Into the Wild

Standing on the shore, Matthew Brookes’ feet sink lightly in the sand as the tension in his body grows. Not of anxiety, but of excitement. He gazes at the sea to witness surfers conquer the raging waves of the water, their arms raised as they balance themselves on their surfboard. Brookes, not content to only be an observer, raises the camera in his hands, captures the splash of the water and the blast the surfers feel, and prints the images in his monograph Into The Wild.


For the project, Brookes uncovers the stories of the young surfers pursuing the van lifestyle, following their coast-to-coast affairs with their surfboards and the water. The resulting images punctuate the youthful zest of the surfers for travel, freedom, and dreams, always chasing the best waves while living out of vans. CAP 74024 talks to the New York and Paris-based photographer to discover his self-discovery throughout the project, his journey within a journey.

After reading the brief of the monograph, I wonder how present the surf life is in your life. Have you always wanted to capture this celebration?


I grew up in a surf town on the East Coast of South Africa called Durban, and most of the cool kids in my school were surfers, so I guess I had an introduction to surf culture at an early age.


When I moved to Venice Beach California I was introduced to a few surfers through common friends, and they were quite open to being photographed. Each surfer introduced me to more surfers and the project grew very fast!


So, I know that you followed a group of young surfers from Venice Beach on their adventures up and down the coast. What were you hoping to witness? Could you elaborate more on “adventures up and down the coast?”


What I discovered very quickly is that all the surfers I was shooting lived out of their vans. They were literally surf nomads traveling up and down the coast, following the best surf. This lifestyle was really fascinating to me, and I was drawn to their philosophy of life and sense of freedom.


I did not have any preconceived expectations when I started photographing the surfers – it was more about shooting everything as it happened, like a surf diary. What surprised me about the surfers I was shooting was how quickly they opened up their world to me and how generous they were with their time. They made me feel very accepted and welcome.

That’s wonderful to hear! A side question if you don’t mind: for some creatives, water has always been their muse, a source of infinite healing and inspiration. Do you have the same affinity towards water? I am curious as I can imagine how it accompanied you throughout your project.


I guess I am drawn to water and the sea as I grew up by the ocean. I also spent months traveling up and down the coast of California watching and photographing the surfers in the water, so that felt very meditative and healing.


Water to me is linked to emotion in my psyche. I’m very drawn to photographing the emotion in people and the way they express themselves. I’m always trying to look beneath the surface with people. Also, I feel like shooting someone is like surfing – you are constantly navigating the waves of emotion with people until you find the perfect shot.


For me, the perfect shot is the one where you look at a portrait of someone and it takes you on a journey or reveals something very intimate or unexpected about the person.


Did you ever imagine van culture before your monograph? Did the actual one live up to how you envisioned it?


Before this project, I imagined living out of a van more as a form of homelessness or because of financial difficulties, but not as a lifestyle choice. After witnessing what I saw I could imagine many people being drawn to it, either as a travel holiday or more long term. It’s a form of “living the dream” in a way that is more unexpected.


Have you always been fascinated with van culture? Have you tried it before, or did you try it for this series?


I knew very little about van culture before this project, but now, it’s a dream of mine to buy a van and take a long vacation living out of it and traveling around the US or Europe.

I understand that Zack Raffin did the interviews for the book and to accompany your images, but when you spoke with the surfers, what stories stuck with you?


The stories that struck me were the surfer’s philosophy on life. They all had a kind of artistic and creative view of life, quite philosophical and introspective. I loved the way they described surfing and life as a “flow”. It seemed to be a common philosophy with all the surfers that I met: finding balance and flow.


The brief mentions that this is “a story of youth choosing to follow their dreams, living out of vans, existing for surfing and travel and freedom, and always chasing the best waves.” Touching on this, have you always chased your dreams? What do you live for today?


I’ve always been a big dreamer. I suppose that’s part of being an artist, dreaming big and living in your imagination. I realized at an early age that I was not good at many things, so when I finally discovered photography and that it came naturally to me, I focused everything I had on this newfound passion.


Today, I have to admit that I’ve already achieved all the things I wanted to achieve and more in my career as far as which clients or magazines I have worked for. Right now, I’m on a more personal venture of how I would like to communicate with the world and, in some way, inspire young creative people around me to also follow their hearts and creative passions.


Continuing the last question, how do you feel about the relationship between travel and freedom? When do you feel your most liberated self?


After traveling intensively for so many years for work, I guess I’m a nomad too. I’m used to being on a plane every week, so the feeling of travel and freedom are very linked to my experience. I love the feeling of arriving in a new place and the excitement of not knowing what will happen. In my work, I find that I always feel refreshed and inspired when I discover new places.


I feel most liberated when I have a camera in my hand; with nobody behind me telling me what do. That’s why personal projects are so important to me – they are a kind of reset and therapy.

Another side question: I read that you have always been fascinated by the dynamism of the human form in motion. Have you dabbled in any activities concerning movement?


Well, my father was a professional football player, and I grew up playing tennis. My whole family was involved in sports in one way or another, so I guess watching bodies and their movement was something that I observed from a very early age.


As far as any kind of dance is concerned, I cannot dance at all! Maybe that’s why it fascinates me to watch dance and to photograph it. I’m fascinated by watching people dance, especially contemporary ballet. I have many friends who are ballet dancers, and they are the most hardworking people I know, pushing their bodies to the limit every single day!


Your first monograph consists of portraits of the ballet dancers of the Paris Opera. This one focuses on surf life. Are you already planning the next one?


I have another project in my back pocket, one that I have started but still need to work on. It’s a very exciting and beautiful subject, but I’m saving the announcement for a later date.

Europe Release Date: March 17, 2022
US Release Date: May 24, 2022 

For more information, please visit Damiani’s website

Text & Interview by Matthew Burgos

Edit by Yves Tsou

The Obsessed

© Irwin Wong, TheObsessed, gestalten 2022 

© Irwin Wong, TheObsessed, gestalten 2022 

© Irwin Wong, TheObsessed, gestalten 2022 

What we talk about when we talk about Japan? As one of the main cultural output country in today’s world, it isn’t really hard to spot bits of Japanese culture in our quotidian life, whether traditional or modern. While traditional Japanese culture is deemed as profound and sophisticated, Japanese pop culture and its spinoffs are often the most playful, diverse, and probably, ubiquitous ones.


Aside from a variety of mainstream pop culture, the subculture that ramifies under also has an impactful presence; amongst them are the anime, manga and games. Often regarded as esoteric from outsiders, the revenue that these “Nijigen” (Two-dimension in Japanese, used to describe the virtual world in anime, manga and games) works generate is substantial. The term Otaku is coined accordingly to describe the die-hard fanatics with interests in anime and manga. Their passion is all-consuming, whether it be cosplay, Lolita, gothic or maid café, and their obsessions towards it is beyond fathomable.

© Irwin Wong, TheObsessed, gestalten 2022 

© Irwin Wong, TheObsessed, gestalten 2022 

Mesmerized by this distinctive social phenomenon, Australian photographer Irwin Wong turned his insightful observation on it into his latest publication. Living in Japan for more than 15 years, Irwin documented these eerie yet intriguing moments through his lens and compiled them to his new book “The Obsessed”. Accompany with on-the-ground interviews and cultural essays, “The Obsessed”, created in collaboration with gestalten, showcases a kaleidoscope of scenes and individuals drawn from Japan’s many countercultural group, pinpointing their place within Japanese society and global popular culture. As a thorough discovery unfolds, Irwin invites us to an in-depth gaze into the essence of these Japanese subcultures, and the lives of people who dedicate their passion and obsession to them.

© Irwin Wong, TheObsessed, gestalten 2022 

© Irwin Wong, TheObsessed, gestalten 2022 

© Irwin Wong, TheObsessed, gestalten 2022 

Europe + UK Publication Date: February 24, 2022
International Publication Date: May 3, 2022 

For more information, please visit gestalten’s website

Text: Yves Tsou



collection of winter images by Arturo + Bamboo

Serene, romantic and immaculate, the silence of winter falls from the sky. Along with the snow, it mantles the tranquil villages, the gentle mountain slopes and the withered trees, turning the peaceful ski resort alongs the Alps into a dreamlike magicland. 


Mesmerized by the nostalgic and eternal feeling that snow has evoked, photographer duo Arthur Groeneveld and Bamboo Van Kampen, also known as Arturo+Bamboo professionally, have made this feeling tangible.


After the successful publications of “Summer Diary”, “Privé” and “Red Moon”, the Dutch photography duo came back with their fourth publication “Snow”. With intention to explore the intimacy and the emotions people have experienced in the Alpine ski resorts, “Snow” is a collection, or rather, an archive of images taken in the past six years that showcases the beauty of landscapes and the timeless pleasures of what winter sports are truly about.


People come and go. After the ski season, townships like Zermatt, Gstaad and St, Moritz will go back to their original solitude, waiting for the next winter when the ski lovers will flock. We had a chance to speak with Arturo+Bamboo, having them sharing their intimate stories about winter, their passion for winter sports and their fancy to snow.

How was the project “Snow” born?


“Snow” is a continuation of our ongoing research and documentation into dreamlike places and a certain sense of timeless beauty. You can even see our new book as an extension of our previous publication “Summer Dairy”: there are actually great similarities in life by the sea and life in the mountains – both are joyful places where people are again in touch with the power of nature. 


What is behind the choice of the location?


What attracted us about these legendary villages is their Alpine history, a timeless city where families return for generations and where you can find a cosmopolitan atmosphere. In addition, you feel fascinated by St. Moritz, Chamonix and Cortina thanks to the aura of having hosted the Olympic Games.


Other places because of their unique geographical location: Zermatt is located literally in the shadow of the Matterhorn and Courmayeur has a breathtaking view of the highest mountain in Europe: Le Mont Blanc.

From “Summer Diary” to “Prive” then to “Red Moon”, is there any connection between the previous projects and “Snow”?


Many! In all of these publications we hope to take the viewer on a certain journey. Somewhere special and in a very intimate way.

From black and white to red, from summery colours to wintery colours, the colours in all of your photo books are different (but all with a soft filter). Is there any meaning behind the colour selection? What are the messages you wish to convey?


This softness is key in our body of work as it shows the world in a more gentle way, it is like when you close your eyes a bit and look through your eyelashes so the hard edges of daily life make place for a more dreamy view.

It took you guys 6 years to realize this project, how important has the factor “time” been for this project “Snow”?


Time and patience was essential in the process of making this book: it would have never been possible to create SNOW within one winter season. Although we felt something was growing after visiting a couple of those legendary places, we became increasingly interested in really researching and documenting the history, lifestyle and traditions in Switzerland, France, Italy and Austria. Most of the places featured in SNOW are quite close to each other through the atmosphere and landscapes vary a lot.


What are your future plans? Could you spill a bit about your next possible publication?


We’re always working on new ideas for our next publications – even if we are still in the middle of the current one!

‘’There’s nothing quite like the power of nature shown through snow: it creates this silence, softness but also brings out that playful, childlike side that never fully leaves us as adults.’’


– Arturo + Bamboo

Photography by Arturo + Bamboo (@arturobamboo)

Text & Interview by Daniele Tancredi

Edit by Yves Tsou

Balenciaga Objects: Tiger Sculpture

The Tiger Sculpture

The latest Object signed by Balenciaga

Since the appointment of Demna Gvasalia as creative director in 2015, Balenciaga has continually been challenging the very idea of what it means to be a luxury fashion house. The latest offering from their Balenciaga Objects collection, a handcrafted tiger sculpture, continues to embody this spirit of subversion. During Demna’s tenure, he has embraced the anti-consumerist stance of slow fashion, choosing to release only one haute couture range a year. Thus, as we arduously endure the wait between these collections, the Balenciaga Objects line is a welcome relief, allowing us a glimpse at the wider creative direction of the brand under Demna’s guidance.


The man behind the sculpture is post-modern artist Nik Kosmas, whose oeuvre sardonically observes the state of technology and the human experience in the 21st century. Based in China’s mega metropolis Shanghai, Kosmas’ work is a physical, emotional, and spiritual journey inspired by science fiction, sports practice, and psychology. The sculpture itself would not have looked out of place in the brand’s SS22 show, with its sleek all black appearance resembling the ‘Cyber Goth’ aesthetic of that range. Despite the futuristic hybridity of the piece, its handcrafted nature stays true to the roots of the brand. Kosmas’s brass shaping of every aspect from the whiskers to the vertebrae reflects the ethos of bespoke luxury that has been at the heart of the brand since its inception.


Launching on November 20th, 2020, Balenciaga Objects is a category of items produced outside of the fashion collections. Having released various items of homeware over the last couple of months, ranging from laser-engraved glassware to reusable porcelain coffee cups, this latest venture represents a stylistic shift to the ornamental. The Objects collection now offers the decorative as well as the functional.

Presented on 38 x 27cm display platforms, there will be 15 numbered editions of the product released worldwide. Each model undergoes a meticulous process of craftsmanship; the individual components are shaped using the ancient technique of lost-wax casting, before being welded coated and glossed by hand.


As various fashion houses face accusations of lacking originality or recycling ideas, this release represents the latest in a long line of successes from the brand that just seems to keep getting it right. All that is left to do is to eagerly await whatever the next steps may be in this truly innovative era of the iconic brand’s history.

Text: Harvey Byworth-Morgan

With Love from Russia

Photography & Interview: Vlad Zorin (@vladislavzorin)

Curator: Andrey Lopatin (@streeterror)

Critical Text: Sasha Kazantseva (@zakatalki)

Special thanks to Ksenia Chilingarova (@k_chilingarova)

ModaPortugal 2021 - A Fashion Event for the Future

Portugal has long been on my bucketlist. As an avid traveler and fashion enthusiast, Portugal’s long-standing history, distinctive culture, palatable gourmet and poetic cityscape fascinated me. After learning that Portugal is one of Europe’s major fashion and textile production countries, my desire to discover this beautiful country was fortified. COVID-19 sabotaged my two trips planned for Portugal; I thought it would be long before I could finally step onto her soil.


I’ve envisioned dozen ways to encounter Portugal, but little did I imagine myself lost in its beauty thanks to ModaPortugal. Held in Porto’s once-a-customhouse congress centre Alfândega do Porto, young fashion talents, fashion journalists and a panel of speakers formed by fashion professionals were welcomed to Porto for 2021 ModaPortugal event. The old town of Porto is mesmerizing. Narrow alleyways winding up the undulating hills, alongside, ramshackle dwellings closely aligned. Their colourful façades, adorned with wooden window frames and iron-latticed balconies are in decay. Churches clad in cerulean and white “Azulejo” tiles stand within, coated with exquisite religious paintings; they echo back to the prosperity of the country during the Age of Discovery. Under the beam of Southern Europe’s winter sun, the curtains of ModaPortgual rose.

After a hiatus in 2020, ModaPortugal returned to Porto. Eighteen designers, hailing from six different countries (Finland, France, Italy, Switzerland, United Kingdom and of course, Portugal), gathered to Porto two weeks ago for the 7th edition of ModaPortugal Fashion Design Competition. These emerging young talents represent some of the most renowned fashion institutes across the continent. In their five days journey, they vied not only with their schoolmates and compatriots for the best collection of each country, but also for the “grand prix” that dedicates to the best collection overall.


To better understand Portugal’s robust textile and clothing manufacturing industry, ModaPortugal took these aspiring designers, along with panellists and my fellow press on an Industry Tour around the Northern part of the territory. Since the textile industry is one of the most polluting industries, the tour revolved around the initiatives that these textiles companies have taken in response to the environmental issues. The tour started with a visit to Riopele, an established factory with more than 90 years of history. Founded in 1927, Riopele is one of the oldest and most self-sufficient Portuguese textile companies. From spinning, dyeing, weaving, finishing to quality control and logistics, Riopele vertically integrates the entire fabric production cycle. Lately, Riopele has embarked on a new research: they collected the water consumed during the manufacturing process and tried to make use of it. 50% of the water consumption is now reutilized, successfully reducing the water pollution from their production process.


The tour continued with a visit to the family-owned factory of Pedrosa & Rodrigues, one of the most well-known jersey fabric manufacturers in Portugal. Pedrosa & Rodrigues blend jersey into high-end fashion; its clients include some of the major fashion brands in the world. Its newest movement is to collect leftover fabrics, grind them and spin new yarn out from them. This repurposing of discarded fabrics definitely makes the fashion industry greener and more environmentally-friendly.

After learning a bit more about the innovative projects that traditional textile companies in Portugal have taken, we visited RDD textile and Valérius Hub, an innovatory research center focusing on the repurposing of used fabrics and the development of sustainability textiles. In 2019, Valérius Group launched a brand-new project Valérius 360 – a recycling centre that realizes the ideas of RDD Textiles and Valérius Hub. Here, the factory collects cutting waste, overproduced textile products, unsold stock and recycled fabrics from Côte d’Ivoire, Turkey and other European countries, making them into recycled-yarns, jersey fabrics and even garments. Together with Valérius Hub, Valérius 360 wishes to build a community that contributes to the creation of a responsible fashion system, reducing more environmental impacts and driving the industry towards a sustainable future.


After a day of repose, the designers ushered in their biggest challenge of this trip – The ModaPortugal Fashion Design Competition. The day started with the students taking turns presenting their collections to the jury. The event climaxed with a fashion show during dinnertime. Models stomped on the aisles in the banquet room. Grotesque or artistic, theatrical or intricate, they showcased these young designers’ flourishing imagination and creativity. Among them, Juha Vehmaanperä (Finland), Mathieu Goosse (France), Paulo Mileu (Italy), Tiago Bessa (Portugal), Claire Lefebvre (Switzerland) and Jessica Zhou (United Kingdom) won the best collection from the country they represented, with Tiago Bessa from Portugal snatching the Best Collection of the year, keeping the grand trophy home in Portugal.

Tiago Bessa is the overall winner of this year’s ModaPortugal Fashion Design Competition

Looking back, I couldn’t imagine a better way to experience Portugal’s beauty and fashion all at once. It’s really impressive to see Portuguese textile companies taking initiatives on sustainability and eco-friendly fashion production, and to see the fashion industry supporting emerging talents. To summarize my experience at ModaPortugal, I think of the word “fascinating”. Porto’s view is fascinating, the “Azulejo” tiles on the church walls are fascinating, the serenity of the flowing Duoro River is fascinating; what’s more, It’s fascinating to know that even under an unfavourable macro environment, on the periphery of the European continent, a cohort of fashion talents is seeking to build a friendlier environment for the talents to come, and perhaps more importantly, for our Mother Nature.

Finland | Jenny Hytönen, Juha Vehmaanperä, Sina Saavala (from left to right)

France | Albane de Saint Laurent, Jisoo Baik, Mathieu Goosse (from left to right)

Italy | Alessia Dovero, Lavinia Jianqing Zhao, Paulo Mileu (from left to right)

Portugal | Marta Costa, Nuno Braz Oliveira, Tiago Bessa (from left to right)

Switzerland | Claire Lefebvre, Morris Manser, Tara Mabiala (from left to right)

United Kingdom | ChenCheng Yong, Fionn Lucaya, Jessica Zhou (from left to right)

Text: Yves Tsou

Proofread: Mason Francis Palmer

Winter Magic: ISABEL MARANT x Mytheresa

Winter Magic

the Snow capsule collection by ISABEL MARANT for Mytheresa

It is indeed good news for you ski lovers! Do you find it hard to complete the perfect functional look that keeps you comfortable and warm while staying stylish on the ski slopes? Well, this season the Parisian fashion label Isabel Marant and online luxury retailer Mytheresa collaborate on the launch of an exclusive Snow capsule collection, which would definitely be the perfect touch to your ski wardrobe.

The Snow capsule collection, available globally from December 8th, 2021, comes along with a dedicated editorial story. Directed by Mytheresa Chief Creative Officer Julian Paul and shot by noted photographer Ferry van der Nat, the editorial features world-renowned model Heather Kemesky. It represents the first time that Isabel Marant designs a Skiwear-inspired pieces.

The collection, composed of 33 garments, has one fundamental watchword: contemporary. The modern and functional design protects wearers from the cold weather without being out of trend. Overall, it makes skiing and spending a cozy evening in the mountains with your friends and family an easy and joyful activity to partake. The palette consists of beige, burgundy and yellow with metallic touches, blend poetically with the niveous landscape in a ski resort.

Taking a closer look at the collection. Three down puffer jackets: one in monochrome and two colorful catch our eyeballs instantly. Along with two pairs of ski-trousers, they are the perfect protagonists of our outdoor adventures. Indoor, the comfortable loungewear sets composed of beige braided sweater and trendy overalls, offer us coziness on a freezing winter night.

The accessories and the shoes from this collection are also not to be missed. Warm gloves and hats that match with scarf and sunglasses, a shearling vest with leather lining, belts and socks adorn the look in the chicest way. And to complete it, we have the shearling snow boots with red shoelaces, the white sneakers with beige on the toecap and velcro fastening or the high model in beige and metallic color.

Holidays season is around the corner, are you ready to be the trendiest skier on the ski trail? Visit website to check out the exclusive Isabel Marant for Mytheresa Snow collection, it’s time to shine in the snow.

Text: Yves Tsou

School Night - Interview with Rand Faris by Dash Kolos

School Night

Interview with Dash Kolos & Rand Faris

On one scorching afternoon in late September, I caught Rand Faris, a talented young actress, who was born in the Kingdom of Jordan, then followed her heart and passion all the way to New York. We walked the streets of one of my favorite Brooklyn neighborhoods, shared stories, immigrant dreams, ideas and talked about our fears. 

Dash Kolos: I know you just finished filming an important film, about a breakthrough New York Times story that helped launch the #MeToo movement. You got to work with a stellar cast and an amazing director Maria Schrader. How did it feel to be a part of such a strong female-led, female-written, female-directed project?

Rand Faris: It feels good to be a part of important stories, no matter how small or big the role is. Being an actor taught me to take in and appreciate every artistic experience. There is always a lesson to learn and experience to gain. I say this also as a reminder to myself, because as easy as it may sound, I find that challenging to live by. 

Working with Maria Schrader and helping her realize a vision that is bigger than any of us was a great honor. This is a very important story told on behalf of so many women across the globe, so it is essential that is being brought to light – written and directed – by women. It was my privilege to be a tool in this storytelling process, amongst the female artists who are incredibly passionate about what they do. 

You’ve been in the film game for quite some time yourself, what is the most apparent change you’ve observed in the industry and in yourself?

Dash Kolos: Well, in my opinion art is a reflection of us and the society. I think the most important change, that I see is happening right now, is the shift in storytelling. Who is telling the story is becoming as important as the story itself. This pivot in perspectives creates endless opportunities for artists and audiences as well. This is a recipe for fearless, honest and necessary filmmaking. As for my own personal change, I’d say, I’m shedding the desire to be liked and falling more and more in love with a very important set of words: “Fuck It/Off/That”.

Dash Kolos: Speaking of shifts, do you often get typecast? Moreover, do you think being something other than an American limits the possibilities of what people might see you as, or you find the opposite is true?

Rand Faris: Being an Arab woman in America can be limiting at times, but this also gives me many opportunities, like the film I just did.  About half of the parts I get are the “Arab” roles. But, more often than not, with the stereotypical, “western” perception of what it is to be an “Arab”. What this creates is an unhealthy,  unrealistic and unauthentic box. Therefore, we need more writers from the Middle East and more diversity in the writing room to break stereotypes across all ethnicities, races, gender, age – you name it! Just like you said – who is telling the story is crucial. 

What about you? You originally from Russia, what are the perks and crutches of your ethnicity in the acting industry in America?

Dash Kolos: Look, I am happy to take on any role that comes my way. I genuinely love acting. But boxes have been around. They have been shifting shape and, I think, we are in the moment in the filmmaking history where they are starting to give way altogether. I do not yet see “Russian” characters in film or on TV that represent me, but then, I try not to live in a box and don’t allow anyone to place me in one. I believe we are all so freaking complex, but we do, unfortunately, see the world through the prism of stereotypes. And the media, film and TV played a part in it. The sooner we admit it, the sooner we can move forward and hopefully address this issue. 

That was actually one of my fears – falling into one of those stereotypes and not living out my true potential. 

What about you? What is your biggest fear as an artist? If you have any, of course.

Rand Faris: Oh I have a few, but I’ll save the other ones for a rainy day. Today we’ll mention the infamous FOMO. The fear of missing out…on the dreams that I’ve worked hard for and hoped for daily. It’s a possibility, it’s a 50/50 chance. I realize that. You either ‘make’ it or you don’t. You might end up living a very different version of your dream vision, or you might end up on a completely new trajectory, with new hopes and new dreams altogether. But in the current version of my dream I have a successful acting career, I write and create my own projects too. It’s about finding myself, finding my voice and growing through the experiences. My passion is still a burning flame.

Rand Faris: Speaking of finding your voice, what is the most recent lesson you’ve learned or realization you’ve had as a multidisciplinary artist?

Dash Kolos: Good question! With everything I have on my artistic plate, I am learning to trust myself more and more. Getting rid of doubts have been a significant challenge. Not allowing any discouragement into my world as well. It feels like I am putting together this enormous puzzle, but when the pieces fit, they fit perfectly. My photography helps my writing. My writing motivates my acting. My acting informs my directing. My directing fuels my photography. You get my little artistic circle. 

How about you? What would be the lessons you’d share and advice you’d give to a teenage artist who is about to follow their heart?

Rand Faris: It’s all definitely about the journey, not the destination. The older you get, time will magically start to fly faster, so enjoy your ride and make stops at different points along the way. Some might be pleasant, some might be educational. Work hard of course, because the effort you put in plays an essential role – no hard work goes unnoticed. Celebrate every milestone, appreciate every sunset you get to catch, notice things that move you, embrace every experience – good and not so good. These things essentially fill your heart with life, and a full heart is the most important ingredient in success. A full heart will guide you in the direction that is right for you. Oh and PATIENCE! HAVE PATIENCE CHILD, or else this journey will be strenuous and you might overlook your accomplishments. And last but not least, it’s okay to have doubt, fall into funks, or wake up in your mid-20’s wondering about who you are and why you’re doing what you’re doing. Nothing is set in stone, and nothing should be. If you have a change of heart, don’t be afraid to follow it.

Oh and learn how to take your own advice, I’m still trying.

Talent: Rand Faris (@farisrand)


Photography & Interview: Dash Kolos (@dashdizzles)

Text Revision: Paul Ulukpo

Film Developing and Scans: The Color House New York (@thecolorhousenyc)

The Art of Being Unapologetically Black - Muzi and his Kingdom of Music

It was a mild September’s afternoon. Milan had finally cooled down a bit from the blistering heat. Sat in a corner window seat, I ordered a cup of iced coffee, waiting for this impending interview with Muzi. I adore Muzi’s music. He is without a doubt a music wunderkind. At the age of 30, he is already one of the most venerated and talked about musicians in South Africa. He has recorded and produced 4 albums, played several DJ sets in Berlin, done some overseas tours and has even graced the soundtrack of the sought-after Spanish Netflix drama “Elite”. His fine mixture of traditional African music and contemporary electro-techno sounds is beyond avant-garde. Wanting to immerse myself more into his musical approach, I tuned into the tracks from his latest album “Interblaktik” while waiting. With his upbeat African rhythm and overwhelming techno beat, the ever-lasting sweltering summer in Milan seems not to be so unbearable.

Hi Muzi, how are you? Where are you right now?

Hi, I’m good. Thanks. Right now I am in Johannesberg, South Africa.


How’s the weather there in Johannesberg?

The weather here now is so beautiful. Yesterday was really humid and hot but today the weather is so nice. Clear sky, pleasant breeze…


Same here in Milan! I am glad that the weather is nice today on both our ends, and that we could have a delightful conversation in this pleasant weather. I would like to start it with your very iconic stage name “Muzi”. It is actually an abbreviation of your full name, right? What’s the meaning of it, and is there any interesting story behind?

Muzi is short for Muziwahke; the literal meaning of it in my mother tongue Zulu is “Your home” or “Your house”. However, there’s a deeper meaning behind it, which is the person who builds his/her own house or kingdom. So if you look at my career, I actually live up to my own name – I build my own kingdom of music. Also, Muzi sounds like music. It’s not only an abbreviation of my name, but also a symbol of my passion and my career.

That’so cool! I think it perfectly explains the reason why we are here today – to talk about your music kingdom. Earlier this month, your new album “Interblaktic” had proudly joined your kingdom of music. What do you want to bring to the audience this time?

I guess my whole mission is to do modern African music, and take it onto the world stage. As you can see from the name “Interblaktic”, I have this vision to pretty much concoct a sort of world + African music that is made in South Africa.


Interesting! What are the African elements that can be found in your music? Do you only extract elements from traditional South African music or also from other types of African music?

Primarily, the elements were extracted from South African music, but the more I travel, the more I get to experience other types of African music. Even in South Africa, we have many different ethnic tribes. I am Zulu, and traditional Zulu music is a part of my identity. I grew up in a household that was imbued with dance music, so I started to mix it into traditional Zulu music. The more I grow, the broader my horizon is. I started to meet people from other tribes, whom I learned about their music from. I then took their musical elements and flipped it into other genres that I like, such as dance music, Chicago house or Detroit techno. I feel like I am connecting the dots between different tribes, with an electronic alternative sense.


What are the characteristics of traditional music from other South African tribes, other than Zulu, that we can find in your music?

In traditional Zulu music, you can hear heavy drums beating, a little bit like the taiko in Japanese traditional music. Xhosa people are good vocalists; they specialize in very deep vocal. Traditional Tsonga music involves a lot of instruments such as castanets, claps and shakers that resemble Mexican/Spanish music. I also take some Fela Kuti’s Afrobeat elements and mix them with my music. I want to break the boundaries between different tribes and cultures through the power of music.


Aside from traditional African music and the electro-dance music that you fancy, what are the other influences in your music-making?

I watched Disney’s animation “Aladdin” many times when I was a kid. I am fascinated with the traditional Arabian music; therefore I added a hint of Arabic music into my music. You can hear it in my track “Tjuu Wena” from my latest album “Interblaktik”. Also, culturally, hip-hop has a huge impact on me. I love a lot of Hip-hop music, also R&B, alternative rock and even pop music.

Are there any other types of musical elements you’ve never used before that really intrigue you or perhaps that you’d want to incorporate in your future music?

If you listen to all my music, you’ll find out that actually I like leaving clues for the following project. This time the hint I left is that I would love to create a Disco album in 2021 that sounds like those in the 60s and the 70s.


That sounds promising! Can we expect it to be released anytime soon?

Probably another 5 years or so (laugh)


(Laugh) But it seems like you are quite prolific! You’ve released 4 albums since 2016. One thing that I am quite curious to know is about the track “Boom Shaka” from the eponymous debut album released in 2016. It was featured in the popular Netflix TV series “Elite”. What was your thought when the team of “Elite” reached out to you?

I am always grateful when I have opportunities like that. The thing that makes “Boom Shaka” unique to me is that it’s a creation of how I felt; and I had loads of feelings at that time. That was when I was living in Berlin; I guess I was angry and frustrated with a lot of things, and the rebellious attitude is completely projected in the album. I think it was an odyssey of finding myself, and that’s why it is special for me. After that, I came back home to continue pursuing my music career. Indeed, it is a project that I am super proud of, especially with the grace of “Elite”.

After “Boom Shaka” you released the album “Afrovision”. It is a very interesting title, but what’s the perspective of Afrovision? What kind of vision do you wish to convey through this album?

It was more like my vision where African music can go. Sometimes it feels like the rest of the world sees Africa in a very one-dimensional way. They consider Africa or African as a collective term. But there are so many countries, so many different cultures and different flavors of music on this continent. I would just add my vision of Africa into my music. So for those who take Africa as one-dimensional, I want them to realize that Africa is actually way more diverse than how they thought, and there is actually so much going on here that they don’t know about.


And as for this latest album of you, “Interblaktic”, is there any story behind the production and the concept of this album that you would like to share?

Production-wise, I learn new things sonically by mixing traditional music from different tribes with contemporarily electronic music. Conceptually, it’s an album talking about how my ego dies. So when you listen from track #1 all the way to track #16, you will discover the changes in my mindset. Track #1 “Interblaktic” shows a very confident, “I don’t give a damn” attitude. As the album unfolds, you will listen to a story of me trying to get a girl I like (Track #13, Tsi) and how she broke my heart but I still love her (track #14, Fool’s Love). And in the end, it left with the truth that, regardless of what has happened, I still love music.


And what visions do you have in this album?

I guess the vision is similar to all of my past albums. So if you look at my latest three albums – “Afrovision”, “Zeno” and “Interblaktic”, they form this triangle. All the tracks are almost like cousins, and “Interblaktic” is the brightest version amongst them.

Oh! So “Interblaktic” is actually the brightest of them all?

In terms of albums, Yes! So “Afrovision” is a man starts to realize who he is. “Zeno” is the sweet burden of taking care of a kid, and the mindset of me and my kid versus the whole world. And in “Interblaktic”, I realized that actually I do care about people and stuff like that. Literally, it’s also like a process of how my ego dies.


Do you really have a kid?

Yes! In fact, Zeno is the name of my 3-years old daughter.


One thing that I find quite interesting is that, in the intro of the track “Interblaktic”, there’s a line “There seems to be a lot of black people on Mars”. What’s the message behind this that you would like to convey?

When I was writing “Interblaktic”, I started to feel like “You can’t just be black. You can’t be yourself”. So I started to imagine “What if we are in another planet but still under the same prejudice on earth?” The whole intro of “Interblaktic” says that there is “a problem” here; someone is complaining that there seems to be a lot of black people on Mars. Even when we go to the Mars, there will be people complaining about our existence. So the song is pretty much about being unapologetically black.


I guess self-identity is one of the most important things after all. Thank you so much for sharing such interesting insights with us. Before leaving, would you like to tell us about your future plan?

I think my future plan is obviously to go on a tour. I’ve done a US and Europe tour before, and it was quite successful. I would love to do it again. Also, I want to launch a clothing line.

You can follow Muzi’s musical trajectory on multiple channel via his linkfire and his instagram

Interview by Yves Tsou

Masculinity in Nudity - "Nudes", a photo book by Richard Kranzin.

Tainting the familiar, conventional meaning of masculinity, Richard Kranzin subjects the term under his authority, twisting the established theories of how men should act and look to the benefit of the modern lifestyle. Under his direction, he infuses fragility into the cornerstones of masculinity, a testament to his compendium “Nudes”.


Rippling through the pages of his photo book, men display their virtue, virility, and vulnerability to the Berlin-based photographer. They distance themselves from how social media depicts them: Greek Gods who need to sustain their muscular, toned bodies, and nothing less than that. As Richard photographs nude men, he brews up new wisdom over masculinity: men as soft and non-sexualized beings with nudity as the highest form of intimacy.



Why did you want to explore the fragility of the masculine?


I think it comes from my childhood when my father told me to act more “masculine.” Being more sensitive or “feminine” as a young boy seemed to be something I should be ashamed of. Sadly, a lot of men can relate to that. Growing up and coming out as gay, I did not hide my vulnerable side; I felt free. Today’s perception of masculinity is changing in cultures around the world. Being masculine is becoming a very fragile statement itself and is seen from many more perspectives nowadays and showing that in my work can help to spread a new perception of masculinity even further.

How do you perceive fragility? What relationship does it have with masculinity?


When I talk about fragility in relation to masculinity, I mean the common stereotypical thinking of what masculinity is and what happens when you do not act that way. When you look closely at the young men I photographed, you might see through their stereotyped, hard masculine shell and into their vulnerable souls. The stereotyped masculine façade becomes fragile when the models are nude and bare in front of my lens. They show themselves honestly and not disguised by outside influences.



How has the perception of masculinity changed over the years through your photographs?


When I started taking photos, I was inspired by commercialized fashion photography. I was a model myself, so I knew what the industry expected from male models and how they should look like in photos. In the 2010s their manhood and “masculinity” were viewed to resemble that of classical Greek Gods. I was always much more of an androgynous model and had the opportunity to show much more diversity and emotions in my poses than other male models. These influenced the way I started to shoot with my model friends who were not androgynous in the first place.


Having a form like a Greek sculpture does not tell a story itself. I wanted to look into the souls of the people, and I still do. While my models mostly have these classical beauty face with “masculine” model features, I always try to capture them as authentic, pure, and soulful as possible to make the difference.


Was the use of analog black and white photography in your compendium intentional? Why?


Black and white imagery gives a sense of timelessness. I love the melancholic and nostalgic air that surrounds it. In terms of creating soulful and pure images, black and white pictures help put the focus on the subject. NUDES is shot in analog black and white film intentionally. The analog image offers unpredictability and rawness and using it gives me a great feeling, so I use it in every shoot now. It separates itself from the digitalized fast world we live in.



You mentioned that your models are cut off from their commercialized self-representations on social media, from their digital identities. What discoveries did you find out about their self-representations in reality versus on social media through photography?


It was so interesting to meet my models for the first time. I only knew them from social media, so all I saw was how they presented themselves and how they wanted to be perceived. Talking with and getting personal with them in a short amount of time opened us up. Also, the nudity benefits an open conversation that I have with most of my models during a shooting. It lets me see into their souls, something that social media can never do. I hope my photos can capture the intimacy and trust that are built in these short moments last long.

As you describe your photobook: My pictures invite you to dream of masculinity without sin, honest and authentically sensuous. Why did you say, “without sin”? Is it sinful to dream of masculinity?


Masculinity can be full of sins when the world talks about toxic masculinity, abuse, roughness, sexism, and crime in general. In NUDES, I want to create a dream bubble in which men do none of these things, a reason my book is bright, with few contrasts, and feels very airy. I tried to show masculinity as a soft, non-sexualized statement – without sin, so to speak.



During the shoot, you decided which position, posture, look, and mood the finished picture and models should convey, thus evoking rawness and intimacy. How did you establish your relationship with your subjects?


As I mentioned earlier, it deals with a lot of speaking with and explaining my project to them. During the shooting, I kind of let the models go with the flow. Not all of the poses are instructed; I let them move, and I adjust my photos around the mood. What I did was I gave them a mood or feeling, even putting on some ambient music to get them into a melancholic mood. I see myself more as a director, encouraging the actor in a certain situation to take on spontaneity.

Speaking of intimacy, how do you perceive and define nudity? In what way does it relate to non-intimacy?


Nudity is the highest form of intimacy to me. I do not like it when it becomes non-intimate and only focused on showcasing oneself. Being nude on photographs should always come with an intimate and personal feeling to it.



After this project, what is next for Richard? Are you planning to continue with the project?


Thinking about the future gives me a lot of pressure. My inspiration always comes from a kind of nostalgia that honors the past. My posts on Instagram are mostly images from previous years. I love going through my archives instead of chasing trending photos for the likes. It drives most of my models crazy to wait for so long before I post, but that is just how I work.


I am still taking a lot of new photos, but I am not thinking about a future project yet. It might be next year; it might be in five years. What I do is I look at a body of work from the last few years and then figure out how I can present it as a cohesive collection. This is how my books BOYS IN NATURE and NUDES developed. In both cases, I realized that this could become a publication, two years after having already shot them.


One long-term project I am working on is my first feature film as a director, but writing a script is not that easy. To let you in on the development, adolescence, fragile masculinity, dreamy nostalgia, and intimate emotion will always be a part of my work.

Text & Interview by Matthew Burgos

Edit by Yves Tsou