ISSUE 10 ( togetherness )
BAHATI SIMOENS DANIEL ARNOLD SOPHIE HUR ALEXANDRA SAVIOR STEFANIE RÖHNISCH TYLER MCGILLIVARY
Issue 10 marks the start of the fourth year of inbtwn., and we couldn’t be more excited to share it with you. 2020 was an incredibly difficult year, on a global scale. It drew the curtain back on many of the systemic issues that are consistently deprioritized and undervalued. Yet while it was a year of physical distancing, we found the strengthening of digital communities to be both a crucial comfort and a large inspiration. With that, we’re opening 2021 and our first issue in over a year with this theme: togetherness. On the cover, you’ll find a painting, entitled “Love on me”, from Bahati Simoens, a Belgium-based painter. Her works are often gentle in both color and composition yet direct in their message, such as her painting featured on page 09 of a person seated with a sweatshirt labeled “FYPD” (Fuck Your Police
Department). For Bahati, painting started as a means of personal discovery, but it has grown into a desire to represent feelings and spaces that other Black individuals can relate to. The pandemic took a huge toll on the art industry, shutting down sets and halting most projects. However, for photographer Daniel Arnold, quarantine provided him with a new way to experience New York, the city he calls home. On our call, he mentioned he had “a really intimate experience in the first wave” and that it felt like “holding New York’s hand”. It feels as though new hobbies and interests can divide everyone’s pandemic experience into stages, with each stage marked by the rise and fall of a sudden (sometimes short-lived) passion. In photographer Sophie Hur’s case, she took to making a couple quick YouTube
videos about her creative process. This must have been an early phase of the pandemic for her, as she shared, “I honestly completely forgot I made those until a couple days ago.” This issue is filled with incredible work from artists based all across the globe: Spain, United States, Belgium, Germany, and more. We are so grateful to everyone who has submitted work and given us the opportunity to create a community within these pages. We are hopeful towards 2021, that it will lead to more togetherness, both digitally and in person.
inbtwn. Founder & Editor-in-Chief
TAYLOR SEAMANS Editorial Assistant
AISLING GOGAN Editorial Photographer
ERIN CLIFFORD Design and Content Director
JENNY VENTURA Writers
MAXINE FLASHER-DUZGUNES ERIN CLIFFORD Contributors
SOPHIE HUR, DANIEL ARNOLD, TYLER MCGILLIVARY, ALEXANDRA SAVIOR, BAHATI SIMOENS, STEFANIE RÖHNISCH, MAXINE FLASHER-DUZGUNES, JASON MAGID, SOLIDARITY SKATEBOARDS, MAYA MOTO, JESUS RIOS COZZETTO, LUIS MAYORGA LOPEZ, SEIGAR, CLAIRE RICHARDS, MAGGIE SILVA, JESSIE MAHON, IDA OBEDIENTE, RACHEL HA-EUN LEE, CAMILLE DEBARD
Cover: Love on me, Bahati Simoens
← Collection I, Stefanie Röhnisch
( togetherness )
PRETEND YOU ARE WATCHING
JESUS RIOS COZZETTO / LUIS MAYORGA LOPEZ MAGGIE SILVA
TO & FROM
( togetherness )
Thicker than water
BAHATI SIMOENS is a Belgium-based artist whose large-scale paintings beautifully reference elements of her own childhood, her mother’s life in the Congo, and today’s society. Her work serves as a way to tell stories and experiences that she hopes other Black individuals feel seen in. @bahati.simoens / www.bahatisimoens.com
How are you doing right now? Bahati: Right now? I’m all good, but it has been a crazy roller coaster of surviving indeed! A lot of hurt and standing still in the unknown, but it’s a new year so I’m definitely embracing all of it and feeling positive, despite all. Agreed, completely. You’ve spoken in the past on how your childhood and mother’s life in the Congo are central influences on your work. Could you expand on that?
Bahati: I think we all know the term trans-generational trauma. I feel like my mother passed a lot of it on to me.
However, not only the trauma, but also the general pride and wisdom of being an African black woman. I’ve been trying to understand my sense of belonging, navigating spaces. Where does my sense of home arise? I’m always led back to my African heritage as what I feel most connected to, physically and mentally. I know, closest to my heart, I’m an artist. And secondly, I’m my mother’s daughter. It just makes sense to me. There’s no other way than to manifest it in and through my art.
Growing up, my mother never really felt the need to share a lot with me and my siblings. Looking at us as only European, she thought we cared as little as her new surroundings. I was very young when we moved to Belgium, yet nowhere has ever felt more like home than the African continent. Her seeing me as a grown woman, proud of my heritage, braiding my own hair and cooking traditional Congolese food. The way she looks at my work, as well as just visiting my apartment and seeing books mostly written by African American writers, magazines with black women on the cover.
“I know, closest to my heart, I’m an artist. And secondly, I’m my mother’s daughter. It just makes sense to me. There’s no other way than to manifest it in and through my art.”
It only motivates, knowing I can make her feel seen the same way it did for myself while painting. In a previous interview you did, you mention that at the beginning, art was a way for you to connect with yourself but now it has extended to wanting to create work that Black people feel seen in. As a kid making art versus as an adult, what pieces of that experience have felt the same throughout and what pieces have shifted? Bahati: Though I have been into arts for as long as I can remember, I’ve only been painting a little over four years now. The shift in my work happened recently,
April 2020. A lot of it had to do with the first lockdown in March during Black History Month here. I had the time to reflect and process previous traumas. At first, most of my work was all about reassurance and comforting myself and parts of my identity. It was therapeutic, getting in touch with my soft side and showing that vulnerability. But the past three years were a big wake up call into realizing a lot of people blindly believe they’re ‘woke’ yet are still very much ignorant and comfortable, benefiting off of their privilege. When the murder on George Floyd happened, it aroused a lot of anger and
pain. I completely broke down. The doctor put me on bed rest for a month. Painting helped and still helps to ease my mind. I wanted to do the same for the black bodies around me. Uplift and celebrate, while bringing awareness and communicating important topics. Having one black friend doesn’t make it okay for you to tell the minority at your job to stop making you aware of microaggressions. Why are you still telling people of color to diminish their hurt and pain, so you can keep ignoring your colonized mind? BIPOC aren’t the ones making you uncomfortable, the confrontation with your own mind is.
My skin my logo
( togetherness )
( togetherness )
It’s up to the viewer to respond to this or to only see the soft and tender side to the piece. You strike a really captivating balance of being direct in your message while also remaining gentle (I think through color palette and composition). What draws you to create work in this way? Bahati: Just me as a person, I think. I consider myself to have a very calm appearance. Whether it is me expressing myself through visual art or through words, those are two things I can’t really disconnect from each other. The disquieting feelings mostly happen on the inside, regardless of how I got carried away on the previous question (laughs). Every human being is a collage with different layers, and I think it’s very important to be kind - not only towards others, but towards yourself as well. Especially as a black woman.
Home, as a place
Being a black female artist makes it hard not to be political in some shape or form. In my experience, being very loud about it only draws attention to your anger. Reading a ton of Audre Lorde definitely has helped throughout that process.
In a separate interview, you mention your art school experience wasn’t very positive, due to lack of diversity, stereotyping, etc. Do you feel like art as an institution is creating an honest space for diverse stories?
Bahati: Being a young woman, evolving and trying to find your place in the world is one thing. Being a young woman of color is a whole other experience, meaning there weren’t any examples to identify with apart from family and friends. You really need to do your own research and guide yourself into finding women of color to identify with or to look up to. Don’t get me wrong, I’m aware of my privilege being a light skinned black
woman, but that doesn’t make it any less hard when you’re going through all the feels. I got the remark that I needed to study the history of the arts more. Next it was, “What about Africa? Maybe you should go a bit deeper into that?” Then it was, “No, that’s too much Africa! You’re still a Belgian citizen now. And why are your self portraits all in black and white, try using color next time since color is the most important thing about you.”
On top of my predominantly white environment, I had four white, male teachers telling me all of this, plus the contemporary society we live in and my personal experience of not feeling historically welcome in museum spaces. With a predominantly white environment, structural racism, and microaggressions on a daily basis—I mean, my patience runs deep but—after a year I wasn’t very motivated to keep going to class. (Laughs) Yeah, I was done.
( togetherness )
“Every human being is a collage with different layers, and I think it’s very important to be kind - not only towards others, but towards yourself as well. Especially as a black woman.”
So, is there an honest space? Back then I would’ve said no, leaning more towards dismissive. Now, with all that I’ve been blessed with the past few months, I can honestly say there is. Yet I’m still, unfortunately, referring to a minority of spaces. I love the scale and proportions of your work. The subjects confidently fill the space of the canvas and the scales of your pieces themselves are quite large. What is the way you’d most like your work to be experienced?
Bahati: Definitely through exhibitions, which is a better way to interact and communicate in my opinion. For those who’ve seen my art, I’ve been getting the response that it looks so much better and even more moving in real life than on Instagram.
But due to the fact that I didn’t finish my studies, it has been hard to connect and throw myself into the art scene here [Belgium]. However, since last summer after my WePresent article came out, I’ve been getting some really nice new project offers for this year. So I’m very grateful for social media and the lockdown, putting everyone at home, scrolling. (Laughs) I have a solo exhibition at La Causa Art Gallery, in June of this year. If all goes well, another one at HOME in London (January 2022). Plus, some really nice collaborations. Could you share some of your favorite artists at the moment? What is it about their work that attracts you? Bahati: It keeps changing, there are so many talented people out there. I’m really into photography at the moment,
mainly because it gives the sense of traveling. So I’d say Renell Medrano’s newest work and Sory Sanlé’s 70’s portraits. I discovered Cassi Namoda’s work a few months ago and I keep falling in love with it. Especially her use of color, everything looks so beautiful and peaceful.
( togetherness )
SOPHIE HUR is a photographer based in New York whose work centers around film and collage. While her work primarily has been presented digitally, for brands and musicians, her goals for her personal work focus on her desire to explore her prints in larger scales. @sophiehur
How are you doing? I know you had this crazy moving situation.
Sophie: Yeah, no, I’m good. I live with two of my best friends, and we live in our apartment that has two stories to it. We just had this vacate order from something that hadn’t been cleared before we moved in, but we actually got out on a loophole where we just had to vacate the third floor. It’s so chaotic, but I’m just staying at my boyfriend’s place in Williamsburg. It’s good because he’s
actually away this week, so I just have his whole bedroom to myself. I woke up this morning and had his sheets everywhere. I was, like, lopsided on the bed. Like, I don’t even know why. But yeah, so it’s okay.
Sophie: I went to acting school in New York. I went to AADA, the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. Not many people know it. Prior to that I had been doing acting in Brisbane and had been doing outside school.
Wow that’s a lot, but I’m glad you guys didn’t have to get completely vacated. Well, let’s just get into it. Prior to working as a photographer in New York, you had been in acting school. Was that in New York or back in Australia?
[Acting] was what I wanted to do my whole life. I got into this acting school with one of my best friends, and we both moved to New York together. This was all prior to really falling in love with photography.
( togetherness )
Had you ever really done much with photography prior to starting these past few years? Sophie: No, never. Seriously, if someone— like before I moved to New York— was to be like, “Oh, you’re going to be a photographer,” I would have been like what the fuck? Like I did not know. It seriously didn’t even cross my mind. That’s crazy. So what prompted you to get into photography? Sophie: I think it was when I was dating someone who was doing an internship with Steven Klein. He was kind of like, “You should get a camera.” He kind of introduced me to the fashion world. I’d always been into that world but not many of my friends at the time were. When I met him, we bonded over that.
And then yeah, he encouraged me to get a camera. So I got a little film camera, a Canon AE-1, and I just really liked taking photos. He showed me how to use it and stuff, and that was basically how I started. Was going for film over digital right off the bat because he was also interested in that or for some other reason? Sophie: Yeah, I think I chose film because [photography], at the very start, was more of a hobby. I found film photography to be so fun. Getting the negatives developed and seeing the final images was (and still is) just super fun to me. When I thought about digital photography— even still a little bit but more so back then— it was very intimidating and just very clean cut in my head. Very studio and lights, and that
was more of something that I was just like holy shit, I know nothing about that. Even film photography I was like, I know nothing about it, but it just made more sense in my brain than digital. Your subjects are primarily people, whether it’s more conventional portraiture work or more candid. What draws you to people as your subject matter over other things? Sophie: Well, I think I’m just so interested in people and their personalities. Especially in New York, there’s just an abundance of incredibly interesting people. I personally find it a lot more fun and captivating to shoot people as opposed to landscapes. I just would not be able to capture a landscape like a landscape photographer can. It’s just way more fun to me to photograph people.
( togetherness )
“I have so many ideas in my head of ways that I want to show my work, and all of these involve large scales of my photos. I want to eventually blow up my images to be huge and really play with scale.”
“Even film photography I was like, I know nothing about it, but it just made more sense in my brain than digital.”
( togetherness )
In terms of the candid moments, it’s really important when I’m on a shoot for it not to be super rigid. Obviously, you need rules and boundaries for certain brands and clients and things, but if I have more freedom to shoot, I have a lot more fun. It’s important [to me] to capture authentic moments, moments in between the poses. I think personality shines through a lot more.
well, I can really relate to being in front of the camera. I think I have a good sense of how to make somebody feel comfortable and how to kind of create an environment where somebody has the freedom to be their authentic self and doesn’t feel stress that they need to be a certain way.
Do you feel like your experience acting in the past affects how you’re thinking as a photographer?
It’s intimidating having a camera literally pointing at you. So I think my acting experience has really helped in just being able to, I guess, relate to the individual that I’m shooting.
Sophie: Yeah, for sure. I think that for me, having experience as the subject as
That totally makes sense. So when you’re shooting people that you don’t have any
prior kind of personal relationship with, do you get right into photographing? Or, is there any sort of relationship building that you do before starting that you feel helps with that comfort? Sophie: I think a lot of the time, we’re just meeting each other for the first time, but I hate this sort of like, “Okay, you’re here. I’m here. Let’s shoot, dun dun dun. Okay, now we’re finished.” I like having a conversation while I’m shooting. I like getting to know the person because I just feel weird if I don’t know them. I like to find out a little bit about them and then throughout the day just hang out and get to know each other.
( togetherness )
You’ve talked in other interviews about the role that social media plays for artists right now and the sort of tension of that format. Could you expand a little on your thoughts around Instagram and, in general, how you think about sharing your work? Sophie: I think like I’m still figuring that out. I don’t even have a website up right now. I’ve been trying to make a website for years, and every time I’m like, “Oh my God, I hate this. I need new work. I’m so sick of seeing all these photos.” I run into the same issue every time. I’m like, I need a website because I can’t just keep posting stuff on Instagram. But I’m getting so much work through Instagram. It’s kind of my main source of income, literally people just finding me on Instagram. I don’t even have a big following at all. I’m still figuring out how I feel about Instagram. I have work that I love, but putting it on Instagram, I hate the thought that it just disappears into the abyss. You just can’t expect one tiny little square on a page to really show [a piece’s] value. There are some things that I will make that I’m like, “Oh, yeah, this would be great to post. It gives character to who I am and my work,” but I don’t really give a shit about it. I think [Instagram] is a blessing and curse. Because as I said, I get work from it. And I think these days, you go to Instagram pages before you go to a website. It’s just kind of the nature of it. I think I’m just going with it at this point. I actually think the whole idea of me becoming a photographer because of social media is kind of ridiculous and I really want to continue to subtly troll on my own professional page. I don’t want to post everything on Instagram, because there are some things that I just want to save, that I want to really do justice. But then at the same time, I’m like, well, when will I do that justice? It’s been sitting around for a while now. I’ve been trying to make a zine for a while now with only things that I haven’t posted. And when am I going to do that?
It makes me laugh actually. I sound like such a procrastinator. Going off what you said about a tiny square being unable to capture a piece’s value, how is the idea of scale integrated into your thought process as a photographer? Sophie: A lot of the work that I’m doing is brand work or with musicians. So a lot of it, basically all of it, is viewed on a computer screen. In terms of scale for those projects, I’m not shooting things that are going to be printed in a gallery.
“I felt I knew how to make a composition of an image with just things like scrap paper or tracing paper, sticky tape, stuff like that, so I kind of just kept going.” I have so many ideas in my head of ways that I want to show my work, and all of these involve large scales of my photos. I have certain images that I do post on my Instagram, but I’m like this will just look so much better blown up massive, like on a wall. So even though all the work that I’m doing is basically for the computer screen, I am still thinking about that. When I’m going to edit photos, I’m like, “This would look great blown up with this in front of it,” and stuff like that. I’m still always thinking about it, but I think that’s more with my personal work. Scale is so important. It’s definitely something I’m thinking about when I’m shooting. I want to eventually blow up my images to be huge and really play with scale.
You do a lot of collage, and so a lot of your work is very tactile and textured. How did you get into that? Sophie: I suppose the reason why I was so attracted to film photography is because I love the way that it feels compared to digital photography. I think I’ve always been really interested in the feeling of photos. I think the first collage artist who I was influenced by would be Collier Schorr. When I first started photography, I was like, “I just love the way that that looks.” It looks so grungy and cool. I just couldn’t really wrap my brain around how to make it look like that. So, she was like the first one that influenced me in that sense. Another artist I’m heavily influenced by is Frank Lebon. He does a lot of collage. So I just started playing with [collage], and it just kind of became something that I have so much fun doing. It’s very much “me time” and therapeutic in a way. I like to have the luxury of time to be able to collage my photos. [My collage work] also stemmed from me not having professional studio experience. So I was like, “Look, I’m never gonna be shooting car commercials. Like, I don’t want to do that. So what else can I offer? How can I give something that’s very me?” And then I was like, well, I’m very DIY. I love this kind of bare, minimal stuff. I felt I knew how to make an image, like a composition of an image with just things like scrap paper or tracing paper, sticky tape, stuff like that, so I kind of just kept going. And then I was like, “Oh, it’s still very me.” I finally found my kind of style and what I want to put out into the world. I was watching some of the YouTube videos that you put up during quarantine around some creative challenges you’ve created for yourself. How have these past few months been for you? Sophie: Yeah, I think at the start, in March, it was very restrictive in what people could do, especially artists. So that’s why I kind of took to making a couple videos on YouTube. I actually for-
got about them, and I was just thinking about them today. I was like, “Holy shit, I literally forgot that that even happened.” We had to like, and I say we as in artists, to find alternate ways to keep each other and ourselves motivated and stimulated. The start of quarantine was very difficult, but we persevered. I think the past couple months have been a lot better, it feels a little more back to normal. How do you maneuver the creative direction that you have for your personal work versus what a brand or artist might want it? Sophie: With those kinds of projects, there’s always a time limit. A lot of my personal ideas that I really like come from having time to sit with an image and just play with it. So when it comes to doing branded or work with musicians
with time limits, it’s a little more pedal to the metal. And, I mean, I work pretty fast anyway. So far, [brands] want me to stay with my style. I do a little bit of collage, like here and there. But they don’t usually choose it. I can’t wait till I work with someone like Nike or something, and they’re like, “Absolutely. Rip up the paper and like do something super you.” That would be a dream because I think right now they want an in between. They want it to be sleek and my style but not too heavy. It’s just interesting that they can see that this is my style, but they want it toned down a bit. They’re like (jokingly), “Okay, this is great, but like, calm down. Like, we want to actually see the brand and the shoe.”
I always put out my own ideas. I’ll spend a week making like seven or so collage edits, and they can choose from just like the normal photos or the collage edits. That’s kind of how I do it. Do you have any ideal collaboration or an ideal way for you to be able to share your work? Sophie: I think that working with a really high brand like Nike would be my dream. I’d like to do something that I can create and direct, that has a lot more freedom to mess up. I’d love for them to take references from personal work. That’s my goal for right now. Oh, that and I’d love to do creative direction for a super cool musical artist and help bring their project to life. I think it’s achievable, but I think that they just need to trust me, you know?
( togetherness )
“I think my work is still in progress, and it will be forever I hope. I love to experiment and don’t want to limit myself.”
STEFANIE RÖHNISCH is a Berlin-based illustrator whose color and texture forward drawings create a world of their own. Her work highlights the beauty and nuance that comes from working with pencil on paper. @stiefbert / www.stefanieroehnisch.de
How are you doing right now? Stefanie: I’m okay. In the past year, there were ups and downs for me just like for everybody else. I try not to focus on the downs too much. Instead, I try to see and use the opportunities that came out of this current situation. I’m trying to figure out what I want to do in the future and what my artistic path will be. Could you give a little background on the piece (seen on page 27) you created for this issue? Stefanie: In my work, I try to express myself using characters and symbols. In this piece, these elements transport the feeling of friendship and support. Something that belongs together and maybe can’t exist without each other. You got your Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Communication Design Studies, so you have obviously been devoting much of your recent years to art, but at what point in your life did
you know you wanted to pursue art as a career? Did you ever consider other career paths? Stefanie: I always wanted to do something creative. I did creative stuff as a kid and teenager like everyone else I guess. Later, I was very interested in Art History and even studied it for some time at university. But it was only at art school that I noticed I really wanted to do something with drawing and to work as an artist. After my graduation, I did an internship at “La S Grand Atelier” in Belgium. “La S” is a studio where artists with disabilities work. I really enjoyed working with the artists and I can imagine continuing this in the future. You play with proportion a lot in your illustrations, sizing ears up or scaling faces down. In a sense, you’ve created these characters or even universe that are highly recognizable as your work. How did you develop this style?
Stefanie: I think my work is still in progress, and it will be forever I hope. I love to experiment and don’t want to limit myself. Since my Masters degree, I’ve drawn a lot with colored pencils, but in the future this might change. I guess I am just drawing what I am enjoying and what interests me. With characters and people especially, I love to draw and search for new forms with them. I love how bright your pieces are and how you mix patterns and textures. How much of these details do you plan out before a piece and how much of the decision making is made while the work is in progress? Stefanie: First, I scribble a lot and make little sketches to get the forms I have in mind on paper. The final sketch is a big outline drawing which I then color. Sometimes, I pick some colors or a specific combination before, but typically I am very intuitive in using colors and choose them while I draw. I try not to plan everything before because I want to
( togetherness )
see what comes to the paper while I am working. You’ve done some editorial work, creating images to pair with articles. What do you enjoy about that style of work, and what don’t you enjoy? Does it ever feel restrictive? Stefanie: It depends on the purpose. Sometimes, it can be very nice to draw a piece which accompanies text. It’s nice to see how my drawings come together with the work of someone else. In the past, I did some editorial jobs, and I’ve noticed it can be quite challenging for me to develop a drawing that shows the message of the article in one picture.
There were just a few of these jobs, but they always liked my style, so I didn‘t feel any limitation. I always wanted to try editorial work out, and I think if the purpose fits with my drawings it can be very enjoyable to do. But I feel more freedom in my own work where I can process my own thoughts and search for ways to show these. There, it isn’t absolutely necessary that the viewers are completely getting what I want to tell. I like that the viewers are free to read the drawings the way they want. Do you do some work on paper and other work digitally? If so, is there anything
you prefer in one medium versus the other? Stefanie: Yes, sometimes I draw digitally. A big plus of it, I think, is that you can easily change the size and correct mistakes you make. I also really love some effects you can use, like some grainy textures. Often, I am overwhelmed by all the colors you can choose and the ways it could look, so I stick with my pencils. I genuinely enjoy working on paper. You have something tangible, something concrete. I guess I am just more comfortable with the analog, and I like original artwork a lot. Seeing the different layers, textures and materials in a drawing is really
( togetherness )
“I genuinely enjoy working on paper. You have something tangible, something concrete. I guess I am just more comfortable with the analog, and I like original artwork a lot. Seeing the different layers, textures and materials in a drawing is really interesting for me.”
interesting for me. That’s the biggest advantage I think.
You sell prints and your work is also featured in print magazines, but I assume much of your work (like most art these days) is consumed via Instagram or online. What is your impression of Instagram and the ways you’d like to share your work? Stefanie: Instagram is a great tool. I’ve discovered so many impressive artists and have gotten so much great support
from the people there. It’s so easy to get connected with people. As an artist, you can reach out and show your work to so many different people in the world. That is really great. But, of course, I think you have to experience art in real life. It’s difficult to transport certain impressions through a phone screen. I’ve always found this challenging in terms of my own work. Last year, I set up a shop to see if people would be interested in prints of my work. I sell original drawings and prints. It really makes me happy every time I get
feedback from someone who bought something. For me, it’s nice to delight people with my work. It doesn’t matter if it’s on a screen or on a wall. What’s next for you? Is there anything in particular you are looking forward to? Stefanie: There is not really a plan, but in the coming time I want to focus on coherent work — like a series of drawings— and make an exhibition if possible or an artist book.
DANIEL ARNOLD is a New York-based street photographer. He has gained a cult Instagram following and had his work published in varsity publications like Vogue, The New York Times, and the New Yorker. @arnold_daniel / www.daniel-arnold.org
My knock at his sticker covered door could have been mistaken for the rapid pounding in my chest. I was two minutes late after insisting I should walk the bridge from Brooklyn into Manhattan in the middle of another rainy day in New York. The door opens: I am drenched and standing in front of a New York legend. It has been a year since I last spoke to Daniel Arnold. Last October, we were discussing the prolific photographer’s first New York show, 1:21.
Title photo and interview by Erin Clifford
There have been many lifetimes in between now and then. This year was __________. (I’ll let you D-I-Y this and fill in the blank yourself. My choice words were: a tumultuous piece of garbage). So there I was, sitting across from one of the greatest photographers in New York in the place most of us spent our entire 2020: his home.
What was it like being out in New York City when Biden officially won the presidency? Daniel: I could not have anticipated the feeling of the past weekend. It’s not in my vocabulary. Not to be hyperbolic even. Yes, there was hyperbole involved, but it was a new sensation. My closest antecedent was like seeing some cartoons when I was 9 years old where at the end of the movie the curse
( togetherness )
is lifted and the charred landscape turns green again, the feeling of a new day. It’s unprecedented in my life. It made me think of — and I heard this from other people too — that photo in Times Square of V-J Day. The nurse and sailor making out in the street. It was like a movie day. And it lasted throughout the weekend. I basically spent the whole day trying to leave Washington Square Park. Could not get out of there. Every time I got away, something would pull me back. It felt like the center of my universe for that day. Circumstances, you know, are obviously unimaginably heightened this year by COVID and the complete disruption of culture and society. That weight is still there, but everybody seemed to feel momentarily lifted. Where were you when you found out? Daniel: I was right here (his apartment). I was cutting a coffee can into a bird feeder, because suddenly I have Blue Jays and they like peanuts. And you went straight to -? Daniel: I walked out the door pretty much right away. I didn’t expect by any means the energy of that day. I figured people would be excited and maybe run around the street for ten minutes. But, that city wide Explosion? Daniel: Major explosion of energy for days - I did not anticipate. I made it as far as Dimes Square and got a call from New York Magazine saying, “Hey are you out? Will you take videos?” I was a little bummed not to be able to photograph it. But, it was kind of nice because it forced me to look at things a little differently than I usually do. I’m less committed to making a video than I am to making a photo.
I have been thinking a lot about this quote that you said in our last interview that’s been in my head since you said it, this idea of needing to take yourself outside when there’s so much going on in your head. One of the reasons why I was interested in connecting with you again was because of the rivaling feelings of needing to get outside to get out of your head while also being in lockdown. How did you handle that? Daniel: I mean the truth is I didn’t ever for one second consider staying inside. My version of being outside is not — by my estimation — the problematic version. My first wave of being outside was in gloves, double mask, like all precautions taken. When I go outside, I stay outside. I don’t go in anywhere. I barely interact with anybody. It is funny to think of the photos — especially from that period — as being further away. I think the work suffers in a way, but it is emblematic of this bigger thing, of this cultural thing that there are no more close pictures. I had a really immersive, like intimate experience in that first wave where it felt like I was at the hospital with a loved one. Like holding New York’s hand. Bothering to see for myself what was really happening. As usual, letting the camera pull me around. That was just like what I was supposed to do in this moment even if nobody ever sees proof of it. Do you think they will? Daniel: I don’t know. My kind of general feeling about work this year — although a chunk of it did make it into the New York Times — is that I am asking nothing of it. I am very clear on the fact that I don’t know what it is, what it means. I’m not following an angle. I’m not pulling a thread. I’m not trying to tell a particular story. I’m just making myself available and putting myself in front of it for as much time as I possibly can, for the primary purpose of just honoring the
ritual and having the experience. This is such an elevated, separate time of being human. I guess I am going out of my way to try to really feel it. What has been your relationship to other people? Do you feel like this experience has brought you closer to the people of New York or more separated? Daniel: I don’t know. That’s a tough one. Like that whole aspect of the day to day slipped away kind of seamlessly. The world was shut down. I guess I was already on my own road drifting into isolation, and so this switch, in a way, was kind of natural. It didn’t make me lonely. I didn’t have any — as far as I remember — no perceptible anguish about the loss of socializing. It wasn’t like I couldn’t go to my office anymore, or I couldn’t do my job anymore. If anything, I got to do my job like a thousand times harder. With the closer people in my life, it’s a new level of intimacy because of the turned up vulnerability and this new sensitivity to our humanness. As much as I feel like I’ve drifted from my home, from my real family who are far away, the people who are in my orbit, I feel closer to them than ever. I also feel connected to the city in a way that
I guess I always did, but in a broader, deeper way. What would you say your relationship to the city is now? Daniel: I don’t know. I don’t know how I would describe it. But I have thought several times throughout this: it’s going to be such an interesting aftermath. Like if and when the smoke clears, to have toughed it out with New York - I do feel like we have trauma bonded. Although honestly, maybe trauma bonded more with the city than with each other. As someone whose photographs capture the life of the city, what were your feelings surrounding Trump’s comments claiming that New York City was dead? Daniel: The city’s not dead. The city is more alive than I’ve ever seen it. I’ve lived here for 17 years. The city is present and hustling and muscular and energetic in ways that I’ve never seen before. It’s like the office toy with the clacky balls: equal and opposite reaction. Whatever he [the president] says makes the opposite so viscerally true. In a way, it was great that he said that, so you could really feel this like apex “fuck you, idiot” feeling. To have that wrong of an assessment from the top office only made the reality on the ground feel more vital.
( togetherness )
“I had a really immersive, like intimate experience in that first wave where it felt like I was at the hospital with a loved one. Like holding New York’s hand. Bothering to see for myself what was really happening. As usual, letting the camera pull me around. ”
Daniel: This year crystallized a feeling that has been ongoing throughout Trump, which is that like every two weeks you feel like you start to know what’s going on and the world gets flipped again. I am in no hurry to show work or make an edit that claims to understand what the work is or what the story of this year is. It’s a good companion to this thing I already had going, which is focusing more on the process instead of results. I haven’t processed this year. I feel like we’re going to be processing this year for the rest of our lives. Well, I hope that we get to process this year for the rest of our lives, that it’s a standalone and not the beginning of some larger thing that we haven’t even begun to think of or deal with yet. I guess that’s the implicit national prayer in electing Biden. I don’t think anybody is screaming from the mountain tops about Biden, but you would hope that he at least gets us back on course so we can think straight. Do you think that was mixed into the feeling of this (election) weekend as well? I felt like there was a moment during the celebration where we forgot about this virus, like there was a brief period of space. Daniel: Yeah. Space in ... like something that has been pressing down on you for long enough that you forget that it’s there. When that goes away, there’s metaphysical space that you couldn’t have anticipated. The thing I always think of — I wouldn’t be surprised if I already said it to you last time — is this trick that they taught us in first grade where if you stand in a doorway and press your arms hard on either side of the jamb for a minute and then walk away, your arms just like drift to the sky without any effort. This is probably the best manifestation of that that I’ve ever experienced. The weight
Daniel’s apartment by Erin Clifford
How do you begin to process this year?
( togetherness )
came off and everybody just lifted off the ground a little bit for a couple of days. What has kept you feeling grounded in this time? Your relationship, your friends, Peanut (Daniel’s cat)? Daniel: Home. It’s interesting that you wound up here because this place is blooming with proof of all the things that I’ve done to ground myself. I would not have thought of this whatsoever if you hadn’t put that question that way. Look at all this shit in this obsessive, this growing of things phase. These grow lights and herb pots. Going to elaborate lengths to attract birds to the fire escape to begin with was to entertain my poor, lonesome cat. This is a new apartment too. I moved here after I met you. I moved here after the [Larrie] show. I think November first I moved here. What part about this space makes you feel most at home?
Daniel: I couldn’t tell you anything intentional. It’s a funny case, this place. In a way it’s like found materials collage. Like there’s a lot of stuff in this apartment that was here when I moved in. All the furniture is built in. I threw out all my furniture to live here. All I brought was this bookshelf. And that bookshelf. And so I guess the burrowing — the me-ification — of it is very sort of incidental. I could go backwards and identify the meanings of these accumulations. I think this room is very much the story of my year. I have made very few determined intentional decisions. I’ve kind of let all of the usual control tricks go away. I’ve accepted that I’m in the water. It feels very safe. Daniel: Yeah. It’s very cozy. It’s funny hardly anybody comes here.
Thank you for letting me in! Daniel: Of course. I mean I am happy to share it. It’s the scene of my relationship. It’s the scene of processing my work. You’ve given me a gift to make me step away from it and look at it more objectively. It’s very unconsidered, but once you start looking around as if it’s meaningful, it’s really loaded. Going back to spaces, I’ve been thinking about how this year, your work has been more readily available due to print sales and you’re becoming a part of people’s homes, a part of their collective spaces. You’re becoming a part of what makes people feel more at home in this new way. You’re in my space now! Daniel: It’s such a nice life for these things. I have such a hard time being backwards looking. At least directly. I mean I guess there is something... A motivating force in all of this is my relationship with the past. Or my sensitivity to what in the present will be the meaningful past in the future.
( togetherness )
“For me, these photos are all to be let go of. It’s all my education. They get passed on to other people who assign meaning that I could never come up with. ”
For me, these photos are all to be let go of. It’s all my education. I don’t really celebrate them as accomplishments or imagine a life that they’re entitled to. But they get passed on to other people who assign meaning that I could never come up with. And I think that’s kind of the only way that works.
a giant rock. Do you still have the alarms on your phone?
The prints have identities beyond me. It’s more of a tarot. You project yourself onto the card. It means something in your life.
Daniel: They’ve become kind of invisible. But, it’s actually very interesting to revisit that whole line of thinking and that show. It’s not actively in my mind, but the fact that I made such a moment out of that new discipline of letting the landscape of my emotional experience be a special occasion in the world that I can only document passively.
Anything you have added to your space this year? Daniel: There’s tons of shit. My eBay history this year is outrageous. The amount of money that I’ve wasted on the comfort of accumulation is like crazy. I hadn’t really thought of it until now, but that’s kind of a stand out thing. *Daniel points at the bird feeder* Daniel: The bird feeder? A trashy piece of plastic. I like the can though. Me and Daniel as if in sync: The can’s great. Last time we talked, you had alarms on your phone that were reminders to be aware of the fact that we’re just bodies on
Daniel: Yeah. I got rid of one of them: 4:47 is gone. 1:21 still happens. Now I have an 11:11. Are they still effective right now?
Having been put into a position to articulate that and expand on it in October of 2019 was such a perfect volleyball set up for this year. Plenty of people — so many photographers — have made a rigorous occupation of documenting this year, like going to the place where the story is, of crafting and really being a narrative journalist. Obviously there’s plenty of plot, plenty of visual plot to be followed. My whole brain this year has been, “Don’t question it. Don’t ask anything of it. Don’t ask it to be anything. Just accumulate. Go and be in front of it.” Election day and election night was a
really big observable out of body experience where the present felt like the past. There was no possible outcome that wasn’t world shifting. No election has felt like that to me before, so massively consequential. Maybe that’s partially a manifestation of this new photo-driven relationship with history. You have this relationship with the city, I think so many other people view you as synonymous with the city even if it is outside of your own mental capability of even realizing that. Daniel: Well it’s interesting to be pushed in that direction right now. Truth is I don’t think I ever really felt that until this year. It always felt like the city was just the boot-camp and the template, but that there was more of a universally applicable thing. That I was not New York. That it was maybe New York energy that drove it, but it was just life. This has been a really formative year with my relationship with the city. I am so rooted here. I am of it and, for my purposes, it is of me. For better or for worse.
ALEXANDRA SAVIOR is a musician from Portland, Oregon whose songs are painted with texture and enthralling melodies. She shares her take on what it means to be a performer and gives a glimpse into her latest work. @alexandrasavior / www.alexandrasavior.com
How are you doing right now? What has this past year looked like for you? Alexandra: I’m not great, I’m grateful for my health and my loved ones. This year has been insane, I’m sure we all feel exhausted. I’ve spent a lot of time selling little paintings to make a living, writing songs, watched The Sopranos twice over, etc. Yes it has definitely been an insane year. So, you released your sophomore album, “The Archer” years after starting to write it. Some of the songs even predate your first album. What does it feel like to release music so much after when you’ve written it? I assume you’re in such a different head space when the songs are coming out than you were when writing/ recording them.
Photo credit: Laura-Lynn Petrick
Alexandra: Yeah it is a different head space. It feels like I understand the songs more, once I’ve become removed from the environment or relationship that inspired them, and I build them up with instrumentation, I start to see what they really mean. So, yeah it’s a less emotional head space to release music from, and I think that makes performing and talking about the songs much easier, because you’ve had some time to build up your strength and understanding.
music the way that I do, and that’s okay! People relate art to their own experiences and knowledge, and sometimes those are different from my artistic intention, but that doesn’t make me feel bad or different about my work. How was this album’s process different from your first?
Sort of a follow-on, do you feel like you see your songs in a new way once they’re out? Does it mean something else to you when you’re writing it versus when they’re being consumed by others?
Alexandra: I think obviously it’s different because I didn’t write it with anyone else, so I took my time and allowed myself to be more vulnerable. I also did not have a major label, or any label at all, backing me when I wrote it, so I had complete freedom to find the narrative I wanted, without feeling any pressure.
Alexandra: No, not really. After my first record, I very quickly understood that people are not going to interpret my
In a previous interview, you said each song on the album represents a different emotional state, that you were aware you
( togetherness )
were going through stages of grief and trying to understand it. Does writing help you move through those emotions? Alexandra: Yes, it does. When I write songs, sometimes I am very confused as to where they came from, and sometimes I know exactly what I want to convey. But, with “The Archer”, I was aware that I was experiencing rejection and loss, and so that was sort of an easy topic to write around. Writing helps me understand myself and my emotions more than anything, I’m grateful for it. I feel that artists fall at various spots on the spectrum of taking on a persona (lyrically, performatively, etc.) versus not. I don’t think either is necessarily less authentic than the other, but just different forms of self expression. Where would you say Alexandra Savior falls on that spectrum? Alexandra: Well, I don’t believe that persona is always a conscience or calculated choice. But regardless I seem to be very aware of how terrible I am at maintaining one, if I were better at it I would probably be more successful. Having a persona is like having a mask or shield around you, it’s setting a boundary for yourself so that you can give to the audience and still survive. I find it really difficult to do that. I think “Alexandra Savior” is really just 12-year-old Alexandra McDermott playing dress up and telling a story, if I do have a persona I think she has completely failed to do her job! (Laughs) You once described your sound as “being abducted into a desert realm where there is a bar with a red light spotlighting a corner of it.” That’s very specific, and I enjoyed it. Would you say that still holds, or is there anything you’d like to add or change about that? Alexandra: (Laughs) Thanks, well I think I was probably stoned whenever I said that, but for my first record it makes sense. I hope my sound has evolved, it’s pretty much conducted of whatever my interests are at the time of making whatever record. For my second record
“The Archer”, that was a lot of theremin, Mina Mazzini, and Rosemary’s Baby. So I guess I would describe my sound as “that scary moment in the horror movie when the little kid is possessed and starts rocking back and forth, singing the Lizzie Borden song or like ‘Ring Around The Rosie’, and then glass shatters, and you don’t know if you hate the kid or you feel bad for her because she’s possessed and evil, but she still looks innocent”. (Laughs) In an interview, you mention that your memories are divided into outfits. That comment stood out to me because in
various live performances I’ve watched of yours online in addition to your music videos, your style and use of color always stands out to me. I’m curious to know more about what role, if any, fashion plays in your life. Alexandra: Oh goodness! Well, I’ve always expressed myself through the way I dress, and I think that’s certainly something I indulge in when I’m performing or making a music video. I think clothing is a great way to express your intention artistically, and I’ve always had a weakness for costumes. If I didn’t have the excuse of being a performer,
( togetherness ) ISSUE 10
“With “The Archer”, I was aware that I was experiencing rejection and loss, and so that was sort of an easy topic to write around. Writing helps me understand myself and my emotions more than anything.”
( togetherness )
( togetherness )
it’d probably be considered a problem. (Laughs) I heard that you’ve been writing a lot lately. In general, what does that process look like for you? Alexandra: Yes! Well, lately it’s been different. I’m writing on a nylon string guitar, I just sit with myself and try to get a chord structure, then the lyrics come together like a puzzle over a few days, I’ve been letting things happen naturally and trying to be completely myself. What did you take away from either your first and second record that you’re carrying into the new pieces you’re writing? Alexandra: Well, I realize now that stressing over my music only makes me less productive. I also realize how unimportant my art is in the grand scheme of the world, and that I shouldn’t compare myself to anyone but myself. I’d love to know more about the Alexandra Savior outside of music. Anything in particular you love doing? Early riser or someone to sleep in? Love to make soup? Hate soup?
Alexandra: Well, I am a huge fan of soup and soup making, so that’s spot on! I enjoy walking in nature, lately with my scruffy mutt Marvin, I paint a lot, and I also love collecting trinkets like dead moths, Virgin Mary statues, shells, and anything gold or glittered.
( togetherness )
TYLER MCGILLIVARY is a New York-based fashion designer whose namesake brand creates a sophisticated yet playful space for self-expression. @tylermcgillivary / www.tylermcgillivary.com
It all started with her Tyler McGillivary bag. A name I had bouncing around my head the whole car ride home. My fingers manically dancing across the Instagram keyboard in bolts of energy hitting each key as I searched for her account. When I finally found Tyler McGillivary, I felt like I had stumbled across a brand so entwined with self-expression and artistry that investing in one of her pieces also meant investing in oneself.
Not to be dramatic, but the way Carrie Bradshaw felt about the Manolo Blahniks is the way I feel about finding the perfect tote bag. A tote bag can be the center of your universe, the home that hides all my miscellaneous goods: A camera. The world’s smallest paint set. One unfinished Martinelli’s apple juice. These essential staples of my humanness, the miniature caricatures of my soul.
So when I saw Tyler McGillivary’s wiggle tote bag draped on the girl I had just gone on a date with, I had to know more about the designer behind the bag that hit me with cupid’s ironic bow. The idea behind inbtwn. is how our identities are always kind of in flux, and we can’t really be identified by one specific thing. I feel that way about your clothes, and I’m interested to kind of hear what you feel about identity. When did you start to link clothes and fashion with identity? Tyler: I studied it in school. I went to NYU Gallatin, which is a school where you make your own major and get to sort of tailor your studies. My study was specifically based around gender identity - specifically female identity or female identifying identity. Over time clothing has been both a way for women to have enhanced freedoms and a way to force women to be or act or seem a certain way to society. I was interested in that dynamic of [fashion] simultaneous-
by Erin Clifford
ly allowing you freedom while also kind of constructing identity. I was thinking about all the ways that can be positive and negative. Now, I feel like my focus is more around this physical world that I want to make. I am obsessed with color, and I keep thinking of the Dua Lipa album, “Future Nostalgia”. I love this feeling of like you want to be ahead of the curve but also referencing the past in this interesting way. I just want people to be able to be their most outlandish, wonderful, bright, shining versions of themselves. I think that color and print and wild textiles are, in my opinion, how I’ve always done that. When you were a kid, did you find that clothing was a way that you expressed yourself? Tyler: Clothing wasn’t as much my outlet for that as drawing was. When I grew up, I was really interested in art and drawing and painting. I put all my time into that.
As a kid who loved creativity in a school that was very homogeneous, I felt like crafting was kind of like a dream escape. There’s a feeling I get when — I think a lot of us get — when you go into an art store, where it feels like there’s just so much potential. There’s a million paint colors and blank paper. There’s a feeling of “what am I going to make?” When I started using clothing as an outlet for that creativity, it was because it was connected to that same idea of color and that basic feeling of “there’s so much potential in those raw elements of design.” I am interested to know, in this last year when we’re not really going outside or dressing for anybody really, what getting dressed was like. What did you learn about yourself and your personal style and what you want to do with your brand? Tyler: I feel like I have two very specific styles. One of them is that I look for the most rare items I can possibly find that align with my specific design practice. I love looking at vintage clothes and finding independent designers because I love that feeling of wearing something that’s truly one of a kind. I love dressing up, wearing like the sparkliest top to nothing. I feel like that’s such a core element of both my design practice and personal style. But then there’s the other side of my style, which is that I hate getting dressed up to go to work. So, my other style
Photo credit: garmentory.com
is kind of like a 12-year old boy if you added neon colors into it. It’s very much a hugely oversized t-shirt, white pants or jeans, Dansko hot pink shoes, and a hoodie. I want to be as comfortable as possible. But I never don’t wear color because otherwise I don’t feel like myself. I feel like those two competing ideas are the core of my brand. There are pieces that I sell that are fancier — that are way more rare, one of a kind — especially with the designers that I sell that aren’t even my own brand. Then, we also have the more kind of toned down [pieces], like a sweatshirt. Those two things are really important because, for me, I have to have both in my closet. I also know
that there’s a time and a place for those things to both interact. I love the Noush top by Anoushka Haroutounia that came out today. It’s fantastic. I want to wear it to nothing and everything. How do you find brands that you want to sell on your site? Tyler: I bring brands on the site in the same exact way that I shop in a vintage store. Basically, if I haven’t seen something like it before, then I want it on the site. I need to have a sort of feeling that I want to buy it. I think, at the end of the day, my dream for the shop is that the pieces connect — because I do feel like there’s a very specific world — but
( togetherness )
mostly that when my customer sees it, they get a “I can’t get this anywhere else. I need to have it because I’m not gonna get it again” kind of feeling like you get with vintage clothes. Yeah, absolutely. As a fellow person that lives in New York City, where do you find pieces like that? Where would you shop if you’re going to get something for someone and where would you go for yourself? Tyler: Great question. My favorite store — I would say the best vintage store in New York — is Malin Landaeus. I now source vintage pieces from there for inspiration, but before that I was just a tru-
ly loyal customer, maybe too loyal some could say. They have just an absolutely amazing eye and the best shoe collection I’ve ever seen in my life. For gifts, I feel like Coming Soon is obviously beautiful. Bi-Rite, I love. They have such a unique vision for furniture. For a friend, I do really think Café Forgot has a really good, specific idea going on, and I love that they support independent designers. Who would you say your customer is? From what I’ve experienced on your site, Tyler McGillivary is not a gendered brand, so to speak.
Tyler: Yeah, that’s interesting. I was meeting with this showroom that I’d asked for feedback from, and they were kind of like, “You have to stop making things that are so masculine.” I was kind of like, “I can’t,” because I have a strong community of followers who either don’t subscribe to any sort of gender identity or identify as being a man or are a woman who likes to dress in more masculine leaning clothing. Personally, like I mentioned about my two sides of my style, one side of my style is a lot more traditionally masculine feeling. I love an oversized collared shirt. I love a pant that doesn’t feel way too tight on you. I am interested in that kind of integration of those two different styles.
Photo credit: i-d.vice.com
I will say, I think that my customer is primarily in their 20s and 30s. It’s a lot of people that are interested in design or creativity in general. You have to be interested in color, at the very least, to be interested in the brand. I have an overwhelmingly supportive community of people that are just very uplifting of one another. I don’t know why that is necessarily, maybe because people that love rainbows tend to be nice. I don’t know if that’s necessarily a scientific fact, but that’s my working theory.
No, that’s a scientific fact. The research paper, we’ll pull it up and link it in the article. How do you want people to feel the first time they put on your clothes?
machine, and she was like, “I will literally never use this. Do you want it?” I was like, “Okay, I will definitely try to use it, but I don’t know how to use it.”
Tyler: I want them to feel really good about themselves. I want people to feel hot and sexy and good and confident in the clothing. I’m not really interested in people feeling cool, but I want people to really feel like their best versions of themselves in the sense of like, “Oh, I feel like I’m glowing. I feel like there’s a light shining on me.”
I made the top, and it wasn’t that well fitting because it was the first thing I ever made, but it definitely did the job. After that I was just sort of like, “Okay, I have to keep doing this.” That feeling of drawing something and then bringing it into the world and then being able to wear it was so thrilling. I was like, “This is all I want to do now.”
Can you talk more about the ultimatum that you gave yourself before your college graduation surrounding your popular flower top? When you were designing the top, what were the emotions surrounding that experience?
I’m curious to know this idea of, and you said it in your first answer, creating your own world. If you could create a perfect kind of fashion landscape, what would that look like?
Tyler: It was ultimately a stepping stone. I drew this top and these pants on a flower. I was just sort of thinking about what to wear for graduation. My friend’s grandmother had given her a sewing
Tyler: By fashion landscape, do you mean in sort of like a dreamscape, or do you mean more like a reality of where I want fashion to be going?
Let’s do both. Let’s start with dreams first because it’s whimsical. Tyler: I guess the world that I want to create is really full of color and textures and shapes and forms that you have never seen before. I feel like my studio is on its way to being that. I’m really interested in the dynamic between natural elements and hyper-manmade things. I have so many plants in my life, but I also have a side of me that’s so interested in these materials and pieces that are so not natural. I think having a mix of these sort of otherworldly creations mixed with sort of the most beautiful natural elements you could imagine is sort of my ideal combination. It would be like a greenhouse full of bizarre furniture is the best way to put it. I think in terms of fashion, specifically, I really want to have a store. Hopefully I can make that happen in the next like five years. My dream would be to just work with all the artists and designers that I’m friends with and whose work
( togetherness )
“I want people to feel hot and sexy and good and confident in the clothing. I’m not really interested in people feeling cool, but I want people to really feel like their best versions of themselves.”
Photo credit: fashionista.com
I absolutely love and admire. I want to keep expanding that community. For my own brand, I hope to drive focus a lot more on making one-of-a-kind things and using recycled textiles and making things that are even more art pieces. I’ve been so focused on production and growing as a brand — which I love doing and want to continue doing for sure — but like the first thing that I made, I got into doing this because I love having things that are truly their own. So, I hope to be able to return to the roots of that at some point. I also hope people continue to shop small and will continue to support designers in the way that I feel like they are now. It seems like everyone’s kind of moving away from the fashion calendar and releasing smaller drops that are more true to themselves. I hope that continues. I think it’s great that we’re moving towards that kind of level of sustainability and uniqueness of work. Tyler: Definitely. I think people really respond to it. Like, at the end of the day, that’s what it seems like people really do want. What have you learned from the community of designers and artists that you surround yourself with? Tyler: I think the biggest thing is that there is no value to creating pieces that are not authentic to who you are. I’ve talked to so many of my designer friends about the difference between doing wholesale and e-commerce. I’ve had so many people say wholesale is just going to be so soul sucking. You would be paying so much money to have a showroom, show your collection, and then have to face the sort of overwhelming rejection of stores not being interested in what you’ve spent the past six months making. I’ve had that experience. I think what I’ve learned and can hopefully pass on from that experience as well, is the importance of being true to
your own vision and then figuring out how to get that vision across to your own community. My brain has grown so much since I started doing that, versus when I was trying to make things that appealed to a more minimalist version of my ideas. I get so much inspiration and confidence from watching my friends make work that is so unique and so true to them. They’re like, “This is what I’m making. This is my art, and I’m not gonna compromise that.” And I think that that has been invaluable to me. Absolutely. I mean, I feel like it must be also really inspiring to be around people that are consistently trying to be truer and more authentic to themselves as well. How would you describe yourself? Tyler: I think that I would describe myself as someone who seeks out beauty and fun, and also someone who’s very disorganized. Ultimately, it works for me creatively but doesn’t work for me business-wise sometimes. I think that overall, I am trying to convey the way that I see the world and what I want to get out of it to other people and hope that they resonate with that idea.
I was talking today with my partner about what we want to get out of life. I feel like, for me, I want life to be as beautiful and joyful as it possibly can be, which I hope I can convey through my clothes. Whether it be going to buy flowers or going to the Natural History Museum on a rainy day, I feel like those things are so important to me and make my life so valuable. Is there anything that I haven’t asked you that you think that the inbtwn. audience should know? Tyler: I’d love to shout out some designers. Here are their names: Zoe Schlacter (@zoeschlacter), Marshall Columbia (@ marshall.columbia), Brooke Callahan (@ brooketcallahan), Un_Concept (@un__ concept), Sam Crow (@samcrowrugs), Noush (@noush.h), Blobb (@_blobb), Arielle Bobb Willis (@ariellebobbwillis), Rachel Witus (@rachelwitus).
( togetherness )
self portraits at my grandma’s house Claire Richards, 2020
( togetherness )
I took these self portraits to document my presence and awareness of being a separate person but coming from this place, where my grandma and grandpa lived since 1970, where my mom grew up, where I visited my whole life. this location and these items are not mine, yet they created who I am.
On this trip I realized I felt separated, the uncomfortable but unavoidable feeling of growing up and drifting apart from a place that I came from.
( togetherness ) ISSUE 10
With this series, SEIGAR wanted to play with the concept of childhood, creating collages from fashion magazines and toys. He shares, “Childhood has brought something new to my work, both in the form and the content.”
( togetherness )
SEIGAR says he is an intense person, always looking to experience the present. He seems to forget the past.
He adds, “There is not enough space in my mind for all the data, and that includes my childhood memories. That was the motif to create this photo-narrative, to connect with those years.”
He shares, “The adult perspective places the pop icons in curious and weird situations testing darkness but also joy, some adventure, the supernatural, and even religion.” In a previous series entitled “Toxic”, he used collage for the first time which inspired him to use it in this project.
( togetherness )
( togetherness )
SOLIDARITY SKATEBOARDS is a collective in Baltimore that advocates for Queer and BIPOC skaters. The group advocates for mutual aid and shares members with the We Keep Us Safe Collective.
Solidarity Skateboards is created out of the need for community support and protection.
Photos by Jason Magid @jmagmedia / @solidarityskateboards
( togetherness ) ISSUE 10
Akikko doing a backside boneless at Zika Farm on top of art painted by fellow Solidarity member, Ayaka.
“We thrive with our friends through love, growth, fun, and understanding. We’re here for the queers who haven’t been given the space we deserve, we’re here for femmes who have made themselves small for survival. We’re decolonizing skate culture from the inside out, reclaiming what the world has taken from us for too long.”
( togetherness )
MAYA MOTO created this series of photos with the intention of personifying human connection and the ways in which we drift apart.
M O D E L S / Kaelie Osorio & Keilan Stafford I N S T A G R A M / @mayamoto W E B S I T E / mayamoto.art
“Dance has always been the most vulnerable means of expression for me,
so I was excited to shoot with two of my closest friends who are amazing movers”.
( togetherness ) ISSUE 10
“Some of my favorite shots from the series were taken after asking them to move together, organically.”
( togetherness )
[ pretend you are watching ]
photography Ida María Obediente poetry Maxine Flasher-Düzgüneş
Solitude as art - horrific, yet beautiful. Close to oblivion, yet reborn by the sudden appearance of beating life. Without their presence, an ego-centered mind may go about believing a place is abandoned. But in their absence, a place begins a new cycle of life, it blooms from decay, stronger and wiser. - Ida Obediente
a figure lands hits and departs
an empty arriving in darkness
it wanders, ravenous devours a starlight gaze that beats invisibly
( togetherness )
an entrance a dim lit for but
inclines runway few not none
a ticket out the a spectacle
softly a vacant
holder bows side door flits
from the shadows a re-birth
his neck wrapped
a heaviness drapes leans like nothing pulls nor pushes
it resumes a dance found only inland where a lozenge heart beats hollowly
( togetherness )
“This series explores the rebirth of an empty theater in the city of Panama. Taken for granted, then lost due to a raging pandemic, it began anew as choreographer Marlyn Attie navigated a sea of empty theater chairs. I was lucky enough to experience and photograph their reawakening, from every distant wing and balcony, stage lights born out of darkness.”
haha gotchu remember what it’s like — us and
many figures dropping like flies until it’s just us and —
an open house for silent glancing
a mirror unveiled whose watcher cracks in icy verisimilitude
( togetherness )
do it again pretend you’re watching alone and luminous
a shimmer, and solely at a smile
disinfected pointing gouged with cloth
a crystal perfectly to bite
dancer waiting off the edges
( togetherness )
MAGGIE SILVA has always used art as a way to deal with her emotional woes. She likes to use loud and bright colors because they feel “aggressive and in your face.”
← This illustration is a result of Maggie using drawing as a way to expel negative feelings. She shares, “This type of work never makes a lot of sense but then again neither do emotions.”
↑ These doodles were drawn over the course of a couple weeks on a large piece of newsprint that Maggie leaves out on her kitchen table. She says, “It’s nice to have something to draw on when you’re sipping your morning coffee or talking on the phone. I especially enjoy the lack of pressure to create anything of importance.”
Maggie drew this picture when she was studying abroad in Germany. She says, “I was feeling, for lack of a better term, ‘fucked’ but in a good way. I was extremely grateful for the experiences I had in my travels but also so ready to go home.”
( togetherness )
“In life we spend so much toning things down and holding things in that it’s relieving to have a safe place to be loud. I frequently draw subject matter that is very odd and nonsensical because if you can’t do that in your art then where can you? Illustration for me is about creating my own little world where there are no rules and even the bad emotions are rainbow colored.”
to & from a letter correspondence between Maxine Flasher-Düzgüneş & Rachel Ha-Eun Lee
@poeticabythebay / @idamaria______
( togetherness )
20 Dec 2020 Dear Rachel, I’ve always wanted to feel timeless. Perhaps that is why I can’t stay away from oceans. The glassy waves are tempting to look through, but rough as they break. I’ve found they are unreachable. I visit often, yet there I am confronted with many moments, moments of travel across the country that never registered, moments of being with others that never gained the chance to be relived. The west coast is a strange place — every time I return I feel somewhat relocated, and then shortly after, strung to its coarse tides and rolling headlands convinced that nowhere could ever become as beautiful. In September, I was assured that the world wanted retribution for all of the harm we’d inflicted — skies glowed hazy pink from the wildfires and made us hold our breath even more as we passed one another, homes became sanctuaries from the toxic air, books became thin little pockets of wonder through which to escape a neighbor’s smile (we couldn’t witness them anyway). When I occasionally would see a friend, it wasn’t about each other, it was about mourning the losses that this year could not make up: someone is always ill, someone is always tending to illness, some is always lonely, someone is always concerned over others’ loneliness, the list is infinite in its reciprocality. The summer seemed to just move through itself, like two socks wrapping themselves inside out over and over. The days shortened along with my desire to produce anything of this time, because I felt locked to the old, an impassable regret for everything in new york city that we wrapped up so neatly before tucking it away forever. Where is new york, I wonder. . .Is it just a dream that we conceive of when we’re not where we want to be. . .Is it somewhere that cannot be reached, because no matter how permanent my body felt in any new york moment, the moment still remained so effortlessly temporary. Moments here in california are very vague - they are wistful, they brush past my windbreaker like a runner who doesn’t care to distance from you, they are buzzing like caffeine until solidifying like old salad dressing. What is this moment but a need for it to be something else, to land someplace else, to greet someone else. Here is a stubborn avoidance, a taste of the inevitable bitterness from living where we love. If only who we love were here also, trapped on this windy hillside mid-December, catching the same glimpses, the same twists of your fingers into fists in the cold. To the moments that we might hold again. Sincerely, Maxine
23 Dec 2020 Dear Maxine, If new york city is a dream, then I have been frolicking in the fantasy. Though this semester was different, and not what we once knew, I have been overwhelmed with gratitude. Gratitude for the opportunities to keep my body moving, for the little places around the city that bring me comfort, but most of all, the people whom I got to share moments with. The city misses you dearly. It is quieter now, but the concrete still shimmers, and the lights are still bright. The beginning of fall filled me with flutters of fear. Everything felt uncertain and nobody seemed to know what they were doing. I had spent so much time under my parents in dallas during the spring and the summer, I was unsure how I would navigate my independence in new york. But when I got there, everything fell into place. The city was waiting for my arrival, my voice, me. As the year progressed, I felt that it amplified my multiple selves. One was a leader—sophisticated in her words and proud of her peers who were standing up and claiming their power. This, Maxine, was absolutely beautiful to witness and I hope that change is coming. Another self was a little girl who just wanted to escape from the seriousness of her life. I created recess for myself. I wanted to skip, and play, and be silly. The side of me that I was most impressed with was my hunger for personal growth. I explicitly wanted to do things that scared me. I thought it would mute my worries or make me feel braver, and though I am proud of myself, I’m not sure if the effects are permanent. Even as this next year semester approaches, my mind seems to already be stuck in a loop of worries. I crave control, but instead the world is handing me “unknown” on a silver platter and I have to accept it. It’s difficult because I find that I’m holding onto everything as tight as I can before time takes it away. Can I tell you a secret? I’m afraid I’ve fallen in love. It’s easy to be focused on my own bubble, especially when I feel like the world outside of it breaks my heart. Reading about the california flames in all its raging power have caused me to mourn for those who have lost. I’ve been praying for your safety, hoping for life to be reestablished where memories feel like they are missing. If moments in california feel that they are passing, I urge you to reach out and grab joy in them before they become fleeting memories. From what I remember, the things you created radiated with beauty. I hope that the creative spark that feels like it’s dimmed becomes blinding very soon because I will forever be your fan. With admiration, Rachel
( togetherness )
26 Dec 2020 Dear Rachel, I think new york is the best place to fall in love. In the city, fear is something treasured, because it moves people forward. In california, fear is something that must be tamed, it is something encroaching on predetermined success — everyone here likes a cut-and-paste future, it alleviates the unknown like a glass of wine cleanses the worry. But it’s momentary, it does not last. It leaves people again on the edge, with only a portrait hanging in their living room to distract from the blue mass that rages and breaks outside the window. I will also admit to you that I am in love, but it does not compare, it does not sparkle like your sidewalk pavement after the rain. I am in love with loss. I am in love with leaving, yet seemingly never leaving from the place am I. I am in love with the bottled time I’m finally able to examine from months ago, with the days that before this year I could never revisit, because the fuller days that followed were always clouding them. Yet control still breathes my days — I break down when it isn’t so, and I slow down, jittery in the unknowing. But I think the world has to revolve somewhat jaggedly to unearth the balance that glows somewhere underneath. Places are strange, because you don’t sense that they revolve around you until one day you just get up and leave. I agree with you, that it’s possible to grab joy out of nothing, or grab it out of something, but something so very fleeting. And I’ll go for it, even though everything eventually passes. While the city waits for you, it grieves for me, because return is such a lofty wish that I don’t think I could catch under such a small umbrella. It has begun to rain here, reminding me of way back in March and April when dancing in the rain was quite new for me. My feet hadn’t yet calloused, my hair wouldn’t drench because it was so short and fine, my worries involved only a wet computer and nothing more. If you had to worry, in these last few days of the year, who or what would you worry for, to ensure that the world keeps turning? Yours and forever, Maxine 29 Dec 2020 Dear Maxine, It’s hard to pinpoint which of my worries would keep the world turning when I am on the journey of uncovering what the world is. As I grow into my fullest self, navigating the opposing forces of my own power and the fate of the world, I’ve realized that my life and Earth’s discoveries are like a yarn ball that keeps on unraveling. And rather than trying to re-wrap it into its spherical shape, I knit myself a scarf attempting to make sense of my anxieties. Sometimes my knuckles ache from the knitting. I get frustrated if thread pokes out or if it’s thicker in some places. Even when I meticulously follow the pattern, it seems that my imperfections get in the way. I notice I pull the yarn tighter when I desire hope. My first instinct is to tell you that I cannot function without being restless about those I love. Sometimes I feel that my entire existence is actually made up of different fragments of the individuals that accompany me. Like when someone says you have your mother’s smile or when you can trace the origin of your black-coffee-drinking habit to a comment a companion made about it being healthier. I know that fingerprints aren’t repeated, so I do have characteristics specific to me, but with seven billion people walking on this land, I can’t help but wonder if a few of my minuscule spirals align with someone else’s. Unlike you, I don’t think I’ve ever danced in the rain. I tend to witness weather from the safety of a window. However, the exception to this rule is snow. Recently, new york hid under white blankets . Most people want to wrap themselves in it, but I obsess over the passage the crystallized flakes take as they fall from the heavens. Compared to the texas ice chunks that I’m used to, new york snow flickers down with the tenderness of a first kiss. I am convinced that the ones that have chosen to land on my jacket are the guardian angels who have come to preserve my hope. What do you yearn for in the coming year? How do you practice hope when it feels smaller than a molecule? Sending my best, Rachel 85
JESSIE MAHON @jessiemahon_
These pieces explore the past, present, and future of togetherness: each a dreamlike representation of both desire and risk.
( togetherness )
“Can disagreeing in a time of such intense social and political upheaval create deeper connection and understanding? Which moments from this year will we hold close moving forward? Perhaps these questions themselves bring us closer together.”
( togetherness )
( togetherness )
Shadows accumulate meanings and then let them fall away. Between melancholic longing written darkness, events send the poetic birth, love and death. Perhaps it’s time to revive a subtler language of shadows, scribe the quieter milestones of our emotional lives. Photos by Luis Mayorga Lopez @unperroenlaluz Words by Jesus Rios Cozzetto @dhylec
( togetherness )
( togetherness )
Experiences like this happen all the time and reveal how we can miss obvious, often important, things that are right in front of us.
We rely on night, like music, to express emotions that seem too raw or risqué for words.
( togetherness )
The photographs tell stories in order to live. From first date stories to the well-practiced dinner party anecdote, stories are ways of forging a connection with others. With his camera, Luis Mayorga doted on the somatic beauty
of life, but it’s the ability to understand and respond to photos’ emotional, but to call it destiny would be to undermine Luis’ own talent and tenacity: combination of hard work blended with a good education.
CAMILLE DEBARD is a French illustrator and graphic designer based in Paris and Strasbourg. After studying graphic design in Paris, she packed her bags for Les Arts Décoratifs in Strasbourg. Her projects are often editorial, but she also enjoys designing board games, drawing flowers, or getting her hands dirty in silkscreen printing inks. Overall, she loves to fill little sketchbooks which are always (without exception) somewhere in her bag. @camille_debard