AfroPunk — the seminal music event celebrating those that have been othered in a place for us, by us, took over Commodore Barry Park for two soul-binding and reaffirming days. For the past 13 years, the Brooklyn based festival has brought hundreds and now thousands of Black people together to openly celebrate their Blackness in an environment that appreciates the gifts and nuances of Black culture. Embracing Black punks, a community further othered because of their skin, is the cornerstone of Afropunk, but this year Afropunk continued their expansion into soul, embracing the young R&B leaders at the forefront of politically influenced music.
The Native American community is one of the country’s most underappreciated. We all know of our nation’s appalling history with its indigenous people, but what we often forget to discuss is how the hundreds of Native tribes are living and thriving today. We spoke with First Nation jewelry designer Nanibaa Beck to discuss how she uses her label, NotAbove to celebrate her heritage and enlighten Americans. Read more
Even if you’re even the most casual follower of pop culture, you have probably seen BCALLA’s clothes. Brad Callahan, the labels namesake, has designed custom pieces and tour outfits for GAGA and Azealia Banks. He also designed the costumes for Miley Cyrus’ iconic performance that closed the 2015 VMA’s. But BCALLA’s genesis was in the New York’s Queer underground, costuming Brooklyn superstars like Juliana Huxtable, Luke Neocamp, Cakes Da Killa, and Pearl. Bcalla’s success has been driven by Callahan’s couture creations, which transform their wearers into otherworldly beings with spikes, fur, and airbrushed monster faces. He continues to dress queer icons like gay porn star Colby Keller in tandem with pop divas, positioning him at the vanguard of fashion. Phosphenes sat down with Callahan in his studio to discuss his relationship with Americana, the future of fashion, and his own inspiration.
There’s something about those old, run-down gas stations, motels, and other spots we pass on the highway. Symbols of American iconography, glorified through film, music, and literature, these monuments and spaces become the stuff of legends and mythology; what were they, and what made them what they are today? Photographer Wendy Garrett explores these questions, traveling by car throughout Texas, New Mexico, and beyond to ask the viewer to look at these banal spots to uncover their respective mystery. Her photos – straightforward yet profound – simply display a specific location in its raw form. As a result, the viewer can pose their own questions: What happens to the things we leave behind? How does our past influence our future? While we may never be able to fully answer these questions, they certainly allow us to look more deeply at the mundane places that garnish the American landscape, letting our wonder fuel us.
We’re constantly wondering what’s out there, whether in this galaxy or beyond. But what about uncovering the beauty in our own world? That’s what Chicago-based photographers Jackie Robertson and Anisha Sisodia are doing with their creative brand and production company, Recognize Duplexity. Going below the surface in the everyday, traveling across all corners of the world, the duo exposes viewers to a new perspective on the familiar. ReDu shows that beauty lies in the juxtaposition and cooperation of diverse visions, a phenomenon that can allow for the development of a new framework of observing our environment. Maybe our planet is the most “otherworldly” after all.
There’s no denying the massive impact of the legend that is David Bowie, transcending beyond rock superstardom to influence art, culture, film, and fashion. Serving as an endless source of inspiration, the master of reinvention captivated the world from his breakout Space Oddity. From there, he instilled an appreciation for androgyny, noted for his eccentric, glam, otherworldly presence during the Ziggy Stardust era. His creative edge continued throughout the entirety of his career, bringing the unusual to the mainstream. We could write a dissertation on the immeasurable effect David Bowie has had on us, as well as countless others over time, whether through image or sound or aesthetic or attitude. But instead, we can simply show our gratitude. Thank you, Mr. Bowie, for showing the importance of individuality and the power of unconventionality. But most importantly, thank you for not just keeping your head in the clouds, rather amongst the stars. Rest in space.
“I don’t want to commercialize. I don’t want to tone down my act for anybody.” – Grace Jones
Okay, we’ll admit we’re still not over AfroPunk Fest, especially not the epic performance by headliner Grace Jones. Not too familiar with Ms. Jones? Well, something might be seriously wrong with you. But here’s a brief history lesson.