Port Issue 26 Spring / Summer 2020

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i SSUE 26 SUMMER 2020









KelviN HArRiSON jR




The Porter Words Dan Crowe, Sonia Zhuravlyova, Patrick Barkham, David Lammy, Kelly Sawdon, Mario Bellini,

Matthew Turner, Jacob Charles Wilson, Kerry Crowe, Alex Doak, Reiss Smith, Francisco Vilhena, Hans Ulrich Obrist


41 Perpetual Motion Rapper Baloji talks identity behind reinvention Words Aimee Cliff Photography Mous Lamrabat Styling Dan May

36 Contributors 38 Editor’s Letter

The lovely people who helped make the issue

Zeitgeist and Timelessness The rarity of Earl Cave Words Claire Marie Healy Photography Justin French Styling Rose Forde

96 All Heart Kelvin Harrison Jr on the new masculinity Words Anna Smith Photography Geordie Wood Styling Rose Forde




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108 Furless Among My Fellow Animals The writer in the sex dungeon: an investigation Words William T Vollmann Photography Taylor Kay Johnson

The Artists' Artist Martino Gamper and the makings of a furniture designer Words Deyan Sudjic Photography Sophie Gladstone 222 248 266 272 284 294 300

Fever Pitch Sugar and Spice The Journey Old Hands of Time New York City Souls Aesthetic Innovation Graphic Novel

Photography Baud Postma Photography and set design AnaĂŻck Lejart Photography Tom Craig Photography William Bunce Photography ClĂŠment Pascal Photography Sarah Blais Photography John Balsom

120 Styling Mitchell Belk

Creative direction and styling Dan May Creative direction and styling Paulina Piipponen Creative direction and styling Rose Forde Creative direction and styling Paulina Piipponen Creative direction and styling Dan May

Uncommon Vegetables Edible oddities and a greener future Words Rebecca May Johnson Photography Andrea Urbez

140 132 A Short History of American Bragging A long held staple in a culture of excess Words Richard Grant


Collections Collages Anthony Gerace Curation Rose Forde

202 Enchanted Island Photography Filep Motwary Styling Alex Petsetakis

186 153 Commentary 310 Stockists 312 Things I Like, Things I Dislike

Illustrations Amber Vittoria Artwork Katrien De Blauwer

Words Sophie Mackintosh, Naoise Dolan, Jen Calleja, Elisa Shua Dusapin

Words Amrou Al-Kadhi

258 Ingenious Machines Photography Michael Bodiam Creative direction and styling Paulina Piipponen


Modern Nature Photography Thomas Goldblum Creative direction and styling Rose Forde

closed.com #closedofficial.men



SENIOR EDITORS Deyan Sudjic, Design Brett Steele, Architecture Alex Doak, Horology Fergus Henderson, Food Samantha Morton, Film Nathaniel Rich, Literature

PUBLISHERS Dan Crowe, Matt Willey

CONTRIBUTING EDITORS Richard Buckley Robert Macfarlane Kabir Chibber Albert Scardino

ADVERTISING DIRECTOR Andrew Chidgey-Nakazono andrew@port-magazine.com

SPECIAL THANKS Zac Crowe, Simon Prosser

CIRCULATION CONSULTANT Logical Connections Adam Long adam@logicalconnections.co.uk


ACCOUNTS Charlie Carne & Co.

WORDS Amrou Al-Kadhi, Patrick Barkham, Sophie Benson, Jen Calleja, Aimee Cliff, Dan Crowe, Kerry Crowe, Christine Cuomo, Alex Doak, Naoise Dolan, Elisa Shua Dusapin, Oliver J Franklin, Richard Grant, Claire Marie Healy, Will Higginbotham, Rebecca May Johnson, Sophie Mackintosh, Hans Ulrich Obrist, Minnie Rahman, Anna Smith, Reiss Smith, Deyan Sudjic, Matthew Turner, Francisco Vilhena, William T. Vollmann, Jacob Charles Wilson, Sonia Zhuravlyova

CONTACT info@port-magazine.com

PHOTOGRAPHY Tami Aftab, John Balsom, Sarah Blais, Michael Bodiam, William Bunce, Tom Craig, Justin French, Sophie Gladstone, Thomas Goldblum, Ellius Grace, Tobias Harvey, Taylor Kay Johnson, Mous Lamrabat, Anaïck Lejart, Filep Motwary, Cian Oba-Smith, Clément Pascal, Baud Postma, Peter Puklus, Andrea Urbez, Geordie Wood

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ISSN 2046-052X Port is published twice a year by Port Publishing Limited Vault 4 Somerset House Strand London WC2R 1LA port-magazine.com

ARTWORK Katrien De Blauwer, Anthony Gerace, Amber Vittoria

Port is printed by Pureprint Founded by Dan Crowe, Boris Stringer, Kuchar Swara and Matt Willey. Registered in England no. 7328345

“Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.” — Arundhati Roy

COVER CREDITS Earl Cave photographed in London by Justin French, wears Gucci Baloji photographed in Belgium by Mous Lamrabat, wears Dior Kelvin Harrison Jnr, photographed in New York by Geordie Wood, wears Ermenegildo Zegna XXX

All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission is strictly prohibited. All prices are correct at time of going to press but are subject to change. All paper used in the production of this magazine comes, as you would expect, from sustainable sources. (Especially so for our sustainability supplement, 413.)


Sophie Mackintosh Sophie Mackintosh released her debut novel, The Water Cure, in 2018 to wide critical acclaim; a work of dystopian feminist fiction, it was longlisted for the 2018 Man Booker Prize, and was hailed “a gripping, sinister fable” by Margaret Atwood. Born in south Wales and based in London, Mackintosh’s fiction, essays and poetry have been published by Granta, the White Review, the New York Times and the Stinging Fly, among others. Her second novel, Blue Ticket, is published in June.

Richard Grant Richard Grant is an experienced travel writer and television presenter. His first book, Ghost Riders: Travels with American Nomads received the Thomas Cook Travel Book Award in 2004, and formed the basis for the BBC series American Nomads. The Deepest South of All, his fifth book, will be published in September by Simon & Schuster. As a journalist, Grant’s work has featured in the Daily Telegraph, the Guardian, the New York Times and Smithsonian magazine, where he is a regular contributor.

Naoise Dolan Irish writer Naoise Dolan was born in Dublin and studied at Trinity College, before pursuing a master’s degree in Victorian literature at Oxford University. Her writing has appeared in the Dublin Review and Stinging Fly. Dolan’s debut novel, Exciting Times, is published in 2020 by W&N in the UK and Ecco in the US.

William T Vollmann The American novelist, journalist and war reporter William T Vollmann has written more than two dozen books, including Rising Up and Rising Down, a seven-volume meditation on violence, and five installations of his Seven Dreams: A Book of North American Landscapes series, which explores conflicts between indigenous Americans and settlers. His most recent work, The Lucky Star, is a parable regarding the limitations of desire and life at the margins of society.

Amrou Al-Kadhi Amrou Al-Kadhi is an acclaimed writer, journalist and drag artist. They are the founder of drag troupe Denim and wrote the finale for Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V Gordon’s Little America for Apple (US). Al-Kadhi’s solo show, Glamrou: From Quran to Queen, will premiere at the Soho Theatre, and their book, Unicorn: The Memoir of a Muslim Drag Queen, was published in 2019 by HarperCollins to critical praise. Al-Kadhi has written and directed four short films focusing on the intersection of queer identity and race, and their journalism has appeared in the Guardian, the Independent, Gay Times, Attitude and Little White Lies.

Minnie Rahman Writer and campaigner Minnie Rahman specialises in migrants’ rights, climate change and social justice. After working for five years in both the European and UK parliaments as a political advisor, she helped to coordinate the campaign to uncover the Windrush scandal, with the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants. She is now leading campaigns to scrap the ‘hostile environment’ and to establish new rights for undocumented migrants.

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I hope you and your loved ones are well. The Port team, based in various places, including New York, London and the wilds of Kent, completed this spring issue whilst, like much of the global population, self-isolating. That we could produce and send to print a 300-page magazine in these conditions, sometimes in our pyjamas, is incredible, and obviously only possible because of the Internet. I had started to resent this now ludicrously imposing medium, mainly because of the hatred on social media, the ascension of rhetoric over reality and the deep invasion of our privacy. But. . . it has seemed more human over the past month, more useful. . . friendly, even. Thanks to this electronic miracle we have exclusive features with Baloji, Earl Cave and Kelvin Harrison Jr on our multiple front covers; all remarkably talented young men with intelligent and soulful takes on their art, and what it is to work creatively at this time. Among our other net-borne contributions is a treasure chest of new writing in Commentary (p. 153), including Naoise Dolan and Sophie Mackintosh, two engaging and fiercely original young authors. It’s an honour to have them, along with the other Commentary contributors, Jen Calleja and Elisa Shua Dusapin, writing for Port. We are also running an up-close-and-personal meditation on the BDSM community in San Francisco by the radical William T Vollman; a short history of American bragging by long-time Port contributor Richard Grant, and perhaps the best “What I Like / What I Dislike“ we have published yet, by

Amrou Al-Kadhi. Stunning fashion shoots (in the can pre-lockdown), from all over the world – including Rio de Janeiro, Paris, New York, Los Angeles and Cyprus – compete for most beautiful story in the issue. We are also launching with this issue our new sustainability supplement, 413 (after the number of parts per million of carbon in the atmosphere as of March 2020, the highest amount in 600,000 years). Designed by Pentagram, the supplement explores responses to the environmental crisis in the worlds of fashion, style, design and beyond. Are Port and 413 themselves sustainable? Not entirely. Are the brands we are working with sustainable? Not all of them, not yet. But we aim to cover their progress, telling the stories of innovation and advancement, whilst highlighting where, and how, more must be done, quickly – and that fashion brands will increasingly be called upon to do their part. Once the virus has run its course – and we have, hopefully, expressed our gratitude to frontline workers by paying them, and protecting them, properly – we will put ourselves back together again, with, perhaps, a clearer idea about what’s important to us, what’s sustainable and what it is we really want from our lives. It seems that in isolation we’re being gifted an X-ray of ourselves, both personally and as a society, and I hope it makes a difference. It’s certainly made me appreciate my fellow humans more. With a handsha… Oh, sorry. Next time. Dan Crowe


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Sister City. A thoughtfully designed hotel in New York. See the sky.


PORTeR 01 A WALK ON THE Wi WiLD Si SiDE By Dan Crowe. Exquisite Sounds: The new album from Caleb Landry Jones

Born in Garland, Texas, Caleb Landry Jones has been writing and recording music, in his family barn, since he was 16. It was around that time that he started acting professionally (Get Out; Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri; Twin Peaks). He briefly played in a band called Robert Jones, but it was following a relationship breakup that his music started to develop more seriously. “I started writing record after record because I didn’t know what to do with myself,” says Jones to me on the phone from Los Angeles. “It was a good way of healing. And it felt like as soon as I started doing it, it needed to happen all the time.” Enter The Mother Stone, his first studio album, an astounding and kaleidoscopic collection of 15 songs, which strongly references Syd Barrett (“Clearly a genius”), and The Beatles’ White Album. (“I didn’t know who they were, you know? I didn’t envision four guys from Liver-

Photography Jacqueline Castel

pool.”) It is intensely personal, and at times disturbing, but ultimately a meditation on love. Jones cut the album at Valentine Recording Studios – where everyone from Bing Crosby to Frank Zappa have logged time – to record with producer Nic Jodoin. Jones brought his collection of battered Yamahas and Casios up from the family barn and played them alongside the studio’s vintage equipment. Did working in a real studio for the first time give Jones a chance to finally slow down his creative process? “It was intimidating, for sure. But it’s great, seeing it come together like that. It’s beautiful. I guess my music might be about the journey between the real and the dreamscape, there and back. So recording it means having a clear idea, but also allowing accidents to happen. It was a dream come true.” The Mother Stone is out now via Sacred Bones



BACK TO BASi BASiCS By Tomos Parry. The beauty of cooking fresh fish over an open fire

“I’m from Anglesey, a small island off the north of Wales. Generally, when you’re young, you start working in little restaurants and bars on the seafront, so I’ve been exposed to fresh fish and shellfish from a really young age. You don’t really think there’s a future in it, so go off to study. When I was at Cardiff University, studying politics and history, I was also cooking part-time in a French restaurant called Le Gallois. Around that time I realised that’s what I really wanted to do, so I threw myself into cooking as much as I could. I moved to London and worked at the River Café, and then at Noma. I always felt that I wanted to cook over fire. I had a summer residency at Climpson’s Arch in London Fields, and we cooked over these big amazing fires; there were ever-changing menus. I really went for it; I wanted to hone that skill. When you’re cooking from an archway in Hackney there aren’t so many financial pres-sures, so it’s a really fantastic opportunity to try different things, just seeing the interaction between the fire and the fresh ingredients. Then I worked at Kitty Fisher’s in Mayfair. It was really quite successful, but it threw me in at the deep end. What I really wanted was to go back to east London, and in order to do that I had to open my own restaurant. Brat feels like a middle ground between the archway and a restaurant like Kitty Fisher’s – it’s reminiscent of an English pub and an old Georgian building. It has a lot of texture and character to it. The energy and creativity is very exciting in this part of London; I feel very connected to this area. With fire, it’s a primitive approach. You’re in more contact with the produce because you do very little to it. One of the farmers I source from, Calixta Killander, is very inspiring. She’s looking back; using old traditional methods. To be forward-thinking you have to look backwards; you have to look at the old ways of farming that were lost after the war. I take a similar approach with my cooking, looking at very old methods. 42

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Photography William Bunce

In Getaria, in the Basque Country, the cage is their preferred method to cook fish. The cages hang outside people’s houses – it’s an amazing sight. I’ve really drawn from their way of cooking. What I learnt is, buy well and don’t ruin it. It sounds simple but it’s really hard to do. Their cooking method is very different – they do this slow grilling method on a low heat; it’s a slow roasting and delicate way of grilling, rather than a ‘macho’ way. It’s a gentle method. At Brat, I want it to feel like a Basque restaurant, so I thought one of the ways to achieve this would be to apply their principles – they get their friends to make the fish cages… to make their grills, their chairs. So, I decided, if I apply this method, the restaurant’s character would build up naturally. One of my good friends in Somerset works with metal, so I asked him to make the cage. It took six months of back and forth, because of the smallest details; they have to be correct – if the cage is too big, the fish falls out, or too small and they don’t get enough char. It was worth the effort. We often go back to the Basque Country; we chat with fishermen and try new dishes – it refreshes everyone’s focus. It also gives you confidence that it’s OK to serve a plate of tomatoes. In London people are constantly telling you that you have to reinvent the wheel, and you forget the reality of food. It’s rewarding to know that when you get a concept in your head and work at it, people then really enjoy it. We’re lucky that people in London are very open now; they’re into weird cuts of fish, or eat whole fish on the bone. This wouldn’t have happened 10 or 15 years ago. We’ve come a long way – people enjoy sharing plates and getting stuck in.”

As told to Sonia Zhuravlyova bratrestaurant.com Creative direction and styling Paulina Piipponen


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Photography Cian Oba-Smith


THE POLi POLiTiCiAN: DAViiD LAMMY DAV By Dan Crowe. Empire, emerging tribes and our need for community

Dan Crowe: Is politics broken? David Lammy: I’ve been in public life for 20 years. I remember when I decided to go into politics. Everyone was a centrist then. The Blair years, the Clinton years. It really doesn’t feel like that today. And yet, political actors still matter hugely. They determine the shape and feel of a generation. So politics is very much alive. Sure, I’m gloomy about the world and our prospects over the next decade or so, but what makes me optimistic is the millennials. I do think things are going to improve once that crowd get their hands on the levers of power. I just hope we can last that long.

extraordinary country again, the country that offered the world the 2012 Olympics. That was a wonderful moment. But just the year before, I was at the epicentre of the rioting that swept the land. So there’s always been a flipside to our greatness, our promise. It’s only by reckoning with who we really are, by forging a belief and a patriotism that we can all buy into, that we can move forward.

Can the pendulum swing back? Yes. And it will. It’s all highs and lows, valleys and peaks. It feels tough now, but in 10 or 15 years… Well, let’s just say the 1960s are going to look tame. Watch out for the arts. Our writers and artists will be leading the way.

It feels like a lot of intelligent people are fine with the erosion of what we once cared about: the BBC, the NHS... It’s hard to comprehend this attitude... I’m more suspicious of what masquerades as intelligence these days. We have a political class that goes to certain schools; to one of two universities. This creates a confidence with Shakespeare and Kipling, which has its strengths – but also huge gaping holes. And it sure doesn’t nurture empathy. Why do we value prime ministers that have been grabbed from the bosom of their parents at the age of seven and shipped off to boarding schools? There are some very perplexing and dysfunctional elements to our society. And yet, look at the novels that get written in this country, look at the ground-breaking comedy that gets made here. Look at the fashion, and the design, and the sport, and the tech. But if we lose the BBC, we will go the way of the US, with its Fox News. We have to fight for freedom of speech, for the primacy of facts. At the moment our prime minister seems to have other priorities.

Is this in part about the collapse of empire and people searching for what Britain means now? I remember coming back to Britain after I’d been to Harvard. I was working in California as a lawyer with some success. But I wasn’t American, and I wasn’t motivated sufficiently by money. Besides, Britain seemed really exciting then. Lately, I’ve questioned that decision. Not on my own behalf, but for my family, my children. I worry that Britain doesn’t really want to reckon with its past. You know… the hangover of empire; the narratives like “We won the war on our own,” – that inability to recognise how much we were assisted by Europe and the Americans, bankrolling us after the war. Those real truths. So, in part, yes! I’d like Britain to fess up to its history, warts and all; not because I want everyone to hang their heads in shame or guilt, but because I think this could be an

How do you feel about identity politics? It’s certainly getting a hard time from the right, with jokes about “wokeness” and “virtue signalling”. It’s also getting a hard time from parts of the left who believe that the real issue is class. At the same time, there’s a serious rise in hate and racism. I would like to stop talking about the “ism” of racism or sexism, and start talking about the reality. The truth is that for most of modern history, black and ethnic minorities, women, gay men and women, those with disabilities have been at the bottom of the heap. They’ve been denied the ability to dream: to grow up, say, black and female on a housing estate and dream of being a Hollywood actress or the CEO of a FTSE 100 company, and know that they can get there. The truth is, those who are being criticised for identity politics have merely been asking, “Can we have some of the pie? Can we share it?”

We seem to be in full-time crisis mode. There is a disconnect between politics and values these days, even among the millennials I meet. There were massive advances in the 20th century. At the beginning of the century, poor people, black and brown people, gay men and women, disabled people, working-class people, were so put upon, so held down. But by the end, because of people like Mandela, Harvey Milk and, yes, Emmeline Pankhurst, the party of labour became empowered. I just think – Wow, how could it be 2020 and all those achievements are fading?



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Photography Cian Oba-Smith

And the people with power don’t like that... Exactly. The identity that has dominated the world – male, white, privileged – is fighting back. Its beneficiaries complain about identity politics, when it’s their identity that has defined our era: I find that ironic... rather selfish, and I think it needs a lot of challenge. But if politics becomes just about identity and not a means of coming back together, then that is also problematic. Because things will stay the same, we’ll be setting up divides that can’t be bridged. We have got to emphasise what we have in common, as well as our differences. It won’t be easy. Most of this comes down to power and the means of giving it up, honestly and gracefully. How are people in high places, such as Jacob Rees-Mogg, allowed to get away with the shocking things they say? Just a short while ago, figures like that would have been subjects of ridicule and not taken seriously – a joke, really. This brings us to the second element of identity politics: the way in which both social and mainstream media inflate and elevate these figures instead of challenging them. Some of this Rees-Mogg stuff is white supremacist in nature and, to be honest, neo-Nazi. I find it ironic that this country, not so long ago, went to war against that kind of hate. And yet we seem ambivalent about it now.

Previous spread: Lammy in the main corridor of the House of Commons Left: The antiquated House of Commons intercom system, soon to be overhauled Right: Lammy on the balcony of the House of Commons

Do you think Britain will survive this “us and them” populist decade? I’ve had moments of acute depression in my life, so I know what to expect when the black cloud descends – as it has occasionally in the past, rather eventful, year. Anger too. But what truly upsets me is the way in which our prime minister and his cabal seem totally, unashamedly detached from caution, reason and especially truth. I sense the unease and disquiet and upset and angst that quite a lot of good, decent people feel about our country’s future. We may well survive our

new status, which will inevitably reshape itself to fit the realities of the wider globalised world. But our values, our cohesion and our good sense will be tested as seldom before. Are we becoming more tribal? And is this a bad thing? I’ve just written a book, Tribes, on this subject. The increased tribalism in society is a reaction against an age of individualism that went too far. As lifelong careers and traditional class structures have broken down in recent decades due to technological changes, many people feel like they have lost their identities. The Internet and social media have been the place people have started looking to satisfy their longing for belonging. This has become dangerous because often the tribes they find are supremacist. Far-right groups say they are better than foreigners and people of colour, far-left groups sometimes stray into antisemitism and religious extremists feel superior to those of other religions. But tribalism is not limited to extremists. Many of us are seeking real connection and community. Social media newsfeeds rarely offer us new perspectives. Most often algorithms serve up content we already agree with. Trapped in echo chambers, we have started to adapt in strange ways. The more time a moderate individual spends on social-media websites, the more extreme their views and opinions are likely to become. To move on from tribalism, we need to focus on building inclusive communities. Tribes are closed groups which define who they are by who is not a member; communities are open groups which define who they are by shared ideals. By allowing people to find meaning in inclusive community identities, we will have the collective confidence to challenge the problems that go far beyond them. Tribes: How Our Need to Belong Can Make or Break Society by David Lammy is now available in hardback (Constable) 47


THe GUCCI OSTe THe OSTe RiA By Reiss Smith. Fashion inspires cuisine in a multi-genre collaboration

Nestled inside a 14th-century Florentine palace are the green walls and vaulted ceilings of the Gucci Osteria. A collaboration with Massimo Bottura – chef and proprietor of Modena’s triple-Michelin-starred Osteria Francescana – the restaurant is a celebration of global art, culture and people with a distinctly Italian bent: an eclectic mix of references and flavours befitting the Florentine house. “At the Gucci Osteria we witness cultural exchange mixed with cutting-edge creativity,” explains chef de cuisine Karime López. “We wanted to take our guests on a journey around the world, incorporating our team’s stories and travel experiences whilst using seasonal Italian products. Through our food, we have the opportunity to share history whilst creating new memories.” López’s menu has Gucci’s trademark sense of wit and whimsy, its appreciation for the individual and its ability to elevate low-brow into high-end. An umami-rich burger loaded with salsa verde, balsamic mayonnaise and Parmigiano-Reggiano is both an homage to Bottura’s home region, Emilia-Romagna, and a contemporary Italian spin on the American fast-food staple (Bottura originally created the Emilia Burger for the American chain Shake Shack; López has adapted it for the Osteria). A purple corn tostada is a tribute to López’s native Mexico; a sweet-sour pork belly bun is named for her husband and the sous chef of Osteria Francescana, Takahiko Kondo. Elsewhere an open ravioli draws inspiration from the works of Jackson Pollock, creating a “psychedelic twist of colours” using sauces in lieu of paint, while a fresh and colourful salad recreates Gucci’s Her-


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barium motif using wild leaves and herbs foraged from the local Tuscan countryside. Along with these global stimuli, each dish also reflects the Osteria’s surroundings. The 50-seat dining room forms part of the larger Gucci Garden, the multi-sensory retail-space-cum-museum conceived by creative director Alessandro Michele and housed in the historic Palazzo della Mercanzia. “Every day we are influenced by the garden and what it stands for; everything from the porcelain to the colours have all been carefully selected by Alessandro to reflect Gucci. As a Mexican, bright colours are already part of my world, so I truly feel at home here.” In the two years since its inception, the menu has been widely lauded by those lucky enough to visit, including critics for the Michelin Guide who awarded the Osteria its first star in November 2019. An outpost in Beverly Hills welcomed its first guests in February 2020, with López’s former sous chef, Mattia Agazzi, leading the kitchen. As with all things Gucci, Osteria has also been digitised for the masses, with a standalone Instagram account currently playing host to a series of works by fine art photographer and director Max Siedentopf. The images and videos put five signature dishes centre stage, along with the restaurant’s distinctive hand-painted porcelain and lurid pink burger boxes. For López – who took sculpture and painting classes in Paris before falling in love with food – it is an “incredible opportunity” to celebrate the multifaceted vision which drives the entire Osteria project. “A dish can be a piece of art,” she says. “The worlds of fashion and food cross over beautifully, and I feel they’re perfectly combined here.”

Photography Max Siedentopf



THe ART OF THe THe THe POSTER By Matthew Turner. Celebrating Richard Hollis’s design work for London’s Whitechapel Gallery

“BILL POSTERS WILL BE PROSECUTED” read the brass plaque next to Magdalen Bridge in Oxford, below which a sloppy marker pen had scrawled “BILL POSTERS IS AN INNOCENT MAN”. Poor, poor Bill, we all regularly agreed. This joke can be seen around the world, and of course the ubiquitous and prolific Mr Bill Posters has never been prosecuted, because the sign actually refers to the advertising posters (or “bills” as they were once known) that cover the back alleys, undercrofts and vacant shopfronts in the overlooked parts of towns and cities. Usually advertising barely legal club nights, obscure cover bands and dying circus acts, they have a reputation for being junk. However, posters can have life and character that is lacking in other types of advertising – even in some art work. Take a look at a wall that has been layered with posters over many years, and it’s likely you will see a dreamlike delirium of fonts, shapes and images. There will be manic repetition of the same advert and some will be peeling off in places allowing a glance back through the strata of past events. Such a vast repository of dis-


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cordant information may have once influenced the surrealist’s penchant for free association, montage and collage, but now it seems more like a precursor to the gluts of fast and confusing content on the internet. Posters also allow people to see art without needing to pay for a gallery ticket, while simultaneously enabling art ownership for those who wouldn’t normally have the means to do so; in the 1890’s, Toulouse-Lautrec’s posters were so coveted that instructions were published on how to peel them down without damage. All of these unique traits make posters a fitting medium for artists wanting to democratise their art and set it on a journey beyond the realms of claustrophobic gallery spaces. Indeed, Bill Posters might be innocent after all. Any art of note should work with and against the parameters of its medium, and, more so than other graphic designers, Richard Hollis’s work for the Whitechapel Gallery (between 1969 and 1985) takes full advantage of the characteristics inherent to the humble poster. His work is a three-dimensional spatial experience, rather than a flat, two-dimensional affair.

Arts of Bengal: 9 November – 30 December 1979 Many of the posters Hollis designed were in A3 format and designed to be folded into an A4 envelope. Here, for the 1979 Arts of Bengal Exhibition, he utilises the central crease to create a textual echo. One half is in English and other Bengali, the title and gallery name then bring the opposing sides into a seamless whole.

Three Israeli Artists: Agam, Lefshitz, Zaritsky: December – January 1969 This poster is a masterclass in how Hollis disposed type in such a way that it was not interrupted by fold lines. Again, much like a film, as the poster is unfolded a new part of the message slowly appears until the sheet is fully opened out – from chaos to order. You are in the poster, rather than looking at it.



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Derek Boshier: 26 September – 21 October 1973

David Hockney: 2 April – 3 May 1970

The Derek Boshier poster (1973) is a cabinet of curiosities in image and text – the viewer is active in bringing all the constellations of meaning together in endless variations. Posters are always about catching the roving eye in motion and there is a similar sense of movement in the image sequences and the doctored photo of Ronald Reagan. It’s a whole art exhibition in miniature: Maybe a visit to the gallery isn’t always necessary.

There is a sense of filmic sequence in this David Hockney poster. Posters are usually saturated with images yet, in this instance, the lower portion is left blank as if it is waiting for someone to add their own drawings and images to complete the movie.



DiSCRETE ISLANDS By Patrick Barkham. In search of the sublime at Drangarnir Rock

The name “Drangarnir” sounds like a castle from JRR Tolkien’s Middle-earth. In fact, the spectacular stack of Faroese basalt looks like CGI scenery too. The improbable slant of its top and the keyhole shape below, through which the cobalt North Atlantic ceaselessly sloshes, draws admirers from around the world. Visitors must inch their way along sheep tracks for three hours for a view of this natural icon. “I like islands – and I suspect most novelists do,” wrote Will Self, “because they’re discrete and legible, just like stories.” If small islands loom large in our imagination, tiny islands and rock formations play the starring roles in our stories. Drangarnir – its name in Faroese simply means “the sea stacks” – lies off the coast of the island of Vágar. It was probably once connected to Tindhólmur, the large, dramatic uninhabited islet beyond. Each of the five pinnacles on Tindhólmur’s peak has a name. Ysti, the furthest from Drangarnir, is the western-most spire. Arni is “the eagle”. Lítli, “the little spire”; Breiði, ‘the broad spire’ and finally, hunched over like an old man, Bogni, “the bent spire”. According to local legend, a man and his wife once lived on the island with their beautiful baby daughter. One day, while the man went fishing, the mother left their daughter on the sunny grass outside. The chilling shadow of an enormous bird blocked out the sun – an eagle swept down and seized the baby. The mother chased after the bird’s shadow to the top of Arni peak. By the time she reached it, the eagle had pecked out her child’s eyes, but the furious mother fought it off and saved her daughter’s life. Today, travel bloggers, vloggers and Instagrammers tell stories of their adventures to Drangarnir that unconsciously echo this myth. On their trek to admire the rock, they are swooped upon by great skuas – piratical seabirds notorious for robbing other birds of their food – which nest close to the path. The skuas, known as bonxies in Scotland, are simply being protective parents – rather like the family in the Faroese folktale. 54

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Photography Tobias Harvey



HOTEL MODERNi MODERNiSM By Kelly Sawdon. Creating a timeless hotel in New York, from the ground up

The idea behind Sister City was to create a hotel concept attuned to the needs of the modern traveller, a place at the intersection of simplicity and beauty; one that was designed to feel restorative. Sister City lives on the Bowery in New York, one of the busiest cities in the world – we used purposeful, considered design as a necessary response to the din. In a time of overstimulation and visual fatigue, there’s a lot we can learn from modernism: an era of intense experimentation, new techniques and a focus on materials. Our in-house team at Atelier Ace was inspired by design, architecture and philosophy that was clear both in purpose and in how it expressed form and function, finding beauty in simplicity. We looked at muted, grounding colours; shapes like the circle, as explored


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Photography Adrian Gaut

by Alvar Aalto; the geometry and balance of Carlo Scarpa’s work and the minimalism of Japanese and Scandinavian design, using natural materials such as Italian cherry wood and birch. We wanted Sister City to feel universal and timeless, a place of respite, imbued with a sense of quiet efficiency, stripping away the clutter and focusing on light, balance and moments of surprise, such as the stained-glass piece in the check-in area. The modernist approach allowed us to create a canvas, a calm landing pad to animate experiences and to orient guests in the greater world. Kelly Sawdon is partner and chief brand officer of Ace Hotel Group and Atelier Ace


LET THERE BE Li LiGHT By Mario Bellini. The enduring qualities of the Chiara lamp, and the Flos reimagining of the design icon


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Above: Photography William Bunce

Creative direction and styling Paulina Piipponen

Port: What are the essential qualities in a lamp? Mario Bellini: Casting light on our living and working space at dusk and afterwards, allowing the continuity of our movements and all our activities, including those of reading and writing. How did you come up with the idea for this lamp? One beautiful morning in 1969, in my studio, standing up, I followed a sudden intuition, with a large sheet of white cardboard and a pair of tailor’s scissors. Can you explain the process that took you from the original design down to the final object? You only need to look at the historical photo of me sitting on a sheet of shiny stainless steel, like origami waiting to take shape. What was the public’s response when the lamp was first marketed, 50 years ago? Surprise and great interest for a self-sustaining icon, as if it had come from the sky. What changes have been made to the new version of Chiara? Formally identical to the original, the new Chiara uses cutting-edge technology that makes it possible to reinforce the protective layer of the stainless steel sheet. What does the remaking of Chiara mean to you? I don’t see it as a remaking, I see it as an evolution; it is ‘simply’ a matter of having dealt with the technical issues it initially faced, and resuming production with the technology of today. The fact that production has been stopped for so long has fuelled, among other things, a kind of treasure hunt by collectors more interested in its strong iconic value than in its faults. Does the Chiara lamp contain themes or ideas that can be found in any other of your works? I would say so, yes: perhaps a somewhat surreal and provocative taste, far from the naïve aesthetic canons of the ‘modern’ – see my Area lamps for Artemide, or Nuvola for Nemo Lighting.

Above: Photography Giuseppe Pino



HANDiNG IT DOWN HANDi By Jacob Charles Wilson. Learning from one of the best, as part of Rolex’s Mentor and Protégé programme

Literature, like any other art, is always made with an other in mind – an audience to entertain, a reader to speak to. As every writer is a reader, there runs a correspondence with the generations who have gone before. People learn, they find their voice, and over time build something unique that they themselves can one day pass on. Colm Tóibín, novelist, essayist, poet and playwright and Colin Barrett, author of the story collection Young Skins, are one such coming-together of artists. Though separated by a generation, in many ways their lives parallel and diverge: both from Ireland, from counties Wexford and Mayo, respectively, and both admit that they’re still getting to grips with writing. Tóibín and Barrett have been brought together by the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative, a philanthropic programme spanning eight artistic disciplines, which, since 2002, has brought together distinguished artists and young talents. Here, in a shared language of wry self-deprecation, the two writers reflect on their experiences as mentor and protégé: Tóibín offers sage advice, drawing on decades of experience – talking of beginnings, and of finding inspiration in others, and helping guide Barrett as he moves from the success of his short stories to writing his first novel. COLIN: Writing is a job, it is professional in some ways, then in other ways you remain a lifelong amateur. I was talking to another writer once and he said the second book is like the tricky second album, because you think you’ll never do it once – never get a book published – and then it happens. But then you go back into it, you have to start all over again and realise it’s going to take time to get really good and confident at it. Colm has intuitively given me the space combined with the attention I needed. It was a very organic and open process. We would get together, we would talk and then we would retreat into our separate lives, and I would go back to what I was working on, replenished by the interaction. He’s very open about his process. And it’s reassuring to hear that someone as accomplished and as prolific as Colm can hit dead ends and blind spots and have to rewrite work. We talked a lot about technical stuff, all the nuts and bolts – really fundamental stuff which you have to think about. It’s as simple as making a single chapter more engaging or more immediate; are you thinking enough about the reader? It’s about perspective and pacing; how much exposition am I going to give now, if any? When am I going to go back? That’s how you make a book: You write something, you think about it, you go back, you rewrite it, and you do that over and over again. Without, in any way, Colm being prescriptive, or giving dos or don’ts or hard and fast rules, the whole thing, it was external validation. Someone comes along and gives some merit to what you’re doing: “Please keep up with it, please keep going.” I’m going to do a screenplay next year. The second time I met Colm he was writing an opera, the third time I met him he was writing Pale Sister and working on a novel and a non-fiction book. It’s been very inspiring. 60

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Colm’s only ever been open and honest about his whole process, he’s not giving me a hard task really. He knows what’s wrong with my work and he knows what I need to do, but he’s going to let me figure it out myself, to gently guide me towards believing I’ve come to these conclusions myself. I’ve never felt that anything was perfunctory or just doing it to punch in. I’ve seen Colm with his students and he is engaged and curious about them. That’s how his generosity manifests. He’s curious about other writers, other artists and about life. His appetite for life is incredible, and what I want to emulate. He’s been very generous, though he’d never admit that himself. COLM: I began as a poet, which was awful. I was worse than anyone, and everyone told me so; and then I tried to write short stories, and I went through a number of years in my 20s writing bad short stories that nobody would publish. And I thought I was finished because I couldn’t do that. It was only when I started in the longer form that I got some sort of confidence that I could actually get rhythms right. But that’s why I was fascinated by having found someone who could write the short – his first book was so confident with short stories – because I was never confident, and I’m still not with the form. See, the issue is, how do you open? How do you do the first things in a novel if you’re used to writing short stories? Every line has to move towards this famous sort of moment where things are going to turn in the story. Colin would say, when he was working with a particular technical problem – to do with voice, to do with character – that he would literally go to find, how does Flannery O’Connor or Alice Munro deal with this? He would constantly mention that you don’t just try it yourself, that you read to see how others do it. I had never really done that in the same way. I would read and then find out by accident almost. So, I was surprised by this. No matter what you do as a writer, you have to rewrite, and no matter what you do, you do in the cold light of morning – the work of the night before has too many adjectives, there’s something awful wrong… some character having thoughts they never would have in their lives – and the cold light of morning becomes a fearful time, because you think half of yesterday is gone, and you think, well, that’s the way it is. I got competitive with Colin, not about prizes or money, but about the number of re-writes we were doing. And when he’s re-writing the fourth time, and I’m on my fifth hard day and I’m starting all of yesterday’s work again, he would look at me and we’d both nod like two old fellas out of Beckett. The main thing is not to stop yourself. If something occurs to you, follow it. Halfway through a novel, you can just stop, because you know the rest and there’s nothing really in it for you. But then, I want someone to read this, and to achieve that I’m going to have to go through periods of time where there’s nothing much in it for me, and that’s for the reader.

For more information visit rolex.org/rolex-mentor-protege

Photography Ellius Grace



WAYS OF WRi WRiT iNG: NAOiiSE DOLAN NAO Interview Kerry Crowe. Discussing gender, ableism and influences with the young Irish novelist

Kerry Crowe: Do you think there are any particular responsibilities of the young writer in 2020? Naoise Dolan: As a group, I don’t think writers have responsibilities above and beyond the universal ones – which are, I think, to be empathetic and communitarian in one’s politics and personal life. But there are categories some writers fall into (“people with a platform”, for instance) that do, I think, hold particular responsibility. For instance, before we were all on lockdown anyway, I’d stopped flying – not as someone who writes fiction, but as someone who talks to the media. I didn’t want to be complicit in the level of climate change denial that allows the publishing industry to fly authors internationally to do things that could be accomplished remotely (as we’re now seeing). Which writers inspire you? The writer who’s inspired me the most in a while is Sayaka Murata, the Japanese novelist. I’d finished writing my debut Exciting Times when I read her Convenience Store Woman, but Murata is brilliant at a number of themes and approaches that interest me: economical scene-setting, defamiliarising the routines of consumerism and urban life, and explaining her characters’ motivations without necessarily trying to engender sympathy for them.

How do you feel about comparisons to Sally Rooney? I don’t pay that kind of thing very much attention; it doesn’t help me write. You both explore the material instability of life as a millennial: Do you think this will be one of the defining characteristics of this decade’s literature? I don’t personally find “millennial” useful as a category of analysis. For one thing, the oldest millennials are in their late 30s now, so I don’t know if I have much in common with them! For another, the crises facing renters face all renters, and the crises facing precariously employed people face all precariously employed people. I’m sceptical of modes of generational analysis that elide class as the more pertinent factor uniting those constraints. I do like to see money discussed in fiction, though, and I’m always interested in seeing how other writers tackle it. You recently made your autism diagnosis public: How do you feel about the gender imbalance in the understanding and diagnosis of autism? Has the bias affected you personally? The gender imbalance is more frequently discussed now, but there’s often a misguided essentialism to it. You’ll see people describing autistic women as “more sociable” or “more able to mask our traits”, as if it were inherent. My instinct is that patriarchy makes disabled women more vulnerable than disabled men. Ableism hits us harder as a group, so we direct more energy towards accommodating its demands. For me, “masking” my autism has always come at huge personal and artistic cost. I could have published a novel much sooner if I hadn’t spent decades silently coping with an unsupported disability. Just as women in general aren’t innately more giving of labour, so autistic women aren’t innately more giving of the labour that goes into masking our autism. Why do you think Ireland produces such a relatively large number of great writers? I think all countries produce an equal proportion of great writers, but some have more favourable conditions for producing work and getting it published. The more circumscribed a country’s literary opportunities are, the smaller the pool of talent will be. Certainly Ireland still has a long way to go on that front, but we enjoy relatively strong financial support for the arts. That said, I think a socialist Ireland, where survival was universally guaranteed, would produce better writing than the present one, where the government picks its winners with grants. Exciting Times by Naoise Dolan is out now in hardback and exclusive signed editions are available from waterstones.com


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Photography Tami Aftab


LOOK WHi WHiLE YOU LEAP By Alex Doak. This year has been good for owners of perpetual calendars, especially Patek Philippe perpetual calendars

At midnight on February 28th, those in possession of horology’s cleverest party trick experienced a satisfaction felt just once every four years: the muted ‘kerchunk’ of a sickle-shaped lever, lying just behind their watch’s dial, as it dropped into a uniquely gauged notch of a gnarly wheel. A wheel that completes a single 360-degree rotation in every leap-year cycle, guaranteeing your date display can show 29, as well as 28, 30 or 31 on the last day of the month. It’s the processor at the heart of every quantième perpétuel ( perpetual calendar, QP) – an analogue computer whose 150-odd micro-mechanical components manage to make head and tail of Pope Gregory XIII’s calendar. It was introduced as an awkward yet, crucially, accurate compromise between carving the year into 12 chunks of 28-day moon cycles (getting priests to stick their finger in the air and compensate along the way), and actually adhering to our ultimate calendar – i.e. the stars. Thanks to the observable celestial calendar’s unwavering behaviour, perpetual calendars in chart-form long preceded those in horological form – by some 1,000 years. Deciphering solar time takes sophisticated mechanics, while the night sky is full of straightforward calendrical information. After all, early man may have had little or no need for the time of day, but his chances of sur-

Photography William Bunce

vival as a hunter or farmer were definitely improved if he had a calendar – especially in higher latitudes, where the seasons have greater sway. Like so many other innovations, it fell to 18th-century-London’s Thomas Mudge to take into account leap years, with his ornately crafted QP clocks. You can still pay your respects to his tour de force of 1764 with a pilgrimage to the British Museum’s clocks and watches gallery. What about the the compact watch, though? In any conversation about QPs, Geneva’s favourite son, Patek Philippe, comes up first, thanks to its feverishly collectible lineage of greats. And indeed it was the first with watches overall – an 1864 women’s pendant to be precise, whose enduring system of ‘feeling’ the length of all 48 months went into the world’s first-ever perpetual wristwatch, in 1925. By 1941, Patek Philippe’s ref. 1526 was the first serially produced wristwatch featuring a QP, serving as direct ancestor to the ivory-lacquered beauty you see here: the ref. 5327R-001 in rose gold (£69,450). As pure an incarnation of a classical QP as you’ll ever find, with a moonphase indication into the bargain too. (Just to remind you of what made it all so difficult in the first place…) patek.com

Creative direction and styling Paulina Piipponen



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Photography Peter Puklus


sandra sandOr By Reiss Smith. The founder of Nanushka reflects on the importance of craftsmanship, and how a ceramics studio in rural Hungary helped forge her spring/summer 2020 collection

For Sandra Sandor, founder of the quietly compelling men’s and women’s label Nanushka, craft is about more than just technique and prestige. It serves both as inspiration and as a crucial part of the brand’s business model: a way of minimising waste through material innovation, financially empowering local communities by involving them in the making process and attaching an emotional value to clothing. “Handcrafting doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to build a product around the most expensive raw materials,” Sandor explains. “It means using quality materials in a smart way, and with great attention to detail. I really feel that when something is made by hand it becomes special, it becomes more precious, and therefore you’ll keep it for a longer time.” Sandor founded Nanushka in 2006. Homesick after a period of living and studying in London, she returned to her native Budapest with the ambition to create a global house for the “minimalist bohemian” – a nomadic type who, like herself, takes an interest in interiors and travel. Basing the brand in Hungary, rather than London or New York (where Nanushka shows during fashion week), allows Sandor to explore “the intersection of East and West, and the mixing of distant cultural references”. This dichotomy is a constant source of inspiration to her, alongside ceramics and interior design: specifically mid-century to 1970s furniture and practical objects such as ceramic plates. Sandor’s appreciation for the functional is evident throughout her work. Take, for example, Nanushka’s

spring/summer 2020 collection. Inspired by a 1972 photo of Yves Saint Laurent’s muse, Loulou de la Falaise, holidaying in Patmos, Greece, it is made up of uncomplicated travel-ready separates: subtly draped blazers cut from white vegan leather (a speciality), fluid trousers with a pyjama-like slouch, and oversized shirts and shirt-dresses whose Mediterranean styling is amplified by fishnet overlays, fringing and ceramic adornments. The latter embellishments are ones which Sandor takes pride in explaining. For the collection, she collaborated with ceramicist Noha Studios (the pair also have a joint homewares venture, Nanoha) and a group of women from a village near Budapest to shape, fire and finish thousands of buttons and endings from blocks of raw clay. “We put a strong focus on craftsmanship and using heritage techniques. But it was also about empowering these women, helping them earn a decent wage and learn a new skill.” It was important that the output of the project was itself sustainable. “We were careful not to overdo it in terms of quantity,” she says. “We had to be sure these women would be able to keep up, so we didn’t use the buttons on every single garment.” As Nanushka evolves in scale and ambition, putting projects like this at the heart of its work becomes ever more important if it is to stay true to Sandor’s original vision. “If we want craftsmanship to remain as one of our core values we have to focus on it even more than we have been; we have to nurture it. Just because we’re growing, it doesn’t mean that we lose what is important,” she explains. 65


LiGHT AND SHADOW By Reiss Smith. Hermès’ new line of lamps, designed by Tomás Alonso, take inspiration from stagecraft

On first glance, the synergy between Hermès and the Spanish-born designer Tomás Alonso is not immediately obvious. The former is defined by luxury: supple leathers and exotic skins, hand-stitched into supremely covetable handbags; fine silks screen-printed and fashioned into scarves. The latter focuses on more modest materials such as paper, wood and metal, but, like Hermès, is interested in the expressive potential of the medium at hand. There is a shared reverence of craftsmanship, an appreciation for imbuing everyday objects with a sense of poetry and whimsy. For Hermès’ latest home collection – debuted during Milan Design Week – Alonso created a trio of lamps made from bamboo, paper and metal. Each is composed of delicate screens of vibrant, opaque washi, supported by an aerial structure – built by master Japanese woodworkers – whose slender elegance belies its robustness. A coppered steel loop bisects the geometric composition while supporting the light source, creating a delicate interplay of light and shadow recalling a theatrical production. At the rear, Alonso has reduced the lamp’s workings and supporting structure to a thin black column, another reference to stage design and the act of focusing attention on the main star. 66

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Photography William Bunce


FRAME BY FRAME By Francisco Vilhena. Fusing high-concept design with workwear to challenge the status quo

Futurism meets pure functionality in the form of the collaboration between creative powerhouses Viu and Armes. The Lunettes 01 and Lunettes 02 frames reimagine and repurpose builder’s safety specs into art that you can wear Fabrice Aeberhard, Viu Eyewear’s creative director, and Philippe Cuendet, creative director of Armes, go back a long way. The creatives live near each other: Aeberhard is based in Zurich whilst Cuendet lives in Lausanne. The design community in Switzerland is closely knit and exchange is constant. “I really appreciate the products and designs Phil makes,” Aeberhard says, telling the story of how the two talents got together. The idea to collaborate started in the winter of 2017, close to Christmas, in a café in the centre of Lausanne. After their first meeting, both designers were keen to create something together. “Once the design process started, a long period of testing and alignments began in order to achieve the perfect product,” Cuendet explains. “We’re two design enthusiasts who are constantly inspired,” says Aeberhard. The collaboration is a passion project for both of them. No financial ambition, just the drive to create something beautiful. “We wanted to develop something great together and we shared an intense design process. We both like to explore and we enjoy development,” he adds. “The goal was to chalPhotography William Bunce

lenge the status quo and conventional notions of frame design,” Cuendet answers. United by a strong vision of what the final product should be like, it took years of development and extensive material testing for Aeberhard and Cuendet to find the perfect equilibrium of a wearable frame that pushes the boundaries of frame design. Influenced by the functional aspects of workwear, classical industrial visor shapes were the conceptual starting point. “The idea was to transform these builders safety specs into acetate with shields and to turn them into wearable pieces of art,” Aeberhard explains. “This classic visor shape has been turned on its head with the addition of innovative and unconventional details to the final design,” Cuendet adds. The result is these handcrafted, high-quality frames, made in Italy from premium acetate and built from one solid piece of material. A delicate nylon wire surrounds the lens piece and connects it back to the temple elements; this gives a sculpture-like appearance by seamlessly marrying distinctive yet understated design elements into a modern avant-garde frame. These are made for people who appreciate design and functionality. “With its unique style, it’s a frame with character, made for characters,” Aeberhard states. Here are Viu and Armes, framing the future, with plenty of character. Creative direction and styling Paulina Piipponen



CAST IN Ti TiME By Francisco Vilhena. Witnessing iconic fashion heritage transform into art

Sculpture and architecture were integral to Christian Dior’s work: His haute couture was moulded and structured – dramatic silhouettes and crafted clothes were soft sculptures in themselves. In view of this, Kim Jones, artistic director of Dior men’s collections, commissioned artist Daniel Arsham to create scenography featuring fascinating monolithic sculptures spelling out the word “Dior”, for Dior’s 2020 summer fashion show. Arsham created works that celebrate and reinvent the house’s heritage. Items drawn from Monsieur Dior’s studio (his clock, his telephone, Dior’s book Je Suis Couturier, published in 1951) have been cast, reminiscent of the artist’s Future Relics series. Arsham explains: “It was interesting to treat Dior much like I would treat any of the other subjects that I’ve selected in my own work, such as a Leica camera, a Spalding basketball, a Jordan sneaker… All of these things that have a particular iconic relevance to a global audience. The work lies in 68

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Photography Sarah Blais

bringing these objects into a sense of collapsing time.” Dior’s inspirations and personal belongings are brought to life; precious relics transformed into contemporary works of art. Surprising miniatures replicate the letters D, I, O and R that punctuate the summer 2020 men’s fashion show, echoing a passionate creative exchange. The New York-based artist has built his work at the intersection of architecture and design, history and contemporary art: “I’ve gone through a couple of different series of work. The fictional archaeological pieces are a way of bringing a viewer outside of their own moment in time. I’m taking something from their own experience – a camera, a computer – something that they connect with a particular moment, and I’m stretching that into a geological future… a thousand, 10 thousand years from now. In this way the works have a strong relationship with time, a kind of dislocation of linear time.”

Creative direction and styling Paulina Piipponen



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Stills from Luca Guadagnino’s film The Staggering Girl with costume design by Valentino


THe SOUND ARTi THe ARTiST: RYUiiCHI SAKAMOTO RYU By Francisco Vilhena. Using fabrics and colours to create a luscious soundscape for an extraordinary film

Ryuichi Sakamoto talks with a quiet demeanour. He listens intently. With a career stretching over 40 years, the Japanese composer has worked with countless musicians and artists, from Arto Lindsay to David Bowie. He has collaborated with performance artists and film-makers, and has played Stockhausen, bossa nova and synth pop in an enviable discography that oscillates between the erudite and the popular. His most recent work is the soundtrack for The Staggering Girl, a feature film directed by Luca Guadagnino,

Photography NSS (Zakkubalan)

director of Call Me by Your Name and Suspiria. The Staggering Girl is a Valentino production, drawing from Valentino’s haute couture creations by Pierpaolo Piccioli. The 37-minute feature tells the story of Francesca, an Italian-American writer (Julianne Moore) who lives in New York and must return to Rome to visit her ageing mother. The film’s narrative plays with the intersection of memory and identity, in abstract, non-linear ways. Debuting at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival, it boasts an impressive cast which also includes Mia Goth, KiKi Layne, Kyle MacLachlan, Marthe Keller and Alba Rohrwacher. When developing the concept for the soundtrack, Sakamoto requested Valentino to supply him with the fabrics of the clothes used in the filming: “I recorded the fabrics, literally touching them soft and hard, experiencing the vibrations, recording those fabric sounds. I always try to experience something different, and this approach was something I hadn’t done in the past; it’s quite new to me.” Sakamoto talks about medium, and how transposing the visual element is essential: “When making soundtracks, you cannot implement the methods and theory of music into films, so I always feel I have to translate.” This translation, he adds, is one that requires a channelling element, through which sometimes the most unusual connections appear. Thinking about what drives him, he explains, “My only influence is my past.” This appears to be the focal point in Sakamoto’s creative process: recycling the past to forge a new present. 71


MY ESSENTi ESSENTiAL ITEM: NANOMUSEUM By Hans Ulrich Obrist. A portable museum which creates debate and free access to shows

I founded the Nanomuseum in the mid-1990s. It grew – as with most of my exhibitions and projects – out of discussions with artists. In this specific case, it was a discussion with a German artist, Hans-Peter Feldmann, who is based in Düsseldorf and has been doing visionary work since the 1960s, not only in terms of exhibitions, but also with books. He shifted his art practice into other activities, and was also running a shop in which he sold all kinds of objects. I once visited him in the 1990s, when his shop was still open. He was selling these small frames, of six by three inches, and I bought one that subsequently became the ready-made architecture of the Nanomuseum. The idea grew out of a discussion about how the frame could become a portable museum. It connects to Robert Filliou’s Museum Chapeau, or, more recently, Dayanita Singh’s portable museum, among others; the idea was that this museum could host exhibitions and could be carried anywhere. It is representative of the lightest possible structure a museum could have, and at the same time a kind of parody on nano-technology. It would be a completely free museum, so that there wouldn’t be


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Photography Rudi Molacek

any constraints on having regular exhibitions whatsoever; so, sometimes there might not be a show for three months, and then there might be two exhibitions per day. There are all kinds of possibilities, after all, when you have time as freedom rather than constraint. There’s also no obligation to fill the space, but one can fill the small frame easily enough whenever there is a desire or necessity to do so. The Nanomuseum functions as a conversation piece… but it’s a migrating conversation piece, so wherever the museum goes, it not only keeps track of its findings, but also triggers all kinds of dialogue. There’s always someone (either me or someone else – as other people also carry the museum around with them) showing the museum to friends and to other people, including passers-by, etc; so it often triggers direct feedback, and it is an excellent excuse or pretext to start a discussion. The Nanomuseum is only there to generate a conversation; it’s not about the object, but about what it can instigate. The Nanomuseum has been completely self-organised in its structure. The Nanomuseum has a nano-budget. Everything is nano.






Baloji wears Dior Summer20 men’s collection throughout

Baloji often finds that other people don’t know quite how to define him. As a musician, director, stylist and visual artist moving fluidly between genres, forms and languages, his refusal to be put in a box is exactly what makes him so appealing. Speaking over the phone from his home in Belgium, he reflects on the questions he frequently gets asked: “’Are you a rap artist?’ ‘Are you African music? Electronic music? Poetry?’” He chuckles warmly. “I’m like everybody else. Sometimes I want to listen to grime. Sometimes I want to listen to something instrumental. . . Like everybody, I have different moods. But in music, you have to be one specific thing. That’s the way this industry works. People tell me all the time: ‘You’re not focused; you don’t know who you are.’ It’s a difficult thing for them to deal with, apparently.” Currently, the multihyphenate artist is spending most of his time writing, while he is under lockdown due to COVID-19. Having been in Italy a few weeks previously, he’s seen the early stages of the pandemic unfolding from different vantage points around Europe. It strikes him how little 78

countries are learning from one another, even in a crisis. “We need to not only talk about our own little islands, our own countries,” he says. “It’s very important, it would help the whole world.” It’s a point of view that comes naturally for someone whose identity has been shaped by multiple continents and cultures. Born in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) in 1978, Baloji was taken to Belgium to live with his step-family when he was three years old. Four years later, his father, having lost all his assets because of war, disappeared from Baloji’s life. At 14, Baloji dropped out of school and found his way into a hip-hop group named Starflam, which he performed with as MC Balo. But it was at the age of 26, after rebuilding connections with his mother and with his native Congo, that he began developing his solo career with Hotel Impala, a personal, strident record of funk-fuelled rap. His career since then has been a multifaceted, ever-evolving one. His albums – including the sweeping, psychedelic 2018 LP 137 Avenue Kaniama – have established him as a star in France and Belgium, and gradually crossed

over to English-speaking audiences. Right now, Baloji believes the west is more open to hearing from African artists than they have been in the past. “It’s changing for the good, ’specially with afrobeat, just because the diaspora is so reactive,” he says. “But it’s also a trend – we have to be careful with trends, that it’s really changing the way people perceive African music.” One thing he’s definitely happy about, though, is “that we finally killed the idea of ‘world music’ – which is just a box where we put all the music that is not European”. He’s also finding that, thanks to improved Internet access, his own music is finding more fans in the DRC than ever before. “Four years ago, the access to data and 4G in the Congo was so limited, the decision makers were all the same,” says Baloji. “Now my work has the help of the Internet, it’s really made a difference. I don’t depend on 10 people, who say, ‘It’s not for us, it’s too European.’” At the time of speaking, he was in fact supposed to be on a tour of East Africa (now rescheduled due to the pandemic), playing shows and screening films.


But if you’re really an artist, you can be refreshing and different, not just because you’re new. All my favourite artists, directors, painters – they all reinvent themselves. You just have to challenge yourself.

Grooming Gwen De Vylder Photography assistant Tim Coppens

For Baloji, shows and screenings go hand in hand. His work as a musician has always been supplemented by cinematic experiences, like his stunning, surrealist 2019 short film Zombies, a commentary on smartphone addiction. Throughout his career, Baloji explains, he has self-funded his short films, because he’s passionate about realising his vision even when his label don’t have the budget: “When I conceive the music, I always think about the visuals, how to make a narrative structure around it, the scenes and the sequence.” But his work as a director hasn’t always been taken seriously. “People don’t believe that as an artist, you can also be a director. It’s something that they don’t really accept, and it’s very hard to deal with that. You know, when you see a video, and it’s directed by Madonna, everybody’s like, ‘She didn’t direct it, she just put her name on it.’ So when [I direct something], they’re like, ‘Yeah, right. There must be a white guy behind you doing all the work.’” In recent years, though, Baloji has seen this attitude shifting – in part because of the amount

he reflects. “Scared of what people would say; scared of people not showing up [to shows].” In the past, he says, he would get down about the little things, like radio playlisting; but now he takes sheer joy from the crowds he sees coming back to his shows again and again, and is excited to create for the sake of creating. It’s in that spirit that he’s returning to the studio to work on a new album, which will also be the soundtrack to his film Augure. He describes it as perhaps the most fun he’s ever had writing music, because he’s pushing himself to write from the perspective of his female characters. No longer dogged by the worries he had earlier in his career, he now sees his experience and maturity as a gift. “The way this industry works, they make sure an artist survives for four or five years, and after five years, it’s game over,” he says. “Because we always need ‘something new’. But if you’re really an artist, you can be refreshing and different, not just because you’re new. All my favourite artists, directors, painters – they all reinvent themselves. You just have to challenge yourself.”

of time he’s spent grafting, both in front of the camera and behind it, and in part because of accolades he’s won, including Best Styling, for Zombies, at the UK Music Video Awards in 2019. “This really helped,” he says of his UKMVA. “People could finally accept: ‘He’s the director, and the musician, and he’s also the stylist.’” Thanks to this boost, Baloji is now working on a dream project of his: the feature-length film Augure, a magical-realist depiction of an uber-patriachal society, for which he has finally secured funding after receiving six rejections. “It’s narratively. . . weird for traditional funding,” he laughs. “This industry is very strange. Everybody wants ‘something different’, but then nobody’s there to pay for something different, because they’re scared that nobody goes to the theatre to watch this type of movie. So that made it difficult.” Speaking with a breezy frankness, it’s clear that Baloji is now the most relaxed he has been throughout his career – not because he has won the approval of gatekeepers, but because he has liberated himself from caring about what they think. “Ten years ago, I was scared of everything,”



Earl Cave Wears Gucci SS20 throughout


“A myth is more profitable than a man,” claims Ned Kelly in True History of the Kelly Gang, a retelling of the Australian legend, which embraces myth as a kind of galvanising life force, one which makes men into something potentially hero-making, or not quite human. It’s a sentiment that could also apply to many rock star progeny, who emerge from plenty of myth-making, but are ultimately, if we’d only let them be, adolescents like any other. For Earl Cave – son of Nick and The Vampire’s Wife designer Susie Bick – playing Ned Kelly’s younger brother, and fellow gang member, in Justin Kurzel’s visceral drama was like entering into his own rock stardom: “an embodiment of someone that I’d never even thought I could be.” I sit down with Cave, who possesses the withheld mannerisms of his father, and something of the indelible beauty of his mother, in some rare in-between time in London: a few days after the Kelly Gang reunited for a premiere event, and hours before he catches a flight to Rome to continue filming a new show set in ancient times, Domina. “It was lovely to get the band back together,” he says of the night, pushing strands of hair out of his eyes. He’s being literal – director Kurzel instructed Cave, along with the film’s lead George MacKay and co-actors Sean Keenan and Louis Hewison, to form, rehearse and play a gig as a real rock band before filming had even started, as a bonding exercise. (Cave was on bass.) It was also an opportunity to

rewatch Kelly Gang, an iconoclastic work that is initially difficult to process. “At first you feel like you’ve sort of wiped your memory – you leave the cinema, and you’re like, “What just happened?” The first time I saw it, it was terrifying… thinking, “God, what are they gonna do with all the strange things we’ve been doing? I had to get that initial fear out of the way.” The film, which bases itself on Peter Carey’s revisionist history-meets-fiction book about the famed bushranger and police killer – including its claim that the gang members dressed in women’s clothing to disguise themselves – has provoked a strong reaction from those who watch it. “Especially Australia,” admits Cave. “They were pretty freaked out by the whole situation. But I’m so happy that we kicked off a bit of a fuss over there, because who wants to hear the same Ned Kelly story again?” That this isn’t the standard take on the Ned Kelly myth makes the film feel tailor-made for 2020, urgent even. And amid the brutal tale of the outlaw’s life – from poverty-stricken boyhood to eventual, even reluctant, ascension to cop-killer mastermind – there’s Cave, playing Dan, a younger-brother figure, who seems as though, if things had worked out differently, he would have readily taken the mantle to lead. Controlled at first, his internalised anger surfaces, like a chemical combustion in slow motion. He wants to watch the world burn. “The idea of the gang culture for Dan is so exciting. He’s on the

run, he gets to rob banks, it’s incredible. For the final shootout I’m wearing this wedding dress – it’s like his wedding day. But the severity of it all comes crashing in – and that’s where you see these boys trying to be men turn back into boys.” Those final, explosive scenes will be much talked about – and the film’s cinematography, taking place in a burnt-out, Mad Max-esque crater of a world, which can’t help but bring to mind the Australian bushfires. (It’s actually quite different, as Cave points out, “In reality all the trees there died from flooding, so it’s kind of the opposite, which is strange.”) But it’s the film’s quieter moments, a lens on what men do when they are alone, that compel: a knack for finding intimacy among chaos that Kurzel also exploited in his Macbeth. For Cave, any queer undercurrent that emerges isn’t designed to shock, but to further assert the message of close fraternity-against-the-odds that may, or may not, have meant something more. “It’s not a queer film. We were finding this fine line which, in a way, we didn’t even seek for. We were put in this enclosed space together, metaphorically speaking, and we had to get to know each other so well. With toxic masculinity, people feel like it’s wrong to be affectionate towards men even if they’re your friend, you know? There’s this scene with Ned and Joe and they’re lying together, and they’re talking and smoking opium together, and it’s sort of the most beautiful little scene: because it’s unspoken, it’s unlabelled.” 89

With toxic masculinity, people feel like it’s wrong to be affectionate towards men even if they’re your friend. There’s this scene with Ned and Joe and they’re lying together, and they’re talking and smoking opium together, and it’s the most beautiful little scene.


Photography assistant Lucas Bullens Styling assistants Sophie Tann and Sheila Mendes Hair Mark Hampton at Julian Watson Agency Skin Pablo Rodriguez Production The Production Factory

I think we know too much about everyone. It's nice to leave a lot of that stuff to the imagination. Move away, get your burner phones out, it's great. Rebel.

The coincidences mount up when it comes to Cave’s projects as an actor so far: Not only does Kelly Gang bring him back to the region where his father grew up, but it shares themes of families, and chosen families, with his other projects – like Days of the Bagnold Summer’s angsty teenager stuck in middle England with his long-suffering mum. And his forthcoming role, in YA television adaptation Alex Rider, also sees him play another Australian. “Two Dans who don’t like to be called Danny… Two angsty teenagers,” he muses. “Well, I am a teenager I suppose. Australian, English – I’ll do ’em all!” Given the uncompromising nature of his parents’ pursuits, it is not surprising Cave has a taste for outsider roles. “They’re always right,” he laughs of his parents. “My mum especially, is always right. Even the times when I’m like, ‘You are absolutely wrong, you cannot be right.’ I’m just like, ‘I’m so sorry, you were completely right.’ It’s so frustrating!” I wonder whether growing up in the public eye – in a family particularly in the media’s crosshairs for a portion of his youth after losing his twin, Arthur – might have made Cave more hesitant about what he posts online. “I guess I had to be a little bit more careful, that potentially there might be someone who’s trying to find something to purposefully use against me or my family. But there is an immense pressure – not just for people in the public eye. It’s difficult to know where the line is of what’s okay for everyone to know about and what’s not. What’s

your personal information now? What really is private? I’d love to just delete,” he says of Instagram. “I’ve actually been considering it.” When it comes to his teenage years, Cave readily admits some of his phases are best left in the 2010s. “At school, everyone listened to rap music and trap. Then there was a drum and bass phase, which was actually really fun. I’d listen to it in the bath. And we’d try to find the dirtiest drum and bass,” he states, emphatically. “It was awful. I’m so sorry for the people around me who had to listen to that.” A nostalgist beyond his years, he enthuses of long-time loves, from the Cocteau Twins to Iggy Pop. “My dad would play me The Stooges when I was a baby, just to get to sleep. I wouldn’t sleep to anything else other than ‘Search and Destroy’. I don’t know what the hell was wrong with me!” he laughs. “That stuff stays with you forever, really.” But Cave has also worked with one of film’s most incendiary directors, a man possibly more punk than the punks… well, technically. “Yeah, that was the weirdest email I ever got in my entire life,” he says of the Gucci Chinese New Year campaign, shot at Disneyland with none other than Harmony Korine. “I was like, ‘Harmony Korine? Alright, fuck.’ They brought me over to him and he was there wearing his sailor’s cap – he always wears it! He was exactly how I’d thought he’d be,” he grins, visibly fanboying. As you’d imagine, weird things hap-

pen around the director – like being trapped in the Disney Corporation vortex. “We had to ride this fucking log ride 10 times, and it’s the most terrifying psychedelic journey. It’s like a weird trip. You go through it [Splash Mountain], and you get to this bit where these animatronic animals are all singing, ‘Keep going! Keep going!’ Everything is laughing hysterically and their eyes are all over the place. It’s unbelievable that this thing exists. On the 10th ride, it broke down whilst we were still inside of it. Harmony was in the log with me; he was like, ‘Fuck. This is terrifying.’ All the animatronics were still going “Just keep moving, just keep moving!” And the logs were stacking up, like, not moving. We were in there for 10 minutes, and no one came to retrieve us. Harmony was like, ‘Let’s just get the fuck outta here.’ So we got out of the logs and walked through. If Harmony didn’t do that, I don’t know if I would have been here to tell the tale.” But while escaping death with Harmony Korine, wearing a full Gucci look, might just be the most ‘go big or go home’ anecdote ever told, Cave is clearly no maximalist. Like most thoughtful people of his generation, the actor clearly thinks the greatest rebellion might just be to hold back, not lash out. “Everything’s too HD – and you can see it,” he muses. “I think we know too much about everyone. It’s nice to leave a lot of that stuff to the imagination. Move away, get your burner phones out, it’s great. Rebel.” 95




Kelvin Harrison Jr wears ERMENEGILDO ZEGNA XXX throughout

“I’m a mess!” is not how you expect a film star to answer the polite opener, “How are you?” But Kelvin Harrison Jr is not your average film star. In contrast to media-trained Hollywood types, the 25-year-old actor is leading a new generation of open, honest performers who are ready and willing to share about everything, from mental health to toxic masculinity. He’s driving in LA when we speak on the phone – hands free, of course – and has yet to feel at home in Tinseltown, where he’s just moved from New York. “I’m moving right now and I’m starting a new job,” he sighs cheerfully. “You know, one day… one day at a time.” It has all happened rather suddenly for the boy from New Orleans. After small roles in 12 Years a Slave, The Birth of a Nation and Mudbound, he caught

casting directors’ attention in the gripping horror It Comes At Night (2017). “I did four movies back to back during that time; I did JT LeRoy and then straight into Monsters and Men, then I started to prep for Luce, then I did The Wolf Hour…” Harrison starred alongside Naomi Watts in the latter two films, spending a lot of time with her and Luce co-star Tim Roth. The pair play the adoptive parents of his A-grade student Luce, a former child soldier who develops a conflict with a teacher (Octavia Spencer). It’s a mesmerising psychological thriller that hinges on Harrison’s enigmatic central performance, his broad smile hiding all manner of mysteries. How did he prepare for that character? “I watched interviews with Barack Obama and Will Smith,” he says, upbeat: “And the director, Julius Onah, made me come in

every week and do a speech for him. I did a lot of research on child soldiers and finding the therapy that I might have undergone at seven years old. I thought that was incredibly necessary to get into the mindset. I started track training; I also did basketball lessons. It was very tedious.” Harrison uses the word “tedious” several times, but you never get the sense that he’s complaining, just stating a fact. This is a determined young man who was brought up with a very strong work ethic, just like Luce, as well as his character Tyler in the film Waves. A young athlete who crumbles amid pressure exerted by his well-meaning father (Sterling K Brown), Tyler, elicits another astonishing, intense performance from the actor, who related to his “fear of disappointment, and not realising your full potential”. 101

When I love you, I love you. And if the friendship falls apart, that takes a toll on me. So I’m a little more conscious of who I’m letting into my space right now.

During our conversation, Kelvin Harrison Senior comes up a lot. A musician married to another musician, he expected his son to follow suit, but it wasn’t to be. “My parents were classically trained jazz musicians, it was a different world. When I dropped out of school to do a TV show in Puerto Rico (StartUp), it was a big moment for me, because my dad was like: ‘What are you doing, dude?!’ And I was like, ‘I don’t know; I don’t really like the class, and my teacher’s annoying. I would rather be in Puerto Rico, pretending to be a Haitian gangster.’” Whatever his motivation, it seems to have paid off. “Yesterday my dad said, ‘I just watched Luce twice today.’ He loves the movie. He’s the one that introduced me to the book 12 Years a Slave and gave me so many books about young boys 102

coming of age, and about time and patience. He’s a very patient man, even though at moments he’s very impatient. He loves these conversations about class and race. I think it’s really giving him an opportunity to understand me better.” If several of Junior’s film choices focus on toxic masculinity, that’s probably no coincidence. “I don’t know where it started, but there’s pressure on young men to be a certain way. And I also think that I’ve seen a difference in young men that got a different love and affection from their fathers. If, from a very young age, he’s hugging you and giving you kisses… The friends that I know that have had those experiences tend to be less insecure and less fragile about their masculinity. My dad didn’t know any better. But, you know, I don’t judge

the man who has a little bit of toxic masculinity. I have the power as a young person to talk to my dad and empower him and encourage him to embrace me. And, ultimately, I’m hurting myself if I continue to beat myself down with these expectations.” This is clearly a young man who has benefited from self-reflection. “There’s so many things that young people are dealing with,” he says, referring to social media, among other things. “Professionals are good to have. Last summer, I lost my cousin to mental health issues: he took his life. That was really tough for me.” The actor is also ready to talk about being vulnerable in platonic friendships. “When I love you, I love you. And if the friendship falls apart, that takes a toll on me. So I’m a little more conscious

Set design Jesse Kaufmann at Frank Reps Photography assistants Dylan Long and Scott Barraza Styling assistant Amber Rose Smith Grooming Melissa DeZarate at The Wall Group with La Prairie Production The Production Factory Produced in collaboration with Zegna to foster the dialogue of its What Makes A Man campaign, a new platform for discussion on the meaning of modern masculinity.

I don’t know where it started, but there’s pressure on young men to be a certain way. And I also think that I’ve seen a difference in young men that got a different love and affection from their fathers.

of who I’m letting into my space right now.” Harrison is currently single, but when he has a romantic partner, “I hope that she’s my best friend. I treat it the same way [as friendships]; there’s just a few other little things happening, you know!” When he was shortlisted for the EE Rising Star Award, Harrison became one of the very few actors of colour nominated for a BAFTA this year. How does he feel about the awards’ diversity controversy? “I mean, I hear about it a lot – because I’m a black kid, you know! I get what the argument is, but also to participate in it wholeheartedly is dishonest for me right now. At this point in my career, I just want to tell good stories about different people, and if I get recognition, wonderful. Hopefully it

doesn’t stop me from not working if I don’t.” That doesn’t seem likely, I suggest. He agrees. “Right now, that’s why I’m not as concerned… If that changes, I might be on the forefront of: ‘We need more black people in awards season!’” It’s not all serious in Harrison’s world, and to prove it he is currently working on Nisha Ganatra’s musical comedy-drama The High Note, starring Dakota Johnson and Tracee Ellis Ross, daughter of Diana. “I had to lighten things up. I was like: I want to know what love feels like, have a good time, sing some songs. It’s a female-led movie that exposes what the music industry feels like in Hollywood, and also what it feels like to be a woman in that space.” He’s also starring in Aaron Sorkin’s The Trial of the Chicago 7. “It was iconic, you know: We’re doing this incredible

story and Mark Rylance is there and Eddie Redmayne and Sacha Baron Cohen, and the list goes on… Being the youngest person in that ensemble was like a masterclass and a gift. Something I would never take for granted, ever.” His next project is under wraps, but he will reveal that it involves a “crazy diet”. He also hopes to work with his idol, 12 Years a Slave actor Chiwetel Ejiofor, again soon. “I always felt like I look like him a little bit: little bug eyes, and he’s got a classic man energy; kind of awkward and he’s such a master of subtlety. I love subtlety in film-making.” There: he’s summed it up. Classic man energy, kind of awkward, a master of subtlety. It looks like Kelvin Harrison Jr is well on the way to achieving his dream – and on his own terms. 107

What makes a furniture designer? Martino Gamper has been a chef, a carpenter, a hitch-hiker. From the mass-produced to the individual crafted object, Deyan Sudjic profiles the multifaceted creator

Words D E YA N S U DJ I C


Gamper on Post Mundus Chair (2012, Gebrueder Thonet Vienna).

Defining Martino Gamper is not easy. Having attended four very different art schools in several different countries, he studied in departments that ranged from sculpture and ceramics to design, and used three languages, before finally deciding what he wanted to be. He is in the gallery world, but also designs for mass production, and is interested in what he calls “making as a means of thinking”. Gamper was born in the German-speaking Italian province of South Tyrol, in the small city of Meran – Italians call it Merano – in 1971. Now he lives in London, but spends several weeks of every year in New Zealand, where his wife, the artist Francis Upritchard, is from; and he has a residency at Maja Hoffmann’s foundation in Arles. 110

Gamper considered the life of a maker in his teens. He enrolled at a craft school when he was just 14. An apprenticeship came next. If you take a quick look behind the ragged façade of the building where he has his studio, in a still-ungentrified corner of Hackney, you would be forgiven for assuming that Gamper turned out to be a carpenter. There are neat rows of chisels and saws arranged on the walls, and carefully ordered work benches on which pieces of wooden furniture wait to be completed. But there is more to his work than skill – enough, in fact, to render the debate around craft and design, and art and design, redundant. Taking up almost as much space in the studio as his carpentry tools and the chair production

line is a long table flanked by the kitchen that takes up much of Gamper’s energy. It’s not that he is a chef, but food is a fundamental for him. “Early on, with no clients or commissions, I had to find an alibi to get started on a project, and that alibi was food.” “Cooking is similar to design,” he says. “In order to design a table you need food, and food without a table does not work. I create food events in order to design tables; it is an excuse.” On the day I am there, the studio is working on a meal to celebrate Christmas, but Gamper uses food much in the way the artist Rirkrit Tiravanija does, to explore the ways in which we interact with each other. He completed his apprenticeship at 19, then went travelling. After a summer in Switzerland

Workshop tools.

financed by selling bags made out of old inner bike tubes, he tentatively began to think about becoming an artist. He secured a place at the Art Academy in Florence in 1990, but left almost immediately – repelled by the endless reproductions of Michelangelo’s statue of David and the shortcomings of the Italian educational system, where students copied each other’s essays and professors failed to show up. He moved to Vienna – where he talked Michelangelo Pistoletto into giving him a place on the sculpture course at the Academy of Fine Arts. Pistoletto, one of the founders of Italy’s arte povera movement, was interested enough in the objects that Gamper made. Gamper was also spending a lot of his time at the University of Applied Arts,

Studio knives, recipes, Off-Cut Vase detail and vintage banana (eaten now).

on the other side of the city. It was the school where Josef Hoffmann had once taught, which was rooted in design, rather than art. Pistoletto suggested that he made up his mind between the two, and he chose design. Gamper gravitated to what was nominally the ceramics masterclass, led by Matteo Thun, once an assistant to Ettore Sottsass and a member of the Memphis group. Despite learning very little about ceramics, Gamper impressed Thun enough to get hired to work in his studio in Milan. Thun not only paid him – unusual in the intern-exploitative climate of the time – but also covered his fares to and from Vienna in order to allow him to continue with his studies. The experience of working in a well-organised commercially orien-

tated design practice was something that Gamper found useful, even if it did not leave him wanting to design in Thun’s post-Memphis postmodern manner, or even to run a large studio. The early 1990s were not Milan’s best years: “The masters were dying out, the place looked grey, and postmodernism did not appeal,” Gamper says. While Thun was spending most of his time in Italy, a group of his more enterprising students in Vienna, Gamper among them, hijacked their absent professor’s office and turned it into their private workspace. When Thun finally departed, Enzo Mari took his place. For Gamper, studying with Mari was as important an experience as meeting Pistoletto. Both have an interest in humble, found materi111

Chair parts bundle.

als; Mari’s blueprints for self-made open-source furniture designs have continued to fascinate designers. Even more interesting was Gamper’s time spent in London at the Royal College of Art as an Erasmus student. It was there that he encountered a tutor who disabused him of the notion that his precocious technical ability with a band saw would be enough to get him through: “I am not interested in your practical skills, I am interested in your thinking about the idea.” This was an approach that stayed with him. And he returned to the RCA, once Ron Arad had established the design-product course. Arad used to say that his job at the RCA was to make his students unemployable. Partly, he was suggesting that his course would give 114

Recycling bin and Arnold Circus Stool storage.

graduates the independence to set up on their own. But he was also conscious of the realities of a world in which the traditional idea of big industrial clients looking to hire designers to work on specific briefs no longer applied. His students had to be able to make their own way. If they couldn’t work on an industrial scale, then they had to make the most of what they could find, just as Arad himself had once made his Rover chairs with car seats salvaged from a scrap yard. Gamper’s graduation project was an exploration of corners. “I was living in a corner of a loft at the time, and my project was about the corner as a spatial entity between architecture and furniture. I made a corner light inspired by Fla-

vin.” Afterwards, Gamper made a living scavenging from skips in order to improvise readymade objects: ‘Designing without designing’, he called it. He was selling lights made from footballs. The Umbro football was the only one that had the right degree of transparency, and he had a stall at the V&A selling pieces he made on the spot for 25 pounds each. From out of this exercise came the 100 chairs in 100 days project, which turned a spontaneous exercise into a conscious performance: He put together fragments of broken and abandoned chairs to create altogether new chairs. A polypropylene seat, teamed with a bentwood back, a pressed metal shell and an upside-down back. Each individual chair is ingenious, and is more than a piece of

Very sharp circular saw blade.

sculpture, but is based on an understanding of what is involved in manufacturing and designing a chair: “I learned a lot by taking chairs apart.” Keeping up the pace was demanding, but the project immediately attracted attention, and has been exhibited in museums and galleries around the world. Commissions started to come Gamper’s way: some for conventional pieces of mass-produced furniture, others for interiors. There was work from the fashion world: windows for Miuccia Prada, displays for Anya Hindmarch and interiors for Peter Pilotto, a friend with a similar Austrian-Italian background. The Serpentine asked him to curate an exhibition, which he based on the seemingly unpromising idea of

Bella Vista Chair, reclaimed teak, pasta flour on floor.

the shelf, but filled it with pieces that made you consider the humblest but most ubiquitous of objects in a new way. Most recently, he designed the AlpiNN, a restaurant for a chef in the South Tyrol who has a commitment to rooting his food in the specifics of the place. “He doesn’t use olive oil, because you can’t find it in the mountains, so I wanted to design the place using only things that you could see in the area: wood from the valley, lamps using parchment from sheep that graze nearby.” Like all of Gamper’s work, his design avoids the obvious. He has no predictable signatures. Instead, his material grows out of the material from which it is made, and from quietly observing how we use spacesand objects.

Britain is no longer quite the place that it was at the end of the 1990s, when a special set of circumstances that included open borders and low rents made London a specially fertile place for designers. On the rain-soaked day of Britain’s 2019 general election, Gamper wore a badge to proclaim his hope that Britain would choose a government that made it possible to stay in the European Union. He had taken the citizenship test that would qualify him as British but did not yet have the right to vote. London has become a place in which it is possible for a designer who can work anywhere, as he can, to be successful. What is not so clear is how attractive it would be now to a young and unknown Gamper. 115

Martino Gamper Studies

Project 1: 100 Chairs in 100 Days

According to Martino Gamper, “There is no perfect design and there is no über-design. Objects talk to us personally. Some might be more functional than others, and the emotional attachment is very individual.” Around 10 years ago, the London-based, Italian-born furniture designer started working on this project, and built a new chair every day for 100 days. He put together parts of different chairs that he found dumped on the streets or rescued from disuse at friends’ homes,

100 Chairs collection courtesy of Nilufar Gallery, Milan Photography Åbäke and Martino Gamper


his approach focusing on creating each chair as a unique object made from the materials available at the time. A blend of found stylistic and structural elements, he generated perverse, poetic and humorous hybrids: “What happens to the status and potential of a plastic garden chair when it is upholstered with luxurious yellow suede?” The project was exhibited in London in 2007, at the Milan Triennale in 2009, and at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco, in 2010.

Date: 2007


Project 2: Arnold Circus Stool

Date: 2006

Anna Arca

Situated at the heart of Shoreditch in east London, Arnold Circus is part of the Boundary Estate, the city’s first council housing project. The estate, built from the rubble of old slums, was inaugurated in 1896 and consists of 19 blocks of five-storey tenements displayed around a central garden, within which can be found a celebrated eight-sided bandstand. The Arnold Circus Stool was designed by Martino Gamper as part of the estate’s regen118

eration project in 2006. This polyvalent and multifaceted piece of furniture is a rotation moulded polyethylene plastic stool, and can be used in several ways other than for indoor sitting, like storage or garden furniture. It is also the official seating for the estate’s many community events and volunteering initiatives, such as circus picnics, brass band concerts, carrom tournaments and of course music and film screenings.

Project 3: Gio Ponti translated by Martino Gamper

Date: 2007

Gio Ponti furniture courtesy of Nilufar Gallery, Milan

Armed with the tools of his trade, Martino Gamper broke, cut and modified furniture created by Italian architect and industrial designer Gio Ponti for the Hotel Parco dei Principi, in Sorrento. This was not an act of destruction in itself, but rather “an action”, to reinvent, rethink and repossess the object, and create a “new destiny” for it. Deconstruction, much more than mere standard practice, is the path towards knowledge for

Gamper. Engaging with a structure is an intimate and physical process that explores the emotional dynamics and boundaries between the object and its maker. This kind of engagement provokes a reaction in Gamper, which is then translated as an immediate action on the object, a “creative process in action”, which can be defined as ‘action design’. With his transformative powers, and the ability to improvise and reappropriate, Gamper

seeks to extend the life of a classic piece of design beyond its museum-like existence. The outcome is always unknown, the process is spontaneous and freewheeling, and the result is a variety of objects, each with its own attitude – some functional, some pathetic and some even beautiful.





At the Citadel, the lights are never on. William T Vollmann explores the San Francisco BDSM community and the ties that bind it


Previous spread: Cyn (left) and Califly (right) lean on one another while sitting on the empty bar at the citadel.

Left: Califly suspends from the ceiling using a metal ring and a rope.

1 So I settled for foreplay on this Saturday afternoon at the Citadel. “I’d turn on the light but it wouldn’t do any good,” said my hostess, Ms Raven Nevermore. “It’s eight thousand square feet. Once people are here it doesn’t feel that big, but right now it feels huge.” Since the photographer was late, she set me loose to wander through her realm, which gave me the impression of a hyper-clean attic containing promising treasures: a frame as for a small gallows, a great reinforced X, a device like two wide-runged wooden ladders leaning at head height into a roof-like contrivance, and I nearly forgot the tripod-type entity with eyehooks, straps and attached safety information card. No, maybe the Citadel was not an attic. With its angled carpeted walkway, and the railing around the stage where scenes took place (non-participants could watch from below), and then those various nooks. The place is best described as a pleasure factory with dedicated workstations. Placing myself on the upper step of a black-painted thronelike platform, upon which a medium-sized mattress supported a smaller one, I studied a certain strand of blue lights which resembled misaligned glowing vertebrae. On a red pillar were affixed Raven’s rope suspension guidelines; among other things, I learnt that the breaking strength of the main support line should be at least 10 times the weight of the bottom, the submissive, alongside printed advice on cleaning dungeon equipment: beforehand with alcohol, then afterward with a substance called CaviCide. Sitting on that black-painted step up to the double-decker mattress on which so much must have happened, I next discovered on the lower step a golden triangle, scrap from a condom wrapper. Just beneath the clock on the wall stood a shelf with paper towels and nitrile exam gloves. Transferring myself to a narrow straight-backed chair from which much of the seat had been cut out, presumably for the convenient worship or torture of genitalia, I found a black-leathered massage table studded with eyelets and yet another free-standing shelf of cleaning supplies – because in this line of endeavour it is nice to be only as dirty as one wishes to be. 2 “We’re one of the longest running dungeons,” said Raven. “When I was about 19 years old, I was living in Reno and met a woman that very much intrigued me. She brought me to my first Folsom Street Fair, ’99-ish, and I started coming

to that. 21 December 2004, that was when this place opened. About six months afterward was when I started at Citadel. I started out as a slave. I was owned by the previous owner of Citadel. I jumped in with both feet because I like to go all the way. I hosted the first women’s parties at Citadel with another woman, helped with all the parties, trained dungeon monitors. I joke with newbies that I started out cleaning the toilets here and now I own the place! “Over the years I came into my own. I stepped away for a little while because I had adopted some kids, and last year I got a call that Citadel was up for sale, and it just worked out where I was able to buy it. So over the year I was an officer for the Society of  Janus, and one of the five founding members of the SF Girls of Leather. I have leather experience. I come from a biker background. Within the leather world there’s a thing called earned leather, which crossed over into BDSM. When you do something extraordinary, or you’ve worked your butt off at some kind of event or helped someone out, the way someone acknowledges this is that they’ll give you a piece of leather. My leather vest, my boots… I was also military. Unfortunately that career was cut short because I was outed. “My background as a child and young adult is a fairly violent one. When I was a slave I used bottoming as a way to heal, to reclaim things I had lost around in my life…” I told her about a dominatrix I used to be close to, a woman who used to beat me speechless and kept on beating me until I seemed to be in a warm dark sack of nothingness. When she learned that there had been corporal punishment in my boyhood, the dominatrix was appalled and said that had she known this she would have done other things to me, but I replied that the flogging made me feel good. I won’t claim that it somehow healed me. “What you are talking about,” said Raven, “is a sub space, a space of completely letting go, where your mind is able to shut off, and you give this power over to another human being, knowing that you are safe with them. “The slaves and submissives have all the power,” she continued. “Those of us that are dominants – tops – we wouldn’t be what we are without them. It is an amazing gift that they give us. As a top, you really know how to read people. They may be telling you no, and their body has had enough. There are some who will keep going just to please their top. Then it’s on the top to do the right thing. So your domme, well, she raised the issue with you and then you could both go ahead and keep on playing. She just didn’t want to trigger you…” 123

While Califly is suspending from the ceiling, Cyn lays on the floor for a SpiderMan-style kiss.

“Why do some people trigger?” “A lot of it is psychology, especially when you get into newer players. Society has conditioned us to think that this is wrong. Beating someone for fun is not what we do. So you come into a dungeon, you learn all these new experiences, and at some point, your psyche kicks in, and you have your trigger. And sometimes triggering is a good thing. There’s a lot of us that work through our emotional trauma. But it’s also very important for a top to know, not everything, but what their bottom has been through in their life. Granted, they may use it to get into their triggers, but… I have had experiences where somebody will kind of leave reality. It’s the responsibility of the top to take care of that person and not just ditch them. They go nonverbal, kind of dissociating from reality. It’s different with everybody. Some people get really really angry…” “In your opinion, how do we get imprinted with our own specific fetishes?” “I think it kind of goes with the question of nurture versus nature, chocolate versus vanilla; but things that do imprint us, like, ‘He was a child, and it was back in the time when nurses still wore high heels, and he remembers being a boy of five or six in there and the sound of the heels, and, to this day, he has a shoe fetish.’ As we grow, as we mature, new things will 124

come to light. If you’re like me… if you’re a trisexual, you’ll try anything once – and then maybe twice, to make sure. I worked from the bottom up, so to speak. But I’m also one that won’t use an implement of destruction that hasn’t been used on me, and I’m tellin’ you there’s not many of those.” “What’s been your most rewarding experience as a top?” “Seeing someone through to the other side. Helping them overcome what was once one of the hardest parts of their life. And they didn’t have to do it alone. I came into this very young, and maybe for me it’s been an upbringing; maybe it’s a maturing. In some ways it has made me be patient with people. It’s much easier for me to see when someone is broken and give the person that leeway.” 3 BDSM does not have to be “therapy,” and mostly it is not. In the words of an experienced male dominant, Jay Wiseman: “Even the most conventional sexual arousal is not ‘rational’ […] Some motivations are pathological. Dominants may have ‘old stuff ’ going on regarding frustration, […] masochists regarding guilt or self-loathing. But I see no evidence that everybody who enjoys SM has these things going on.”

Cyn, dressed in a fursona, looks at their partner Califly as she practices suspension work.

4 Raven had a girl (not a slave, she corrected me) named Saranique, who was pretty and still. Raven said: “I think we continually test the roles depending on the relationship we’re in. Like her – she and I have a ‘daddy role’; she’s like my bratty teenager.” She pulled on her top hat and leather suspenders, and her girl began sweetly snuggling her. She told me: “If you’re on this journey, if you have questions, well, I got in with the people who wrote the books on this! For new people, there’s something called sub frenzy, like being a kid in a candy store. They will end up doing something they will not necessarily do otherwise because they are so excited. I’m a big advocate of mentors. It does take a village. It’s not great to go hog wild, but it’s a whole lot of fun.”

done on my own. Did I have some scary instances? Yeah I did. I also went with a kinky therapist. She was a fabulous woman. Hot as hell. Now in her 70s; in the Burlesque Hall of Fame. For a few years she was also my therapist, a professional domme. With her help, and with some of the play I did as a submissive, my first dominant helped me get over my fears in a patient loving way, and it most definitely made me a better person, and now I have the tools in case somebody needs my help.” Had I been a young female and to her liking, it might have done me good to be broken in by her. Like all the best dominants, she projected trustworthy strength. 6

5 The photographer referred to “someone who feels like sexually they’re still living in this moment of trauma and shame.” She asked Raven: “Where did you feel safe beginning?” “I come from a very abusive background,” our hostess replied. “I was a foster child, went through many different placements… blah blah. Granted, a lot of my healing was

With Raven and Saranique sat two young women in animal suits. Their names were Cynthia and Cali. In case I might want to emulate them, the Citadel offered a promotional card entitled “Let’s get FURRED UP!”, on which I saw a young woman in a midriff-showing rainbow top, holding the leash of an almost-naked human who crouched on all fours, wearing a blue animal head. Then there was a human teddy 125

Right: Saranique looks over at Raven while leaning onto a station called “The Door Frame.”

bear with an arm around the shoulder of an animal-headed man whose testicles filled his pink underwear. A mischievous-looking creature in a black bra and G-string, whose dark animal head might have been feline, knelt before a tall someone who stood immobilised in a full-length black animal suit, with red belts strapping his or her legs together and more red belts securing his or her arms in folded position across the chest; this furry faced to the side like a naughty elementary school pupil commanded to face the corner. The card inveigled me in a double white line of unstable capitalisations: Featuring Music by DJ NightKat, Fursuit headless lounge, Puppy Hood Raffle, Tons of snacks! (What kind of furry would you be? My dominatrix used to call me a dolphin, but I would rather be something lazier, such as a basking seal.) “My alter ego is a wolf,” said Raven. “Cyn is also a wolf, but so much cooler. My girl is a fox, and then we have the species-fluid one over there. She bounces around from deer to fruit bat.” And on a wall, nor far above a fire extinguisher, I presently spied an image of Raven’s wolf above a multiphasic moon. “I didn’t choose,” Raven continued. “I’m Native and many many years ago I went on a spirit walk, thanks to a shaman. I connect very well to ravens and wolves. It’s different for everybody. I know people who connect as a dragon. Anything is an option. That is the best thing about this community. Whatever your mind can come up with! But consent is important. We get to be who we are. Some of us just happen to be wolves. Just watch out for the foxes. They nip.” 7 This was when I began to perceive that the Citadel sheltered and nurtured any number of unique dream-identities. Back when I played in this world my experiences had seemed “raw” and “real”. I offered myself to be beaten. Later I tried pleasing submissives in the way that they asked to be pleased. To me it felt much like any other sexual activity: My partner did something to me, or I did something to her, or we simultaneously did something to each other, as if it were “spontaneous”. But how spontaneous is it when a couple always takes the missionary position, or there has to be a spell of cunnilingus, or a certain kind of pillow talk? (“Some of us just happen to be wolves.”) In those days I failed to comprehend my similarity to people who engaged in pre-scripted roleplay. Whatever I did with whomever, my partner wanted something and I went along, or my body desired this or that, which was as far as I thought about the matter. I was who I 126

was. Nowadays I prefer Raven’s “We get to be who we are.” But when she had said, “As we grow, as we mature, new things will come into light,” I did not know what to make of it. On the one hand, I was pleased with my sexuality, pleased enough that in my old age I rarely tried anything new. Others might have called me smug, or boring, but only I got to live my life, and if I was satisfied… “If you’re like me, if you’re a trisexual, you’ll try anything once, and then maybe twice, to make sure.” Well, why not? But was I like her? As I sat around listening to those four ladies, I learned about lives very different from mine. Would I try them someday? Maybe once, and maybe twice. Now let me tell you some of what I heard… One of them was talking about a blood scene: “He asked if he could bring his wife and just sit and watch, and I said no. I don’t do that; I just…” Then Saranique was saying: “I used to hang out at a pro dungeon a lot, I was collared to a dominatrix there, and there was this guy with a step-aerobics tape, and he wanted her to do it and just wanted to be the step…” And Raven said: “There was a guy in the back dungeon who got beat and fucked with vegetables last night. It was a very healthy scene. There was a girl rubbing her clit with a piece of chard.” “Were there vegetables all over?” I asked. “We have mops and buckets. I don’t allow splashing here. If I think it’s getting too messy, I will shut it down. You need to lay down a sheet and clean up when you’re done.” Cynthia reminded me: “We have twelve cleaning stations: sharps containers, puppy pads …” To this Raven added: “And if you still can’t do it, don’t come back. Nobody wants to clean up your lube butt prints.” “Men’s parties are much different,” they remarked. “The culture of consent is different.” “Their kind of consent, it wouldn’t fly in the pan[sexual] community,” said Raven. “It wouldn’t fly in the women’s community.” “It’s still consent,” put in Cynthia. “But with the men, you’re consenting unless you say no. With us, you have to say yes.” “To be fair,” they told me, “it was a party called Horse Market. They bring the bottoms in, which are called mares. They blindfold them, stick ’em around the dungeon, and the stallions will go around breeding whoever they want. And the mares never see who fucked them.” “Then we have some stablehands who lead them away, and take the mask off,” said Cynthia. Raven added, just in case I didn’t get it: “They wear a red


Two sex sling stations.

9 mask for use a condom, a white mask for no condom, and almost all of them are with white masks now.” These various scenes sounded quite exotic to me. I suppose that if I participated long enough in any one of them, it would become nothing more, or less, than part of my life. 8 Raven’s sister wolf and “the species-fluid one over there” were those two married furries named Cynthia and Cali. They certainly lived out their fetishes, for which I admired them. “I took her naked in the woods in Maine, and there was snow in the ground,” said one of them. “There’s a great picture of me with great snow boots, an epic one,” said the other. “I used to give tours,” the first furry said, “and that picture was in sight and they’d say, That’s really hot and I’d say That’s my wife you’re talking about!” – and they laughed. “And this is how it is in the Citadel,” said Raven. “We’re a bunch of goofballs. I just appreciate getting rid of the perception that dungeons are deep dark scary places. No. It’s much more of a family, a community space.” 128

Cynthia was “the volunteer coordinator and fucking Jesus”. Cali was a manager. Cynthia said: “If you put on a fur head and you can’t do facial expressions, you have to make big movements to do anything. Like, if you want a hug…” “But watch out, furries will attack,” laughed Raven. “Like once a month, 60 furries show up,” said Cynthia, “and each costume can be a couple grand. I work in tech, so I’m just used to throwing money at the problem. But with a furry suit you can’t do that all at once. People start with partials. Like, you make friends with someone who has a fur suit and who will let you try a head. I loved it. Then I realised how sweaty I was. They are making a suit that is purposely big and loose so people can try it on at play parties: Delicious Disguises, up in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Well, I literally went to this artist, to be a wolf – I like purpose – and I had literally 20 revisions to it. The suit is not super well-made and the character is weird, but it is the one I’ve designed.” Trying to clue me in, Raven interjected: “Puffs don’t wear fur. They’ll wear leather hoods or harnesses, special knee pads; whereas furries are more human-centred. But there’s also the distinction between pet players.” They went on educating me. What I took away was hyperspe-

Saranique wraps her legs around Raven at the sex sling.

cific subclassifications, as with any other form of sexual activity. Or was what the furries did even sexual? What we all did was arbitrary, and hopefully fulfilling; wasn’t that good enough? “Furries come from, like, an anime fandom fan fiction,” explained Cali, who had blue-green hair. Her furry suit was grey with white blazes and a green star, a green S-like streak and a rainbow tail. “Pet players come from leather and punk and service, like military: obedience. Animals like hanging out with owners. Furries are single.” Laughing, Raven said: “There is no one that can handle furries. Trust me!” Cynthia said: “At fur cons you can tell pretty easily who is a pup and who is a furry. Who wears the harness over the fur? The problem with furries is when they bring their fur suits, they bring their giant tote bags. We’ve ended up cordoning off the back dungeon with fans to cool off your head. We call it breaking the magic when you take your head off, and that’s a definite no-no.” 10 Cynthia was in her furry suit, and Cali was in her bra and panties. I asked them: “What kind of feeling do you have when you do this?”

“That’s a really solid question,” replied Cynthia. “It’s a unique experience and I’m feeling a little bit of freedom, loud, or cute and shy. I’m usually a loud person. There’s a lot of dancing at fur cons, so I can dance without being concerned. The key is dissociation between who you are and your character.” Was that what had happened to me in the warm dark sack? And when they call an orgasm “the little death”, was dissociation what they meant? One of her sleeves was longer than the other. That was why her suit only cost her a grand; she yelled at the maker and got 50 per cent off: “You cut the materials, but your work was shoddy so I’m not super down.” “The key thing about what I’m feeling is warmth,” she said. “Some people wear vests with ice packs. But without the head on I can be like this for hours.” “Do the suits stink?” “You can take the foam out to wash, and can then throw it into the washer and the dryer. Sometimes furries spray their suits with perfume before entering them.” She referred me to a person on Etsy; he or she was named Voodoo Delicious and made “hyperrealistic heads”. “These 129

Right: Saranique and Raven, a couple who met within the BDSM community.

are made on a resin base, where normal heads are made with foam. Resin is tighter and doesn’t breathe and you have to see out of the tear ducts, not the eyes.” Meanwhile Cali was getting compliments for having dyed her own rope, which she was now knotting around the tops and bottoms of her breasts, over the waistband of her panties and under her buttocks. “The biggest problem is where my mainlines cross and I can’t get down. So a spotter comes and, like, you go up with your legs half an inch.” “How dangerous is it?” “With anything, it’s just about being risk aware.” She repeated their familiar joke: “That’s my wife right there,” she chuckled, pointing to Cynthia. Then she hooked herself to a metal ring. Before I knew it she was hanging from the rope-loops around her thighs, spinning easily and freely from the ring in time to the music, with her blue-green hair hanging down, as she archly inquired: “Should I cover my boobs?” “Like, this is my favourite way to watch the dungeon,” Cali said, peering happily through the huge face-sized ring and adding: “I’m so serious.” She was swaying, turning and chatting. Her slowly turning flesh was orange lit from the glowing floor-squares just below her. Then Cynthia came and lifted her up for a moment, in a way which seemed to me rather loving. “Put your head on,” Cali told her. Then that almost naked woman was hanging upside down and sweetly kissing her furry wife, who stood on the floor in that special suit, which was purple and white and yellow, with striped horns and loving googly eyes. 11 When Raven put her girl in the standing cage, the latter looked especially glamorous, well kept and ready to please. She gripped the bars, and there was soft light on the sides of her head and her arms. “When I was submissive, I did a whole primal animal thing in the cage when I was wild,” Raven told me. “Don’t lock me in, Daddy,” said Saranique. The photographer asked: “Can we get one picture of you guys just giving each other, like, a cute smooch?” So Raven reached her arms through the bars and around her girl’s shoulders and kissed her with the quiet lovingness of any married couple, each embracing the other. I was grateful to have seen them but I did not want to keep staring. I 130

never would have asked what the photographer had asked, although very possibly they didn’t mind it. I think the photographer wanted me to get out of her light, but for another few minutes I stayed where I was, writing about how Raven, whose belly wore a love handle that was tinier and prettier than mine, went happily about tonguing her girl, moving her head so sweetly up and down against Saranique’s face. Saranique wore a corset and there were tattoos on her left arm. Raven looked quite fine in her white wife-beater, her nickel-studded black leather suspenders, her shiny black pants and her black top hat. “So we and Cali had our wedding right here,” Cynthia was saying. One furry perched on a railing; the other was kneeling before her. “Dude, I seriously love that tail,” said Cynthia. “Yeah, if I ever get another suit I’m gonna take this tail and…” Now Cynthia was dancing a little, whacking cage bars with a black flogger, and I hovered on the verge of their dream-lives, watching one furry slowly smoothing her second skin, while the other, very comical, alien and wise, rested her snout in her paws. They were twiddling their feet as they sat side by side on a steel bar, peering alertly at each other, snout to snout, while Raven lay on the table, happily caressing her girl, with their feet dangling off, and I dreamed about what would never happen, which is to say being in all of their dreams, while the two furries lived their lives like sweet, slightly out of control, partially tame and residually wild pets in a playground. Behind them all, two red hearts on the wall overlooked a well-bolted wooden cross, each arm offering an eyelet through which I could squeeze two fingers. What could be more romantic? 12 “If you watch people walk down the street,” Raven had said, “you can tell who the dominant is and who the submissive is. Even in what we can deem is a vanilla relationship, if the guy is walking two steps behind his wife or a million miles ahead it’s obvious. If a husband or a wife or whatever defers to the partner all the time, nine times out of 10, they’re probably a submissive. At the core, we’re mammals. In the animal realm, you always have a leader of the pack, and I think it’s the same for us. We’re just two-legged animals.” With that in mind, I said goodbye and returned to my own herd.



On swaggering exaggerations and crowing overstatements, on drum beats and tweets and paragraph-long diatribes. From the Mississippi Delta to Trump Tower, Richard Grant writes a history of American grandstanding, eloquence and excess


In west London, where I grew up in the late 1970s and early 1980s, the idea of  boasting about yourself was almost unthinkable. Any attempt at ‘showing off ’ was brutally demolished by sarcasm. It was poor form to express self-satisfaction after taking an exam, winning a prize, or really for doing anything at all. Apologising for the inconvenient fact of your existence, on the other hand, was accepted British self-deprecation. Sorry, would you mind… Sorry, do you think I might… Sorry, but you’re standing on my foot. There was a lexicon for people who showed insufficient modesty. They were full of themselves, they were putting on airs, they were posers, wankers, flash gits, show-offs, bigmouths, know-it-alls. Americans, by contrast, were known to be loud and boastful and, worse, to take themselves seriously. A theory circulated among my peers that all Americans were wankers, and that was the reason they found it so difficult to understand the meaning of ‘wanker’. Then the first hip-hop records crossed the pond, and we discovered that American boasting could be highly entertaining when rhymed by an MC over a beat. Half of my schoolmates knew all the lyrics to ‘Rapper’s Delight’ by the Sugarhill Gang (1979), and it was fun to violate English modesty codes by reciting them. (“Well, my name is known all over the world/ By all the foxy ladies and the pretty girls …”) As teenagers, we were particularly amused by Big Bank Hank’s brag about wooing Lois Lane away from Superman: “He can’t satisfy you with his little worm/ But I can bust you out with my super sperm.” As hip-hop progressed out of its good-time beginnings, the boasting became more skillful and inventive, the verbal flows more dexterous. Rakim was the first master of the clever lyrical brag (“My intellect wrecks and disconnects your cerebral cortex…”). Roxanne Shanté was the brassiest female rapper of the era – “I’m conceited, never beated, never heard of defeated – and Kool G Rap could destroy all-comers: “You 134

can’t replace me, ice me or ace me/ Bass me, face me, slice me or race me/ Bite me or taste me/ I’ll show you I got force./ My rap burns your mouth like hot sauce./ Run for water while I break your tape recorder/ Server to sucker: the order is manslaughter.” While I was supposed to be studying history at University College London, I was spending most of my time getting high and immersing myself in African-American music, working my way back through hip-hop, funk, soul and jazz, to the blues. Bragging would crop up regularly on this musical journey. James Brown was a sex machine who could jump back and kiss himself. Bo Diddley walked 47 miles of barbed wire and used a cobra snake for a necktie. Muddy Waters was drinking TNT and smoking dynamite, hoping some schoolboy would start a fight. Bessie Smith, betrayed by a cheating man and toting her razor and gun, went up to Black Mountain, where the babies cry for liquor and people use gunpowder just to sweeten their tea. She declared: “I’m gonna shoot him if he stands still and cut him if he runs.” In my mid-20s I gave up on England – the class system, the nanny state, the gloom – and started travelling around America. I soon found out that the humour was completely different. In London, comedy was founded on irony, sarcasm, self-deprecation, cutting people down to size, and a fine appreciation for absurdity and silliness. In America, a rich strain of humour flowed in the opposite direction: colourful exaggeration, swaggering rhetoric, blowing things up to outrageous proportions. If a woman had a talent for oral sex, she could suck a golf ball through 30 feet of garden hose. If she had buck teeth, she could eat corn-on-the-cob through a chainlink fence. If she was “squirrely eyed”, she could stand in the middle of Wednesday and look at both weekends. People down South got so hungry that they could eat the ass out of a rag doll, or the south end of a northbound mule.

Americans seemed obsessed by rear ends. The word ‘ass’ was often used as a synonym for ‘self ’, as in, “Get your ass out of here,” or, “I’m taking my ass home.” Going fast was “hauling ass”, going slow was “dragging ass”, and working hard was “busting ass”. The word was also used as an intensifying suffix. Big was bigger when it was big-ass. Old people were closer to the grave when they were old-ass. Poor people could be broke-ass, or, in Mississippi, “so broke they didn’t have eye-water to cry with.” There was a vast vocabulary of kicking ass. This could be an enthusiastic compliment, “Dude fucking kicked ass on guitar!” More commonly it referred to a particular act of physical violence that aspired to mythic proportions: “Kick your ass right out of your pants… kick ass and take names… stomp a mudhole in your ass… kick your ass so hard your ancestors will go dizzy… stick my foot so far up your ass that the sweat from my socks will quench your motherfucking thirst!” American fighting talk was deliberately over the top and largely used for entertainment purposes. When they weren’t kicking your ass into the next county, they were ripping off your head and shitting down your neck. “I’ll knock your head so far up your ass you’ll have to part your hair to take a shit,” was one I heard from an ex-marine; and there was an ornithological variant: “You better hide in an eagle’s ass and hope it never has to shit.” The classic London threat of violence, by contrast, was subtle, understated, a little bit clever: “Do you like hospital food?” Because I had first heard it in music and from Muhammad Ali – “I’m the greatest! I’m the prettiest thing that ever lived! I float like a butterfly, sting like a bee! I’m so mean I make medicine sick!” – I had assumed that colourful hyperbolic bragging was an African-American thing. As I rambled around America, I learned that it was a white thing too, especially in the South and the West.

“I can out-eat, out-drink, out-work, out-grin, out-snort, out-run, out-lift, out-sneeze, out-sleep and out-lie anything in the shape of a man or a beast, from Maine to Louisiana.”

At a rodeo in Weatherford, Texas, I asked a cowboy how he was doing and he answered, “I’m hornier than a three-peckered billy goat and twice as thirsty.” I was working on a magazine story about professional rodeo cowboys at the time. Cowboys tended to fall into two categories: good Christian boys or almighty hell-raisers. I ended up spending nearly a month on the road with three men who fitted the second category. On one 500-mile drive from El Paso, Texas, to the next rodeo in Yuma, Arizona, they drank three cases of beer, smoked weed, snorted hits of meth from the tip of a Bowie knife and blasted holes in highway signs with a .38 pistol. The radio was broken so they chanted braggadocious cowboy poetry to while away the miles: “We’re rough and tough and all that stuff, we piss through leather britches/ We drag our cocks on ragged rocks, we’re hearty sons of bitches.” In Willcox, Arizona, one of them came bolting out of a convenience store with two cases of stolen beer, bandy-legged and wild-eyed. He leapt into the passenger seat yelling, “Wooohah! Haul ass and drive like Jesus!” On average, they drove 90,000 miles a year and seldom spent more than a few days in the same town. They thought nothing of driving a thousand miles to risk their necks for an eight-second adrenaline rush on the back of an enraged animal and the hope of a paycheque to keep them going. It was a life of constant motion – short bursts of high velocity in the arena followed by long smooth stretches of highway, while simultaneously soaring and crashing on various combinations of drugs and booze. I was struck by their nomadism, because I was living as a nomad myself. It also echoed the nomadism of the original cowboys, who drove herds of Longhorn cattle from South Texas to the railheads in Kansas and Nebraska in the late 1860s and 1870s. Many of them were former Confederate soldiers, inured to violence and hardship, bitter about losing the Civil War, reckless, foul mouthed and drunk whenever possible. A

sizeable minority, perhaps 20 per cent of the men, were African Americans. They all shared a fondness for competitive bragging. Some of that talk has survived. “I was born full-growed with nine rows of jaw teeth and holes bored for more. They was spurs on my feet and a rawhide quirt in my hand. I come out a-riding a panther and a-roping Longhorn whales. I’ve rode everything with hair on it and I’ve rode a few things that was too tough to grow any hair. I’ve rode bull moose on the prod, she-grizzlies, and long bolts of lightning. Mountain lions are my playmates. When I feel cold and lonesome, I sleeps in a den of rattlesnakes. The Grand Canyon ain’t nothing but my bean hole.” To which another cowboy might respond, “Raised in the backwoods, suckled by a polar bear, ten rows of jaw teeth, a double coat of hair, steel ribs, wire intestine and a barbed-wire tail, and I don’t give a dang where I drag it. Whoopee-whee-a-ha!” This style of comedic tall-tale bragging, in which the speaker claims the powers of dangerous wild animals and kinship to natural disasters, seems to have originated in the Appalachian backcountry in the early 19th century, and then spread west with the frontiersmen. The buckskin-clad fur trappers known as ‘mountain men’ held bragging and lying contests at their annual rendezvous gatherings in the Northern Rockies in the 1830s. Travellers reported similar brag-offs among scouts, teamsters, hide hunters, lumberjacks and river boatmen. Comedic bragging was a way to make light of the hardships and dangers on the untamed American frontiers – tornadoes, hurricanes, extreme temperatures, grizzly bears, alligators, rattlesnakes, smallpox and cholera, scalping and torture. Bragging showcased your linguistic skills, entertained your fellows, staved off negative thinking and boosted your confidence. It also embodied the exuberance and individualism of a young nation. Although there were some for-

midable women roaming the frontiers (Calamity Jane was renowned for her filthy cursing, Annie Oakley for her marksmanship), competitive bragging seems to have been a male preserve. The most famous frontier braggart was Davy Crockett, an Appalachian backwoodsman who rose to the Tennessee legislature and the US Congress, died at the Alamo, and passed into legend as the King of the Wild Frontier. Here he is in full flight: “I am a real ringtailed roarer of a jawbreaker, from the thunder and lightning country down east. I make my breakfast on stewed Yankee and pork steak, and, by way of digestion, rinse them down with spike nails and Epsom salts […] I can out-eat, out-drink, out-work, outgrin, out-snort, out-run, out-lift, out-sneeze, outsleep and out-lie anything in the shape of a man or a beast, from Maine to Louisiana.” One of his speeches before the US Congress began, “Mr Speaker, who-who-woop! Bow-wowwow! I’ve had a speech in soak this six months, and it has swelled me like a drowned horse. If I don’t deliver it I shall burst and smash the windows. The gentleman from Massachusetts talks of summing up the merits of the question, but I’ll sum up my own. In one word I’m a screamer, and have got the roughest racking horse, the prettiest sister, the surest rifle and the ugliest dog in the district […] I can walk like an ox, run like a fox, swim like an eel, yell like an Indian, make love like a mad bull…” A young Samuel Langhorne Clemens, later known as Mark Twain, while working as an apprentice steamboat pilot on the Mississippi River, heard a great deal of bragging and bluster. Most of it came from the tough characters who muscle-powered keelboats and flatboats up and down the river. Years later, in his memoir Life on the Mississippi, Twain wrote an immortal satire of two raftsmen threatening terrible violence to each other. First came the “copper-bellied corpse-maker from the wilds of Arkansaw”, leaping three times and cracking his heels together before launching into his declamation: 135

Erik B. and Rakim, 1989, New York. Michael Ochs Archives/ Getty Images


“We walk taller, talk louder, spit further, fuck longer and buy more things than you know the names of […] We eat little countries like this for breakfast and shit them out before lunch.”

“Sired by a hurricane, dam’d by an earthquake, half-brother to the cholera, nearly related to the smallpox on my mother’s side! [...] I take nineteen alligators and a bar’l of whiskey for breakfast when I’m in robust health, and a bushel of rattlesnakes and a dead body when I’m ailing.” Then the “pet child of calamity” stepped up: “When I’m playful I use the meridians of longitude and parallels of latitude for a seine, and drag the Atlantic Ocean for whales! I scratch my head with the lightning and purr myself to sleep with the thunder! [...] The massacre of isolated communities is the pastime of my idle moments, the destruction of nationalities the serious business of my life!” After this ferocious exchange, the two raftsmen slowly edge away from one another, neither of them striking a blow. Nearly a century later, the American journalist and humourist PJ O’Rourke revived and modernised the form during a trip to Europe, a continent that he found dull, tired, annoying and insufferably pompous. The last straw came over dinner in London, when for the umpteenth time someone pointed out that America had never been invaded. “I’d like to see the needle-dicked foreigners who’d have the guts to try,” he said, in the course of a ranting brag. “We’re three-quarters grizzly bear and two-thirds car wreck and descended from a stock market crash on our mother’s side. You take your Germany, France and Spain, roll them all together and it wouldn’t give us room to park our cars. We’re the big boys, Jack, the original, giant, economy-sized, new and improved butt kickers of all time. When we snort coke in Houston, people lose their hats in Cap d’Antibes […] We walk taller, talk louder, spit further, fuck longer and buy more things than you know the names of […] We eat little countries like this for breakfast and shit them out before lunch.” The African-American bragging tradition has its own archetypes and slang, with more explicit sexual references and a greater use of rhyme. Schol138

ars have traced these boasting rhymes back to traditional songs of self-praise in West Africa. Yoruba hunters, for example, would sing ijala lines, like: “I am physically sound and in great form, I will speak on, my mouth shall tell wondrous things.” In ‘Sundiata’, the epic poem of the Mandinka people, two princes have a verbal battle. “I am the poisonous mushroom that makes the fearless vomit,” says one, to which the other replies, “I am the ravenous cock, the poison does not matter to me.” Some scholars claim exclusively African-American origins for rap’s tall tales and braggadocio. But if you look at the early precursors of hip-hop, it seems clear that black culture also absorbed the influence of the frontier style. In the 1960s, black power activist H Rap Brown (now called Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin) had a rhyming self-introduction in which he described himself as “the deerslayer, the buckbinder, the woman-finder/ Known from the Gold Coast to the rocky shores of Maine”. Muhammad Ali, hailed by LL Cool J and others as a key pioneer of rap, also used frontier tropes: “For this fight, I’ve wrestled with alligators, I’ve tussled with a whale, I done handcuffed lightning and thrown thunder in jail.” The earliest examples of African-American bragging come from before the Civil War. While white men were blustering on the frontiers, some black Americans were secretly celebrating bold deeds within the far more menacing regime of slavery. The song ‘Wild Nigger Bill’, first written down by a folklorist after the Civil War, depicts a hero who refused to submit to enslavement, exacted murderous revenge and got away with it. To modern ears, it sounds like a deep taproot of gangsta rap. I’se Wild Nigger Bill / From Redpepper Hill, / I never did work, an’ I never will. / I done killed the boss / I knocked down the hoss / I eats up raw goose without apple sauce! / I’se Runaway Bill / I knows they might kill / But ole Massa hain’t catch me / And he never will.

Wild Nigger Bill was the forerunner of Railroad Bill, Two-Gun Charlie Pierce and other braggadocious badmen who swaggered, screwed and murdered their way through African-American folklore in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Pimping Sam was “the world’s wonder long-dick buck-bender, all-night grinder, womb-finder, sheet-shaker, baby-maker and money-taker”. The baddest man of all was Stagolee, aka Stackolee and Staggerlee, who appeared in folk poems and ballads with variations on the same basic story: In a saloon called the Bucket of Blood, he shot and killed a badman named Billy Lions. In some versions he has violent sex with Billy’s woman. A woman run out the back screamin’ real loud, / said, ‘I know my son ain’t dead!’ / I said, ‘You just check that hole in the ugly motherfucker’s head.’ / She say, ‘You may be bad, your name may be Stack, / But you better not be here when Billy Lions get back.’ / Now me and this broad we started to tussle / And I drove twelve inches a dick through her ass before she could move a muscle […] / When the lights came back on poor Billy had gone to rest, / I had pumped nine a my rockets [bullets] in his motherfucken’ chest. In another version, Stackolee goes to hell, where he shoots the devil in the heart and rapes his wife. The song ends, “Well he fucked St Peter and he fucked St Paul/ He’ll be a fuckin’ motherfucker time the roll is called.” These kind of raunchy rhyming folk poems, where the heroes are badmen, tricksters, hustlers and pimps, were typically recited on street corners, at parties, in bars and prisons. They’re called ‘toasts’, and they’re part of a rich oral tradition that includes tall tales, rhyming jokes and jive talk. Also the short insults known as ‘snaps’ and their use in ‘the dozens’, a kind of verbal duelling in which young people disparage each other’s parents. “Your father’s so dumb, he leaves his fly open in case he has to count to eleven,” for example, or, “I don’t play the dozens, the

“My power is discombobulatingly devastating. I could feel his muscle tissues collapse under my force. It’s ludicrous these mortals even attempt to enter my realm.”

dozens ain’t my game, but the way I fuck your mother is a goddamn shame.” In the 1960s and 1970s, as H Rap Brown was using street rhymes to promote black power and Muhammad Ali was bragging in couplets, the comedian Rudy Ray Moore created the character of Dolemite, a badman who dressed like a pimp, spoke in rhyme, revelled in obscene sexual slang and made preposterous claims about himself. He was a crucial figure in the evolution of hip-hop, sampled by Dr Dre, idolised by Snoop Dogg and recently portrayed by Eddie Murphy in the film Dolemite is My Name. Here is Moore on stage in Buffalo, New York, in 1970: Some folks say that Willie Green was the baddest motherfucker the world ever seen, / But I want you to light up a joint and take a real good shit and screw your wig on tight, / And let me tell you about the little bad motherfucker called Dolomite. / Now Dolomite was from San Antone, / A rambling skip-fucker from the day he was born. / Why, the day he was dropped from his mammy’s ass, / He slapped his pappy’s face / And said, ‘From now on, cocksucker, I’m running this place.’ / At the age of one he was drinkin’ whiskey and gin, / At the age of two he was eatin’ the bottles it came in. By the time hip-hop emerged in the Bronx in the mid-1970s, insults, brags and rhymes were an integral part of the street culture. As the pioneering DJ, Grandmaster Flash, put it, “If there’s one thing black folks in the ghetto know how to do, it’s talk shit. Been talking shit, singing shit, chanting shit, rhyming shit, and mumbling shit since day one.” It was obvious to him where rapping came from, but he never expected the beats and rhymes to reach downtown Manhattan, let alone revolutionise music, fashion and marketing trends all over the world. You can now hear rappers boasting about their prowess in Iceland, Kazakhstan, Senegal, Burma, Lapland and Tibet.

Who does it best? Impossible to say, though it’s hard to out-brag Kanye West, who compares himself to Jesus and Einstein, and spits out rhymes like, “I can see a thousand years from now in real life/ Skate on the paradigm and shift it when I feel like.” Among the hundreds of other contenders, I’d have to include Jay-Z, the Wu-Tang MCs, and the Jamaican-born rapper Canibus. Here he is freestyling on a radio show: “My brain consists of twin Pentium chips/ That’s double the clock speeds of a 5-86 […] I make tightrope walkers in the circus/ Lose they balance when I kick the planet.” Although hip-hop is a male-dominated world, it has always had a space for braggadocious women. In the 1980s and 1990s, Queen Latifah extolled her own magnificence and skewered the genre’s rampant misogyny, embodied in the Dr Dre and Snoop Dogg song ‘Bitches Ain’t Shit’: “Lick on these nuts and suck the dick/ Get the fuck out after you’re done.” In response Queen Latifah came out with ‘U.N.I.T.Y’: “I’m not your personal whore, that’s not what I’m here for […] Who you calling a bitch?” In 1996, the Brooklyn-born rapper Lil’ Kim took a different approach and proved that female rappers could be just as crude and sexually boastful as their male counterparts: “I leave him solid as a rock, turn his dick to stone/ You know that kind of pussy that break up happy homes.” This type of bragging is now well established among female rappers. Lady, who began rapping as a teenager in Talbotton, Georgia, weighed in with: “Tight pussy, right pussy, fuck-me-all-night pussy, make-you-leave-your-wife pussy […] Make ya cum once, twice, maybe-even-thrice pussy.” It’s probably no coincidence that the most successful female rapper of all time, Nicki Minaj, loves to brag of her “presidential cooch”, as she sometimes refers to it. Since the most powerful man in the world today is an American braggart, and a Twitter junkie, it seems impossible to conclude without mentioning Donald Trump. His bragging is

compulsive and relentless, but strikingly unsophisticated. Time and again, he falls back on the same childish formulations, as the following montage of quotes illustrates. “I know words, I have the best words. Nobody builds walls better than me. There’s nobody bigger or better at the military than I am. Nobody has ever had crowds like Trump has had. I’m the king of banking. I know more about courts than any human on earth. I know more about drones than anybody. Nobody knows more about the system than me, which is why I alone can fix it.” It took a perfect storm of present-day circumstances and long-term trends to get this man elected. Among them was an old American enjoyment of hucksterism, boastful claims and ostentatious wealth; also, the rise of social media has provided a powerful new forum both for bragging and for political manipulation. It’s hard to escape the conclusion that Donald Trump, the most boastful man ever to occupy the presidency, is the culmination of the American bragging tradition. As an admirer of that tradition – for its inventiveness, spiciness and verbal artistry – I find this a difficult thing to celebrate. Trump just sounds conceited and dishonest, whereas a skilled bragger sounds mythic – even if you can’t believe it, you want to believe it. It’s the difference between Trump’s, “I’m a very stable genius, ok?” or, “Nobody has better toys than I do,” and Mike Tyson in his prime: “My power is discombobulatingly devastating. I could feel his muscle tissues collapse under my force. It’s ludicrous these mortals even attempt to enter my realm.” Or Inspectah Deck, from the Wu-Tang Clan, taking the art of bragging to new levels, mixing Greek philosophy, nuclear war and crime metaphors into his unstoppable flow: “I bomb atomically, Socrates’ philosophies and hypotheses / Can’t define how I be dropping these mockeries / Lyrically perform armed robbery / Flee with the lottery, possibly they spotted me.” 139


Rebecca May Johnson investigates lost delicacies among previously forgotten vegetables, and their burgeoning role in contemporary cuisine. From mid-century cookbooks to new organic approaches to grocery delivery, we look to the future of sustainable greens



Above: Rhubarb. The tenderest, pinkest rhubarb is grown in the dark using a technique known as ‘forcing’. These glowing stems were harvested by candlelight in Pudsey, in the Yorkshire Rhubarb Triangle, by Robert Tomlinson, whose family has been growing it for four generations. The area is known for its particularly fertile soil – and the crowns from which these stems grew were planted over 70 years ago.


Opposite page: Cedro. Or citron, is eaten quite differently to the lemon, which it resembles. The pith, rather than being removed or discarded, is a sweet delicacy. Make a refreshing and fragrant salad by removing the yellow rind leaving the pith intact, then slice the fruit very, very finely using a mandolin, arrange it on a plate and dress with a generous amount of olive oil (the pith drinks it up), plentiful lemon juice and salt and pepper. Add olives or capers, finely sliced onion and parsley, for extra interest.

Last year, an antiquarian bookseller friend sent me a small volume titled Uncommon Vegetables by Eleanour Sinclair Rohde, knowing my keenness for cultivating unusual varieties. I hadn’t heard of Rohde, but, upon investigation, found that she was one of a number of influential women working with plants in the early to mid-20th century, including herbalist Hilda Leyel, who founded the Society of Herbalists in 1927, and prolific landscape gardener Gertrude Jekyll, after whom David Austin named a highly fragrant rose.

Published in 1943, Uncommon Vegetables came to readers in wartime and advises on crops that give good yields or “aren’t worth the space”, as well as evocative titbits of historical information. (The Dutch government forbade export of Brown Dutch beans during the war on account of their high nutritional value.) What struck me most on reading it, however, was the wide assortment of vegetables that were grown in 1943. It can be tempting to imagine the past as a modest place, where palates lacked contemporary breadth; memorialisation of cookery from the for143

Above: Scorzonera. A long thin root with many names, this is a black version of salsify, which is also known as ‘poor man’s oyster’ due to the similarity in flavour. You might peel it, drop in water with lemon (to prevent browning), then egg and bread them, before shallow frying and serving with a garlicky mayonnaise to accompany a strong drink.


Opposite page: Oca. In the UK there is a relatively limited world of root vegetables widely available; however, in Peru, there are thousands. Now, thanks to specialist grocers like Natoora, and seed sellers such as the brilliant familyrun Real Seeds, you can buy or grow them yourself. Oca is resistant to most pests and has attractive foliage with yellow flowers, and a lemony flavour. They are unrelated to potatoes, despite the resemblance.

mer half of last century often emphasises repetition and blandness. Rohde attests to the reality that vegetables that specialist grocers are now in the process of ‘introducing’ to the market, were familiar to and cultivated by amateur gardeners in Britain in the 1940s: parsley root (also known as Hamburg parsley), cultivated dandelion, Scorzonera (or black salsify), tree onions, cardoons and sea kale, for starters. Dramatic yet and beautiful monochrome photographic plates show their almost alien, sculptural forms – the

blanched ribs of cardoons, the absurd tree onion with its bulbs suspended mid-air at the top of the plant. A extraordinary visual feast of forms, many of which I’ve rarely, if ever, seen in real life. Loss of biodiversity is not only an ecological issue; narrowing the range of vegetables available to us brings about the loss of nourishing aesthetic and sensual experiences, too. Each vegetable has a poetics conveyed through form, colour, smell; its response to different methods of cookery which produce a particular texture and taste; its weight in 145

Above: Escarole. I first cooked the bitter leaf escarole (scarola in Italian) with food writer Rachel Roddy in her flat in Rome. She had me tearing it up to make layers in a cake tin, alternating with fresh anchovies and olive oil, before seasoning with salt and pepper. We baked it so the leaves collapsed and compacted, then turned it out and used scissors to snip out servings. The leaves sweetened but still had depth and were a wonderful match for the anchovy. Emphatically not a lettuce, but in the chicory family.


Opposite page: Vitelotte potato. Make a gothic potato salad or chips with deep violet-blue-black Vitelotte potatoes, long cultivated in France. They have a chestnutlike flavour and their colour is not merely an aesthetic affectation either – the presence of anthocyanin, which gives it the dark hue (also found in blueberries), is believed to have a variety of health benefits.

your hand. I remember feeling overwhelmed by this fact while standing in a famed grocer in London’s Newington Green a few years ago. I’m gladdened by the restaurant industry’s recent interest in reviving outmoded vegetables. Farmers and suppliers such as Natoora, Flourish Produce, Fern Verrow, Sarah Green’s Organics and Puntarelle & Co are consistently expanding the range of what’s on offer to chefs, who in turn have been reintroducing little-known varieties to British diners, some of whom are starting to grow them. My

friend, the chef and writer Thom Eagle, is embarking on cultivating his own cardoons on his personal allotment. Encountering agretti, also known as monk’s beard, at General Store in Peckham, got me into growing the saline, grass-like vegetable at home. If you have access to a few large pots on a balcony, or a patch of earth or indeed your own garden, growing your own is probably still the most accessible way to come by uncommon vegetables – my preferred source of seeds is the British-based Italian family company, Franchi. 149

Page 141 and above: Parsley root. A form of parsley cultivated for its root, also known as ‘Hamburg parsley’. Leaner, paler and more delicate in flavour than parsnip and much eaten in central and eastern Europe and Germany. Jane Grigson attests in her Vegetable Book that it has also been cultivated in Britain for several hundred years, appearing in Philip Miller’s Gardener’s Dictionary, of 1741. Grigson recommends a Polish barley soup with beef bones and dried ceps as a suitable use for it. Also delicious cooked in cream, seasoned, then blitzed until very smooth.


Page 146-147 and opposite: Variegated Grumolo. A multicoloured relation of chicory, this variety was cultivated by a grower in Venice using his own seeds. Cold temperatures bring out the exquisite colouring in its leaves, which are repeatedly pared back by hand to produce this tiny perfect heart. Bitter and beautiful, eaten raw in salad with slices of orange (pith removed), hazelnuts, parmesan shavings and dressed with good olive oil and lemon juice. Franchi Seeds sell similar types – make sure to plant in rich soil.


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Sophie Mackintosh is a Welsh writer based in London. Her debut novel, The Water Cure, was longlisted for the 2018 Man Booker Prize. Her fiction, essays and poetry have been published by Granta, the White Review, the New York Times and the Stinging Fly, among others. Her next novel, Blue Ticket, will be published in August 2020. ‘Barracuda’ is a new short story.

BARRACUDA By Sophie Mackintosh

We were on honeymoon, and there was a huge barracuda terrorising the beach where we were staying. Every day I watched the children run out of the water from where I lay on the sand. Every morning my husband woke me up by sticking his fingers into my mouth, and then down my throat, as he undressed me. It wasn’t unpleasant, but I started waking up and pretending to be still asleep so that I could anticipate his movements. They quickly became the truest moments of intimacy between us – when my eyes were closed tight but I could hear him getting up, using the bathroom, and then carefully moving the cover off me. I kept my breathing regular until the point where I could not. We were a second marriage, on his part. One of my girlfriends had given me a wedding card with Henry VIII on it. It was a good



joke, made less good by the fact that she had coincidentally known him before she knew me, and so had knowledge that I didn’t. She refused to share with me this knowledge. He made me throw the card out. Tell that bitch she’s not welcome in our house, he said. I sent a neutrally-worded note. I made sure my teeth didn’t acquiesce too much when his hand reached in – I was playing hard to get. Habit hard to break. In our courtship I had been coltish, doe-eyed, careful not to look him full in the face. He pulled my underwear to one side. Now I was wearing lacy honeymoon things that seemed ridiculous on me. I was mousy and given to primary-school teacher haircuts. Child bride, I had heard his mother call me suspiciously at the wedding, but I wasn’t a child at all. The actual children watched me from the


back of the church, wondering if  I was going to assert my authority, and when I didn’t they placed me not on a pedestal, but somewhere between affection and contempt.

toms and running my hands under alternate taps, analysing what was happening inside my stomach. Was I sick or just overfull? I didn’t know. Was I pregnant? I didn’t know that either.

My husband became obsessed with the idea of the barracuda. We are going to hunt it, and we are going to eat it, he said. We are going to digest the fucker. He chartered a boat for the purpose. It was my job to get the breakfast. After the sex, each day I went to the restaurant and picked up sweet rolls, a covered plate of fruits, coffees. All you do is lie around on the sand, so you might as well lie around on the boat, my husband said. I could not argue with this. But I didn’t get to lie around on the boat. I had to watch the water to see when the barracuda was near, keep an eye out for its fins. The water was clear and very blue and there were fish everywhere, but nothing I could identify as a barracuda. I did see something large break the surface but when I called for my husband he scolded me. Don’t you know the difference between a barracuda and a shark? Well no, I told him, I couldn’t quite. Sharks are noble animals, he said. Barracuda are snipers. They’re opportunistic, they eat anything and everything, they have no pride. A shark would never eat a human knowingly, but a barracuda would. All right, I said. Back on shore, a child with a tender chunk of its leg taken out – just a small one, just a taste. There was blood on the sand. We had been looking in the wrong place. At the end of the pier the cats fought over the best guts flung out by the fishermen. Here, here, I said, going out to pet them, and it was like they would take my arm clean off. It seemed we were in a place where everything wanted to eat everything else. It was not the sort of place I wanted to honeymoon in.

Inside the prepared barracuda had been its heart, a globular yolked thing, hard from cooking. My husband put it on my plate and I threw it at once to the cat – so many cats – skulking on my periphery before I could think, like my arm was my bodyguard, taking in the information I was too stupid to see, and analysing it, filtering it, before I could do harm or have harm done to me. I can’t forgive you for that, my husband told me. He pulled the skull of the barracuda free with some relish, a see-sawing motion, and placed it on the table between us. Let’s keep this, he said. Please, I said to him. I watched the cat play with the heart then back away from it, knowing more than us. I knew it was in the organs that toxins accumulated, that trapped inside the fleshy globes of our mechanisms they had nowhere else to go. It became apparent after our honeymoon that my husband operated on different rules. I invested some time and energy into deciphering his approach – what would make him angry, what wouldn’t. I could have compiled entire dossiers. Instead I attuned myself to frequencies, tried to become a certain kind of monitoring object. I liked it best when the children came to stay and swarmed the house, took up his attention. There were four or maybe five or even six of them – they moved too fast to tell. They all had names that started with the same letter. Juniper, Jennifer, January. Those might be wrong. It’s been a while. Can we have a glass of juice, they asked all the time. Then, when they had the juice, My mother does not let me have juice. I tried bribery at first, not just juice but the sugar sandwiches I had loved, spoons of jam, grapes, and salted things too – crackers and puffed cheese things that dissolved on the tongue. For the older ones I tried a splash of wine in the water, like the Europeans did, so they could feel grown-up with the adults at the dinner table. They pushed it away. Juice, they said, then renounced the juice again. For the younger ones: a game where I would lie on the back lawn and they would all try to sit on me at once. When I screamed, the game was over. It was hard not to scream but I managed not to in the name of being loved. The older ones could be sinister. I wondered if I would still find them sinister if they were mine. I didn’t know so much, after all. My husband had been busy in his previous marriage, and here was the proof. He still put his hands down my throat – further now than on honeymoon, as if the whole had been a process of training. We still had sex every day, but there was nothing to show for it. I don’t think I’m very good at this, I said to him one morning. He gave me a rare dose of affection, held the palm of his hand over the crown of my head. An energy jolt; I felt dazed, blessed, manhandled. Love! There it was. The barracuda skull watched us from the far side of the wall – mounted on mahogany, polished. Later that day I moved it to the en-suite, so it wouldn’t look at me so much.

You’re bringing me bad luck, my husband said on the fourth day when I opened my eyes, mouth already full. He locked his own eyes on mine, removed his hand, locked his mouth on mine too. I’m going out alone. Wait for me on the pier at five. All day I was able to drink little beers and sit on the sand again. It was all I wanted, and it really didn’t seem too much to ask. I was happy. The children ventured into the sea once more. At the bar when I ordered my fourth beer, I told the barman about my husband’s mission to kill the barracuda. He’s going to kill it, and then we will eat it, I said. You need to be careful if you eat it, said a small, wiry old woman sitting a stool apart from me. She was creased all over – linen shorts, shirt, skin. Eyes pressed deep into her face. They’re poisonous. I’ve seen men throw up a lung. My own husband was never able to differentiate between hot and cold again. How do I avoid this? I asked her. Don’t eat it, she said. I drained my beer and waved for a fifth. Other ways? I asked her. She thought for a bit. Place the fish by an anthill. If the ants swarm it, then it’s safe. But then your barracuda is covered in ants. I wish you were my mother, I told her, but she pretended not to hear and drained her cocktail. I had told her too much. I was there like he said at five pm, watched him come in. He was buoyant, wet, a coiled silver serpent at his feet. I tried not to sway. He held it up as the boat neared so I could see it. You see, he said. You distract me. You need too much looking after. I did not want to risk uncertain death. We can’t eat this, I told him. Give it to the cats. But that night at the restaurant it came over to us, eyes milked over, garnished with greenery and stuffed to the gills. He watched my every bite. I stayed awake all night in the bathroom, reading up on symp-

Fruit of my body, I whispered silently from the top window of the house when the children arrived in the vast car of their real mother, to try it out. Every month my husband walked in on me with blood on my hands. He had me mark the fertile days on the calendar in the kitchen where anybody could see it, as if to keep me accountable. I had committed no murder yet, though arguably there was murder in my past. I started to have sex with our neighbour, who also served as my husband’s best friend. The affair was opportunistic, he just came in the front door one day and said Hello, and then it was happening. I didn’t really do anything if it meant having to plan ahead. 156


What if it’s your lawn? I asked. It’s not my lawn, he said. One of the twins was hungrier than the other. I could feel them in the washbowl of my stomach, circling. There was a commotion larger than usual one day. I went into the hospital to have them look on the scanner, and they told me that there was only one twin left. He ate the other, I said to the nurse, remembering the churning, the fight I had sensed.

You like to lie down a lot, he said after the first time. I’ve seen you through the windows. Always on the couch, or on the bed. Maybe that’s what drew me in. Find a more compelling reason, I told him. Is it better than with him? the neighbour asked during the second time. He was hale and ruddy, like a steak magicked into a man. He didn’t put his fingers into my mouth, preferring instead to slap me on the rump, as if I, in fact, were the steak, and in need of tenderising. It’s different, I said. That’s all you can say. Would you describe your husband as a cruel man? he asked. Crueller than me? He pulled out and walked to the en-suite before I could answer. I could hear him finishing himself off above the sink, could see a little of the motion of his arm in the reflection of the mirror above it. He came with a juddering like a car starting, then washed up. What’s this poky fish head all about? he called through. It’s a memento from our honeymoon, I called back. You hate it, I can tell, he said, the water still running. Anyone would hate it. You should take more control over your life. If you just keep letting things happen to you, sooner or later something interesting will, I said to him as he came back in, wiping his hands dry. What if someone murdered you? he asked. He put his hands contemplatively around my neck. I suppose that would be interesting, at first, I said. You owe us dinner, he said, letting go of my neck, and he was right.

It’s not uncommon, she said to me. I was afraid of my son then. Every morning when I peed I looked up at the barracuda. I had a suspicion about everything inside me. I drank charcoal smoothies and underwent electromagnetic lightpulse therapies to rid me of toxins. You want to be clean for the baby, don’t you? said the quack doctor who treated me. I went into labour when everybody was over for a meal to celebrate our anniversary. My husband was carving many birds and many fish. There were glossy chickens with crackling skin, salmons wrapped in burnt paper and herbs, and five kinds of salad. There was his parents and my parents and all the children and the ruddy neighbour, his wife, and their children too. It was the children who sensed it first, before the first contraction even. They were surrounding me in the kitchen as I tried to make a dressing. They were nonplussed by the size of me. Something’s going to happen to you, they said. They put their small hands on my stomach. It disturbed my son. His fins brushed against my skin. Ouch, I said. The pain didn’t go away, but the children did, ran to the table. Don’t tell anyone, I said to them. They were good as gold. I would have gotten away with it were it not for my father-in-law almost slipping on the floor. Who spilt something? he shouted. We looked, and it was mirrored, slick, puddled around all our feet. It’s that woman, he said, which he had always called me. He pointed at me and everyone looked. Don’t make a scene, my husband said. Where do you want to go? Nowhere, I said. I wish to opt out. I feel very strongly about this. You don’t have a choice, he said. Keep eating, I told the table, and after a pause everybody did. I stepped across the wet floor and went into the garden. It was cold and quite fine. The air felt expensive, good for me, like mineral water. I tried to stay passive. I put my own fingers down my throat, knowing my husband would not come out. The neighbour was there suddenly, rubbing my back. I changed my mind, he said. I didn’t want him either. I walked instead to the ornamental pond in the centre of the garden. The light came from inside the house. I did not know if you could see me. Everything hurt. My son was so ravenous. That morning when I flexed my arm, I had seen the stringy tendons where the flesh had pared down inside my body. One of the children had pulled two goldfish from the pond earlier that day and left them on the marble of the side. They had died with their mouths open. How lovely it was to be alive in that moment – I could feel myself being eaten heart-first. I took my shoes off and wriggled my toes. I pulled my skirt up to my knees, waded in.

Would I have married my husband now, knowing what I know – how every day he went out looking for it, that sad sea-beast, that ugly thing belonging to shadowed water? If I had known about the sinister children and the big empty house and the rump-smacking neighbour and the heart that I refused to choke down? Maybe. Maybe. The doctor prescribed me drugs for my insides. I popped smooth white discs five days out of a month. Inside me my ovaries swelled up like blowfish. They released their own eggs, but too many of them. They rattled around and sought purchase. Soon I found myself pregnant with twins. Probably my husband’s, but who could really tell. Could each twin have a different father? I asked the doctor. Technically yes, but morally no, he said. It was a house call. He motioned at everything around us – the upholstered lounges, the sound of the visiting children performing malevolence out in the garden. This is the house of a virile man, he said. If I were you, I would bear that in mind. I decided it didn’t matter anyway. I let my stomach grow out and out. It was quite the novelty. I drew a face in lipstick around my bellybutton and made it talk to my husband in a high voice before we went to sleep. Too realistic, he said, pushing me away. He didn’t want to have sex any more now that the job was done – he wouldn’t even put his fingers down my throat. I missed it. But the neighbour liked it more now. I’m treading on somebody else’s lawn, he said. I’m pulling up the grass.


Naoise Dolan is an Irish writer born in Dublin. She studied at Trinity College, followed by a master’s degree in Victorian literature at Oxford University. Her writing has appeared in the Dublin Review and the Stinging Fly. Dolan’s debut novel, Exciting Times, is published in 2020 by W&N in the UK and Ecco in the US. ‘Mother’s Friend’ has been specially commissioned for this issue of Port.

MOTHER'S FRiEND By Naoise Dolan

I left Ireland when Seán’s hitting me in the face caused disputes over our lack of shared vision. He wanted me to cry, or ask him to stop. Instead I laughed and he pushed me down the stairs, a bold artistic choice and renegade word of mouth hit, and anyway I left without a bag. I got the ferry to England like a pregnant person, which ironically I had been until the fall. In London, I took some time out to stop bleeding and other life admin. Then I got a job. The stairs part needed polishing: Seán threw me, Seán made me fall, I fell. By the time I saw an English doctor the week I arrived, I’d progressed to: There was a fall. I’d lived in England briefly before and was still registered with the NHS. I knew how to talk to them.

‘Was this in London?’ the doctor said, meaning: Could I get sued for not asking who pushed you. ‘Dublin,’ I said. We were both happy. In Dublin I’d been Treasa, but in London I was Theresa. I was always trying to be easier for other people. It made me more difficult for myself, but that didn’t matter. My London flatshare required no deposit, a clear sign that it would be a miserable place, but I had little money and no choice. I’d found the room online while staying in a hostel, and moved in that week. It was a box room, just wide enough to hold a bed, and the whole apartment was damp and dark. Over the next few days, I encountered my new flatmates in the common area. We all acted delighted to make each other’s acquaintance, when really


‘Miserable day,’ they said when it drizzled. Day, I wanted to say. Day and day and day. Days for days, if you’ll permit a wag her frippery. I knew more words than I could pull off saying aloud. During these days, the office environment – distant male voices, dropped pens for some reason – made me smell Seán’s cologne or hear his footsteps. When that happened, I listed next steps. There was the desk, and then turning on the computer, and then my lunch break and then more data. These were tasks. My activities after work were tasks as well, because I put them on a list. Replying to a text was work, and watching TV with my flatmates was work, and work itself was really the easiest part of the day because at least I could call it work.

we’d been hoping to cook alone. We were seven, in four bedrooms – two couples, me, and two other singles. ‘Singles like me’, I repeated to myself when I met them. My first Saturday in the flat, a man (Greg) and a woman (Sophie) invited me to watch television. I had to accept the offer, or they’d think I was hostile. I couldn’t focus on their show, so I sat between them on the couch and mentally talked myself through what I would have to do to murder Seán, as in the process before/ during/after. There were timeless methods and modern ones. In this fantasy, Seán hadn’t done anything to me. I wanted nothing that might invite people to sympathise with me, the killer. I didn’t want them judging me, whatever they concluded. ‘How are you finding London?’ said Sophie in an ad break. ‘It’s’, I said – and then the break ended. I wasn’t sure if she still wanted me to finish my sentence now the show had resumed, so I said nothing. That night I lay in bed and couldn’t sleep. On my phone I looked up Victorian female serial killers. The historical distance provided escapism, also logistical clarity. It was easier to kill back then. You could imagine yourself doing it, if so inclined. I imagined being as bad as those women. I wanted to deserve so little that any mistreatment would make sense. The killers’ names – the Ogress of Reading, Jill the Ripper – placed them outside compassion. I didn’t like to have my circumstances and beliefs at odds. I couldn’t change anything that Seán had done to me, not now and not while it had been happening. But I could picture myself as someone who’d asked for it.

Seán and I first met as engineering students in Dublin. We started dating when I was twenty-one, and I left at twenty-four. He graduated with a masters and a job in industry, while I acquired a third class degree and just enough maths to compete with automation – until the robots caught up. When we started dating his friends told me he had his troubles, which in practice meant that I was expected to make him one of mine. He was impatient when I interfered with us having sex by e.g. not wanting to. I don’t know why I stayed with him. I supposed his contempt for me seemed to commend his judgement. The worse men thought of me back then, the more I respected their opinion. If he had told me I was useless and I should kill myself, I would have thought he was a hero. I know because he did say that, and I did think that. Besides ‘useless’ he called me ‘pedantic’, including in contexts where ‘stickler’ would have been a better word. I couldn’t tell him so without proving that he’d been right to deem me a stickler, albeit through the semantically flawed avenue of calling me pedantic. The week before he pushed me down the stairs back in Dublin, he called me both useless and pedantic in the same conversation. I thought about both words, and he asked what I was thinking. I said: ‘Bees.’ He said: ‘You what?’ ‘The bees are dying, and that’s one reason we’re fucked.’ ‘What are you on about, we’re fucked?’ ‘Landlords,’ I said. ‘The climate.’ ‘The fuck’s that got to do with bees?’ During our last few weeks together in Dublin, there’d also been a secret: He hadn’t known I was pregnant. Now, when I stood too still in one place on the streets of London, I started thinking I should have told him about the foetus and he wouldn’t have pushed me downstairs. Then I thought: Maybe if I’d told him, he’d have pushed me harder. When I looked at anything for too long, I thought of him snatching my phone off me, or him kneeing my legs apart, or actually just him. Once he was in mind, I knew if I looked around he’d be there. I kept walking and kept moving my gaze. London helped me distract myself. The Tube was fast, or slow in a way where the delay seemed like the most pressing difficulty in my life. One Monday morning, a man on the train nudged me until I took out my headphones. ‘What?’ I said. ‘I said cheer up.’ I was puzzled. He expanded: ‘It might not happen.’ ‘Okay,’ I said. I put my headphones back in. Sameness helped me cope. There was a stationary shop near my flatshare. I never bought anything, but I liked that it didn’t change from day to day. It stocked patterned and plain and textured paper, notebooks in the corner and a display of pens in the middle. The first time I went in, I said hello, but neither staff member acknowledged me. I preferred it like that. If people saw me, then they’d notice if I moved the wrong parts of my face, or held

My London job was in data entry. The ideal candidate description had read: Experience entering data. I interviewed for it three weeks after arriving, when I’d exhausted my savings. The first question was: Describe yourself. I told them I was precise. ‘Precise about what?’ the interviewer said. ‘Everything,’ I said. For instance, ‘Describe yourself ’ was a prompt, not a question. ‘Tell me, Theresa,’ the interviewer said, ‘how do you do on teams?’ ‘I love working with people.’ I contracted the relevant muscles to make a smile. ‘I love bouncing ideas off them.’ The interviewer looked wary that I might have an idea presently in hand, and fearful that I’d launch it at his head. They gave me the job and I started three days later. The office was in a dark basement just south of the Thames. There were no assigned desks, but I chose a wobbly one in the corner on the first day, and came early every morning after to claim it. I didn’t know what might happen if I sat somewhere else, but nor did I want to find out. In the training they’d warned that ‘some’ workers came to find data entry tedious, but I liked the repetition. I got to know the carpet, a murky navy paisley thing, and the feel of it rubbing against my shoe. The computer smelled of plastic, and the hall of disinfectant. My keyboard had big clacky keys that were smooth and shiny in the middle. I rarely understood the data. I didn’t ask my boss. I wouldn’t degrade myself like that. He was twice my age, late forties or so. On my third day on the job, he touched my knee. I let him – or I sat there and said nothing, so I supposed I was letting him. He did it again a few days later, and then again at similar intervals until I came to expect it. Like my grimly claimable desk, my boss’s hands were an ongoing reality that I accepted as routine, knowing it was better than many of the contingencies that might replace the known event. I needed a job or I’d die. That meant it wasn’t worth stating this about any job in particular. I went to the basement every day and was nice to my boss, and so were my colleagues. We all acted like we weren’t working to stay alive. At 1 pm we ate lunch at our desks, and we all said things to the person next to us. ‘Lovely day,’ my colleagues said when there was a hint of sun. 159

my body wrong, or used wrong intonation or said wrong words. I wanted to pass through London without thinking about how to position myself and how my voice should sound. The stationery shop accommodated my wish to be ignored, probably because I didn’t look as though I could afford anything there with my lank hair and my grubby coat. Work usually finished too late to go to the stationary shop afterwards, but I went when I could. When the place was closed, I looked in the window. They left the lights on in the display. This seemed a further commitment to sameness.

She laughed and slapped his arm while he spoke. He looked puzzled by the mix of physical reproach and verbal encouragement, and settled on patting her thigh like a lump of clay he was testing to see whether it had dried. ‘Girls in London,’ he said. He and the woman both looked at least thirty. ‘Girls in London will say they don’t want anything serious, but they’ve plans for you.’ I couldn’t hear the woman’s response. This probably meant that the man was talking too loudly for her, and she was trying to let him know by lowering her own volume. ‘But I have plans for you,’ he said, still loudly. ‘So we’re even.’ She did not look interested to hear his plans, or at any rate seemed uncertain that her eardrums were equal to absorbing the attendant reverberations. I decided to walk home. Outside it was dark and cold. I knew statistically that men in your home were more dangerous than on the street. In my head I argued back that this only made sense as a consideration if I were choosing between men in one location versus another. Really the statistics said it was best to avoid all men, including by taking a taxi instead of walking. But what about the man in the taxi, I said back, and what about the men on the Tube, if that’s your next question. I looked up Victorian female killers on my phone while I walked. Many were baby farmers, women who adopted unwanted infants in exchange for money. Out of malice or staunch business sense, they gave the babies drugs and alcohol to suppress their appetites and their cries. Godfrey’s Cordial, or ‘Mother’s Friend’, was popular: an opium syrup. High on narcotics, the children didn’t feel hungry. They starved in a stupor. The officials recorded it as ‘failure to thrive’. I imagined someone who’d drug infants, and I thought of what else that person could do. I thought about why someone might want to kill you, and why they mightn’t care what happened in your head until you died.

I’d deleted my social media. I tried to make a new Facebook under ‘fdsahjkafds sadjlhasf ’, which the security bot did not believe was a real person’s name, so then I called her Grace Molloy. I used her to check if Seán was still in Dublin. Then he came up in Grace’s suggested friends, so I deactivated that account, too. When the doorbell rang, I thought it was him. When the phone rang: him, too. I dealt with this by never answering either, explaining it to my flatmates as a quirk. ‘I don’t answer the door,’ I said. ‘I don’t answer my phone.’ I was practically Sally Bowles. It took time slash money to feed and wash myself, and for what? I entered data in the basement to pay for a bed and supplies, which I used to take care of myself so that I could return to the office and do more work. My boss was still touching my knee. There was no mounting drama to it. It was what he did. ‘I’d compliment your lipstick,’ he said one Friday, ‘but of course in this climate. . .’ The next Tuesday: ‘If times hadn’t changed so much, I’d say that skirt is rather short.’ A week later: ‘Of course you can’t say this nowadays, but those trousers – .’ There was a great deal that men couldn’t say anymore, and an abundance of phrases that allowed them to say it anyway. A few weeks into the job, a coworker asked me about my day and I mentioned I had a contagious skin infection. I said it loudly so my boss would hear. He still touched my knee later that day while I was sitting at my desk, though. He leaned in and asked me how I’d gotten on with a new type of spreadsheet. ‘Fine,’ I said. Until he’d left, I imagined how I might steer a plane to make cloud shapes in the sky. Would I visually map my route while I steered the plane, I wondered, or would I plan the coordinates in advance, and then mechanically follow them while doing the actual flying. Would it feel, basically, like a creative project. I knew if I looked it up later then I’d remember my boss touching me. This seemed a shame, because I was curious.

My second month in the flat, the shower broke. The flatmates and I had a round-table evening discussion about what to tell the landlord. I’d moved in last, which they seemed to find relevant in terms of whose fault it was. Also, just to note, the man who’d had my room previously had entered more fully into the house spirit. He’d been up for Bake-Off and a glass or two. I wanted to say I couldn’t drink alcohol because the smell reminded me of my boyfriend raping me, but I felt this would do little to lighten the mood. It would set Greg off about how he’d said all along they should find a bloke for the room to keep the balance. ‘Ilya hates me,’ I said. Ilya was the landlord. ‘Ilya doesn’t hate you,’ Sophie said. ‘I sent him my rent on PayPal and I forgot they’d charge him a transaction fee, and now he thinks I scammed him,’ I said. ‘He yelled at me in Russian.’ ‘You shouldn’t worry what people think of you,’ Greg said. I felt faulty; company didn’t heal me. My own mind was a hellscape, and I knew I should have been grateful to step outside of it. But I still had to use my brain to interact. This meant I risked leaning on the wrong nerve cells in such a way that I’d remember Dublin. It was like having an indeterminate ache, and being afraid to move in case doing so specified and intensified the pain. Every time I contorted myself to make the right expressions, or fished for the right phraseology, I knew I might hit on memories.

If someone was always in the apartment when my flatmates were, then the flatmates concluded that this person never left. This was unfair, because maybe that person only arrived home two minutes before the flatmates, and left two later than them the next morning, falsely suggesting their omnipresence in the flat. They could actually be spending a lot of time outside, and no one would give them the credit. I went and sat in a pub nearby, the Friday night after I moved in. I felt the usual resignation when I did something that I wasn’t enjoying, but that I would still do henceforth whenever the first event triggered it. I didn’t always cling to routine in terms of each day being the exact same, but I had my domino effects, where if I did a particular thing then I also did whatever followed. I knew that the next time I needed to get out of the flat, I’d go back to this rancid pub. My coaster had an etching of Winston Churchill on it. The beer ring around him looked like a target. A woman nearby was showing a man something on her phone.

The skin infection I’d mentioned near my boss was really there. Red stings spread in crevices – the crook of my arm and the inside of my thighs. When I scratched the red areas, scales came off. On my scalp, the flakes buried themselves in the knots and matted clumps of my hair. I never used a hairbrush. You just had to brush again the next day. 160

The NHS doctor told me to buy shampoo and lotion with an active ingredient. They were ten pounds each. I said I couldn’t afford that, and he gave me a form for the state to cover it. ‘And the other thing?’ the doctor said. ‘I’ve stopped bleeding.’ He congratulated me. ‘It’s rare for a fall itself to cause a miscarriage,’ he said. ‘More often it’s the trauma of falling. If you need counselling – ,’ and then another form. I brought this second form home. In my room, I drew a heart on it and wrote out a shopping list, which was curious given that I never did a real grocery shop. Most mornings I just went to Tesco Express on the way to work, and bought a brown seeded loaf of bread, which I ate slice by slice throughout the day. Micronutritionally I was fucked, but that didn’t bite you till a few years down the line. I hoped to be far from London by then. My commitment to survival was interesting. Every morning I pulled my oily hair into a ponytail, I went to work, I took in sufficient calories, and I kept doing it.

‘Is there,’ Brenda said, to signal I should wait till we were inside. She led me to a white windowless room, pointed to the water and tissues on the table, and gave me a form. It was all forms with these people. While I filled out the boxes, she asked what had brought me here. ‘A lot,’ I said. I told her everything. She said the state would give me six free sessions to sort it. From the holes in my shoes and the state of my teeth, she probably knew I couldn’t afford private counselling. We agreed CBT would be best, navigate the immediate challenges she said, practical she said, nothing Freudian. I signed the form and spent weeks waiting for an appointment. The letter never came. It was all data. My TV time with flatmates left no receipts, but it coagulated into proof that I was a functioning household member. You could replace my eyes with glass ones and they wouldn’t notice. But I was there. My memories were there, too. I could have classed it as trauma, but really I’d recorded things. My neurons were doing their job. Even when Seán threw me downstairs, my brain had been fine. It was my stomach and limbs that hurt. I stayed on the floor, and a door slammed upstairs. I knew he’d stay in the bedroom a while. I could escape while he grappled with whatever complex male emotion had made him shove me. I needed to move, but if I tried to then I might pull or break something, or more likely I’d discover that something was already pulled or broken. If I stayed lying down then I wouldn’t have to find out. But he’d come down. I could get away if I stood up and if my body worked and if I closed the door softly, and if he didn’t see me from the window, and if the bus came soon. Waiting at the stop, I’d be in more danger than if I’d stayed on the floor: I’d be undeniably trying to leave him. I could get a taxi, but what if I didn’t have enough for flights, because there was a few hundred in my account, and flights would hopefully be less than that, but I’d need somewhere to stay. What about the deposit and the first month’s rent, and were there cards in my pocket? Or ID, even. The ferry was cheaper, so I’d do that. I could blag about the passport. Seán wouldn’t be expecting it, so really it was safer. A taxi was still a bad idea, because if I wound up twenty quid short on another night’s stay in a hostel, I’d hate myself for getting that taxi when I could have gotten the bus. Something creaked upstairs. Seán wouldn’t follow me to the bus stop. I needed him not to, so he wouldn’t – though it occurred to me that I’d also needed him not to push me downstairs and that had still happened. I got up. This was foolish because what if something was broken; but it was fine, I could walk, I had no bag but there were coins in my pocket and cards on my phone. I closed the door, ran down the road, and did not stop running until I saw someone hail a bus. I knew if I looked behind me then I’d see him there. On the bus, I forgot how much it cost and I said: ‘Town, please.’ In the centre of Dublin I worked out how to get to London, and in London I kept thinking as far and only as far as the next location. It was all data, and all in my command. When I had nothing to do at work, I sat at my computer and applied lipstick. The wax was thick like a hog’s kiss. I rubbed my lips together and thought: My mouth could be fused shut, and I won’t know until I try to open it. It was wisest to say nothing. I could give up even trying to speak, and then I’d never find out if I could. You only realised you were trapped when you struggled. At work and in the flat, they knew I was Theresa. They knew I’d give them no trouble. You might have called me lonely in London. There were people around me, but I couldn’t spend time with them in the way that they wanted me to. Possibly I was hungry and possibly I needed things. But with Mother’s Friend, you never heard a cry.

Our landlord, Ilya, sent someone to sort the shower. It cost us fifty quid each. I sensed that my flatmates had tried to think of a way to make me pay the whole bill that didn’t amount to ‘You moved in last so it’s your fault’, couldn’t, but still felt their own contributions were magnanimous. ‘Careful no-one breaks the shower again,’ Greg said in the common area. Three of us were there, waiting for him to be done with the sink. He laughed to establish he was making a joke, looked at me to show I was the target, and kept on laughing to say that yes it was funny but he also feared I would snap the nozzle in two and ram it down someone’s throat. ‘We should be careful not to clog the drain too,’ I said. It must be great fun to be a man and never notice your own pubic hair. I still had to watch television with the flatmates at least two evenings a week. An hour at a time seemed the minimum, although I couldn’t stick to this timeframe rigidly or they’d know I was there out of obligation, which would do little, if anything, for vibes. I put in my sixty minutes, give or take, then went to my room and took my phone off airplane mode. I couldn’t read Seán’s texts in the sitting room. I didn’t trust myself not to react. The messages lacked creativity, of course. Seán was no bard. I was a stupid bitch, which was the thing in the world I least needed anyone else to explain to me, and I was a cunt, which, similarly, was not news. He was sorry for pushing me, but, honestly, I’d drive anyone to it. You shouldn’t laugh at people when they’re trying to talk to you. Et cetera. How had he gotten my English number? I wondered if there was a way to turn off my ‘seen’ receipts, but I worried about what he might think if he’d been getting the blue ticks and then they stopped. I began to think of the checkmarks as my doorman. They said: Treasa is not available, but I’ll be sure to pass it on. If someone died while looking at a message thread between you and them, then the ‘seen’ checkmarks would keep showing until their screen locked. This could last quite some time if they had auto-locking turned off and a healthy battery. You could spend a day texting someone, thinking you were communicating, when your words were really only reaching the metal block in a cadaver’s hand. Unless you discovered their exact moment of death, you’d never know which message was the last they’d seen. I sent off the form for NHS counselling. Several weeks later, I had an initial consultation with a young, pink-lipsticked woman named Brenda. In the reception room, she shook my hand and led me down the corridor. ‘There’s a lot,’ I warned her. 161

Jen Calleja is a writer and translator. Her debut collection of short fiction, I’m Afraid That’s All We’ve Got Time For, is published by Prototype. Her most recent translation from the German, The Pine Islands by Marion Poschmann, was shortlisted for the 2019 Man Booker International Prize. In this essay she reflects on the hope and support behind creativity.

SCAFFOLDiNG By Jen Calleja

‘If we were to rethink ourselves as social creatures who are fundamentally dependent upon one another – and there’s no shame, no humiliation, no “feminization” in that – I think that we would treat each other differently, because our very conception of self would not be defined by individual self-interest.’ – Judith Butler, interview in the New Yorker, 9 February 2020

ally held my book about a week later, the clean, finished state of it felt somehow more unnerving. It was a contained object with a finalised title and my name on the front, which was, without question, exhilarating and emotional; I had been working on these thirteen stories, and many more, over the last fourteen years. And yet, singularity didn’t really speak to my experience of writing it. There’s an Acknowledgments page, absolutely, but I can see the trace of others in every line of the book. It’s often considered a kind of failure or self-deprecating reflex to say It’s not all me, or I had some help along the way. It’s seen to be a weakness, a modest confession. Writers aren’t very forthcoming when it comes to unveiling the apparatus of their creativity. We don’t often talk about how we afford (or can’t afford) to write, the

I recently had a dream in which I received a copy of my new book, my first collection of short fiction. In the dream it was three times the size of the actual book, the proportions of a broadsheet newspaper, and when I opened it I felt a jolt of shame; all my editor’s comments and notes, all my own changes to the initial manuscript, had been printed in the margins of the final book. When I actu-


R. recently wrote a pamphlet manifesto called DIY as Privilege, where he discusses how the concept and moniker of do-it-yourself culture masks the support structures that are taken for granted in the production of DIY music, based on his many years supporting learning-disabled musicians and being in punk bands. He shares in the essay how much he had taken for granted as a musician – from the permission he implicitly received seeing his identity reflected as the norm in magazines and line-ups (and explicitly by a musician who encouraged him to go start a band), to not having barriers such as venues or transport being inaccessible to him, a lack of access to a phone or his own money, and, most importantly, to other people and to a music scene. It made him reconsider the things that had aided him to do-it-himself – like the availability of cheap practice spaces, access to printing resources and being within social spaces – thereby removing the ego from an ethos born out of a positive sense of community. In the interview quoted in the epigraph, the philosopher Judith Butler goes on to illustrate the absurdity of (liberal) individualism: That model of the individual is comic, in a way, but also lethal. The goal is to overcome the formative and dependent stages of life to emerge, separate, and individuate – and then you become this self-standing individual. That’s a translation from German. They say selbstständig, implying that you stand on your own. But who actually stands on their own? We are all, if we stand, supported by any number of things. Even coming to see you today – the pavement allowed me to move, and so did my shoes, my orthotics, and the long hours spent by my physical therapist. His labor is in my walk, as it were. I wouldn’t have been able to get here without any of those wonderful technologies and supporting relations. Thinking deeply about what got you to your ‘separate, individuate’ state can make you feel vulnerable. Would I be writing if I hadn’t had access to a television and schoolbooks; to enthusiastic English teachers; to the attempts of all the writers – especially women – who came before me; to supportive friends, peers and collaborators? By revealing the scaffolds that help us function, we can demystify and reconceptualise all creativity in all fields as networked. I am not declaring that I did not write my book and that anyone could have done it, or that the artists and writers and inventors we admire are not distinctive in their approaches and efforts. But I really believe collaborative input and support from others was what motivated me and what gave me the ability to refine and complete my book beyond its conception, both directly and indirectly. The more we recognise this, I feel, the less the cult of the individual will reign; it could be argued that idolising authors has created many problems within publishing and literary scenes, most notably financial and with regards to power dynamics. Collectives and collaborations are swelling up from grassroots and independent creative endeavours. In recent years we’ve seen writers and artists share their prize money among their peers, and new prizes acknowledging translators, editors and other invisible hands in the making of books. I think this indicates a desire to acknowledge our connectivity, and the share of labour within working partnerships. I am grateful for all the support I’ve received, and I not only coyly acknowledge it, I gladly celebrate it. Creative achievement isn’t simply a matter of introversion, it’s midwifed via infrastructure.

friends who guided our trains of thought or did a (free) thorough proofread before submission, or those who simply said ‘I can’t wait to read it when it’s done’. Throughout history, great men of letters have underplayed the hand of their spouses in the creation of a chore-less, frictionless working environment or even in the editing of their works. This comes down to the allure of the writer being a remarkable, unique genius, a special maestro – the blessed producer of immaculate literature. It’s incidentally also why it’s still so rare that translators of literature are viewed as ‘collaborators’ with the author of a work in translation; we find multiplicity and co-crediting of any kind confusing when it comes to art. In one of the stories in my book, a writer shortlisted for a prize wonders at the ceremony whether her book is not simply an amalgamation of all the things she had read while writing it. We could understand this as a knee-jerk disservice to her toiling, but it’s undeniable that literature isn’t written, and writers don’t write, in a vacuum. Yes, I rode buses and sat in cafes writing the stories at weekends, and yes, I supported myself financially by working in a call centre for a now defunct fashion brand and doing comms for a cultural institute, then by translating novels, editing magazines, teaching workshops and being awarded residencies. But it feels complete, and honest even, to mention the others who supported me along the way, those who facilitated my provisional texts into finished stories, all the writers I’ve ever read in the same breath. Sometimes two editors and three reader-friends have gone over the stories in my book. Sometimes someone else sparked the idea for a beginning or an ending or a character. The requirement to be edited used to make me feel as if I was a terrible writer, but the more I went through the process as a translator, the more I realised the privilege of having someone else’s eye on your writing. If someone said they had an idea for one of the stories I was working on, I would have a compulsion to say don’t tell me! because I felt like I wouldn’t have done it ‘all on my own’. I now know that neither act takes something away from my work, they make it work, they straighten it out, complete the final turn of the screw. R. is my most long-term and significant collaborator. We played in a band together for nine years, have talked about our creative endeavours for hundreds of hours, have given each other solutions and inspiration and suggestions, and we happen to live together and also be married. When I met R. ten years ago, I was working in a clothes shop and had published a couple of stories in the university magazine during my undergraduate degree, and he was working for a charity and would spend a few hours a week painting. That I now have my second full-length book out, and he has his first solo exhibition taking place next year, is proof to me that we have supported each other to wholly pursue the art we’ve worked so hard to produce; at first in our free time, now for almost the majority of our time. For many years, no matter how many weekends or evenings the other needed to work on each of our creative projects, we both understood what the other was undertaking. And rain or shine, deadline or pressing project, we have taken it in turns to cook dinner every other evening; this is not an insignificant detail, it’s absolutely integral both practically and symbolically. Importantly, what each of us has produced feels like it has come from both of us, from our collaborative existence.


Elisa Shua Dusapin was born in France in 1992 and raised in Paris, Seoul and Switzerland. Winter in Sokcho (Hiver à Sokcho) is her first novel. Published in 2016 to wide acclaim, it was awarded the Prix Robert Walser and the Prix Régine Deforges. Winter in Sokcho is translated from the French by Aneesa Abbas Higgins and published by Daunt Books Publishing. Here are its opening pages.

WiNTER IN SOKCHO By Elisa Shua Dusapin

He arrived muffled up in a woollen coat. He put his suitcase down at my feet and pulled off his hat. Western face. Dark eyes. Hair combed to one side. He looked straight through me, without seeing me. Somewhat impatiently, he asked me in English if he could stay for a few days while he looked around for something else. I gave him a registration form to fill in. He handed me his passport so I could do it for him. Yan Kerrand, 1968, from Granville. A Frenchman. He seemed younger than in the photo, his cheeks less hollow. I held out my pencil for him to sign and he took a pen from his coat. While I was booking him in, he pulled off his gloves, placed them on the counter, inspected the dust, the cat figurine on the wall above the computer. I felt compelled, for the first time since I’d started at the guesthouse, to make excuses for myself. I wasn’t respon-

sible for the run-down state of the place. I’d only been working there a month. There were two buildings. In the main building, the reception, kitchen and visitors’ lounge downstairs, and a hallway lined with guest rooms. Another hallway with more guest rooms upstairs. Orange and green corridors, lit by blueish light bulbs. Old Park hadn’t moved on from the days after the war, when guests were lured like squid to their nets, dazzled by strings of blinking lights. From the boiler room, on clear days, I could see the beach stretching all the way to the Ulsan mountains that swelled on the horizon. The second building was round the back of the first one, down a long alleyway. A traditional house on stilts, restored to make the most of its two rooms with their heated floors and paper dividing walls. An internal courtyard with a frozen fountain and a bare


chestnut tree. There was no mention of Old Park’s in the guidebooks. People washed up there by chance, when they’d had too much to drink or missed the last bus home. The computer froze. I left it to recover while I went over the information for guests with the Frenchman. It was usually Old Park’s job to do this but he wasn’t there that day. Breakfast from five am to ten, in the kitchen next to the reception, through the sliding glass door. No charge for toast, butter, jam, coffee, tea, orange juice and milk. Fruit and yogurt extra, put a thousand won in the basket on top of the toaster. Items to be washed should be left in the machine at the end of the corridor on the ground floor, I’d take care of the laundry. Wifi password: ilovesokcho, all one word, no capitals. Convenience store open twenty-four hours a day, fifty metres down the road. Bus stop on the left just past the shop. Seoraksan National Park, one hour away, open all day until sunset. A good pair of boots recommended, for the snow. Bear in mind that Sokcho was a seaside resort, I added. There wasn’t much to do in the winter. Guests were few and far between at that time of year. A Japanese climber, and a girl about my age, seeking refuge from the capital while she recovered from plastic surgery to her face. She’d been at the guesthouse for about two weeks, her boyfriend had just joined her for ten days. I’d put all three of them in the main house. Business had been slow since the death of Park’s wife the previous year. Park had closed up the upstairs bedrooms. When you included my room and Park’s, all the rooms were taken. The Frenchman could sleep in the other building. It was dark. We set off down the narrow alleyway past Mother Kim’s stall. Her pork balls gave off an aroma of garlic and drains that lingered in the mouth all the way down the street. Ice cracked beneath our feet. Pallid neon lights. We crossed a second alleyway and came to the front porch. Kerrand slid the door open. Pink paint, plastic faux baroque mirror, desk, purple bedspread. His head brushed the ceiling, from wall to bed was no more than two steps for him. I’d given him the smallest room in the building, to save on cleaning. The communal bathroom was across the courtyard, but he wouldn’t get wet, there was a covered walkway all around the house. It didn’t bother him anyway. He examined the stains on the wallpaper, put down his suitcase, handed me five thousand won. I tried to refuse it but he insisted, wearily.

bean paste. I reduced the heat to stop them getting too dry. When the sauce had thickened, I added some sesame and tteok, slices of small sticky rice balls. Then I started to chop the carrots. Reflected in the blade of the knife, their grooved surface blended weirdly with the flesh of my fingers. I felt a chill as a draught blew through the kitchen. Turning round I saw Kerrand come in. He wanted a glass of water. He watched me work while he drank it, staring hard as if he were trying to make sense of the image in front of him. I lost concentration and nicked the palm of my hand. Blood welled onto the carrots, hardening to form a brownish crust. Kerrand took a handkerchief from his pocket. He stood close to me and held it to the wound. ‘You should be more careful.’ ‘I didn’t do it on purpose.’ ‘Just as well.’ He smiled, pressing his hand against mine. I broke away, feeling uneasy. He nodded towards the pan. ‘Is that for this evening?’ ‘Yes, seven o’clock, in the next room.’ ‘You’re bleeding.’ Irony, statement of fact, distaste. I couldn’t read the tone of his voice. And besides, he’d already left. At dinner, there was no sign of him. My mother was squatting in the kitchen, her chin pressed to her neck, arms plunged into a bucket. She was mixing fish liver, leeks and sweet potato noodles to make the stuffing for the squid. Her soondae were known to be the best in Sokcho. ‘Watch me work the mixture. See how I spread the stuffing evenly.’ I wasn’t really listening. Liquid was spurting out from the bucket, pooling around our boots and running towards the drain in the middle of the room. My mother lived at the port, above the loading bays, in one of the apartments reserved for fishmongers. Noisy. Cheap. My childhood home. I went to see her on Sunday evenings and stayed over until Monday, my day off. She’d been finding it difficult sleeping alone since I’d moved out. Handing me a squid to stuff, she placed her liver-stained gloves on my hips and sighed: ‘So young and pretty, and still not married . . .’ ‘Jun-oh has to find a job first. We’ve got plenty of time.’ ‘People always think they have time.’ ‘I’m only twenty-four.’ ‘Exactly.’ I promised her we’d get engaged officially, in a few months’ time. Reassured, my mother went back to her task.

On my way back to reception, I took a detour through the fish market to pick up the leftovers my mother had put aside for me. I walked down the aisles to stand number forty-two, ignoring the looks people gave me as I passed. My French origins were still a source of gossip even though it was twenty-three years since my father had seduced my mother and then vanished without a trace. My mother, wearing too much make-up as usual, handed me a bag of baby octopus: ‘That’s all there is right now. Have you got any bean paste left?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘I’ll give you some.’ ‘No need, I still have some.’ ‘Why don’t you use it?’ ‘I do!’ Her rubber gloves made a sucking noise as she pulled them on and looked at me suspiciously. I’d lost weight. Old Park didn’t give me enough time to eat, she’d have a word with him. I told her not to. I’d been consuming vast amounts of toast and milky coffee every morning ever since I’d started working there, I said, I couldn’t possibly have lost weight. Old Park had taken a while to get used to my cooking but he didn’t interfere. The kitchen was my domain.

That night, between the damp sheets, crushed by the weight of her head on my stomach, I felt her chest rising and falling as she slept. I’d got used to sleeping alone in the guesthouse. Her snoring kept me awake. I counted the drops of saliva leaking out one by one from her parted lips and onto my skin. The next day I went for a walk on the beach that ran the length of the town. I loved this coastline, scarred as it was by the line of electrified barbed wire fencing along the shore. The border with North Korea was barely sixty kilometres away. A wind-scraped figure stood out against the building works in the harbour. The name in the passport flashed through my mind. Yan Kerrand, walking towards me. A dog sprang up from a pile of nets, and began to follow him, sniffing at his trousers. One of the workers called the dog back. Kerrand stopped to stroke it, said something that sounded like ‘that’s okay’ but the man put the dog back on its lead, and Kerrand carried on walking towards me. He drew level with me and I fell into step beside him. ‘This winter landscape is beautiful,’ he shouted into the wind,

The octopus were tiny, ten or so to a handful. I sorted through them, browned them with shallots, soy sauce, sugar and diluted 165

‘From Normandy.’ I nodded to show I understood. ‘You’ve heard of it?’ ‘I’ve read Maupassant.’ He turned to look at me. ‘How do you picture it?’ I thought for a moment. ‘Pretty. A bit melancholy.’ ‘It’s changed since Maupassant’s day.’ ‘I’m sure it has. Like Sokcho.’ Kerrand didn’t reply. He’d never understand what Sokcho was like. You had to be born here, live through the winters. The smells, the octopus. The isolation. ‘Do you read a lot?’ he asked. ‘I used to, before I went to university. I used to love reading. Now it’s more of a chore.’ He nodded, tightened his grip on the package he was holding. ‘What about you?’ ‘Do I read?’ ‘What do you do for a living?’ ‘I draw comics.’ The word comics didn’t sound right coming from him. It conjured images of conventions, queuing fans. Maybe he was famous. I didn’t read comic books. ‘Is your story set here?’ ‘I don’t know yet. Maybe.’ ‘Are you on holiday?’ ‘There’s no such thing as a holiday in my line of work.’ The bus arrived. We each took a seat by the window, on either side of the aisle. The light had faded. I could see Kerrand reflected in the window, his package on his lap. He’d closed his eyes. His nose stuck out like a set square. Fine lines fanned out from his thin lips, traces of future wrinkles. He’d shaved. I cast my gaze up towards his eyes and realised that he was looking at my reflection in the glass too. That same look he’d given me when he arrived at the hotel, friendly and slightly bored at the same time. I looked down. Our stop was announced. Kerrand brushed his fingers against my shoulder as he set off down the alleyway. ‘Thanks for this afternoon.’

taking in the beach with a sweep of the arm. I wasn’t convinced he meant it, but I smiled anyway. Over at the landing jetty, the screech of metal could be heard from the cargo ships. ‘Have you been working here long?’ ‘Since I left university.’ His hat slipped, caught in a gust of wind. ‘Can you speak up?’ he asked, pressing the hat down over his ears. All I could see of his face was a narrow band. Instead of shouting, I moved closer to him. He wanted to know what I’d studied. Korean and French literature. ‘You speak French then.’ ‘Not really.’ To be honest, my French was better than my English, but I felt intimidated at the thought of speaking it with him. Luckily, he did no more than nod in agreement. I was on the verge of telling him about my father, but I held back. He didn’t need to know. ‘Do you know where I can find ink and paper?’ The Sokcho stationery shop was closed in January. I told him how to get to the nearest supermarket. ‘Will you come with me?’ ‘I don’t have much time . . .’ He stared at me intently. I said I’d go with him. We walked past an expanse of concrete. An observation tower rose up in the middle of it, pumping out the wailing of a K-pop singer. In town, restaurant owners dressed in yellow boots and green baseball caps stood in front of their fish tanks, waving their arms around to attract customers. Kerrand walked past the window displays without seeming to notice the crabs or the octopuses with their tentacles suctioned against the glass. ‘What brings you to Sokcho in the dead of winter?’ ‘I needed peace and quiet.’ ‘You’ve come to the right place,’ I laughed. He didn’t respond. Perhaps I bored him. But so what? His moods weren’t my problem. Why should I worry about filling the silences? I was the one doing him a favour. A mangy-looking dog came shambling towards him. ‘Dogs seem to like you.’ Kerrand nudged it away from him. ‘It’s my clothes. I’ve been wearing the same ones for a week. They must stink.’ ‘I told you I do laundry.’ ‘I didn’t want you getting blood on my clothes.’ If he was trying to make a joke, it was lost on me. I thought he smelled fine. A mixture of incense and ginger. In the Lotte Mart he took hold of a pen, turned it over and over in his hand, put it down again and then started picking up blocks of paper, ripping open the packaging and sniffing the sheets. I looked around to make sure there were no cameras. Kerrand tested the different textures. He seemed to like the roughest ones best. He scrunched up the paper, touched it to his lips and the tip of his tongue, tasted the edge of one of sheets. He seemed satisfied and went off towards another aisle. I hid the blocks he’d torn open under some binders. When I caught up with him, he hadn’t found what he was looking for. He wanted pots of ink, not cartridges. I asked the assistant and he went to fetch some from the stock room. He came back with two bottles, one Japanese and one Korean. Kerrand didn’t want the Japanese ink, it was too fast-drying, he wanted to test the Korean ink. No, that was not possible. Kerrand raised his head. He asked again. The assistant was getting irritated. I asked him in Korean, and he eventually gave in. Kerrand took a cloth-bound sketchbook from his coat pocket and traced a few lines. In the end he bought the Japanese ink. At the bus stop, there was no one but us. ‘So you’re French.’

That evening he wasn’t there again at dinner. Feeling emboldened after our walk, I took him a tray of food that was less spicy than the meal served to the other guests. He was sitting on the edge of the bed, his stooping figure silhouetted against the paper wall. The door had been left ajar. Pressing my face to the doorframe, I could see his hand moving over a sheet of paper. He’d placed the paper on top of a box on his lap. The pencil between his fingers was finding its way, moving forwards and backwards, hesitating, searching again. The point hadn’t touched the paper yet. Kerrand began to draw, with uneven strokes. He went over the lines several times, as if to erase and correct, etching the contours into the paper. The image was impossible to make out. Branches of a tree, or a heap of scrap metal perhaps. Eventually I recognised the shape of an eye. A dark eye beneath a tangle of hair. The pencil continued in its path until a female form emerged. Eyes a bit too large, a tiny mouth. She was perfect, he should have stopped there. But he carried on, going over the features, gradually twisting the lips, warping the chin, distorting the image. Then, taking a pen, he daubed ink slowly and purposefully over the paper until the woman was nothing more than a black, misshapen blob. He placed the sheet of paper on the desk. Ink dripped down on to the floor. A spider scuttled into view and started to run up his leg, but he made no move to brush it away. He looked down at his handiwork. In an instinctive movement, he tore off a corner of the sheet and began to chew on it. I was afraid he’d see me. I put the tray down silently, and left. 166





Katrien De Blauwer appears courtesy of Gallery Les Filles du Calvaire & Gallery Fifty-One











LOUIS VUITTON photography Matthieu Dortomb








DIOR photography Morgan O’Donovan




GUCCI photography Kevin Tachman




PRADA courtesy of Prada

LOEWE photography Morgan O’Donovan








BERLUTI photography Benoit Auguste


Photography F i l e p  M o t w a r y

STYLiNG A l e x  P e t s e t a k i s


E n c h a n t e d  i s l a n d




Opposite: Jumpsuit GIORGIO ARMANI Brogues PRADA


Suit, shirt and sandals MARGARET HOWELL

Jumper and flower LOEWE



Top and trousers BOSS Sandals FENDI




Top and skirt BOSS




Jumper, shorts and hat FENDI Sandals HERMÈS




Top and trousers GIORGIO ARMANI Sandals HERMÈS

Hat and neckerchief PRADA



Brooch and necklace DIOR HOMMME

Shirt, trousers, knit and sandals MARGARET HOWELL


Blazer, shorts, top, bag and shoes BOTTEGA VENETA Sunglasses FENDI Opposite: Top and trousers GIORGIO ARMANI Sandals HERMÈS



Hair Marios Neofytou at HAIR Etc Makeup Andreas Zen Models Dimitris Chimonas, Stylianos Florides, David Luis, Chris Michail, Lefteris Moumtzis, Julia Murashkina, Eleni Papadopoulou, Christina Sotiriadou Special Thanks to Maria Anaxagora, Sotiris Hadjigeorgiou



Photography  Baud  Postma

Styling  Mitchell  Belk



Fever  Pitch

Black jacket GUCCI Jacket PAUL SMITH Shirt FENG CHEN WANG Roll neck (worn throughout) SALVATORE FERRAGAMO



Jacket JIL SANDER Trousers and belt DRIES VAN NOTEN Top BALLY Opposite: Jacket JOSEPH Sweater and shorts BOTTEGA VENETA



Coat DIOR Hooded top NANUSHKA Shorts BALLY





Outer jacket BRIONI Jacket HERMÈS T-shirt PAUL SMITH




Top and trousers CRAIG GREEN Boots ROKERÂ






Model Tom A at TIAD Casting LG Studio Production The Production Factory Grooming Eliot McQueen at D&V using Kiehl’s and Bumble and Bumble



Jacket, shorts and shirt PRADAÂ


Photography M i c h a e l  B o d i a m

C r e a t i v e  d i r e c t i o n  a n d s t y l i n g  P a u l i n a  P i i p p o n e n

Pale pink/ochre silk twill block-print scarf MARGARET HOWELL Teal/rust silk twill block-print scarf MARGARET HOWELL


i n g e n i o u s  M a c h i n e s



Black leather-and-nylon boots PRADA

Pure leather mini soft trunk LOUIS VUITTON



Black rubber duffle bag CANALI

White leather high-top sneakers SAINT LAURENT



Alessandro Edge leather shoes BERLUTI



Personal clutch in black aluminium and grained calfskin DIOR and RIMOWA

Low-top sneaker in blue-and-ivory stretch cotton with monogram motif GUCCI



Round sunglasses with double bridge in acetate GIORGIO ARMANI

Calfskin binoculars case ERMENEGILDO ZEGNA


S u g a r  a n d  S p i c e

All  accessories  from Louis  Vuitton’s  SS20  Collection

photography  and  set  design Anaick Lejart






C r e a t i v e  d i r e c t i o n a n d  s t y l i n g  R O S E  F O R D E

Photography T h o m a s  G o l d b l u m



C l o t h i n g  T h e o r y S S 2 0  t h r o u g h o u t






THEORY menswear is launching on uk.theory.com 27th May; visit the site to sign up for a newsletter to receive more information Photography Thomas Goldblum Photography assistant Berit Von Enoch Styling Rose Forde Styling assistant Sheila Mendes Grooming Petra Sellge for The Wall Group using Ouai Casting direction Caroline Mauger at CM Casting Models William de Courcy at SUPA, Marlon Pendlebury at Wilhelmina Production The Production Factory Location provided courtesy of the Barbican Centre / www.barbican.org.uk



T h e  J o u r n e y

C l o t h i n g  B e n  S h e r m a n S S 2 0  T h r o u g h o u t

Photography T O M  C R A I G  A T  C L M

C r e a t i v e  d i r e c t i o n a n d  s t y l i n g  D A N  M A Y


This shoot is exclusive behind-the-scenes imagery taken from The Journey, Ben Sherman’s SS20 campaign, produced in collaboration with Port Lighting Assistant: Maya Skelton Lighting Assistant: Katie Burdon Digi Op: Kerimcan Goren Grooming: Paul Donovan at CLM Grooming Assistant: Andrew Denton Casting: Troy Fearn at D+V Management Models: Luca @ Lenis, Tashi @ IMG, David @ AMCK, Jamie @ Supa Production: The Production Factory

Opposite: Tudor Pelagos Blue £3,440, tudorwatch.com Hans Wilsdorf founded Tudor in 1946, a full 40 years after launching an even more familiar outfit called Rolex. He promised “a watch that our agents could sell at a more modest price”, which basically meant kitting-out watertight Rolex Oyster cases with outsourced mechanics. Today, it’s a little different: Tudor has its own movement-making facility for a start. But away from the more popular Black Bay throwbacks, its new Pelagos stands in its own right as the very quintessence of a modern diving watch. Lightweight (thanks to titanium), crisply contemporary and still affordable. It’s as if Tudor has been building to this since 1946.



C r e at i v e   d i r e c t i o n   a n d s t y l i n g   Pau l i n a   P i i p p o n e n

Photography William  Bunce

Every brand has its ‘halo’ piece, the same applies to watchmaking, of course – as documented by these iconic timepieces, distilling Switzerland’s profligate permutations of heritage and ingenuity on to just four centimetres of your wrist

This page: Cartier Tank Louis Cartier £11,100, cartier.co.uk The clue is in the title. While brothers Pierre and Jacques built their father’s Parisian jewellery empire in Paris, Louis’s passion for watches drove Cartier’s other craft, whose dainty but far-out shapes were fuelled by its affinity for design and gold, plus gentlemen’s growing interest in wristwatches over pocket. The latter stemmed from the trenches of the First World War, when men started strapping on their pocket watches for convenience, and appropriately Louis’s first true icon was Tank, inspired by British Army tanks and the mark left by their caterpillar tracks. Opposite: Patek Philippe Calatrava ref. 5227J £25,610, patek.com Geneva’s watchmaker nonpareil may be best known for auction-record-smashing ‘high-complications’, such as perpetual calendars (flick back to the Porter for more), but this particular Calatrava is arguably Patek Philippe at its finest. Coined around the time the Stern family took over the business in the ’30s, it’s difficult to imagine a more pure and perfectly balanced watch. From the Dauphine blade hands to the pared-back numeral batons and gently merged lugs, the Calatrava’s unbroken production since 1932 is down to timeless, understated elegance.




Opposite: Rolex Oyster Perpetual Datejust 41 £10,500, rolex.com If you were barking “Buy!” and “Sell!” into a massive carphone while pounding Wall Street’s sidewalk back in the ’80s, chances are this watch would have been peeping from your two-tone French cuff. Bicolour bling – such as steel and yellow gold – is most definitely back, red braces and all. And Rolex is embracing its reputation as the go-to boardroom watch brand with this subtle but effective reboot of its classic Datejust, in its Rolesor metal combo, smelted on-site in Rolex’s very own Geneva foundry. Up to 41-millimetre diameter to suit contemporary tastes, it also features every recent innovation from Rolex’s constant fine-tuning. Most definitely, “Buy!” This page: Vacheron Constantin Historiques Triple Calendrier 1942 £18,100, vacheron-constantin.com Switzerland’s longest-running watchmaker can always be forgiven for raiding its formidable archive of natty dress watches. But, with its brace of gorgeous Triple Calendriers, Vacheron is being refreshingly honest about its Now That’s What I Call. . . greatest-hits approach. “A deliberately vintage look […] reinterpreting the creativity and the aesthetic of the iconic timepieces born in the 1940s,” reads the press release – and long may it continue. Our favourite has to be this steel 1942 model, boasting Arabic numerals worthy of an old Manhattan cocktail menu, voluptuous claw-type lugs and circumferential date calibration picked out in a burgundy luscious enough to pair with cheese.




Previous page, left: Audemars Piguet Code 11:59 Selfwinding Chronograph £41,300, audemarspiguet.com Now the vapours have dispersed, the controversy of last January’s Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie launch feels nowhere near as divisive. Audemars Piguet’s most significant new collection since the octagonal Royal Oak sports watch of 1972 is a borderline classic already – the round hero it always needed, still imbued with enough reassuring oakiness thanks to an eight-sided caseband, but with everything else defiantly future-forward (just like back in ’72, come to think of it). The messy acronym still needs to change (challenge, own, dare, evolve, since you ask), but in chronograph form you have Audemars ‘The Disruptor’ Piguet at its technical best. Previous page, right: Rado True Thinline Les Couleurs Le Corbusier £1,780, rado.com Ceramic may be super comfy and super tough, but it’s the flawless, unfading colour that makes it particularly desirable – if you can colour it in the first place. With monochrome and primaries commonplace today, the watchmaker that pioneered ceramic back in the ’80s almost nonchalantly remained ahead of the game last year by teaming with Les Couleurs Suisse, which holds the licence for Le Corbusier’s Architectural Polychromy. From the palette comprising 63 shades that complement any interior in any combination, the nine examples Rado chose to reproduce in watch form match the swatch precisely. Opposite: Panerai Luminor 47mm £7,700, panerai.com Back in 1915 Florentine naval supplier Guido Panerai patented a super-luminous substance made by combining radium with zinc sulphide. Radiomir was so bright that, allegedly, when Panerai modified cushion-shaped Rolex pocket watches for Italy’s commando frogmen, they had to cover the dials with cloths to stay incognito. Originally painted on the dials, by 1942 Panerai had developed the ‘sandwich’ – a disc pasted with as much radium as possible, glowing through stencilled-out dial numerals. Seven years later, the radium was replaced by the decidedly less-lethal Luminor, glowing just as bright.


This page: Chanel J12 Classic Black £5,200, chanel.com The brainchild of Chanel’s late, great creative director, Jacques Helleu, J12 – androgynous, monochrome, revolutionary, just like Coco herself – was named after Helleu’s favourite yachting class. Over 20 years on, it’s breezier and splashier than ever, thanks to subtle tweaks from the fashion giant’s resident watch boss, Arnaud Chastaingt. Beneath the streamlined ceramic case (still fashioned in-house at Chanel’s Swiss atelier), J12’s precision mechanics adapt that of Tudor and its Kenissi workshops – 20 per cent of which Chanel acquired last January. Monsieur Helleu would surely have approved.


Opposite: Hublot Big Bang Unico Blue Magic £17,300, hublot.com Modern-day horological iconoclast Hublot celebrates its 40th birthday this year – four decades after Carlo Crocco earned enfant terrible status for being so crass as to mount a luxurious gold watch (designed after the eponymous porthole style) on a rubber strap. Since LVMH’s takeover and marketing drive, the steroid-injected Big Bang is now synonymous with football, hip-hop and Middle Eastern glitz. But that’s to overlook Hublot’s formidable technical expertise, developed in parallel: high-tech ceramic, for example – blue being a particularly tricky colour to bake, to the sort of minute tolerances demanded by a water-resistant watch case.


C r e at i v e   d i r e c t i o n and  styling  ROSE  FORDE

Photography C l é m e n t   Pa s c a l


N e w  Y o r k  C i t y  S o u l s

C l o t h i n g  B o t t e g a V e n e t a  S S 2 0  t h r o u g h o u t


Anaury, Cory and Joe wear BOTTEGA VENETA throughout Photography ClĂŠment Pascal Photography assistant Josh Matthew Styling Rose Forde Styling assistant Melissa Morales Makeup Rei Tajima at Bridge Artists using MAC Cosmetics Hair Kabuto Okuzawa at The Wall Group Models Anaury, Cory and Joe from New Pandemics


Creative  direction  and styling  Paulina  Piipponen

P h o t o g r a p h y S a r a h  B l a i s


A e s t h e t i c  i n n o v a t i o n

T O D ’ s  N o _ C o d e





Tod’s No_Code series brings together the classic Italian shoe and the informal trainer, a hybrid combination built at the highest standards of Italian craftsmanship. This year, the shoemaker enlisted Korean designer Yong Bae Seok to translate Tod’s philosophy into his work. The result is No_Code X, launched this January. The X is a graphic reference, a cross emphasising the hybrid spirit that is at the core of No_Code; a strong typographic sign, representing the connection between technology and craftsmanship. After the launch of Tod’s No_Code 01, 02, 03, all of which feature a tapered sole, the new X introduces the ‘Cassetta’ family, Tod’s version of a cup sole, into the No_Code world. Born in Seoul, Yong Bae Seok is a talented fashion and industrial designer who is now based in Europe. “I have loved Italian design since I was

a young child,” he says. “During my studies of fine art and Industrial design at the IED [Istituto Europeo di Design] in Turin, it was the automotive Italian designers of the ’70s and ’80s, such as Marcello Gandini, that I was really drawn to and inspired by. Music also inspires me, particularly Ennio Morricone; from my point of view design needs music to accompany it.” It was this depth of references that contributed to a fresh, creative approach to Tod’s new line. “For me, design aesthetic is a fundamental factor,” Seok explains. “Before a shoe is worn, it is an object that makes an impression because of its beauty. After that comes the desire to buy this product and wear it; so for me, it’s all about the aesthetics. A lovely shape is important, and finding it is very difficult.” The No_Code X is shaped like a formal shoe; seen from above, its silhou-

ette is tapered and elegant. Recalling a sports car, the toe has been deliberately lowered, as if the shoe were about to accelerate. With a combination of knitted fabric and leather, it’s comfortable and easy to wear, and has that soft Italian touch. “We wanted to add elements of quality to the classic sports shoe: No_Code X is a performance shoe, but, on top of this, it is also elegant. It is handmade by our experienced craftsmen in Italy, using the finest materials and taking the proportions of Italian shoe shapes. The shoe can be worn from daytime to evening. It is suitable for running, more formal occasions such as the boardroom or out with friends. What’s great about this shoe, is that it is a very versatile product which adapts to your lifestyle. “My aim is to always design something unique,” Seok says. And so he has. 299








FENDI’s California Sky Collection, designed by Silvia Venturini Fendi in an exclusive collaboration with artist Joshua Vides, brings sharp lines and bold graphics to life for Prefall 2020. Model Matheus Pereira Casting Thaís Mendes at Squad Brazil Grooming Diego Américo, @diegoamerico Production Two Palms, @twopalmsproductions Special thanks to @HotelArpoador FENDI, 141 New Bond Street, London, W1S 2BS www.fendi.com






acnestudios.com audemarspiguet.com bally.co.uk bensherman.co.uk berluti.com bottegaveneta.com brioni.com brunellocucinelli.com canali.com cartier.co.uk celine.com chanel.com craig-green.com dior.com driesvannoten.com dunhill.com


zegna.co.uk fendi.com fengchenwang.com flos.com armani.com gucci.com hermes.com hublot.com hugoboss.com jilsander.com joseph-fashion.com


kenzo.com lanvin.com loewe.com www.louisvuitton.com manoloblahnik.com margarethowell.co.uk nanushka.com natoora.co.uk oliverpeoples.com


panerai.com patek.com paulsmith.com 31philliplim.com prada.com rado.com ralphlauren.co.uk rimowa.com rokeratelier.com rolex.com ysl.com ferragamo.com theory.com tigerofsweden.com tods.com tudorwatch.com vacheron-constantin.com valentino.com shopviu.com


Also available on the entire VistaJet fleet, vistajet.com




Susan Sontag’s diaries reveal a witty fondness for the humble list, as a way of conferring value and exploring the realms of her knowledge. Her lists of likes and dislikes have become justly notorious. Here Amrou Al-Kadhi picks up that baton.


Prostate orgasms / The fact that many straight men believe their sexuality to be superior to mine yet haven’t experienced the transcendental euphoric bliss of the prostate orgasm / Queer meme culture, which tbh deserves a Louvre exhibition, and which I hope will outlive us all in the ensuing apocalypse / The way queer people are able to turn trauma into glitter / Glitter / Glitter pens / The fact that queer people actually have culture that isn’t just Albert Camus thinking he’s all profound because he had a basic existential thought / Seven-inch high heels / Using a seven-inch heel to give someone a prostate orgasm / Going to the chiropractor / Watching chiropractic adjustments on YouTube (crack addiction) / ASMR in general / Leaving the house pretending there are paparazzi outside / Parroting lines from movies in everyday conversation, just to sublimate my daily existence into something more colourful, even though it is already quite colourful / Colour / Wearing all phthalo green clothing ensembles / Wearing all mint-green clothing ensembles / Clothing ensembles / Using the word ensemble to discuss my outfit decisions / Spending two hours doing my make up before a drag show (aka queer meditation) / Performing in drag in front of hundreds of people / Performing in drag in front of no one but my reflection / Pretending even a drag show inside a broom cupboard is Wembley (it’s always Wembley in my mind) / Hugging my friends / My queer chosen family / Queer people around the world, who I feel connected to even though I’ve never met them / My queer ancestors / The fact that there are fish in the ocean who can transition their sex without experiencing any transphobia because of it / The fact that quantum physics teaches us that even subatomic particles defy binaries by existing in multiple places at once / The fact that quantum physics teaches us that reality is constructed, and therefore gender and any kind of social norm must be too / Gangbangs


The way straight men breathe loudly on the Tube / The way straight men sit as if their bodies are everexpanding whipped cream on the Tube / Everexpanding whipped cream / The fact that straight men are horrible to me in public but desperate to fuck me when I’m in drag / The fact that gay men refuse to fuck me when I’m in drag because of their internalised homophobia, yet are front row of every drag show screaming ‘Slay!’ like basics / RuPaul, and the fact that he is into fracking / Fracking / The fact that RuPaul has become the cultural hegemony of drag, when drag is much more political than you would ever see on Drag Race / Climate change / People who say ‘I hate to play devil’s advocate. . .’ / I hate to play devil’s advocate. . . but perhaps RuPaul has also done a lot for drag (I guess this must mean I hate myself quite a bit) / Hating myself / People who say ‘I’m like Marmite, me: you either love me or you hate me’ / People who say ‘Thing about me is. . . I tell it how it is’ – Who the fuck asked for your opinion?! / The fact that the sex I wank to in porn is never as fun as when I try it out in real life / The film Victoria and Abdul, and the way it made colonialism look as low stakes as a school exchange / Period dramas in general and the way they whitewash over Britain’s colonial history / Britain’s colonial history / The fact that Britain literally has no idea about its colonial history / Brexit / Nationalism / Racism / The fact that I have extremely flexible hips, so can do a yogic lotus position, yet can’t touch my toes / The fact that I was assigned male at birth / Transphobia / All transphobes / The Times / The Sun / The Daily Mail / The Telegraph / The Tories / The fact that I’ve not been at a gangbang in nearly a year (. . . no, I do not want one with the Tories, though I suspect I might bump into Dominic Raab at one that stipulates we all have to cover our faces)

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