Eliot Lee Hazel seems to embrace mysterious. His photography is theatrical yet remains bare which is one of the reasons I was so drawn to his work. I began pulling images to feature after I came upon this LA based photographers work last week, but quickly realized that I had practically put aside his entire online portfolio. In a way Eliot’s photos remind me of the old Stereoscopic apparatus’s where you could look into them and they seemed like far off three dimensional worlds. The soft edges, arresting colors, and alluring subjects all add to the stories told through his camera.
Bil Zelman is a master of mood setting. Or maybe it’s just that his photography is so eloquently orchestrated that when he captures his subjects it seems like we are alone with them in a room, or witnessing a moment where they are present in that special creative place. I can’t get enough of Bil’s work, and this Southern California Photographer has so much of it. Here are some of my favorites.
“These are meant to be your special things that you love and every time you put them on you feel connected to them. They’re talismans you know? Maybe it’s even something that’s tucked under and you don’t even know it’s there because it’s serving a different function.” – Athena Theny
I first met Athena while strolling through the outskirts of Gastown with a friend. Her store and studio caught my eye – the walls are covered in angled wood panels, the space is small yet each surface is cleverly utilized to strategically showcase her work. Created with this exact intention in mind, her space was designed by local UBC architecture students as a thesis project. Beaded bracelets, rings, bags and pendants, headbands, jewelry and accessories are all found on display with a stretched raw deer hide mounted front and center.
Through each piece that Athena creates, she strives to reestablish that sense of connection towards our belongings, igniting that relationship which we have somehow lost along the way. What really drew me into me into Athena Theny’s work was her openness towards sharing every detail of her physical process. Through learning about her finished products, I also gained an in-depth perspective on her spiritual journey as every single element she includes in her varied pieces contains its own unique story.
A wolf tooth cast in silver and bronze is an heirloom passed down from her grandfather and this same wolf’s hide was also been tanned by her great grandmother. A killer whale tooth was passed down to her from her great grandfather and yet another talisman is from a Haida friend that passed away. Each object is carefully cast so as not to affect the original item. She explains to me the delicacy of this process and the difficulty in finding people who cast real animal pieces in such a way that it doesn’t destroy them, enabling her to continue to use the same piece time after time.
A few common themes are seen throughout her work – knots being one of the elements playing an important role in her both her decor and in her pieces. The small ‘wish knots’ are meant to represent middle eastern soothsayers traditions passed on from an Arabic friend of hers – when your future is being read, each event is represented by a ‘tie of a knot’. Each knot on your ‘string of life’ and are meant to have a say in your destiny while others are simply representations of future events yet to come.
Athena knows exactly where the animals she uses in her work have come from and she’s very involved in the process. She soaks and stretches the raw hide herself and she’s dedicated to learning the dying art of skinning an animal in order to preserve the hide to use as much as possible for her pieces. She is completely committed to preserving the natural elements of the animal and her tanning process does not involve anything that isn’t already a part of the animal’s natural state.
Athena possesses a deep sense of attachment to all of her items. Not in the sense that she seems to carry any reservations around selling them, but her intentions purely being that for those who wear her accessories create their own personal connections to her work.
“LOOK AT THIS” she says, excited to show me her new pieces. “It’s so delicious, the texture, I just love how it came out.”
One braided bag takes upwards 8 hours to finish, the Spanish braiding requiring her to weave one continuous piece. Conversation is easy and her passion for every aspect of what she creates infectious. We discuss many things – from Vancouver as a laboratory for creativity, her connection to her grandfather, the history of film, the origin of Cowichan knits in addition to a wide variety of other topics. Each new subject we explore showcases her depth of knowledge and respect for the cultural heritage and elements and experiences from her past.
Cleo is a 21 year old photographer from London. I came across her work in Berlin and was instantly intrigued. Her photography is an honest glimpse into youth lifestyle without the cheese. Most of our readers have moved past the age of the subjects she captures, however there is something still so powerful and interesting in the window she creates into their worlds.
While scouring through my library and pulling my favorite sounds of 2012, I stumbled upon Nicolas Jaar‘s debut album, Space is Only Noise, planning to include it amongst my list of top albums of the year. That is, if the album had actually been released in 2012. Actually released early 2011, I wonder to myself how is it that I managed to completely fall in love with everything this guy does yet hadn’t even heard any songs from his only album? I realize I had been listening to his stuff only through Soundcloud and not only had the the way I had been listening to music shifted dramatically but my own personal taste in music had also morphed to now include a vast catalog of electronic musicians.
Although this shift is far from unique, I can’t help but reflect on the rapid evolution of this genre of music. We find ourselves at the cusp of a completely new style of music that is developing so quickly that it is becoming increasingly more difficult to keep up with the slew of new releases, compilations, albums, sets, podcasts, collaborations and mixes from basement dwellers, DJ’s, producers and bands world-wide. As a music enthusiast, the space has never been so overwhelming and so exciting.
Amongst those leading the charge, Jaar created his own label (Clown and Sunset) three years ago, his U.S. appearances just this last year included Pitchfork Music Festival, Brooklyn Electonic Music Festival and Art Basel in Miami, to name a few. He tours the world playing at the top clubs and festivals and he’s just a 22-year old college kid.
Expectations being central to the enjoyment of many albums, I strongly encourage you to experience this one without preconceived notions related to any of Jaar’s previous tracks. This particular body of work is a soundtrack through outer space that explores uncharted territory that even Jaar himself is unable to define. Difficult to swallow in short doses, its depth is better navigated patiently. Reach for your headphones and if at all possible, I strongly suggest giving the album your full attention for the full 45 minutes from beginning to end. But if you are unable to lend yourself completely and would prefer to merely sample, “Too Many Kids Finding Rain in the Dust” is a great place to start.
Initially seeking to decipher each sound, I continue to dive deeper and relax into the album settling into a state of serenity. Content to simply lie on my bed, eyes closed and listen with everything that I have. I can’t help but wish I could step into Jaar’s complex mind, so curious about the inner workings if his craft, to where it is that he travels to create an album of this magnitude. The ability to develop new sounds – organic noises found in our everyday lives combined with engineered synthetic creations. Joining offbeat, minor notes and seamlessly transitioning them into a brilliant progressions seemingly intended only for each other.