Earlier this month, thanks toMilan Design Week, we were able to discover what’s new in the field of design, and we saw how new requirements related both to a different way of understanding living space and to energy and savings needs have become the foundation of many projects. But while on this side of the world we are still trying to catch up with what we didn’t get to see during the days of the Salone del Mobile, miles away from here a project that may seem funny on the surface makes us realize how vitally important design is not only for humans. Last week, as many as 33 new birdhouses were unveiled inside the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, each designed and built by a different designer or studio.
The project named “For the Birds” was created to raise awareness of an issue that is affecting North America like so many other parts of the world. In recent years, in fact, scholars have reported a 30 percent decline in the presence of birds. The causes of this depopulation can be traced to climate and environmental change, which is making life impossible for many species.
The studios and designers involved for “For the Birds” have, therefore, not only designed aesthetically pleasing birdhouses, but have studied structures that would meet the birds’ specifications and needs.
Thus, until October 23, a variety of different combinations of small birdhouses will be on view inside the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, from the smallest to the most colorful, from those that hide among nature to those that stand out in materials and colors.
In an era characterized by the uncontrollable proliferation of digital images, selfies, and the widespread use of filters that distort the perception of the contemporary world, photographerFederico Hurth captures an authentic portrait of youth, but one that is burnt out. His project, titled Wasted Youth, is a true reportage, or as Federico himself describes it, «a personal photographic diary in which I collect snapshots of carefree moments.» His strictly analog shots depict faces, bodies, and situations, always following «a damned, fashionable, artistic, musical aesthetic.» In Federico Hurth’s shots, the melancholy and inner rebellion of a generation emerge. Some of the shots from the project, which Federico has been working on since 2021, will be exhibited at the Doppia V Gallery in Lugano from October 20th to November 17th, in an exhibition curated by Francesca Bernasconi.
Federico Hurth’s photographs are devoid of any post-production manipulation, «if a photo has a flaw, I keep it that way. Precisely to maximize the authenticity of the moment,» the photographer tells us. Wasted Youth offers a glimpse into fragments of youthful lives lived intensely but, at the same time, in a way that may seem “wasted,” in line with the title of his project. The aesthetic, which oscillates between the glitter of glamour and the darkness of decay, reflects the complexity and uncertainty that the contemporary context offers to young people, who are at the mercy of looming precariousness.
In conclusion, quoting the words of curator Francesca Bernasconi, «Federico Hurth’s photographs are characterized by an intriguing immediacy and an instinctive and decisive formal exploration, strongly linked to the revolutionary aesthetics that emerged in the 1990s through the work of a generation of photographers, often, like Hurth, straddling the worlds of fashion and alternative artistic scenes.»
We attended the unveiling of Lavazza’s new calendar, a project that takes us into an uncharted Africa, brimming with energy, experimentation, and a forward-looking spirit influenced by its culture and the diverse communities that inhabit it. Three photographers collaborated on this year’s calendar: Thandiwe Muriu from Kenya, Aart Verrips from South Africa, and the latest addition, Daniel Obasi, whom we had the privilege to interview. The theme of Africa as the birthplace of coffee remains strong, linked to the Giuseppe and Pericle Lavazza Onlus Foundation, founded in 2004 and now involved in thirty-three projects across three continents. With Nigerian roots and a holistic approach to photography, Daniel Obasi is a creative talent who seamlessly blends fashion styling, cinema, photography, and art direction to create captivating and distinctly African narratives. Here’s our interview with him.
How did you first get into photography? I started photography because of my background in design, and for a while, I also dabbled in fashion styling. That’s when I got into photography. Additionally, I had an eye for certain subjects, and the practice of photography attracted me in a unique way. Working with other people was often challenging for me, so I decided to learn how to take photos on my own to share my exact vision with the world. For me, it’s more about a concept and an idea, which is at the core of my holistic approach to creativity.
How do you manage to blend art direction, fashion photography, and your work as a director? By approaching each practice in a holistic way and considering them as one, it’s easier to navigate. I don’t think of them as separate components but rather focus on the end goal.
How do you apply Afrocentrism to fashion photography? Can it be seen as the primary vehicle for promoting messages of inclusivity and cultural appreciation? Absolutely. The concept of Afrocentrism and photography go hand in hand, and in this context, we can also recognize fashion as an art form. Moreover, you can see how it’s all connected to a certain cultural background. There’s also another aspect that brings a bit of your history into it. Of course, it’s not what’s needed in every shot, but in some cases, it gives you a good idea of the process behind the photos I take.
How did you accept the commission for Lavazza’s calendar project? On an ordinary day, I received an email from Lavazza’s team. I waited for a week and then decided to propose the concept of working together, of unity. Everything started from the photos that depicted the young people together on the beach. I’m a big fan of simplicity, and sometimes the most astonishing images come from the simplest ideas. These images, which centralize the theme, are, in my opinion, the most powerful because beneath all those layers, the simple idea of working as one shines through.
What are your primary sources of inspiration in photography, cinema, and fashion? My inspiration always changes depending on where I am. Currently, I’m more interested in architecture and composition, so I’m trying to improve the way I use space. I’m studying Bauhaus, Gothic architecture, and the movement. Additionally, choreography and contemporary dance – actually, all forms of dance – are a significant source of inspiration for me. Love, the idea of being loved, losing love, and being in love also fascinates me greatly at this moment.
Click when words fail is the name that the photographer Baran uses on social media and on her website. This phrase says a lot about her and her research. Words are often unable to return an emotion, communicate a feeling, or express it in the right terms. A photograph can do that. This happens to Mah (Baran) Mohammadasghari, a young Iranian photographer who immigrated to Canada, who begins to photograph as a therapeutic act. Her photographs, also published on Photo Vogue, are an authentic emotional and personal portrait. Her story and pain are reflected in every shot, whether it’s a self-portrait or a street photo. «I imagine my emotions and stories in a photographic way» says Baran that with her photographs she is able to convey human vulnerability and fragility.
Below each post of Baran, the photographer leaves a description always touching. A visual and narrative story of an emotion and it does so in a totally intimate and without filters. We had the pleasure of talking with her on the occasion of the exhibition Collater.al Photography held last September at the Fondazione Matalon in Milan. The story that communicates with the shot on display is emblematic of her photographic research. «This shot is part of a self-portrait project called Bereavement, which I started after my mother’s death five months ago. In this photo I am with my cat, Toranj, who has been with me for 14 years.» Baran tells us, «I adopted her when I was in Iran and she also immigrated to Canada with me. We spend a lot of time together, as in this photo, especially when I don’t feel good emotionally and she understands it perfectly and is with me as much as I want.» The loss of her mother and the pain she suffered are recurring in Baran’s shots, as in my mom is back as a bird – the shot published by Vogue – which tells the moment when “she saw her mother fly away from the window“. «I saw her flying out of the window… forever… and I died… forever… It was 3 AM or 2 AM… I do not really recall… two days ago … or three … well feels like… 2 million years ago in my scattered heart…»
In Hamburg, there is an exhibition dedicated to Cindy Sherman‘s relationship with the world of fashion, titled ANTI-FASHION. The exhibition is taking place at the Falckenberg Collection, specifically at the Deichtor Hallen Internationale Kunst und Fotografie Hamburg. This exhibition traces the career and commissions of the American photographer by major brands and magazines. Chanel and Stella McCartney are just two of the brands that, along with some industry magazines, have commissioned Cindy Sherman for some of the photographs on display.
The impressions created by Sherman in her photographs are far from glamorous, sexy, or elegant. Her work features subjects that are not traditionally desirable, and it certainly goes against the grain. Sherman uses fashion photography as a starting point to closely examine themes such as sex, gender, and age, demonstrating, but not limited to, these topics. Through the multitude of characters she portrays, Cindy Sherman shows us how the concept of identity is ever-changing and constantly evolving. In the accompanying critical text for the exhibition, the concept of (self-)constructed identity is discussed, which is a fluid concept that continues to challenge us even today.
There are numerous national and international contributions to this exhibition, the first dedicated to fashion in Cindy Sherman’s photographs. It includes 50 photographs from five decades of her career. ANTI-FASHION, curated by Alessandra Nappo, offers a unique opportunity to discover an unexpected aspect of Cindy Sherman, unveiling the influences and inspirations that the photographer has brought to the fashion world and how this influence continues to inspire entire generations of photographers.
The exhibition will remain open until March 3, 2024. Here you can find more informations on ANTI-FASHION.