully executed minimalist drawings quickly garnered “Shit Bloggers Wear” attention; since the blog’s inception Doan has been asked to collaborate with Topshop, The Coveteur, Fashionista, Complex Media, Grandlife Hotels, Fashion Magazine, and Of A Kind. When we meet someone like Doan it is easy to get caught up in all of their accomplishments and makes us wonder—what tools are in this person’s arsenal? So we asked Doan to sit down and document what her essentials are, the objects that get her through the day—and we aren’t talking about those Balenciaga boots.  

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Cecilia sent us the following collection of essentials (clockwise from top, left corner):

Trader Joe’s Mangoes: I always need snacks because I’m constantly hungry, or at least craving to munch on something throughout the day. So a bag of dried fruit like this will be finished in just a day or two. I actually bought the wrong mangoes this time, because they ran out of the “Just Mangoes” which has no added ingredients and tastes like the mangoes I grew up eating.  

Headphones: I’m at my computer for about 10-12 hours a day. I’m constantly on SoundCloud during that time, because I’m trying to learn more about music, new music that’s out by up-and-coming artists—artists of my generation. I grew up with a very narrow scope of music and I’m trying to catch up.

Toki Doki for Smashbox Skin Tint: This has been mine for what, about 4 years? It sounds kind of gross because I don’t think you’re supposed to keep cosmetics for that long. Anyway, my natural lip color is pretty nude and I am horrible, absolutely horrible, at wearing lipstick so I opt for ‘all-in-ones’ or tinted lip balm. It requires less precision, and won’t get in the way of my snack habit.

Japanese Shortbread: Asian snacks are some of my favorite, especially things that are green tea flavored.

iPhone Charging Cable: I’m notoriously known among my friends to always have the lowest charge on my iPhone at any given point. I don’t know why, because I constantly close my apps when I’m not actively using them. This is a much needed utility, so I can continue to waste hours on Tumblr.

Sticky Notes & Instax Fujifilm: Some people use Moleskins or Field Notes, I just use sticky notes. I’m a perfectionist, or a control freak, or OCD … whatever you want to see it as. And if I used journals I would constantly be tearing out pages because I didn’t like the way I wrote a certain sentence. I stick the sticky notes everywhere and they’re really effective because they’re constantly in my face and remind me to make things happen. As far as the Instax Fujifilm … it’s a fun camera (not pictured) that I reserve for moments with friends and family. This photograph is with my niece who actually reminds me way too much of myself as a child.

Polka Dot Pouch: This is the only “purse” I carry with me. I purchased it from the Japanese Delfonics gift shop inside the Louvre in Paris. It is PVC, super cheap, and really cute. I have several in various patterns like this. They’re very “CDG” (Comme Des Garçons).  

Pens: Ballpoint pens make me cringe. I write and illustrate with ink pens only. Brand, type and point size doesn’t really matter as long as the ink continues to flow heavy. The other pen is a Pentel Japanese brush pen for calligraphy. I use it to fill in areas in some of my illustrations. I couldn’t possibly shade so thoroughly with the ink pen alone.

Car Keys: I love my Mini Cooper and I’m actually pretty proud to have this round disk for a key. I’ve wanted a Mini since I was in high school. I finally got it two years ago and it was a huge ‘adult’ moment for me, except it drives like a go-kart and makes me feel so badass.

iPhone 5: Everyone feels really sorry for my phone, which is cracked and dented to near smithereens. I dropped it in Hong Kong, after losing it and finding it again in Japan. I think it doesn’t want to live any more … but I’m making it hang on for dear life—it could be months or forever until the next iPhone comes out.

Leather Notebook: Sometimes, I do take notes in these things. I bring them to meetings (along with my sticky notes) so people will take me more seriously. Mostly, I write lists in them.

Hand Shit Hand Cream: Why do your hands feel so dry and gross after you wash them? I’m not devoted to this brand or product, it was just funny and I’m a sucker for anything corny.

Japanese Strawberry Cheesecake Kit Kat: Did I mention I liked to snack? Asian snacks?

 

MOMENT: On the Move

Haven’t we been here before?

in this exact same situation.

I chase you; Streets. Tunnel vision.

You resist because

it helps your ego.

I feel as though I had a soul mate

and I forgot them.

Whoever it is, I miss our

fun times;

adventures,

projects,

enthusiasms,

unexpected visits,

a sense of possibility in every moment,

as though we could cross oceans.

“Have a ride if you like

on my scooter”

With one foot

placed firm on

the scooter

the other

pushed away

the hard ground.

Saying yes was always her.

That was her thing.

And I used to laugh

because it was so

pleasing.

Because I liked it.

I didn’t need an answer

but I asked her why

once.

She said she didn’t know.

It was just something

she did.

That scooter

and I have something

in common.

We travel too fast.

Too fast to fall in love.

The head over

heels type love.

Except with her.

Wanderers From Here to Infinity

Isolation is a powerful and underestimated state of being. While, on the surface, it may have a negative connotation and seem unwanted in society, Jean Rollin’s Les deux Orphelines Vampires glorifies this condition. It also allows those watching the unique perspective of two bloodthirsty sisters, fueled by the perverse and violent desires that come each night with the darkness. Delivering a powerful message while keeping to the most simplistic cinematic qualities, Les Deux Orphelines Vampires is based on Rollin’s novel of the same name. It’s a classic dedication to the avant-garde style.

Blind by day, sisters Louise and Henriette live in the care of nun at Les Glycines orphanage, unable to visually interact with the world around them. Those who care for them are held in a seemingly hypnotic state of affection for the girls, showing clear favoritism and a genuine interest in finding a home for them. “Dear Lord I beg of you, make it so that the good doctor Dennery adopts our little martyrs. They are so dear, so patient, so innocent, so gentle.” The aforementioned Dr. Dennery, an eye specialist, is convinced he can heal the girls, and after meeting and having also been entranced by their beauty and innocence, he adopts them. So begins a new chapter in the lives of the undead sisters as they are given the opportunity to leave in hopes of starting a better life.

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It is only when the sun sets and the sky turns the screen into a fluorescent blue hue, that our two heroines become their true selves, taking to the streets to kill, feed, and quench their endless thirst. “The day for us is blue, the light for us is black, and other people’s sun has made us blind, but when it is hidden, our dream begins. They’ll never know the two blind orphans can see at night.” Plagued also by the memory of several past lives that have ended in violent and traumatic deaths, the girls take constant refuge in cemeteries, which provide them with the cover and solace needed for them to reminisce and recover their strength, referred to fondly as their “true homes.” Uncertain of whether they themselves are alive or dead, they seem not to care for long before their carnal nature seems to grasp strongly onto any sense of morality they may be known for by day. Still, there is a constant and ominous sense of curiosity expressed by Louise and Henriette throughout the film to try and discover their original identities. Frequent repressed memories reveal their nature as Aztec goddesses who were ritually sacrificed in the 15th century to satisfy their gods.

A simple film with simple qualities, there are no special effects here; rather it’s classic storytelling, and one with carefully chosen dialogue. They’re vampires, after all, and as such it is not difficult to determine what the premise will be, which is essentially the two travelling the streets of New York and Paris, feeding on every animal and human who is unfortunate enough to cross their paths. It is not so much the plot that makes this movie, but it’s ability to effectively deliver. It is delicate and refined, much in the same way that the two sisters are, being able to captivate both viewers and characters alike. The film would not have been the same was it not for the chemistry between Isabelle Taboul and Alexandra Pic, after all. It is rumored, in fact, that Rollin chose Isabelle Teboul, the actress who plays Henriette, specifically for her beautiful hair.

Although the scenes seem to drag on very slowly, it coincides with the films lower budget as well as the pace of other French films, especially seen in Rollin’s earlier work. The occasional dust mite or flaws in the shots also add to its authenticity as the viewer is forced to step outside the realm of what we know cinema to be today into one of raw imperfection. The soundtrack is appropriate and consistent with the mood of the film overall, having been compiled by noted composers Phillipe d’Aram de Valada and Ars Antigua.

Though alone at first, they meet several other creatures of the night throughout their journey, those who find an equivalent level of pleasure from this time of day. While some of these characters are more like themselves, such as the midnight lady, a stunning and powerful vampire who resides in the catacombs of an old church and saves them from a potential mishap, another is discovered to be a ghoul and feed on the flesh of cadavers, sympathizing with their struggle to find a home to call their own.

Unable to effectively harness their desire to kill and feed, both sisters are compelled to keep their secret hidden whilst fighting their unyielding urges. Although they receive assistance throughout their escapades from other creatures, it is unsatisfactory as their identities are constantly threatened through either carelessness or chance. What begins as a mostly quiet and somber film quickly develops into a thrilling rush of anticipation as the immortal sisters cling to their desires and identities, hoping that this life will not come to end as countless others have. Coming through on the style and delivery he is so often attributed to, Jean Brolin’s Les deux orphellines vampires is avant-guarde storytelling at it’s finest.

 

Get the Queen What She Wants!

Jackie and her children, Orlando, Florida ©Lauren Greenfield 2011/INSTITUTE

Jackie and her children, Orlando, Florida
©Lauren Greenfield 2011/INSTITUTE

Schadenfreude – pleasure derived from the misfortunes of others. One can’t seem to escape this feeling about the Siegel family when watching the documentary The Queen of Versailles. The film was supposed to be about conspicuous consumption, and what it’s like to be able to build the palace of your dreams, but instead the film began as a portrait of a timeshare billionaire, his ditzy wife, and their grotesque quest to build the largest house in the United States of America; The 90,000 square foot “Versailles” imitation — “kitsch” is perhaps the best descriptor. It ended as perhaps the single best film on what happens when those pleasures are taken away from you in an instant.

In 2008, the Siegel family was at the top of the heap with the wealthy and politically influential David Siegel running the successful Westgate Resorts timeshare business. The documentarians wanted to see what kind of people would build such an unnecessarily large house so they embedded themselves into the Siegel family. That’s when things took a turn for the unthinkable (at that time); the financial crisis hit, credit dried up, Siegel’s business began to flounder, Versailles fell into disrepair and the family began to crack. “This is almost like a riches-to-rags story,” Siegel tells the camera. For this overprivileged family, accepting that situation proved a dispiriting struggle even as their unfinished dream home became a monument of their superficial values.

As in any good documentary, the players do all the heavy satirical lifting, in this case Jackie redefines white trash and the much older David clarifies the role men play who indulge their wives as long as they are hot and attentive. “Foolish old man” is an apt cliché for a decent guy who was smart enough to make billions, but not smart enough to avoid an indulgent wife. As the documentary glides to its conclusion, we are left with the impression of a decent man who couldn’t control his appetites and an optimistic wife who couldn’t control her spending.

An exterior view of construction of the Versailles mansion being built by Westgate Resorts founder & CEO David Siegel and his wife Jackie Siegel, photographed during an exclusive Orlando Sentinel interview Monday, August 26, 2013. The Siegels starred in the 2012 documentary 'Queen of Versailles,' The famous Versailles mansion they are building, when completed, will be the largest house in America at 90,000 square feet. (Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel) B583090129Z.1

An exterior view of construction of the Versailles mansion being built by Westgate Resorts founder & CEO David Siegel and his wife Jackie Siegel, photographed during an exclusive Orlando Sentinel interview Monday, August 26, 2013. The Siegels starred in the 2012 documentary ‘Queen of Versailles,’ The famous Versailles mansion they are building, when completed, will be the largest house in America at 90,000 square feet. (Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel)

Other than the Michael Moore type of documentaries which have a stated agenda, filmmakers are thought to be neutral arbiters. One of the best qualities of this film is how non-judgmental it is. They film the action, interview the subjects, and edit it in a way fair to all the players. However, no matter how one edits the footage, the Siegels are going to come off looking like some horrible people. It is in the best documentary tradition: truth will out. David is 30 years Jackie’s senior and now that their funds are rapidly dwindling away, he is starting to get tired of his third wife. He hides in his office (a couch in front of a flat screen surrounded by papers and food scraps) to enjoy being away from the chaos which his house has become. It shows its characters being both thoughtless and thoughtful and it gives them a chance to represent themselves to the camera; it’s a movie that has no interest in being a hatchet job. At the same time, it juxtaposes their problems with those of one of their nanny’s, whose situation is far sadder; it also has no interest in being a whitewash.

These folks are poster children for the worst extremes of our materialistic, narcissistic culture. Their values are money, ostentation, self-aggrandizement, acquisition and mindless hedonism. They are venomous leeches on society. Yet, I felt pity for them as well, particularly Jackie. She’s something of an enigma. She boasts about getting an engineering degree so she wouldn’t have to work as someone’s assistant, yet she mostly devotes herself to keeping herself young-looking and voluptuous (those breasts of hers deserve some sort of special effects award) so she can snag and keep a rich hubby. As her world starts to fall apart around her, she begins to have some insights about what life is really about (hint: not building the world’s biggest house), yet still can’t abandon her out-of-control shopping sprees or tortuous visits to the beauty clinic. The children, seem to be far more aware than their parents of the emptiness and ridiculousness of their lifestyle.

The Siegels aren’t an object of envy and even though they still have more money than you do, you would never switch places with them. The film shows laughable yet slightly shocking scenes of people who equate things with happiness and excess with success. “Versailles” is never finished (the house plays a bit part in the movie) but the home they live in is ridiculous in its own way: It’s luxurious, but also filthy.

There’s no good news in this film, it ends before the recession does. “The Queen of Versailles” is unremittingly gloomy probably because a part of us all is hidden amongst that greed. Everyone is susceptible to covetousness and an inflated sense of self. This film shows what happens when that proceeds unchecked and fueled by obscene wealth. Jobs come and go, physical beauty fades, markets rise and fall. Even close relationships can end, but true happiness lasts a lifetime.

HUE: Fuzzy Wuzzy

Color conducts emotion. We feel blue, we see red, and we turn green with envy. We’re tickled pink and when we’re overwhelmed by joy, some call the experience “fuzzy wuzzy,” but not because it reminds us a of reddish-brown.

. .

Or does it remind us of The Isabella Tiger Moth that dwells in the arctic?

. .

It’s abundantly fuzzy progeny is appropriately called The Woolly Bear larva and it emerges from the egg in the fall.

. .

If fuzzy wuzzy had a temperature it would be about 26.666 degrees Celsius — not here, not now. During the arctic winters the Woolly Bear survives being frozen by producing a cryoprotectant in its tissues.

. .

In my mind, cold and fuzzy wuzzy could never be in the same sentence (unless of course I’m talking about how they can’t be in the same sentence).

. .

The Woolly Bear larva feels fuzzy wuzzy because of the cryoprotectant, not because of it’s fuzz.

. .

In most temperate climates, caterpillars become moths within months of hatching, but in the Arctic the summer period for vegetative growth – and hence feeding – is so short that the Woolly Bear must feed for several summers, freezing again each winter before finally pupating. Some are known to live through as many as 14 winters.

. .

The thought of winter weather during the summer or summer weather during the winter. Fuzzy wuzzy is a feeling.

. .

Let’s not forget where ‘fuzzy wuzzy’ was first used.

. .

Before people felt all fuzzy wuzzy, or saw something that was fuzzy wuzzy. It was a plant.

. .

Kalanchoe tomentosa, also known by it’s common name, fuzzy wuzzy. A succulent.

. .

Succulent fuzzy wuzzy. Yes.

. .

A native of Madagascar, it is a popular houseplant on account of its small size, ease of care, and dark-red rimmed foliage. It’s a pleasure to have.

. .

Pleasure and fuzzy wuzzy. Yes.

. .

Hadendoa is the name of a nomadic subdivision of the Beja people. The area inhabited by the Hadendoa which is today parts of Sudan, Egypt and Eritrea.

. .

“Fuzzy-Wuzzy” was used by British soldiers in the 19th century as a name for Hadendoa warriors referring to their elaborate hairstyles during the Mahdist War.

. .

Osman Digna was a Mahdist general who led the Hadendoa to break a British infantry square in the Battle of Tamai, although he ultimately lost the battle itself. Wonder if he felt fuzzy wuzzy then.

. .

The Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels was the name given by Australian troops to a group of Papua New Guinean people who, during World War II, assisted and escorted injured Australian troops down the Kokoda trail.

. .

Ephemeral, But Not Meaningless

It turns out that when you ask someone about love, they may feel compelled to tell you a story about heartbreak. When you read stories about success, you read about overcoming great adversity. Human beings seek experiences that elicit enjoyment or pleasure, whether those experiences be good or bad. It’s stimulation in the brain that carries meaning; that tells us we’re alive. The writer who faces the blank document may not find pleasure in that moment, but through a painstaking process of planting their butt and exposing themselves, they eventually flip the pain of starting into the pleasure of being read. The photographer who has chosen a new environment may have difficulty finding the right lighting, but through this trial he or she may capture something timelessly breathtaking. Of course there are simple pleasures with no prerequisite for any pain, like a dog looking up at you, its body shaking uncontrollably, begging for you to pet it. Or buying new shoes, although this kind of pleasure is fleeting and quickly demands replenishment.

Perhaps the most rewarding of them all are the ones that require discomfort, because now we’re emotionally invested and being challenged.

And yet, for most of our lives we numb pain and avoid it altogether. We avoid the pain of telling the truth, of looking people in the eyes, of facing ourselves—a strange painful pleasure in its own unique way. This, however, is simply part of human nature. We gravitate towards the positive experiences that promise it will happen again, and avoid the unpromising ones like a bad meal at a restaurant.

Plato once observed that all things are created by nature, chance, or art; the first two being the most great and beautiful, and the last being the most imperfect. But when you look at any kind of art—a book that changes the way you think, a painting that stirs emotions, or even the kind of customer service that is seemingly rare—it’s easy to only appreciate the end result, not the long trail of anxiety, fear, and effort that it necessitates. We gawk at newfound overnight successes but fail to appreciate or even acknowledge the decade of adversity prior.

How, then, do we learn to view pain as something temporary, something that actually functions as a profound source for pleasure? The Stoics believed that pain and pleasure, success and failure, life and death, were simply just part of human life, therefore they were neither good nor bad. What make our negative emotions so destructive aren’t the emotions themselves but the judgments that shape them. But how difficult this mindset is to keep when we’ve been cheated, lied to, undervalued or misunderstood! We react emotionally, all the while fueling our escape, when in fact we should be embracing this pain and transmuting it into something worthwhile—a lesson, a story, a piece of art. Look at anything you deeply admire, and you may see the connection: the creation was not made in the avoidance of pain but rather because of it.

If there is one underlying principle about human nature that deeply influences the way we lead our lives, it’s our innate desire for connection. To be understood and ultimately missed. Which is why stories about pleasure, or any of the synonyms associated with it, always contain elements of pain, frustration, or adversity. Hence, it’s vital in our careers and lives to understand that pain and pleasure are ephemeral but not meaningless. We get to decide what has meaning and what doesn’t.

Sure, watching your house burn down is painful, and the hopelessness associated with such an event is justifiable. But it isn’t helpful. Running a marathon produces pains in the body, but crossing the finish line yields a feeling of ecstasy. It’s easy to spend our lives selling ourselves short and opting for the kind of pleasures that can be bought, however fleeting they may be. It’s easy to lie, to not give the advice that your friend needs to hear. But a life avoiding pain can inadvertently deny us from feeling any kind of memorable pleasure. In most cases the two need each other; they compliment one another. When you are vulnerable with someone, it may be painful to share what you’ve been hiding, but the potential for a deeper connection may ensue. When you write, dance, draw, sing, or create, you may be misunderstood or criticized, but the opportunity to find the right people who appreciate your work and are moved by it? Such pleasures are worth pursuing indeed.

In The Middle Of Nowhere, Good Times Are Happening

Oakland, NJ- “The first couple of bands haven’t shown up yet, so Victor is going to play a couple of songs on his guitar.” Not the most promising of beginnings for any concert or festival, but in the case of ‘Lawndry Fest,’ it’s almost a consecration of this obscure gathering’s care-free atmosphere.

“Fest” seems a bit strong to describe the event — backyard summer show is more fitting. The best outdoor furniture was reserved for the occasion. A few rows of lawn chairs give their back to a small trail of scattered woods, where a few people are in the distance. On a table in the corner, a box is placed selling a few cassettes made by some of the bands, and in the center, an improvised stage protected by a picnic gazebo showcases the artistic expression of young souls stuck in the boondock’s of New Jersey.

“It was so much bigger last year,” you hear a few people say, “they had to use that whole lot across the street, and it was packed with people.” Funds apparently ran short this year, because it ended up finding a venue behind someone’s house.

Among the crowd are mostly local college students at home for the summer. Looks and glances abound, as people examine their former classmates in a sort of early high school reunion. But there’s no adolescent drama resurging; everyone seems to be with friends here. And so, as the the first group take to the stage, Lawndry Fest kicks off sending the vibes of a day dedicated to music, summer, and taking it easy.

Perhaps a bit too easy. “The first couple of bands aren’t as strong, they just play for fun. We have bands later on that actually do shows and record,” says one of the event’s organizers and performers.

As the first band takes to the stage, a pleasantly nostalgic fit of indulgence takes over of memories of those awkward high school days. The elements are all there to send the audience spiraling down memory lane, from the carefully selected, department store clearance attire to the nervous stares at the ground– and of course, the material selected. A Nirvana cover? Sure, why not two? And why not follow it with some Hendrix? Ah, to be young. Not exactly the kind of set that lands a record deal.

From the crowd’s response however, no one seems to care because at Lawndry Fest, if you’re not enjoying yourself, you’re missing the point. Every band steps down with applause, every song is a reason to dance, skank around in a circle, and enjoy the splendor of the summer together with people you’ve known for years. Frisbees are thrown, group pictures are taken, people continuously greet and embrace someone they haven’t seen in a while.

As later groups step up with a much more impressive set, no one seems to be focused on rating this or that band, and the bands least of all. Even the most experienced band gets to the stage with the same laid-back attitude, goofing around before plowing into frenetic performances.

At Lawndry Fest, there’s no room for critics or elitists. Even though quality musicianship is not lacking, it is not a prerogative, and those who possess it are only concerned with using it to have fun with others. Somewhere between one band finishing up and the next one going through a quick soundcheck, music ceases to be a business, an unnecessarily complex effort to impress or a way to convey self-righteous messages, but instead reverts to one of its deepest and most primal states– the soundtrack to a good time.

*

We Might Call It Reality

Almost all of us, at some point in our lives, are filled with a longing desire to discover, learn, and live in the moment. This wild and innate urge is often referred to as wanderlust, our best attempt as humans at trying to encapsulate this force that pulls at us. However appreciated, this cannot sum up or explain the call. In her photography, Sydney Krantz attempts to further capture and explain this phenomenon, in hopes of providing us with a tiny glimpse of what it feels like to find your gratifying place in the universe, even if only for a moment. While many suppress and try to distract themselves from the call until the lust has quieted, Sydney boldly answers, and rather than silence her desire to explore life, she faces it head on, and shares some of her experiences with us here.

Fameless Quarterly : When did you first realize that photography was something you were passionate about?
SK: It wasn’t until Junior year of high school. It was more of a hobby for my dad and his brother, so it was always around, but I never really became interested in it until I got a camera for Hanukkah or some holiday and started messing around with it. I ended up taking some photo classes in high school and learned about the history, the process, the dark room… it really just took off from there.

So it’s safe to say that while photography seems to run in your family, you took it a step further in making it something more than just a hobby?
I definitely took it a step further. They kept it as an interest, but I was the first person in my family that wanted to go to school for and pursue that as a career. To be honest, they weren’t very supportive in the beginning; a lot of “What kind of job can you get with photography?” and all that, but I think now they’re just a little jealous that I’m still doing it [and loving every minute].

You’re showin’ ‘em how it’s done! It’s not uncommon for loved ones to be apprehensive about pursuing the life of a creative. Of course it’s always in our best interest, wanting something that’s more secure and structured. Fortunately, we live in a time where more than ever, artists have the opportunity to not only make a name for themselves, but do so quite comfortably. You seem to be doing very well, all in all. Way to break the mold!
Thanks!

What is the intended message that you hope to convey in your work, and do you feel you’re able to do that successfully?
If I get any type of reaction, whether it’s positive or not, it’s a good thing. I don’t have any preconceived intentions for how I want others to feel about it; I just have an idea of how I want a photo to look, and work hard at making sure the shot comes out how I imagine it. Of course sometimes it can be a surprise too, because it’s all on film and I can never be certain about the outcome. I mean, the whole idea is to have that moment mean something important to each person, whether they question reality or feel a certain type of way. In the end, the goal is just to have the viewer tap into their imaginations and look at things from alternative perspectives. I try to focus on things that are constants in everyday life. Color is a big part of that in my work; it allows me to take that constant and make it into something more surreal.

Your work can definitely be described as dreamlike. It seems to play on that border between what is real and what is just beyond. Your play on the colors, exposures, lighting, and your use of multiple exposures certainly adds to that effect. What is pleasure to you? Do you feel your work represents that theme? 
Pleasure is broad; it can mean being at home for a few days or eating a good meal, but at the same time, it goes much deeper. Pleasure isn’t always so easily connected under the surface as it is above it .With my work now especially, I try to replicate moments that I find to be blissful. It’s about the little unexpected moments; anything that would be ignored and giving it a second look. Looking from a different set of eyes can change everything.

What advice would you give to other aspiring photographers?
Read a lot, especially photo books; do a lot of research online and get familiar with the work of other artists. Talking about my work is one of my most difficult and daunting tasks, so it helps to keep up with interviews and hearing how other artists talk about their work. Also, listen to your instincts. If you see something you want to take a photograph of, do it. Regardless of what teachers or friends or fellow artists might say, listen to your gut, and don’t lose sight of why you started.

Would you be able to recommend a book or some photography books?
Robert Adams – Why People Photograph

Stephen Shore – The Nature of Photographs 

Is there anyone you’ve met or worked with that has influenced you or that you hold especially significant in your journey as photographer thus far?
David Hilliard, one of my professors in college. My style was very unconventional compared to my peers, and he was very supportive of my work and my vision throughout my last semester. I certainly could not have come as far as I have if it were not for his encouragement. Also the work of Brian Graf and James Welling was definitely a game changer for me, and it wasn’t until I saw their work that I challenged my then, very traditional and uncertain style.

What kind of film do you shoot, and why have you chosen that format?
I loved film from the very beginning and then I received my first DSLR. I certainly used both, but shooting with film simply satisfied me more. It took a lot more thought and concentration and it seemed more of an art form/craft than my digital camera. In my first photography class in college, we learned how to shoot with large format (4×5) cameras and how to develop our own film (b&w). It was extremely challenging, but as soon as I got the hang of it, I was hooked. Bought my own camera and everything. I moved onto color 4×5 which is unfortunate because I love it so much, but it’s getting more and more expensive to buy and develop it. I then decided to buy a Mamiya 67 (medium format) because I enjoyed being able to work a little bit faster (medium format has 10 shots as opposed to shooting one at a time with the 4×5). It was also a better option for my wallet because it allowed me to experiment without worrying so much about ruining shots. Film will always be my first love, but as an artist, I have to adapt to the current technologies which led me to investing in the Sony A7r, (a mirror-less digital camera) Such an impressive little camera, I never thought I’d be this excited about digital!

In your experience, what has been your favorite camera to shoot with?
Definitely my 4×5. I’m using it less and less these days, but each time I whip it out, it’s as magical and fulfilling as the next.

Sydney Krantz is based in the NJ/NY area


FQ’s Guide to Northside Festival

Photography courtesy of Northside Media Group

 

On June 8th, the Northside Festival will kick off in Williamsburg, promising a week of art, music, film and innovation. The excitement is R E A L.

Featuring 450 bands, more than 150 speakers, and over 50 film screenings, it’ll be difficult to manage your time at Northside. With all these events to go to, we know that it can get a little overwhelming, but don’t worry! We’ve written up this practical guide to give you a hand.

 

FILM

Northside has expanded this year’s competition exploring new territory by adding music videos and episodics (web series and pilots) to the lineup of features and shorts the festival usually hosts. This years festival includes a handful of talented, and fresh, filmmakers like Sophia Takal, an actress most recently seen in Wild Canaries and writer/director who took home 2011’s Chicken and Egg Emergent Narrative Woman Director prize at SXSW for her big screen debut, Green; Crystal Moselle is the director behind The Wolfpack which debuted at Sundance this year; Alex Ross Perry is the director of Impolex, The Color Wheel (named the best undistributed film of 2011 by Indiewire and Village Voice) and last year’s Listen Up Philip.

Here are three indie features you should be sure to keep an eye (or both, preferably) on:

Eden
An affecting trip into the ’90s Parisian electronic dance movement through the eyes of the DJ credited with inventing French house music, and whose friends, Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter, went on to become Daft Punk. Complete with sex, drugs, and a killer soundtrack.

 

 

Aspie Seeks Love
Heartwarming doc about artist David Matthews, who has spent the past 20 years posting quirky personal ad-fliers to telephone poles in an attempt to find love. The twist: Matthews finds out at age 41 that he has Asperger’s, the diagnosis of which changes his entire life.

MUSIC

Northside is known for its celebration of music discovery, creativity and culture, and this year they’ve added over 150 bands to the lineup. Attendees will have access to 400 of the hottest and emerging bands, curated to provide a unique festival experience for the avid music fan.

Consequently, Northside is about the BK experience. It spreads across 20 local music venues and three outdoor spaces within a walkable radius: McCarren Park, an annual staple of the festival for its free shows; Brooklyn Live at the Inlet, at 50 Kent Avenue; and a pop-up stage on main drag, Bedford Avenue. This year, Northside is expanding free programming at McCarren Park to all four days of Northside Music.

Entry to all McCarren shows is guaranteed with a Music or Premium festival badge. Non badge-holders must RSVP. Admission is first-come, first-served. Free RSVPs for select McCarren show is open via northsidefestival.com.

Here are five acts you should carve some time out of your summer schedule for — individual show tickets are available, but if you’re planning on catching a few, you might want to grab a badge:

Run the Jewels
This heart-stopping combo of NYC producer El-P and Atlanta rapper Killer Mike deliver aggressive bars like a modern-day Rage Against the Machine (which is why Zach de la Rocha came out from hiding to guest on their latest LP).
Sunday, June 14th
50 Kent Ave.

 

Rhye 
When Rhye released the appropriately named Woman, it was hard to imagine that the vocalist, Milosh, is a dude. But he, alongside his musical partner Robin Hannibal, have crafted an R&B debut masterpiece with an agenda, appropriately titled Woman. This duo is way too “smoove.”
Friday, June 12th
50 Kent Ave.

 

Against Me!
From self aware folk-punks to wary arena rockers (opening for the likes of Silversun Pickups and Foo Fighters) to their current, best state: as rockers who deliver scorching sing-along anthems that unite more than divide. You will clap along and start class warfare.
Saturday, June 13th
McCarren Park

 

Best Coast
Singer Bethany Cosentino spends most of her new album exploring the dark side of Los Angeles, but filling her dourness with hooky pop and huge guitars straight out of the alt-rock ’90s playbook.
Saturday, June 13th
50 Kent Ave.

 

Ryan Hemsworth
Is it hip-hop? Electro? House? These are questions you will ask yourself — in vain — while listening to Hemsworth, who has remixed everyone from Cat Power to Frank Ocean. Heed not concerns over genre, but rather your feet, which will move instinctively and with great vigor for the duration of his bass-heavy set.
Friday, June 12th
Palisades
906 Broadway
Brooklyn, NY

 

Also, in keeping with Northside tradition of shining light on Brooklyn-bred talent, they’ve added acts like Beach Fossils, Frankie Cosmos, Nude Beach, YVETTE, Beverly, and Sannhet.

Grab your tickets as soon as you can.