August 21, 2013
It is always happening, always going, always here, now, forever flowing like a fountain gushing forth, and we are splashing in the candy rain, the colors, sights, sounds, only it is silence, silent, not a sound. The photograph, it is so many things, all of which pass before our eyes with a stillness that bespeaks a moment in life, that has taken all time it frozen it, making here and now forever and then—
It is the photographer who see, knows, captures, collects. A magician, transforming three dimensions into two. Depth moves from a physical to a mental space, as we perceive beingness in a world where everything is flat, and we are free to look, to stare, to consider life in retrospect.
Martha Cooper has been doing her thing since the 60s, archiving urban vernacular with her camera, recording the transitory arts of life as they flash before our eyes. Marty quit her job at the New York Post to photograph the trains full time. To go into the yards and around the way, always looking, always seeing, always aware of this moment in time, this place in space, this landscape of life, a New York that no longer is but always was. Just like graff, time keeps on slippinn, slippinn, like Steve Miller Band say. But thing about art is, This is the Remix, and thas where A Thousand Words comes into play.
T-shirts. Canvases. Cotton is the fabric of our lives. T-shirt game, cause this is America and casual chic is a way of life. The DONDI T is all that I’ve been waiting for. Props to Martha Cooper and Koe Rodriguez. Keep Love Alive.
August 17, 2013
A Thousand Words in every language. A thousand worlds all seeing the same image. The stories captured forever and then—
We behold because what we see is always there when we look. It is in the image that we live forevermore, photographs from the Album of Life, every page a reverie, a memory .. of a shared time and a place that was and is forevermore captured on the page. It is this, the photograph, a vessel of soul, three dimensions transposed into two, the ephemeral made eternal and then—
We print it in a book, print it on the page and hang it on the wall. In this way the photograph is precious for a piece of paper is easily torn. But what holds well, endures and can be born? Cotton. It is a canvas upon which we have created egalitarian style, a casual chic that is all that is great about America. The t-shirt is a space for hopes and dreams as it stands before us to bear witness. It is this, as the billboard of the heart, the the t-shirt is where art becomes love.
Koe Rodriguez launches A Thousand Words, a new line of apparel and home design that showcases the work of New York legends Joe Conzo, Martha Cooper, and Jamel Shabazz. I’ve been waiting for this. That Dondi t-shirt! Cause, I mean, who would have ever thought? I gotta give it up. Props to Koe Rodriguez for having the knowledge and the vision to make this happen. Because it’s what the world’s been needing. Art, sweet, art.
Once upon a time, the trains actually ran, and you could see burners, throw ups, tags, whether you wanted to or not. That was live. Fly handstyles add energy to the mix. Graff is life as art, and everyone’s taken along for the ride. Just like music, block parties, shows around the way, kids inventing the world in which they want to live.
Do It Yourself. That was and it is the ethos by which I was raised, New York in the 70s. We know it, that’s why we create. What else can you do? “Be the change you want to see in the world,” like Rumi said.
July 28, 2013
June 20, 2013
The book is a tool of the revolution. It seeds the mind with ideas that spark fires and flames, burning with a passion for connection through conversation and communion through contemplation of the image and the word. The book allows us the opportunity to think critically, to examine, evaluate, and reflect upon the world at large and our path along the way, to consider the ways in which we share this journey together. United across time and space, all barriers disintegrate with each turn of the page. The deeper we go, the more we share of ourselves, opening up to worlds we might not otherwise know, were it not for the will and the force of the artist, the author, and the publisher.
The publisher is a revolutionary, working against the grain, offering modes and models of interpretation that inspire, provoke, and lay their claim upon the possibilities that exist in this life, and in the next. The book, as we know it today, began as a movement of literacy, of a means for the individual to connect through the word and the image to the very essence of life itself. Perhaps this is because the book is designed to live in a state of independence, to exist freely on its own, to be created and recreated as a conversation between author and reader with each and every turn of the page.
At a time when many are quick to decree, “Print is Dead!” the book publisher stands as captain the helm of the ship, committed to sail through the storm, to keep the presence of mind to know that the magic of ink on paper can be reproduce in no other form. It is a tribute to the power of the form that Drago exists, a vision of publisher Paulo Lucas von Vacano who has been immersed in the urban and contemporary art scene since he first left home at the tender age of fourteen.
It was 1980. London. A new world was rising, one that had come up from the ashes like the phoenix. Punk, which is to say, to create something out of nothing, to spark a movement of man against the machine. “Je ne regrete rien. I did it my way,” von Vacano notes, explaining his worldview as a remix of Edith Piaf and Frank Sinatra. “At Drago, we do not see only artistic finality at the museum; we know many artists will never arrive in the art market. We believe that people are here to serve a cause, to serve social models, not the capitalistic answer of sponsors and galleries and playing into the establishment. The artist can destroy everything.”
Indeed, it was Joseph Beuys who said, “I think art is the only political power, the only revolutionary power, the only evolutionary power, the only power to free humankind form all repression.” It is in this way that we can reflect on the contemporary art scene, of the rise of the streets and the urban vernacular to create a populist movement of art for the people, by the people, as a part of their every day life. Art stripped from the museums and the mausoleums and returned to the world from whence it sprung.
Drago puts forth an impressive list of titles that change the way we view the world, offering a look through the eyes of celebrated artists including photograffeur JR; photographers Estevan Oriol, Alex Flach, CB Smith, Papik Rossi; a ten-year retrospective of New York’s Alleged Gallery; and street artists including WK Interact, Miss Van, Chris Stain, and Logan Hicks, most many others.
“Street art has the biggest gallery of the world. It is a symbol and a statement of culture over the last 20–30 years. Here information is like a virus and it opens the brain and lets in the image,” von Vacano observes. “Today the image is everything. You see it everywhere. The image is a punch in the stomach and artists become cultural killers. They use the photograph and the machine as a gun; they crawl inside the object of love and of hate and learn by themselves. We never know when the cultural killer will finish, or when they will start. They are living the dream and the most interesting part is the streets.”
The streets are ephemeral; they capture the spirit in which we live, they become part of our world, as we become part of theirs. But the ever-changing nature of the form requires the photograph to preserve it and share it with others. It is the book, then, that becomes the repository for the souls of the cultural killers whose work exists long after the original has disappeared. It is the book that becomes the way in which the artist can speak, their voice in your voice in your mind, their images in your brain.
Drago reminds us of the power of the artist, the image, and the book. As von Vacano concludes, “It is an essential thing to hold eternity in a frame. The book remains forever and becomes a part of our evolution. There is no future without the past and the book is a way to hold the magic moment.”
June 12, 2013
I’m just a dark guy from a den of iniquity.
A dark shadowy figure from the bowels of iniquity.
Paintings by COPE 2Quotes by Mike Tyson
June 5, 2013
Music, art, fashion, style. For a glorious moment these things all combined in an ethos of Do It Yourself. In New York City during the 1970s and 80s, the culture of Hip Hop first began to assert itself as DJs, MCs, b-boys and b-girls, created a way of rocking unlike anything the world had seen before. At the same time, graffiti had taken hold, a kind of public art so powerful and profound it became the most epic form of writing on the wall. But as the police began to crack down, buffing the trains and issuing more than desk appearance tickets to its practitioners, graffiti found new ways to express itself.
Airbrush was just the thing to allows for a smooth transition to a new kind of surface. Customized jackets, jeans, sweatshirts, and t-shirts, became the means to express yourself. It was the Shirt Kings who took this form to its highest heights, as Phade (Edwin Sacasa), Nike, and Kasheme (Rafael Avery) joined together to form the Shirt Kings, the first black clothing line straight from the streets. They went on to produce a style of clothing so iconic that it has become synonymous with the place and the time from which it spring, a zeitgeist in the making as no one could have ever predicted, not even the artists themselves.
Shirt Kings: Pioneers of Hip Hop Fashion by Edwin PHADE Sacasa and Alan KET (Dokument Press) is a vibrant photo album of their greatest hits. Phade began his graff career while a student at Art & Design, during the years when its student body included Daze, Doze Green, Lady Pink, Lil Seen, and Marc Jacobs. Outside of school, Phade was bombing the trains, living the life as it was meant to be lived.
As he recalls, “So what’s so special about the 80s? For me it was the graffiti cars swirling through New York City like canvases painted for the world to see. It was watching school comrades transform into the next generation of graffiti artists and joining the Rock Steady Crew. Getting calls to mentor and give out the wisdom I got from Kase 2 and Butch 2. Going to clubs like Harlem World on 116th Street and Lenox Avenue, Broadway International, T-Connection in the Bronx, Disco Fever, P.A.L. 183rd, Galaxy, Skate Fever, Skate-City in Brooklyn, Roseland USA and Empire Skating Rink in Brooklyn. Watching the Old Gold Crew from Brownsville, Brooklyn, fighting with their hand skills. Hearing the Supreme Team Show on the radio. Mr. Magic and Eddie Cheeba late night on the radio. Listening to hip hop with a hanger for an antenna to get some bootleg station.”
With an education like this, Phade’s evolution as an artist was natural. In 1984, he Sound 7 taught him how to airbrush, and once he acquired this skill, he began producing work, selling “Money Making New Yorker” t-shirts on the corner of 125 and Lenox Avenue. He went on to partner with Kasheme and Nike to form the Shirt Kings and launched their business in the Jamaica Coliseum in June 1986.
Jam Master Jay, a personal friend of Kasheme, came through to the opening with a crew of at least fifty. Back in the days, as hot as Hip Hop was, it was still of the people and it was grounded in the art form itself; it has not yet gone pop, had not yet hit the suburbs, or transformed into an international powerhouse. Back in the 80s, Hip Hop had an edge and it was a language spoken in the art, the dance, the music, and the lyrics.
As Alan Ket notes in his introduction, “The Shirt Kings style of airbrush design became a fashion statement made popular by the hottest rappers and deejays of the day. It seemed like overnight that their designs were everywhere from Just Ice’s record to the Audio Two’s popular album to the stage of the Latin Quarters where all the best emcees were performing weekly. As the Shirt Kings’ business took off their style was copied across the Northeast and they themselves expanded and covered Miami. Pretty soon they had deals with rappers and singers alike to provide the wardrobe designs for tours and music videos.”
Shirt Kings: Pioneers of Hip Hop Fashion takes us back to this era like nothing else ever could, the casual portraits and snapshots of the people, the art, the love of style, originality, and glamour itself. The book features portrait after portrait of some of the era’s greatest stars, along with personal quotes that remind us just how deep the Shirt Kings legacy goes. As Nas notes, “It wasn’t just rap celebrities, it was like street celebrities that had them on.” And that makes all the difference to the culture as it began to transform.
There is a joie de vivre that appears on every page, that same joy that came from Hip Hop as it made its way off the block and before the world stage. The Shirt Kings take us back to a time when Hip Hop was on the cusp, embodying the spirit of greatness itself, from one work of art to the next.
April 28, 2013
White on White like Malevich, Kazimir like Kashmir like Led Zeppelin said. Run it. The beat might be me listeninn to breaks Rokafella gave me aaages ago and it’s like time never begins or ends, like memories of yesterday are close as can be, and what is forgotten shall be told. That’s Mary Magdalene or so I heard as the wind whispers a secret in the breeze and me with Rumi behind my ear like a perfume of the finest blend, a spicy noiresque scent enticing as fresh baked brownies melting on the tip of the tongue. And me ohh my I lose the thread as I pretend there was one from the beginning.
The wind whispers to others as I rock some Fela and do nothing with my nothingness like Malevich like absence on absence in two dimensions to reveal three only it’s not even one, just a figment of my imagination as the beat switches up and though these are mojito songs, tar beach season ain’t just yet. Til then, without the sun and me under the skylights with the rays refracting across my back and over my hooded eyes and I tilt my head turn my cheek til my cheek kisses the sky and the sun beats down upon me and the breaks be like fiyahh like drums back when we danced round tha campfire like damn the word escapes me but the drums insist I give in and move on to the next thing which is the first thing, where we begin, snake tail combo, sautéed or fried. Steamed with a ginger sauce on the side. Lawd where is this thing takinn me.
See, it ain’t even. Sometimes it just be the need to spill seed, umm is that it. creepy being female and all. Creepy creepy but hey thas sublimation I guess it goes against the Natural and well .. yes. The beat switches up and now they got this diggum smacks kinda ribbit singing and swinging while things get kicking like this beat that’s all it takes maybe that’s it, words, rhythms, vibes, life. Like Tribe said lyrics without tracks is poetry on the page and itdon’t gotta make sense so long as it entertains.
April 3, 2013
It’s been a long time… I shouldn’t have left you. Not that you’d know it since I’ve been posting on the regular here for four years but—
Four years is a long time to be lost. Lost and found and back to the beginning that never ended and the end that never began as the ouroburo spins like Dead or Alive, round and round.
I ramble, I often do. I’ll make it short and sweet, cause I gotta go. Today I am pleased to announce the re-launch of my website, MissRosen.us
I created the site when I set forth on my own back in summer 2009, thinking I knew which end was up. I didn’t, but you couldn’t tell me ishh. I was no longer listening. I had long since gone deaf.
But, the Universe being what it is, made sure I got my come-uppance and undoubtedly, yes. It was a mess—chaos in it’s most glorious sense. The other day, Mr. Brown mentioned The Sublime. Then DJ Disco Wiz tweeted, “Know how sublime a thing it is To suffer and be strong..”
That’s how it went down. And down it went. Now I’m on the upswing and I begin where I am, starting fresh. I re-launch, remix, rebrand, release, refresh, renew, regenerate, do-re-mi e.t.c.
I thank each and every one who has stood by me through .. this (smile). The clouds are gone. Let the sun shine again.
March 28, 2013
The world is a ghetto. We of the first world forget this but it is everywhere, more common than not, people living below the poverty line in conditions too raw for us to fully comprehend. When we do consider it, we vilify or romanticize; we imagine it not as it is, for rarely do we venture into the world of the underclass. Yet artists venture forth, exploring lands unexamined and unexplored, discovering stories waiting to be told. Douglas Mayhew does just this in his first monograph,Inside the Favelas: Rio de Janeiro (Glitterati Incorporated).
Mayhew became interested in the favelas while doing volunteer work in the recreation room of the children’s ward at the Miguelo Couto public hospital in Rio. A child came in with a gunshot wound to the arm, a wound that had become infected after time had elapsed before the child could be brought to the hospital from the favelas. Needing to understand how such a thing could be so, Mayhew took up with Marcelo Castro as a guide and climbing partner. Together they entered into the favelas with his camera, documenting life as it is lived in a battle zone for the War on Drugs is not fought just at the borders but in the ghetto as well.
Read the Full Story at
Le Journal de la Photographie
March 13, 2013
Independent publishing is born out a passion for print, a love of images and text that demands complete commitment. It is born from a need to tell the untold, to honor the legacy of lives lived by sharing them with the world. Book publishing is a calling, a mission unto itself, an opportunity to spread love for the culture from which we come.
Dokument Press was founded by Malcolm Jacobson in 2000 when he released his book, They Call Us Vandals: Swedish Graffiti. But Jacobson began his publishing career back in 1992, when he partnered with Jacob Kimvall and Tobias Barenthin Lindblad on the famed graffiti magazine, Underground Productions (UP). When Jacobson expanded into books, Björn Almqvist and Torkel Sjöstrand joined the company to handle the publishing program. Dokument has released nearly fifty titles, as well 45 issues of UP, establishing itself as one of the foremost independent publishers of street culture and style around the world today with books by Charlie Ahearn, Martha Cooper, and Alan Ket.
As Björn Almqvist, publisher and senior editor, explains, “Our mission is to publish books that we love, about things that we love. We believe that many of the books that we publish wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for Dokument Press, and maybe they makes the world a slightly better place…well, at least for us, they do. To present ideas and phenomena, and make them accessible all over the world is kind of magic. It is also a statement; our culture is important and needs to be taken seriously. If there is a common reference for the body of work that we publish, other than art and street culture, I would say it is tolerance; tolerance for culture and expressions that isn’t the mainstream.”
Read the Full Story at
Le Journal de la Photographie
March 9, 2013
The Kingdom of Eternal Night, the first novel by former art book publisher Miss Rosen, has just been published on a blog of the same name, serialized in thirty nine parts, reminiscent of nineteenth-century authors such as Charles Dickens who established themselves by first publishing serialized novels in monthly magazines and newsprint.
A gripping portrait of decadence at the end of the second millennium, The Kingdom of Eternal Night mixes drugs, sex, violence, and degradation with the spoils of a lost generation. The Kingdom of Eternal Night is the story of unlove, of what happens to abused children when they become young adults.
At the age of 25, Jade Fontaine has a Master’s Degree and no marketable skills, a mortgage she does not pay, a drug problem, and an unfinished novel inspired by Oscar Wilde’s last play, Salome. Hell bent for leather, Jade crosses path with Nino DiNapoli—an ex-con, gay prostitute, junkie, and stick-up kid who is swinging from the bottom rung of the ladder just trying to stay alive. He was sexually abused and debased, then abandoned by his mother and raised in juvenile halls and jails since the age of fourteen. Now in his early 20s, Nico is lost and alone. No one ever taught him anything except that love can destroy your life.
Set over the course of three days in New York City during the summer of 1998, the novel moves at a fast pace, with the history of the characters unfolding on each page. It is the fusion of dramatic action, dream sequences, and flashbacks that provide an intense sequence of seemingly unrelated events that culminate in the tragic but inevitable demise of one of the protagonists.
Serialized into 39 parts, each chapter of the novel is illustrated by a photograph as it begins. The photograph is essential, not just to breaking the monotony of the text on the screen but to the energy of the story itself. Many of the gems selected for The Kingdom of Eternal Night came from the treasure troves of artists including Manuel Alvarez Bravo, Erwin Blumenfeld, Rene Burri, Jean-Claude Claeys, Bruce Davidson, Sergio Larrain, Daido Moriyama, William Mortensen, Nadar, and Francis Wolff, as well as photographers close to Miss Rosen including Jianai Jenny Chen, Eric Johnson, Colleen Plumb, Ruby Ray, and Lilla Szasz.
Miss Rosen notes, “When I began The Kingdom of Eternal Night, I dreamed of it as a finished book, an object that could be held by the hand, page turned in rhythm with the scene as it unfolds. But necessity dictated otherwise. Intervention became innovation in the creation of the Internet Novel. It is not an e-book. It is not for sale. It is free to be read by anyone fluent in English. What’s more, the form allows for changes to be made, should I be so inclined. ‘Art is never finished,’ as Da Vinci said.”
Miss Rosen is a writer, editor, curator, event producer, and publicist based in New York. Currently the features writer and book reviewer for Le Journal de la Photographie, Miss Rosen has previously contributed stories to Code (Netherlands), Staf (Spain), Swindle, Telegraph (UK), L’Uomo Vogue, and Whitewall magazines.
From 2000–2009, Miss Rosen was Senior Vice President of Marketing & Publicity for powerHouse Books, a photography and illustrated book publisher now based in Brooklyn. In 2005 she launched Miss Rosen Editions, her own imprint focusing on contemporary urban culture. She published 15 art, photography, memoir, and fiction titles with authors including Boogie, Martha Cooper, and Charlie Ahearn.
As curator, Miss Rosen has organized several exhibitions including the Lucie Awards’ “Best of Show” (2009); “Nature of a City” launching the Timberland store in New York (2009); “That 70s Show” (2007) and “No Sleep ‘til Brooklyn” (2006), both at powerHouse Arena, Brooklyn; “Ricky Powell: Public Access” (2005) and “Peter Sutherland: Autograf” (2004), both at colette, Paris, and at the former powerHouse Gallery, New York.
In conjunction with the exhibitions that she curated for the Arena, Miss Rosen launched powerHouse magazine (2006–2009), a twice-yearly publication organized around a single theme, which was in equal parts a provocative cultural investigation, innovative exhibition catalogue, and sophisticated product brochure.
As Vice President of Marketing & Publicity, Miss Rosen conceptualized and executed campaigns for some 45 books annually. Her career highlights include the Vandal Squad panel discussion at the powerHouse Arena, (2009); “We B*Girlz: A 25th Anniversary Breakin’ Event at Lincoln Center Out of Doors” (2006); the graffiti episode of NBC’s “The Apprentice” (2005); and the Hilhaven Lodge party at Robert Evans’ Beverly Hills estate (2003).
March 7, 2013
March 4, 2013
Lady Aiko in “Edo Pop” at The Japan Society
Photographs by Jaime Rojo
Full Story at Brooklyn Street Art