Curator and critic Donatien Grau—who was on our At a Distance podcast last week—talks with us here about the new book he produced in collaboration with the late couturier Azzedine Alaïa, Taking Time (Rizzoli), a series of wide-ranging conversations on art, time, and creativity. Among the visionary voices featured—most of whom were close friends of Alaïa’s—are Ronan Bouroullec, Isabelle Huppert, Charlotte Rampling, Julian Schnabel, and Robert Wilson.
How did this project first begin, and what led to the idea of presenting it as a series of conversations about time?
Azzedine always fought for people to be able to make things at their own pace, and he was a paramount example of this. This was something that he had been thinking about, struggling with, and advocating for decades. Then, around 2012 or 2013, it was something he wanted to make people aware of—that there was a need to change how we approach time and creativity, and, progressively, he wanted to bring in some of his friends and fellow travelers from all different disciplines to share their stories, visions, and insights. Initially, he wanted to host great events to discuss the pressures exerted on contemporary creativity, but thought that might actually become a source of pressure. Instead, we began to host these conversations over the course of three to four years, with the idea that they would eventually become a book—his manifesto.
In a way, what I have been is an instrument for the realization of Azzedine’s project, rather than an author of it. It was Azzedine’s idea and project, and at the time I was very lucky and fortunate that he chose me as his steering partner. After his passing, I made sure that the book would come out and reach the public.
In the book, you write that each of the interviews is “like a couture dress made of words.” Could you tell us a bit about how you and Azzedine arranged each of the pairings?
Azzedine had this extraordinary community of friends and practitioners that gathered around him, and the basis of this community was really a sense of mutual respect for people who may be very celebrated, and may be famous, but who were also hardworking. This idea that you work your way through life, doing things your own way and making things, was very important to their interactions.
Every participant is somebody he was friendly with, admired, and respected. As we invited people to join the project, we would ask each of them to come up with somebody that they would like to speak to, and often the person was another friend of Azzedine. That was the case, for example, with the conversation between Isabelle Huppert and Robert Wilson. It was a very organic process of constructing these conversations: Sometimes they had very personalized ideas, and other times they wanted us to suggest people to speak to. From the beginning, it was very important to bring in contributors from different worlds and cultural spheres to really share their own experiences, and, in a way, it was also important that the project be performative, in that we were talking about taking time, but also taking time as we were doing it.
They were all moderated by Azzedine and me, so we were both present, and they were all hosted around his kitchen table, which is a very important and iconic part of his house. He would host his friends and collaborators every day, and easily have twenty to forty people over for lunch and then at dinner—and famously, he always left an empty seat for one of his friends who might show up and want to join them. There was a sense of purpose that animated the whole community—something, I think, that is quite an important message today, which is to claim a form of ownership of one’s time.
As a critic and historian, you’ve written about art and creativity. How did working on this book for several years change your understanding of both?
Being with Azzedine, as a friend and as a collaborator, has completely changed the way I work and think. The way people talk about creative communities from the 1920s—people around Jacques Doucet or around [Paul] Poiret—what Azzedine did was exactly that, but you weren’t reading about it in books, you were experiencing it for real, and with a level of intelligence and precision, as well as a deep human connection.
Obviously, everybody who’s worked with him and has been close to him has had their vision completely changed by him. He was somebody who would completely challenge everything you could see. He was an extraordinary creator and maker, as well as somebody who had impeccable taste in other people’s artworks and creations.
With the ongoing Covid-19 slowdown, people around the world are adapting to a new, altered sense of time, taking stock of the present and rethinking the future. How has this period changed your perception of time and relationship to it?
It’s quite fascinating to see the book come out at this very precise moment in history. As Naomi Campbell writes in the foreword, Azzedine was very often ahead of his time, even if you didn’t know it at the time when he was doing it. Obviously, when he passed away, in 2017, we didn’t plan on the book coming out in 2020. We didn’t plan on it coming out two weeks before the Met Ball themed around time [which was supposed to take place next month, but has been postponed], and we certainly didn’t plan to publish it during a world pandemic. The values that Azzedine advocated for—this emphasis on creating one’s space, owning one’s time, and being aware of the industry pressure as something that tends to devour you, and making yourself mindful of the lessons from older generations, as well as from the younger generations—these are all lessons that are really important right now.
Since 1915, New York Public Library users in search of visual information have consulted its Picture Collection. It consists of images cut from magazines, catalogues, and books, each glued to backings and organized into folders enc
As a stylist, Kate Young has a particular affinity for well-designed things—that is, iconic items that stand the test ofknow what Cartier is. It’s sexy. It’s French. It’s sort of, always, for me, rooted in the seventies.” To kick off Season 2 oHello Fashion, her YouTube show created in collaboration with The Slowdown, the stylist walks through some of the famed French jewelr
In branding and marketing, animal imagery abounds: Lacoste’s crocodile, Bacardi’s bat, Geico’s gecko, Swarovski’s swan, according to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), animals appear in approximately 20 percent of all advertisements. These creatures, however, receive little to n
In Chicago, more than 10,000 city-owned lots currently sit vacant, concentrated within predominantly Black and brown comChicago Architecture Biennial in 2015. Now, as the latter biennial’s 2021 artistic director, Brown further expands upon his project, using it to info
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Floral jewelry has been a tradition of the French jewelry house Van Cleef & Arpels since it opened its first boutique atFlorae” (on view through November 14), presented alongside floret-filled photographs by Japanese photographer and film directo
In 1983, French photographer Simon Chaput arrived in New York City for a weeklong trip, and ended up staying for nearly –1991) in California and Japan to “The Floating Piers” (2014–2016) in Italy. Along the way, in 1984, Chaput met the artist and sculptor Isamu Noguchi, who recognized Chaput’s love oNew York,” which he began in 1996, that chronicled the developing built environment of Lower Manhattan.
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In 2018, contemporary art dealer David Zwirner hired the young Elena Soboleva to optimize his galleries’ online sales operation and digital presence—prompting some critics to respond with skepticis
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The underlying vision for “A Diagnosis of Time: Unlearn What You Have Learned,” a collaborative exhibition between the ASavannah Centre for Contemporary Art (SSCA) in Tamale, Ghana; and the Ghana Museums and Monuments Board (on view through November 3), is both literally and This is Not Africa: Unlearn What You Have Learned,” currently on view at ARoS through October 24, challenges stereotypical Western notions of African-ness.)
Omer Arbel, an Israeli-born, Vancouver-based artist and designer who creates boundary-defying objects and architecture, Omer Arbel (Phaidon), edited by Stephanie Rebick, an associate curator at the Vancouver Art Gallery, celebrates the depth and bread
As Paris emerges from lockdown and its streets come alive, the Fondation Cartier pour l’Art Contemporain, an art center Cherry Blossoms” (on view through January 2, 2022), an exhibition of expressively impastoed, large-scale oil paintings by British artistold the BBC. “My mum used to say, ‘There’s enough horror in the world. Why can’t you just paint flowers?’ So maybe she got to me.”
Los Angeles–based journalist Doree Shafrir sees beauty in the particular challenges faced by those who find their footin, pours her lighthearted yet critical perspective on her experience into Forever35, a self-care podcast she co-hosts with her longtime friend Kate Spencer, and into her new memoir, Thanks for Waiting: The Joy (& Weirdness) of Being a Late Bloomer (Ballantine Books), out this week. In the book, she interrogates the often overwhelming pressure that people—particular How do you start your mornings?
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“Clouds are not something to moan about,” Gavin Pretor-Pinney says in a 2013 TED talk. “Far from it. They are, in fact, the most diverse, evocative, poetic aspect of nature.” Pretor-Pinney, a British authoThe Idler, a magazine that extols the virtues of slowness, became fascinated with clouds after noticing them in the skies depicte
To showcase the world’s most inventive designers, the London Design Biennale invites participants who represent their coEp. 75 of our At a Distance podcast, recorded last September. “I thought, Well, who do I identify with?”
Several years ago, Claus Sendlinger began contemplating ways to address his concerns about overdevelopment in the boutiqSlow, a hospitality venture dedicated to creating places that draw upon their locations’ culture, environment, and history aagriturismo (farmhouse retreat) called La Granja. The working farm practices regenerative agriculture, and teaches visitors how it
Maxine Bédat’s New Book Traces the Lifespan of a Pair of Jeans to Illustrate the Ills of Fast Fashion
In this age of instant gratification, fast fashion innocently presents itself as a way to meet consumer demand. But behiUnraveled: The Life and Death of a Garment (Portfolio), out next week. In the book, Bédat, a former lawyer (and the guest on Ep. 11 of our At a Distance podcast), traces the lifespan of a pair of jeans to demonstrate the ills that accompany the processes that produce our clothes. What exactly is the driving force behind fast fashion?
The first Monday in May is synonymous with the Met Gala, a benefit for the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume InstitutVogue. “Designers live for it.” This year, the affair hasn’t happened yet—it may happen this fall—but to mark the annual occathe eighth episode of Hello Fashion, created with The Slowdown.
To stay healthy, we know that our bodies need nourishment, hygiene, and exercise. According to those who study neuroaestEp. 34 of our At a Distance podcast) who runs the International Arts + Mind Lab (IAM Lab)—an initiative at John Hopkins University’s School of Medicine that connects brain scientists with artists to Arts + Health & Wellbeing, an immersive online tool kit that offers visitors an engaging dose of art, and consequent mental fitness, from anywherEp. 11 of our Time Sensitive podcast.)
“A question I get asked a lot is, ‘How do I get your job?’” says stylist Kate Young. “That answer is complex, because pe10th episode of Hello Fashion, created with The Slowdown.
Practically everything the artist, master potter, and writer Edmund de Waal touches turns to dust. Or at least toward the idea of dust. In each of his books—2010’s The Hare With Amber Eyes, 2015’s The White Road: Journey Into an Obsession, and the just-published Letters to Camondo (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux), out this week—dust serves as a profound metaphor. Throughout his work, whether in pottery or prose, de Waal explores various notions a
From a fashion perspective, the Golden Globes stands apart from other award shows for its timing: The event, during whicleft at that point,” says stylist Kate Young in the ninth episode of Hello Fashion (created with The Slowdown), noting that she usually starts working on Globes outfits around Halloween. For the episode
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Arts education opportunities faded fast for kids in the learn-from-home fog of Covid-19. That’s where The Look Make Show, a new TV program by New York City’s Children’s Museum of the Arts, hopes to come in. The cartoon, of which the creatorKickstarter campaign through May 14, focuses on Rod and Coney, two rotund, charismatic artists who refuse to let the pandemic get in the way
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Debates about whether encyclopedic museums—institutions that collect and contextualize cultural artifacts across time an—should act as more than mere repositories date back decades, but have taken on a new urgency as of late. Now, institutioEp. 12 of our At a Distance podcast), tackled these topics through interviews with nearly 30 leaders, and compiled the conversations in a new book, Under Discussion: The Encyclopedic Museum (Getty Publications). We recently spoke with Grau about the future of institutions and the layered, ever-evolving narra What central issues do encyclopedic museums face today, and what prompted you to explore them?
When attending runway shows, stylist Kate Young keeps her eyes peeled for premiere dresses—gowns to be worn by actressesOn the sixth episode of her YouTube show, Hello Fashion, created with The Slowdown, Young talks about her process for selecting and securing premiere dresses, and highlights f
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Frustrated by the high cost of wellness in America, Brooklyn-based journalist Annie Daly set out to find meaningful alteDestination Wellness: Global Secrets for Better Living Wherever You Are (Chronicle Prism), out May 11. What may sound like a travel writer’s cushy, decidedly pre-Covid boondoggle in fact offer
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The British-born, Brooklyn-based philosopher Simon Critchley has no shortage of interests. He’s written, in his refreshiThe New York Times, where he moderates its contemporary thinkers opinion forum, The Stone. For his forthcoming book, Bald (Yale University Press), out April 27, Critchley—who teaches philosophy at The New School for Social Research, and was tEp. 42 of our Time Sensitive podcast and Ep. 3 of our At a Distance podcast—compiled 35 of his favorite Times essays, forming an engaging series of short reads that suggest new ways of understanding the world. We recently spoke w
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When Goodnight Moon was first published, in 1947, the chief children’s librarian at the New York Public Library didn’t like that its story—Goodnight Moon’s honest presentation of sleep and solicitude still resonated with readers, who’ve since purchased more than 48 million
According to celebrity stylist Kate Young, anyone can figure out the look that works best for them by creating a mood bosecond episode of her new YouTube show, Hello Fashion, created with The Slowdown. While her mood boards take various forms, including Pinterest boards and entire books of ph
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How Spanish Culture and Color Informed the Styling and Art Direction of Selena Gomez’s New “Revelación” Album
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Earlier this month, Francesca Johanson, editor of the Architectural League’s online publication Urban Omnibus, launched Memory Loss,” a new series with Guernica magazine. These essays seek out sites of remembrance in New York City, addressing a “continuum between private and publ
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Blackness as a color and, in some ways, as a culture often finds itself in close proximity to death. Despite the vivid b
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Five months on, living in a pandemic has become a new liminal normal, shifting our gaze toward the familiar sights, soun“Pandemic Objects,” an ongoing editorial project that highlights and reflects upon everyday objects (defined in the broadest sense) that hathe gaze of the drone, which has seen a surge in use worldwide in recent months, with people dispatching them in their hometowns—even to takejump rope that gives her pause as she riffles through the museum’s archives, uncovering photos, artworks, and accounts about the
The Internet Archive is one rabbit hole we’ve willingly jumped into more than a handful of times since the quarantine beWhole Earth Catalog, the 1960s counterculture print publication often referred to as “the web before the web existed”—its iconic, jam-packeElectric Whole Earth Catalog, now available on the site. Originally launched in 1998 on CD-ROM (how quaint!), the lo-fi “electric” edition offers a
Home is where the heart is—but, on the silver screen, it can be a bit forlorn. In his recently published broadside publiSad People in Modernist Homes in Popular Films, Los Angeles–based designer and art director Benjamin Critton explores the much-maligned trope of the Modernist home in popular culture, with contributing essays from writers Erik BSad People—the long-awaited follow-up to his 2010 edition, Evil People in Modernist Homes in Popular Films—and what filmic mood may strike him next for volume three of the ongoing project.
Geographer and environmental anthropologist Gina Rae La Cerva spent three years journeying around the world in search of undomesticated food for her new book, Feasting Wild: In Search of the Last Untamed Food (Greystone Books). We recently caught up with La Cerva, currently stationed in Santa Fe, to ask about her media diet. (Ep. 39 of At a Distance.)
For more than 25 years, Paola Antonelli, the director of R&D and senior curator of design and architecture at New York’sDesign Emergency, Antonelli has teamed with renowned London-based design critic Alice Rawsthorn to explore the role design has played—anEp. 25 of our At a Distance podcast.)
States across the U.S. may be entering Phase 2 of post-lockdown reopenings, but short of a vaccine, public health expertQuarantine Coloring Book, uploading a new free, downloadable image by a different illustrator each day. The project exploded overnight, with thoAccording to research, coloring can have a similar effect on our minds as meditation, helping to ease anxiety, fears, and restless thoughts—i
As museums around the world (or, most of them, anyway) remain closed, and a once-global calendar of openings and festiva@covidartmuseum—started on Instagram by three Barcelona-based art directors, Emma Calvo, Irene Llorca, and Jose Guerrero—has become som
For the better part of the past decade, Cindy Trinh has been documenting social justice movements around New York City with her ongoing Activist NYC project. Here, Trinh, a photographer with a background in law, shares her observations on the current Black Lives Matte
Melbourne-based Kai Brach, a former web designer and the publisher/editor of Offscreen, an independent print magazine about technology, and Dense Discovery, a weekly newsletter about productivity and inspiration, shares his current media diet with us—and why he firmly believ
At a time when the constant stream of updates on the Covid-19 crisis feels all-consuming, we’re finding solace in media Emergence Magazine, which covers a wide range of topics focused around ecology, culture, and spirituality. A project of the Kalliopeia FouEmergence offers a mix of op-eds, essays, photo essays, and multimedia stories that bring the vibe and holistic kind of thinking Whole Earth Catalog into the present day.
Journalist Tatiana Schlossberg, the author of the book Inconspicuous Consumption: The Environmental Impact You Don’t Know You Have, reports on climate and environment issues shaping our planet today, from consumer habits and industry practices to theEp. 18 of At a Distance.)
Founded in 1933 in a small town in North Carolina, the storied Black Mountain College was in operation for just shy of 2
For several years now, climate scientists have been studying “grounding lines”—the point at which a large glacier is buovideo footage of the grounding zone of the Thwaites Glacier, part of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, where it’s steadily leaking freshwater into the ocean. We now have, in other wor
“The truth of the interaction is the thing that you're trying to get across,” journalist David Marchese, columnist of The New York Times Magazine’s Talk column, says of the craft of interviewing. Known for his deft, often revealing longform interviews with well-known cultural fiWhoopi Goldberg to Radiohead’s Thom Yorke, Marchese maintains a running log of some 500 folks, in his own estimation, that he’d like to one day add to that list.New York magazine, famously captured an 85-year-old Quincy Jones calling Harvey Weinstein “a jive motherfucker,” elsewhere referring to Trump as “limited me
As cities across the United States continue to be locked down amidst the novel coronavirus, with all of us self-quarantiHouseparty, a new video-chat app that our friend the fashion stylist Kate Young tipped us off to. Unlike Zoom or Google Hangouts, it’s designed for more serendipitous and casual mingling among friendactual parties, which suddenly feel further away than ever. The app, which has gone viral in these past few weeks of social di
After NASA’s Apollo 8 orbited the moon in 1968, its crew brought back with them the most stunning of photo souvenirs. “EWhole Earth Catalog and forever imprinted in the public mind. As Anders later said, “We set out to explore the moon and instead discovered
“The news has gotten even faster, and more and more I find myself reading headlines, and then opinions about the headlinEsquire, where he worked on features and fiction for more than a decade. “It feels like you can never actually catch up, or eveThe Chronicles of Now, which commissions authors to produce short pieces of fiction about a timely news topic worth digesting further. Roxane
“I don’t design clothes for the Queen, but for the people who wave at her as she goes by,” the late designer Willi Smith“Willi Smith: Street Couture,” curated by Alexandra Cunningham Cameron, opens next week (and will be on view through Oct. 25) at the Cooper Hewitt, SmKim Hastreiter.
With a chunky marker in hand, artist and illustrator Shantell Martin is widely known for the distinctive black-and-white line drawings she creates in meditative, stream-of-consciousness grLines (Heni Publishing)—with texts from Katharine Stout and Hans Ulrich Obrist—was more of an undertaking than she’d imagined. While the book’sthe @slowdown.tv Instagram—seeing her works printed and bound offers a satisfying second.
As the founder and director of MIT’s Mediated Matter group, the Israeli-American designer and futurist Neri Oxman is pioEp. 16 of our Time Sensitive podcast, “The Biological Age is an age where we have disassociated ourselves from physical materials as the single defining ele
Dutch architect, urbanist, and theorist Rem Koolhaas is the rare figure whose outsize influence is evidenced in cities a“Countryside, The Future” (on view from Feb. 20–Aug. 14) would seem to be a departure from the architect’s career-long focus on cities, an irony
Explorations of black culture and identity in America figure prominently in the work of artist Derrick Adams, whose dive“Transformers,” at Luxembourg & Dayan’s London gallery (on view through April 4), Adams shares new large-scale works from his “Beauty W,” at Frieze Los Angeles next weekend, and his solo exhibition “Buoyant” opens March 7 at the Hudson River Museum in New York. Adams’s work seems to be everywhere these days—we even noticed ona recent New York Times portrait taken at Roc Nation’s Los Angeles offices.
What Los Angeles lacks in density, it delivers in latitude: miles of freeway and a stunning array of neighborhoods, eachPurple editor-at-large Emilien Crespo, a veritable bon vivant, French expat, and Angeleno of more than 10 years. “It’s a toughSoul of Los Angeles (Jonglez Publishing), Crespo shares a list of 30 adventures (chosen from 1,000) for locals and visitors alike in his adLos Angeles Times Pulitzer Prize–winning food critic, and Sqirl’s Jessica Koslow. There’s even a gem to be found in the tourist trap of Hollywood, at the historic Musso and Frank’s Gr