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  • Courtesy of Outsider Pictures

    Courtesy of Outsider Pictures

    Nise: The Heart of Madness, directed by Roberto Berliner, tells the story of Dr. Nise da Silveira (Gloria Pires), a Brazilian psychiatrist who pioneered the treatment of schizophrenic patients with kindness and art therapy, resulting in both medical and artistic breakthroughs. Though a conventional film, Nise is fascinating and poignant. Not only is da Silveira a heroine well worth rooting for, but these outsider artists and their creative processes are portrayed with great respect. (And, unlike some depictions of psychiatric patients, the actors playing Nise’s charges seem believably afflicted.)

    The film opens in 1940s Rio de Janeiro. A small woman knocks repeatedly at a metal door unless it finally opens. This is a fitting introduction to da Silveira, who has come to work at the National Psychiatric Center, the only female doctor on the staff. In a meeting, lobotomy is discussed dispassionately as miracle cure, while a demonstration of a patient forced to undergo electroconvulsive treatment is looked upon equally casually by everyone but da Silveira, who can barely contain her horror. Refusing to take part in these conventional methods, she is relegated to supervising the Occupational Therapy Sector, previously run by a nurse and an orderly.

    Despite the fact that several of the hospital’s inmates have violent tendencies, Nise is compassionate and patient, unlike most of the staff, who treat them with cruelty and ridicule. Under her care, the previously filthy OC wing is cleaned and a group patients—most of whom are deeply entrenched in their own worlds–are led in. Rather than abuse those who act out, she observes and lets them be, repeatedly admonishing her hot-tempered orderly to do the same.

    Courtesy of Outsider Pictures

    Courtesy of Outsider Pictures

    When sympathetic, art-loving staffer Amir (Felipe Rocha) suggests an art studio, da Silveiro agrees, noticing one patient who has been drawing on the wall with his own feces. (Berliner does not spare us off-putting behavior, all the better to appreciate da Silveira’s near-saintly forbearance.) It’s a long, slow process before many of the patients take to this new outlet. For them, the creative process is clearly very intense; Berliner shows how these poor souls, unable to express themselves conventionally, wrench out their thoughts and emotions onto canvas or into sculpture, through careful brushstrokes or energetic clay molding. Meanwhile, Nise’s husband has given her a book by Karl Jung and she begins applying the latter’s ideas about mysticism and the unconscious to interpretations of her charges’ creations. She writes to Jung about her experiment, enclosing photos of the paintings. Per the celebrated psychoanalyst, Nise uncovers her artists’ pasts and we learn what they are expressing in their artwork.

    Courtesy of Outsider Pictures

    Courtesy of Outsider Pictures

    When the OCT puts on a show, major art critic Mario Pedrosa shows up, amazed by the work on display. He is convinced that the rest of the world needs to see this art. The hospital’s other doctors, however, are not as impressed. (Though the patients’ behavior has improved, they haven’t formally been “cured”). With every step forward (an encouraging Jung writes back), there’s a setback, such as the hospital’s callous response to the dogs Nise has brought to the center for patients to care for. Undeterred, the tenacious Nise is unwavering in her belief in her methods and support of the patients. Gradually, released from their minds, the previously silent artists begin to speak. One of them, formerly considered incurable, improves enough to go home.

    Championed by Pedrosa, the art is exhibited publicly in a show called Don’t Fear the Unconscious. Some of the artists under Nise’s care (including Carlos Pertuis and Emygdio de Barros) would go on to become highly regarded artists in Brazil.

    Nise: The Heart of Madness ends with footage of the actual patient-artists portrayed, and a video snippet of an interview with an elderly and spritely da Silveira. Though it is somewhat predictable in its good vs bad doctor dynamic and dialogue that is a tad obvious (“My instrument is a brush; yours is an icepick!”), this compassionate movie’s strengths outweigh any deficiencies.

    Nise: The Heart of Madness opens on Friday, April 28, at Village East Cinema, 181-189 Second Ave., Manhattan.

    Marina Zogbi

  • Even more awesome than the Wackids playing Rage Against the Machine using children’s toys, is the announcement that world-renowned sartorialist Edward Enninful will be the new editor-in-chief of British Vogue — one of the most storied woman’s magazines in the world.

    From his work with i-D, Italian Vogue, and W Magazine this shouldn’t come as a surprise, however this is actually big news! Simply because, as Lauren Cochran aptly sums it up, Enninful is “a black man at the helm of the most established fashion magazine in Britain” — working in an industry that is predominately white and that seems to largely service more privileged sections of society.

    In fact British Vogue has been taken to task for “its lack of diversity in model casting.” As Cochran points out, Jourdan Dunn was the first black model to grace the cover of British Vogue as its solo star in 12 YEARS! (Naomi Campbell was the last model to appear on her own cover in 2002 ).

    Naomi Campbell and Edward Enninful at 2016 Fashion Awards 

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    Photo Courtesy: REX

    And Enninful has been highly vocal, dressing down the fashion world for its blatant lack of diversity.

    In a talk last year, Enninful says to an audience: “If you put one model in a show or in an ad campaign, that doesn’t solve the problem.” He continues: “We need teachers in universities, we need internships, we need people of different ethnic backgrounds in all parts of the industry. That really is the solution; you have to change it from the inside.”

    Perhaps his new appointment is part of Vogue‘s effort to ‘change?’ We shall soon find out. Currently serving as fashion and style director at W Magazine, Enninful will assume his new role on August 1.

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    Photo Courtesy: Giorgio Niro

    In the meantime, since it was announced on April 10, Enninful has said that his appointment is “truly a dream come true.” And he has also said that he was most looking forward to sharing the HUGE and splendid news with his father, who immigrated to England from Ghana with his mother and six children.

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    Photo Courtesy: REX

    “I grew up reading British Vogue – I am so honoured and humbled to be taking up the mantle of editor,” he tells Vogue. “I realise I am stepping into the shoes of a hugely respected editor in the shape of Alexandra Shulman, someone who has chosen to leave at the top of their game with a legacy of 25 years of success.”

    He goes on to say: “British Vogue is a great magazine with a legacy of creativity and innovation,” adding “I look forward to continuing to produce an exciting beautiful magazine for its readers.”

    FEELING THE LOVE! THANK YOU to EVERYBODY who sent flowers and messages of support xoxo

    A post shared by Edward Enninful, OBE (@edward_enninful) on

    Anna Wintour, artistic director of Condé Nast and editor of American Vogue, where Enninful is a former contributor, said: “It is a brilliant choice, and I am thrilled for him. Edward will undoubtedly shake things up in a way that will be so exciting to watch.”

    Congrats, Edward! We can’t wait to pick up an upcoming copy!

  • Mick Rock

    Mick Rock

    The title of Barnaby (aka Barney) Clay’s new documentary, SHOT! The Psycho-spiritual Mantra of Rock, says it all, really. This rambling, entertaining portrait of legendary music photographer Mick Rock is full of its genial subject’s own musings on his life and art. It also encapsulates the excitement and excesses of the heady musical era that Rock (barely) lived through and documented. For anyone with a passing interest in the rock scenes of the late 1960s through ’70s, this will be pretty fascinating stuff. For those, like myself, who remember wondering about the photographer whose impossibly appropriate name appeared on pictures of many groundbreaking artists, this will provide context, and then some. (For the record, the man’s given name is actually Michael David Rock.)

    The film opens with present-day Rock (now in his late 60s) loading his camera at a live TV on the Radio show. He talks about his process, which—at its best—makes him feel like an assassin, “I’ve got my sights on you, gonna take you out.” Later he clarifies, “I’m not after your soul, I’m after your f-ing aura,” which might prompt an eye-roll, except that he really did capture the essence of performers (and friends) such as David Bowie, Lou Reed, Iggy Pop, Freddie Mercury and Debbie Harry, among others. For many awestruck kids, Rock’s images were their introduction to these genre-defying musicians.

    Mick Rock

    Mick Rock

    The film takes us through a more or less chronological account of Rock’s career, interspersed with dramatic reenacted clips of the aftermath of his near-fatal 1996 heart attack. In addition to myriad iconic photos, many of them album covers, there are  snippets of taped conversations with Reed and Bowie at the beginning of their careers, when they were still figuring themselves out.

    Rock revisits Cambridge University, where as a student in the late 1960s, he was introduced to poetry and LSD, virtually the foundations of the era’s music. His first famous subject was local Pink Floyd founder/mad genius Syd Barrett. “I never felt like a voyeur,” Rock says, but was accepted as part of the burgeoning Cambridge youth scene—a dynamic that would mark his career and friendships.

    Mick Rock

    Mick Rock

    Enter the early ’70s and David Bowie. Rock, whose fascination with the (then) startlingly androgynous singer resulted in some gorgeous early shots, becomes Bowie’s personal photographer, a distinction that would raise the profiles of both artist and photographer. He would develop self-professed fixations on several artists of that era, later shooting the emblematic live image that became the cover of Lee Reed’s Transformer LP; similarly, a photo of Iggy Pop in concert would come to represent Raw Power. Rock describes the sessions and resulting images with reverence and a little awe, as if he still can’t believe he was responsible.

    He takes us through the advent of Glam, which celebrated bisexuality before any kind of mainstream acceptance, and describes how established artists such as Rod Stewart and Mick Jagger adapted the look, and did he himself. Not every shoot was a success, as is shown by some noble attempts that Rock unearths in his extensive archives.

    It was when he chose to shoot Reed in New York over Bowie in Berlin in the late ’70s that Rock’s wild lifestyle grew wilder. He walks around present-day NYC and recalls many parties and little sleep. He was here for punk rock’s birth, shooting Talking Heads and Blondie, among others. (Reed’s early opinions of the Ramones and punk in general are quite amusing.) Finally the film catches up with the hospital gurney flashbacks and we get the details of his heart attack, which Rock believes was fitting punctuation to that part of his life.

    Courtesy of Magnolia Pictures

    Courtesy of Magnolia Pictures

    Throughout SHOT!, Clay lets Rock muse, ponder, and generally try to make sense of his life, resulting in an indulgent film that sometimes seems excessive, which is sort of fitting, considering the subject matter. For such an introspective portrait, though, there is nary a mention of Rock’s private life, apart from a glimpse of him posing with wife Pati and daughter Nathalie. It would have been nice to meet the people who really know and love him.

    The film closes with a 2015 photo shoot of Father John Misty and it’s clear that Rock still has the touch and still gets off on it. A whirlwind montage shows other current artists he’s shot, in addition to celebratory and poignant footage of recent sessions with Debbie Harry, Pop, Bowie and Reed. (The film is dedicated to the latter two.)

    By the end of SHOT!, one feels almost as appreciative as Rock himself that he is still alive and shooting, given the very good odds that he wouldn’t survive his chosen profession.

    SHOT! The Psycho-spiritual Mantra of Rock opens on Friday, April 7, at The Metrograph (7 Ludlow Street).

    Marina Zogbi

  • Here’s a kind-of-a-shocker: Ultra-hip social marketplace Tictail‘s brick-and-mortar flagship is that it’s not profitable.

    Tictail Market is the brand’s one and only storefront, located in Manhattan’s Lower East Side — and surprisingly, the IRL store makes less in revenue than even many of the e-commerce site’s online independent sellers.

    “The [brick-and-mortar] store makes about $50K a month; rent is $17K. Salaries and expenses bring us close to $8K, and that about covers it,” co-founder Carl Walderkrantz admits to Forbes readers.

    So why is it important for an e-commerce site that pulls in millions of shoppers a week to offer an in-person experience that doesn’t generate significant profits?

    Is it just to be able to flaunt kickass storefront gifs? (Courtesy of Tictail NYC)
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    Walderkrantz says that while the “future is moving toward online, the joy of shopping is still synonymous with an in-person experience” for many customers.

    And in the tradition of other successful sites like Warby ParkerBonobos and Away and less-that-lucative storefront was the best way to guarantee local awareness.

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    Photo courtesy TicTail

    “Tictail Market literally put us on the map in this city,” says Walderkrantz, adding that it gives the brand “street cred.”

    Originally, the DIY e-commerce site was developed as a means of giving entrepreneurs the ability to build online shops.

    Screen Shot 2017-04-01 at 10.44.15 AM

    Photo courtesy of Tictail

    It is now touted as the ‘easiest platform for discovering emerging brands around the globe’ — a gateway to thousands of under the radar brands from over 140 countries via an easy-to-navigate social marketplace. Brands include By Far (Bulgaria), Orphée (France), Humanscales (Sweden), and Lina Michael (Sweden)

    Screen Shot 2017-04-01 at 10.45.04 AM

    Photo courtesy of Lina Michael/Tictail

    And while mobile tools like Pinterest Visual Discovery continue to accelerate the switch from in-store browsing to online purchasing as we know it, Walderkrantz still believes that an IRL store is the best way to engage with a community of potential brand ambassadors.

    “It’s a way to connect the brands and shoppers, and make the shopping experience feel a lot more personal” he says.

    And the merits of a brick-and-mortal extend to larger brand partnerships, added social media activity through in-person events and flashy storefront art. “For each individual who visits your store, you should aim to reach another 50 through their extended network.”

    Sounds worth it, eh?