James Barnor is in Paris looking through negatives and old photographs, some of which he hasn’t seen since he took them more than 50 years ago. There’s one of a young Ghanaian couple on their wedding day, others of a boxer preparing for his fight, a girl proudly holding her birthday cake. “I have lost a lot with all my toing and froing, so when I come across some that I haven’t lost, and it is iconic and I have a story about it … Oooh,” he exhales. “I want to take the one who found it and squeeze her!”
Borders – literal and figurative – are a prominent part of today’s global landscape. Back in 1989, there were 15 border walls in the world, now there are 77 and counting. The numbers speak to a preoccupation with national identity and a creeping climate of xenophobia.
Directly opposing this insular outlook is ‘Noirwave’: a cultural movement imagined by musician Petite Noir – a.k.a Yannick Ilunga – and his co-collaborator and wife, Rochelle “RhaRha” Nembhard. It began as a way for Ilunga to create music without considering genre.
Harlem, NYC, 1970. Eli Reed, then aged 24 and not yet a world-renowned photographer, was circling the streets trying to find a parking spot. A New Jersey local, this was his first time in the Manhattan neighbourhood and he wasn’t entirely confident that his car would still be there when he returned. Reed was on his very first photographic assignment, covering a fundraising concert put on by the Young Lords, a national civil and human rights movement which began in Spanish Harlem.
“The thing started at midnight,” says Reed, reflecting on the electricity of that evening.
New York of the late ’70s was a squall of dilapidation, dirt and danger, through which souls drifted, buildings blazed and bankruptcy loomed. It was a city coming apart at the seams; riven with violent crime and awash with homelessness. But amidst the precariousness of daily survival, artistic communities – in their rawest form – were thriving.
Jean-Michel Basquiat was born in this so-called “City of Fear”, and used this chaos as creative fuel. In a new documentary called Boom For Real: The Late Teenage Years of Jean-Michel Basquiat, its director Sara Driver paints a portrait of the early years of the artist (between 1978 and 1981; pre-art boom, pre-Warhol), through the environment and people that nurtured him.
Activism in the art world: meet the next generation of radical curators
Activism is having a renaissance. We live in the age of zeitgeist movements like #OscarsSoWhite and #Metoo, of millions thrumming the streets in support of the Women’s March, Black Lives Matter and March for Our Lives.
Curatorial activism is the art world’s equivalent. “It’s the practice of organising art exhibitions with the principal aim of ensuring that large constituencies of people are no longer ghettoised or excluded from the master narratives of art,” says curator Maura Reilly. Its mission is to get the art world to understand that issues of gender, race and sexuality require urgent attention.
Celebrating 50 Years of the Isle of Wight Festival
The halcyon days of the Isle of Wight festival—from 1968 to 1970—were a spectacle of bare bums, beehives and big, big crowds, at least according to David Hurn.
The Magnum photographer documented the iconic festival in 1969 and 1970 and though the line-ups included Bob Dylan, Miles Davis, The Doors and Joni Mitchell, it was the people, rather than the pop stars, who captured his attention.
Peek Inside Paris's Futuristic Dream Homes
Public housing tells the history of the place and people within it. Design, functionality, and cost all play a part in whether a particular project is viewed as a success. And if all three align, it will stand the test of time.
The grand ensembles, the name given to social housing projects that sprawl across the outskirts of Paris, are monumental in design but a failure in their utopian vision of contemporary innovation. Though the exteriors of the buildings—a tangled mass of architectural eras built between the 1950s and 1980s—are striking, they are now in a state of decline due to a lack of public funds.
Holidaying Behind the Iron Curtain
“Gaiety is the most outstanding feature of the Soviet Union,” Joseph Stalin once said. This ironic misnomer has been scoffed at for centuries and speaks of a regime mired in contradictory rhetoric. It may come as no surprise then, that sanatoriums—built across the Soviet bloc to promote leisure time and wellbeing—were less “luxury resort” and more “regimented health spa”.
These Communist-era buildings, monumental in size and scope, were originally built as rehabilitation centers for Soviet workers to rest and receive treatments. But despite the fall of the mighty empire more than 25 years ago, many still exist almost unchanged today. Statues of Lenin and Stalin loom in the corridors, Brutalist pillars stand to attention and pseudo-futuristic health programs remain the order of the day.