This past Saturday, thousands of people gathered at Dag Hammarskjold Plaza in New York City to celebrate Spring, friendship and equality for all.

Organized by Bhangra NYC, the festival really brought to life the meaning of Holi Hai.
http://nycholi.com
https://nycbhangra.com/nycbhangra/

The “joie de vivre” that emanates from the sculptures currently on view at the Plaza, and the vibrant colors in the works of Brazilian artist Mazeredo, really suited the mood. The artist’s Dialogue series was meant to bring people from different backgrounds together. The Festival happened to converge on the same theme and brought performing arts to visual arts before the United Nations building on a beautiful Spring morning. Part of the coverage can be seen below.

This post is part of the series “Awe inspiring!”. More on the topic to come after the opening of the Frieze New York Art Fair.

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Posted by Kaz, filed under

. Date: May 1, 2016, 7:33 pm | No Comments »

This is now: we stand together with the help of our wonderful families, but our surroundings and how we fill our hours, doesn’t resemble in any way the lives we used to lead.   For some fleeting moments; I share a beer with my father before he gets on an airplane; our daughter laughs with her young cousins; or I stroll the streets of Södermalm under a warm golden sunset.  I gaze at stylish expecting Moms, Suri-cruise look-alikes, young lovers hand-in-hand, backpackers holding maps, long-legged beauties with peachy skin and bright smiles taking pictures with their friends and sipping wine.  The music coming through my headphones brings the promise of Summer.  And things almost seem fabulous again.  

Most of the time these days, I’m walking down a long train platform to find some space in the first car for the stroller; I’m fighting bicycles and other strollers for the smoothest spot on the cobblestone street; I’m doing chores with one hand while trying to comfort the baby in my arms… I’m pacing an infinite hospital hallway under fluorescent lights, gazing at decay – half the patients in the hallway are unconscious and dwindling away.  This is now: the smell of alcohol, bags of blood, a myriad of different nurses with an array of sample-taking tools and syringes labeled with nefariously long words in a language I cannot understand.  One would think fewer nurses per patient would at least offer the comfort of a familiar face at regular intervals, a true caregiver in lieu of  “the one with the antibiotics” or “the one with the trombocytes”.   Our daughter has a fever, congestion, heavy breathing – more teeth peaking through.  Her cries are not piercing, but rather a long wail, like that of a young cetacean in distress.  My husband sleeps away the side effects.  This is what it was like for them, I think, knowing other people who had to contend with the love of their lives having a deadly disease.  My surroundings are a constant reminder that the treatment can be as aggressive as the disease.  Microscopic life forms that never occupied my thoughts before are now front and center.  I’m fighting many battles against invisible enemies that can threaten the two persons I love the most.  I know the battle that awaits me on the other side of this one pertains to paperwork, finances and the question of which country will allow our family to achieve some kind of normal again.  This is how I used to take on my battles: “I entered this territory myself, I brought upon some trouble in the process, it being my own doing, I will devise a strategy and easily defeat it like I solve a puzzle.”  Not this time.  The one thing that I have in this battle that I have always had is some invincible ally.  

That was then: gathered on the rooftop terrace in DUMBO with our newborn and our best friends sipping champagne, savoring designer cake and overlooking Lower Manhattan.  Gazing at Niagara Falls, Montauk lighthouse, and Shelter Island; visiting Cyril’s in Amagansett with my brother and his lovely leading lady Bibi; and strolling with the newborn down Michigan Avenue.  Before then, there was counting down to baby, reading up on the finest baby gear and the brainiest toys.  Our friends gathered around for barbecue and berry sangria by the pool to celebrate the Fourth of July, telling tales about the first years of their small wonders.   There was kayaking in Kailua; taking the teenage kids down water slides; and snorkeling with humuhumunukunukuapua’a in the clearest of waters.  There were Mai-Tais, tikki torches, ukuleles, Rum runners and pink-sand beaches.  Lobster rolls, Ernest Hemingway’s home, viewings at the Frick Collection, cocktails amongst marble statues for the Young Associates at The Met.  There was bike riding with my love along the Hudson River, and riding down the slopes at Okemo after fresh snow and before hot cocoa.  Back when his health was never going to be an issue, my husband and I climbed the Sugar Loaf, my favorite place on Earth.  We had caipirinhas at Sunset at Arpoador.   Before then, there was Stockholm fashion week with the reigning queen of all fabulousness, also known as Executive Director or Stockholm Fashion Week and now CEO of the The Kingdom of Awesome People, a.k.a. The King Collective.  There was watching The Magic Flute in London with the McCormicks. 

At one point, I was riding down from the very peak of Jakobshorn in Davos to a pot of fondue awaiting me at the bottom.  Before Bundchen had Brady, she had Leo, and a booth at PM, with Keri, the entourage and I.  There was 6pm on Stone Street with Kim, Yen, Christie and Tor.  Bondi beach with Kalina.  Southampton with Rafi, Pri, Eleanor: mellow mornings with amazing conversation, polo matches, tennis, and picking corn at the local market.   There was L’Absinthe: Madonna and Sting dancing to the tunes I was personally picking out and playing for them at a surprise party that Trudy was throwing in the Upper East Side quiet brasserie I called home.  There were location scouts in Vancouver and the NBR Awards at Tavern on the Green.  Spielberg and Jolie giving me hugs – telling me how much they love Brazil. 

There I was: delivering invitations personally to the home of Bacon & Sedgwick on CPW; helping Lois, Carol and Bob figure out how many tables were left and which studios would sit closest to the stage.  There was “Hi, I’m Tom” and firm handshake from the biggest movie star on the planet at the screening of Collateral in the HBO screening room.  Once upon a time, there was the Evian resort and the Alsacian vignobles avec Leo, Hubert et les enfants.  There was Festa Junina with Gabi and the Fernos in Rio.  There were all the fun soirees in New York with Maria, Erin, Clarissa, Josy, Joanna, Yone, Emilia, Bettina… memorable dinners in new restaurants, art galleries and jazzing lounges. 

There I was, floating effortlessly in the Dead Sea with The Gibsons, climbing Masada, contemplating the history of Jerusalem’s streets and olive gardens that have been around at least 4 times as long as Brazil has existed.   The memories we have made keep us alive through the hard times – we created all of those moments, we made them happen though the friendships we made and the places we traveled.  Whether we have one hour or one year between hospital visits, we will do as we have always done: create more memorable stories to be told.  There will be old friends to visit; new streets to turn onto; new foods to taste; and new sounds to share with our children.  We will teach our children to appreciate the beautiful things in life, from fine garments to film archiving; the written word; the performing arts; museums, concerts and cupcakes; road trips and helium balloons floating up to the sky. We will teach our children that we can be happy in spite of the circumstances.   There are many lenses through which one can look at the chasm of what it was like then, and what stares at us now from morning to midnight: some ironic, some melancholic, some sentimental.  Like in cinematography, the filter changes the scene, and the scene changes the script.  There are a thousand songs I could quote that somewhat define the transitions through the times from the day I left my parents’ house until now:  “Love Story” by Layo and Bushwacka; Lift me Up by Moby; Through Glass; Patience; Pain Lies on the Riverside. 

Like in cinema, the soundtrack sets the tone for what is to come.   There are the silver linings: I could have gone through the motions; gone to the gym; met friends at a bar; taken my daughter on a play date; left the little one with the sitter for a weekly date night with my husband. I could have checked my social networks, multiple times, in search for something worth talking about, some inspiring thought on Twitter or image on Pinterest.  Chances are I would have grown bitter later for never having spent enough time with my daughter within her first year of life.  I have worked incessantly from when I was seventeen until I turned thirty four, and I may have never taken time in between jobs to reflect upon anything, if life had not handed me this surprise.   Maybe what I long for now is a routine that offers something on the other spectrum of being scared and drifting.  Maybe my domestic messes make me smile because they are the only constant I have.  One day, I know I will have a safe harbor again, and be able to grow roots.  For now, there are family bonds that need to be mended; time I need to share with my immediate family alone; time to watch my daughter learn with every interaction; time to get to know relatives I may have never really understood; and to live in a city where the most accomplished scientists in the world receive their laurels.  

The irony lies is that maybe we didn’t cherish it more when life was mostly glamour.  Earlier on, I was always worried about immigration and wondering if I’d ever meet the love of my life.  When I didn’t have to worry about those anymore, there was silly marital bickering or wondering if I could someday become like Jacqui or Suki (so elegant, balanced, well cultured in every way).   That was then: all glitter.  Unpleasant daily chores, even unpleasant work tasks and dreadfully disgusting co-workers – like Jason at GDS– were merely a parenthesis in an otherwise riveting plot.  The Production Designer and the Casting Director of those life sequences had really delivered their award-winning performance.   What being fabulous means changes at least three times between your twenties and your forties – when you get older your idea of fun morphs into something more sophisticated (in my case, anything that is invite-only). It changes when you become a parent and your priorities change; and it changes again should anyone you love become ill.  Back then, I felt fabulous when the food was perfect, the wine was top-notch and free, the conversation surrounded films, media or art, and the company was not only pleasant, but also well dressed.  Now I feel fabulous when the two people I love most can smile at the same time; when there is time for a short walk outside and a bit of sunlight; when the rest of our family and friends can virtually spend some time with us and when I accomplish a lot of the cleaning – yes, cleaning! – in one day for everyone to stay as healthy as possible.  At the end of today, I feel fabulous.  I sit here (between hospital visits) knowing that, right this second, everything is fabulous.

Posted by Kaz, filed under No tag for this post.. Date: May 14, 2013, 7:25 pm | 1 Comment »

NATO protesters, take note: the following actions may yield greater results from your efforts:


– Get a degree in Media and go work for a news station to actually cover stories around the world that can raise awareness for your cause


– Get a degree in International Relations and pursue a career as a diplomat


– Get a degree in Law and head to D.C.


– Plant a tree


– Take on a second job (you sure sound like you have the time) and donate 10% of your income to a charity


– Volunteer in places where people need soup kitchens, teachers, nurses etc


– Become a foster parent, work on researching the cure for a disease, tutor a kid online, help your elderly neighbors carry their groceries OR try helping the pregnant lady walking down the street with her bag, or the working Mom juggling the kid and the stroller


– Write a blog: if you are eloquent and have a point that is compelling enough to amass a following, blogging is bound to raise more awareness for your cause than whatever you are doing now.  Or choose another art medium (visual OR musical) that will get your point across – once again, if the point you are making is strong enough, people will pay attention, post it on youtube)

And please don’t call your protest “performance art”, that’s an insult to real artists.

In the meanwhile, be cognizant that you are mooching off finite resources from this planet and not giving anything back.

Posted by Kaz, filed under

. Date: May 18, 2012, 5:36 pm | No Comments »

The Matrix

(The following post is purely opinion/commentary and should not be deemed as my academic view on post-modernism, post-structuralism, social studies or media theory.)

So these two influential figures walk into a bar… Having looked around and not spotted Steve Jobs anywhere in this fictional bar, Jean Baudrillard went up to Zuckerberg: “Facebook is the hall of mirrors, the simulacra.”  Zuckerberg, naturally, was intrigued, as he had no idea who Baudrillard was, but somewhere in the Harvard halls someone had once said “simulacrum”, so he kept listening.

Naturally, I wish this dialogue had taken place while Baudrillard was still alive, and it hasn’t, and I almost attempted to turn this post into Socratic dialogue but it would have turned into a Platonic monologue instead, since I am biased to make the elder of the two look better.  Once social networking (i.e.: meeting others to gain social, cultural or professional status in “real life”) became social media, and personal updates became content, this digital data became its own system of sign-values, with cultural arms and legs that stand on their own, marking “the end of transcendence”- (a phrase borrowed from Marcuse) where individuals can neither perceive their own true needs or another way of life. (1998 [1970], The Consumer Society, Paris: Gallimard.) The evolution of the meaning of words such as “content”, a word which used to hold a symbolic meaning which is completely different than what it has come to signify, is evidence that the framework of communication and symbolic exchange we used to base our social beliefs on has dissolved. Social networking and social media are interchangeable terms, as are communication and media. For example, instead of a letter, e-mail or a phone call (one-on-one communication), a twitter message is broadcast to a mass of recipients that may or may not read it. The expectation of feedback is obsolete.

Social media profiles create a pastiche of images that are “published” for their own sake, multiple narratives, many of them contradictory, all of them incomplete, with no referent to reality. Notice the word “publish” has changed meaning as well.  This is an example of what one may witness on a Facebook news feed, a series of disjointed narratives mislabeled as “stories”:  A teenage girl fully covered in tattoos; random inspirational quotes (taken out of context, never containing a reference to their original source); song lyrics; photos of carved pumpkins; babies; live accounts from the Burning Man festival; someone broke up; someone just got married; turtles being rescued; a celebrity having coffee down the street from the neighbor’s daughter’s cousin’s new place; someone tagged a person in a photo (the tagged person is no longer alive but they still have a profile). It is the post-modern equivalent of a time capsule where random objects were taken from various people and thrown into a box as their entire civilization was being burned to the ground.

With the constant changes in Facebook settings and style, the home page displays arbitrary stories by relevant people.  The definition of what is top-of-the-page-relevant is entirely based on a mysterious algorithm.  One person’s inner social circle is perceived as true (to the user or to their friends) when the real user – the last link to the real – doesn’t interact or intersect with any of those narratives in the material world. These “recent stories” become available as they are still happening and become obsolete quickly. The sheer force of new data occupying the top of the feed is rendering cultural memory shorter and shorter with every interaction between content creator and hall of mirrors.  The content creator (that’s you) loses power over the system of signs and meanings that can be attributed to those signs.  A new hierarchy of rules, codes, and logics takes over, entertaining the authors and erasing the previous (ten-minutes old) systems of codes at the same time.  Post-modernism critics’ most radical Blade-Runner-like fears have come to life. Our acts of re-posting of other people’s content (text, photo or video form), perpetuate this hyperreality, making it harder to discern the real from the hyperreal than discerning dreams of electric sheep from actual sheep.

Post-modern art exposes the falsehood of meaning. Thus the “hall of mirrors” becomes an essential metaphor for postmodernism. One imagines the image of art continually bouncing from surface to surface, the original meaning or location impossible to discern.

Finally, Social Media has done for personal relationships what Google did for knowledge.  It made relationships “on-demand”, available for download, and therefore diminished any effort required on the part of the user.  The impact of social media on interpersonal communications is a seed for another posting.

In the meanwhile, if you are interested in human communication and art, please leave the simulacra, go outside and take a photo of someone or something and then write about it, with ink on paper (the kind of paper that comes from wood).  My advice is that you also watch a play or a fiction film, a story about human behavior with a beginning, middle and an end, imbued with values and references to historical context or art.  The hyperreal that one can extrapolate from the chaos of social media (especially if you also believe that the “medium is the message”) is a frightening cacophony of ideas that could have been made into art.  So much potential, so little effort in organizing it… Neil Postman has said, in Amusing Ourselves to Death, that the act of watching cultural junk on television was not detrimental to one’s perception of reality, so long as they read such content as pure entertainment, not to be considered information (or something along those lines, it has been a while since I read Postman, so I suggest you read that book for his theories).  The same can be said about this hyperreality.

A narrative that can help one’s intellectual pursuits or experiments in gaining status through networking can only be found in cultural products whose meanings can still be argued in an actual dialogue between users who retain control of that discourse.  Art, on the other hand, can have a liberal vehicle of distribution to the masses through Facebook or twitter, so long as that artwork has a referent in the real world, and is not the mere reflection of the perversion of the pretence of reality- or the simulacra.

Sources:

http://www.biography.com/people/jean-baudrillard-9202210

http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/baudrillard/

Posted by Kaz, filed under

. Date: October 23, 2011, 7:24 am | No Comments »

In New York it is really your choice.  And whilst a handful of people still choose to show up in jeans to special occasions, or in an ultra tight/super short boob-revealing latex dress, there are plenty of people who choose to take advantage of an evening out in Gotham to dress to impress.

Such was the case last night at Le Cirque.  Some jet setters, artists, fashionistas and other young-and-fabulous types got together at Le Cirque for a Haiti benefit co-hosted by The King Collective.  (www.thekingcollective.com)

Looking around the crowd, I felt some serious clutch envy.  Half the women in the room were flaunting their accessories in really impressive fashion.  I saw some amazing jeweled clutch purses, some were tiny, some were long and thin, and some were just so original.  The same goes for bracelets and necklaces.  It seems as Gothamnites more than ever can turn an LBD into a statement with their accessories.  It made me develop a shopping itch and a sense that I know what is missing in my life:  better accessorizing!  (Certainly not inner peace or yoga)

There were many stunning dresses.  There was the light pink semi sheer slip with a nice belt,  the stunning shiny number the party hostess chose, and many beautiful dresses that almost didn’t get noticed because the person wearing the dress was gorgeous to begin with.

Men’s fashion did not lag behind at this event.  Swedish men in latest designer posh suits and accessories were representing their Nordic flare for fashion.

An evening like this makes you wonder why some people still don’t bother to dress up and/or choose something that is clearly a faux-pas for their type.

So be grateful that evenings like this one exist.  And, as I have to tell myself all the time, be grateful that not every single person walking Gotham has good taste.  If that was the case, no one would appreciate an evening out where almost every single person in the room is worthy of a double take.  It’s a mood lifter, an inspiration, an escape from the mundane parade of visual disasters in the subway or in your office (or my office).

I was definitely inspired last night, and for so long as I live in New York, may these havens of fabulousness remain my playground, and yours.

Posted by Kaz, filed under No tag for this post.. Date: February 7, 2010, 3:51 am | No Comments »

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