Christian Driggs stands on a dirt road surrounded by darkness, lit up only from the occasional passing headlights and burst of lightning in the night sky. When visible, I see the leading team member wipe sweat from his brow. The Waves for Water (W4W) crew is rearranging supplies in an old-school Toyota 4Runner to accommodate me for the long drive.
We journeyed through a ghost city with no traffic. It was eerie to imagine that Kathmandu is home to a million people—or at least was—before the earthquake.
As we traveled north, we saw blocked roads, destroyed homes and entire neighborhoods reduced to rubble. It was hard to believe that there were previously any signs of life.
W4W had finished another extensive day in the field, aiding rural villages that had yet to receive any type of assistance. The NGO had been on the ground since the devastating earthquake on April 25th, supplying water filters to the Nepali people. Driggs explained their latest endeavors as we traveled the winding, mountainous terrain to where we were expected as guests for dinner that evening.
Absolutely Magazine: First Impression
Guests gathered under fairy lights whilst sipping cocktails on the patio of the effortlessly cool Hoxton Hotel in London – the creative crowd had turned out in support of actor and artist Edward Akrout at the opening of his latest exhibition First Impression.
The corridors of the Hoxton are lined with charcoal, ink and acrylic designs, along with larger oil paintings that adorn the foyer. Akrout’s collection of portrait-style drawings set the theme for the affair.
Whether bumping into characters on the sidewalk of New York or people watching along the Seine, Akrout has based his work on numerous stories and portraits of vibrant individuals. His subjects range from loved ones to random personalities who cross his path, with every narrative being greater than the last.
Hoop Doop Magazine: A Man & His Madness
Kent leads me into his workspace, where paint smothers the walls. Brilliant slashes and distinct lines cover each and every surface. Splotches of oil are streaked across the floor over aged Persian rugs. The room contains an assortment of objects, everything from a guitar (which Tim plays, having been in a rock band, The Giraffes), to Royal Air Force models nodding to his family’s British roots. There’s a bed in the corner so he can take breaks in between pieces. Giving him the chance to literally watch the paint dry. It has saved him during those relentless hours before any given exhibition or deadline.
It’s organized chaos, I realize as I carefully move through the disarray to find a place to sit. We crack open a case of beer to keep us warm. Kent is adorned in worn workman’s overalls on top of his winter clothes. He takes hits on his vape and speaks quickly. It’s evident that his brain is thinking at a million miles a minute, focused on countless other ideas. We talk art, the masters, his take on having attended Art Basel for the first time. Kent is a history and philosophy buff, and our conversation ranges between WWI/II, politics, and the gentrification of the neighborhood that he’s called home for the past ten years.
Huffington Post: Border Blockade & Protests
The Nepalese community in England united last week in protest of the unofficial, yet ongoing, blockade between Nepal and India. The demonstration coincided with a visit from Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the UK.
Despite the religious holiday of Diwali, hundreds of Nepalese people attended the march on London’s Parliament Square. Over three dozen Nepalese organizations, including Gurkha regiments and other prominent Nepali figures, joined in solidarity, hoping to raise awareness among Nepalese and Indian government officials and end the continuing two-month-long blockade that has crippled the small Himalayan nation.
Huffington Post: My Experience With an IUD
I found myself, like a lot of women, wondering what form of long-term contraception would be best for my body. After much deliberation, and having already tried the majority of methods available, I decided to give an intrauterine device (IUD) a go. Little did I know that it would make my life a living hell.
Hoop Doop: Quantum Political Feedback
Artists Edward Akrout and Jakob S. Boeskov sit in a Chinatown loft. It’s “spring” in New York and still bitterly cold. The space is Boeskov’s. He’s had it for nearly 8 years, well before the area started to gentrify. Given his line of work, the warehouse has been entirely built out and redesigned, in a Scandinavian minimalism that has somehow managed to maintain remnants of the neighborhood’s characteristic grit and grime.
The two bounce from narratives of Nabokov and Lars Von Trier to postmodernism and the Third Reich. They’re sensitive intellectuals with wonderfully wacky ideas and often offensive truths. Akrout, 35, is a Parisian. Boeskov, 45, is Danish. Together, the two men make for an entertaining pair.
They met in the city, right around the corner from where we currently sit, roughly a year ago, although they’re obviously kindred spirits. Akrout’s medium is contemporary abstract, varying from oil paintings to ink drawings, while Boeskov’s is conceptual—videos and performance pieces. They teamed up to create their first joint venture, titled Quantum Political Feedback, which debuted last week at the festival Les Rencontres Internationales in Paris. In association with the Pompidou Centre, the film screened alongside a series of art videos at Le Carreau du Temple.
Quantum Political Feedback is an 8-minute video combining pseudoscience with repetition to investigate the connection between technology and truth. An E-meter is exploited as a crude polygraph machine; its function is to “detect lies” in order to monitor a statement’s progression from lie to truth. In the video, statements are read to and repeated by the participants, a man and a woman. Through this continuous repetition, the subjects gradually build a relationship with the spoken words. These combined elements result in a mettre en abîme, the transformation of a political affirmation into a belief.
Conscious Magazine: Homeless Youth in America
Giuseppe Pizano has a spark in him. Maybe it’s his infectious personality, or the glint of hope in his big, dark brown eyes. You wouldn’t know by looking at this handsome young man that he’s had an unconventional, grueling past, yet Giuseppe’s story is similar to so many.
Giuseppe is living proof of an alarming statistic: most homeless individuals, a whopping 70%, go undetected across the United States. According to the National Alliance to End Homelessness, there are as many as 2.8 million homeless youth in America; that’s 1 out of every 30 children.
Giuseppe was born in Colorado and relocated to Las Vegas as a child with his three younger siblings and single mother. His upbringing was often an unstable one, the result of not knowing his father and having witnessed his brother and sister become heavily involved with alcohol and drugs.
One day during his freshman year of high school, he had a fierce argument with his mother. When she told him that he “would never amount to anything, let alone finish school,” Giuseppe left home, hoping to let heated feelings pass.
He returned to his house a few days later, only to find it abandoned. His mother had packed up their belongings and disappeared. Giuseppe was fifteen years old.
Today in the United States, 34% of the homeless population is under the age of 24; the average age a teen becomes homeless is 14 years old. Although 75% of homeless or runaway youth ultimately drop out of school, Giuseppe was prepared to fight for his education. With no other options, Giuseppe moved to the stadium box at his high school and lived amongst the bleachers.
The number of homeless children in the United States is reaching record heights. An estimated two million young people run away from or are forced out of their homes each year. Youth homelessness presents a particular challenge, because there is very little definitive data about the population, as most youth, like Giuseppe, don’t want to come forward and identify themselves as “homeless.”
Conscious Magazine: Thomas Morgan Creates Films to Change the World
It’s an ungodly hour in some foreign airport; Thomas Morgan, Documentary Filmmaker, fights off sleep and jet lag to talk to me via Skype while awaiting his next flight. Having traveled to multiple countries in the last few weeks, including Lebanon, Nepal and China to name a few, I’ve caught him in transit. We catch up on lost time and he fills me in on his latest ventures, discussing everything from recent projects to future opportunities and the reality of a rapidly changing world.
I’ve known Tom for a couple years now. For a long time, I admired his work from a distance, which led to me assisting on a few of his projects. Tom is one of those rare people who you can tell has lived many lives. From his worn appearance to his humble disposition, he has a perspective that draws others closer. It’s not surprising that he often finds proposals dropped into his lap. Or rather, finds people coming to him for help in their causes and various humanitarian efforts. Some ask for funding and his financial expertise, while others simply want their story to be told, knowing of Tom’s track record in documentary film. Regardless of people and their wishes, Tom always manages to give each of them a chance. He takes on more assignments than he can handle, but commits everything he has.
Raised in rural Michigan, Tom comes from the hardworking American middle class. He left a comfortable life in finance at the age of forty, switching careers to documentary film. Clearly unfulfilled by his time in the banking sector, Tom wanted to give back and embarked on a journey of activism and humanitarian aid. Despite having to drastically change his lifestyle (with four children and mouths to feed), Tom hasn’t looked back and expresses no regrets. He picked up a camera and a crew of interns and the rest is history. Now with multiple award-winning films and critical acclaim from the likes of Susan Sarandon and Morgan Spurlock, Tom speaks to me the same way he does to everyone.
Conscious Magazine: Caroline Fuss of HARARE
Fuss faces the decision that all fashion houses must ultimately confront: whether to be ethical in the creation of their products or to simply turn a blind eye. Ethically-conscious fashion is obviously the best alternative, with companies opting for fair wages for employees and creating products that are environmentally-friendly.
Sadly, and more often than not, companies choose the cheaper option.
Major brands like H&M, Victoria’s Secret, and Zara are notorious for their unethical operations, such as their utilization of harmful materials and chemicals, wrongful treatment of workers, and child labor exploitation. Fuss explained that unlike these fast fashion practices Harare aims to “establish and nurture relationships with master craftsmen and women across the far reaches of the world” by alternatively providing them with the tools and finances to help preserve their otherwise-dying art forms.
Candid Magazine: Questioning Boundaries in Athens
The gallery and café-bar Metamatic is hidden on a side street in Athens, a brief walk from the bustling Pandrossou and Monastiraki flea markets. You could easily miss the establishment’s name written alongside the immense, ancient doors, but once inside you’ll find multiple rooms strewn over two floors and a balcony overlooking the ground-level covered terrace. There is one large renovated space — stark, white, and modern — but the remainder of the architecture has been kept raw. The bare walls speak for themselves, marked by scrawled lettering in various languages, scattered and crumbling brick, and peeling paint. Exposed nails bear witness to years of wear and tear.
The art exhibition Culturelines Sans Frontiers opened this month at Metamatic to address issues of identity and culture in the era of migration. The venue has been transformed into a vast interactive and immersive gallery. International artists from a variety of mediums including paint, sculpture, audio-visual, and installation have joined together to explore and question cultural boundaries.
Candid Magazine: Africa My Africa
This week, the Gallery of African Art (GAFRA) in collaboration with Lahd Gallery, opened their joint exhibition, Africa My Africa – Connecting Boundaries. The show features four male artists of African heritage. The venue in Mayfair was packed with attendees, who mingled well into the night; admiring the works of Edward Akrout, Patrick Altes, Olayanju Dada and Daniel Soresa who were shared amongst GAFRA’s two floors.
Lahd was founded in 2005 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia as a focal point for Middle Eastern female artists and rapidly became a well-known institution for representing MENASA (Middle East, North Africa and South Asia) contemporary art. Whilst GAFRA opened its doors in May 2013 and is dedicated to presenting the best of 20th century and contemporary art from Africa. Both Lahd and GAFRA strive to present established and emerging artists to audiences in the global art market.
Candid Magazine: Man of Wire
We join artist Skye Ferrante in Mayfair at the restaurant and lounge, QP LDN. The venue is hosting his latest project titled The Naked and the Nude, and Ferrante is preparing for his opening performance where he will be live sculpting a nude model over cocktails for attendees. Simultaneously, his exhibition will unveil roughly twenty pieces of continuous-wire portraits which can be viewed in the QP gallery until its closing at the end of this month.
Freesurf Magazine: W4W
Sustainability is W4W’s main goal. By interacting with locals and understanding their needs, they’re able to teach and empower communities. The initiative’s success is evident once they’re able to remove themselves from the region, having created self-reliant residents. They are devoutly un-promotional in their operations, choosing to avoid the “selfies” and press opportunities that often encircle relief efforts. Unlike many organizations that have a general plan for every country, W4W designs each project on a case-by-case basis. This guerrilla style humanitarianism allows them to operate fast, cutting through the usual slow chain of command and approval process common in disaster situations.
BOE Magazine: The Art of Eating Clean
It was a bustling Sunday afternoon in CPRESS, the hip and wholesome organic spot in Chelsea. The welcoming staff and laid-back atmosphere immediately put me at ease. Surveying the crowd, I noticed a wide range of customers, from young mums and city dwellers to fitness advocates and weekend brunchers.
The minimalist space, with its modern interior, featured chic seating amongst a café bar. Wall-lined fridges were stocked with cold pressed juices and nutritious super foods, offering everything from savory to sweet. I ordered a green chai latte and slice of gluten-free banana bread as I sat down to talk with CPRESS co-founder Timothy Stevenson. The handsome 33-year-old entrepreneur spoke enthusiastically about the brand and all things healthy.
The Culture-ist: Perseverance in Nepal
Pushpa Basnet stands in the courtyard outside her damaged orphanage. A force to be reckoned with, she directs 40-some children about their daily chores and routines. She anxiously looks up at the neighboring and ominous three-story building that’s ready to collapse onto her home at any moment.
She explains that her rented property in Budanilkantha was spared the worst of the destruction that ravaged many areas of Kathmandu. Yet Nepal still faces daily obstacles—such as lack of power and clean water—along with reoccurring aftershocks that won’t allow Basnet and so many others to return to ordinary life.