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June 24, 2014

JR & José Parlá: Wrinkles of the City

The Freewheeling Artists On How They Transformed the Streets of Havana

Artists and longtime collaborators José Parlá and JR traveled to Havana, Cuba for Wrinkles of the City, a global series of public art installations and expressionistic murals centered around enigmatic portraits of the residents in each metropolis, from Berlin to Shanghai. This leg acted as a homecoming for Brooklyn-based Parlá, whose own parents emigrated from Cuba to Miami where he was born. Commissioned by the 2012 Havana Biennale, today’s self-directed film captures the duo’s citywide project that ran from Old Havana to Vedado, offering both artists the opportunity to engage with a city that has profound personal resonance. “Using any kind of media to express myself has always been key to my work,” says the Paris-born, NYC-based JR. “I’m glad we made the film to better understand our journey through this fascinating place that is La Havana.”

You’re both multilingual expatriates with similar backgrounds—what impact does that have on your art?
José Parlá: JR’s work is a commentary that is sharing something positive with the present or with history. Working together as we have has been organic because we both think alike. If I can't make something happen, JR steps in, and if he can’t, then I communicate it. In Cuba we spoke Spanish, Portuguese, French and Japanese, inventing ways to share.

JR: José and I have that in common, we always feel language is not a barrier. I guess it’s because we speak with our own hands a lot. 

How does your work in one discipline inform the other?
JP: The stories of walls are the memories of society. If I use photography it is to document places and people that later inform my paintings as well, with regards to colors and the mood or history of a painting’s direction. When I paint very layered and large-scale calligraphic paintings, the language is informed by gestural, free-associative movements, which I think of as a dance that envelopes the work.

What’s your favorite highlight from the trip?
JP:
When we were making the largest wall work of the whole project, JR guided me from across a field while I was suspended on a crane. It was hard to see with the sun glaring in my eyes. We finished the whole thing and celebrated the whole night.

JR: The people we met, especially the couple who we photographed and pasted up. We stayed in touch with them and they have been such an inspiration to both of us.—Timothée Verrecchia

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Spotlight

Hamilton Island Race Week

The Resort-Side Action at the Southern Hemisphere’s Most Glamorous Yachting Regatta

Free-flowing Moët and motor cruisers replete with Jacuzzis fuel the salt-water sailing at this year’s Audi Hamilton Island Race Week in photographer Sean Fennessy’s series. On Australia’s Queensland coast, just off the Great Barrier Reef, the Whitsunday Islands played host to a fleet of 163 yachts jostling to win one of the scheduled 28 races. A fleet of electric-powered golf carts transported the audience of actors, TV personalities and gold-medal-winning Olympians who had come to witness the sailing prowess on show around the island's luxury Qualia resort, while acclaimed Australian chef Shannon Bennett of Melbourne-based sustainable restaurant Vue de Monde provided gastronomic delicacies. “My aim was to capture these events from the inside and glimpse into a world of excess and privilege,” says the Tasmanian-born Fennessy. Onshore, Greg Prescott, skipper of the 2 Unlimited sailboat, took home the week’s most coveted prize––an A1 compact car worth around $22,000––as winner of the Audi Final Drive Challenge, which involved racing the aggressively powered Audi R8 supercar around the island’s airport runway.

RACE WEEK STATS

Camera
Canon 5d Mk III.

Boats in the fleet
163.

Races
28.

Biggest boat
The 30-meter supermaxi yacht Wild Oats XI 

Fastest time achieved
17-knot average speed by the trimaran Team Australia in the 60-nautical-mile long-distance race.

Optimum weather conditions
16-knot south-easterly trade wind and sunny skies.

Best boat name
Ucan’ttakeitwithyou.

Nautical miles sailed
Approximately 250 over the week.

Largest sail
930 square meters on Wild Oats XI––the equivalent of over four tennis courts. 

Closest call
Team Australia ran aground after making a sudden course change to avoid a humpback whale.

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Spotlight

Secret Cities: Singapore

Up-and-Coming Model Chen Yu Reveals the Most Desirable Destinations in Southeast Asia’s Urban Paradise

Model Chen Yu explores the ultra-modern skyscrapers, Chinese Baroque pavilions and pastel European townhouses in her temporary hometown of Singapore along with photographer and creative director Shiraz Randeria. Hotly tipped to become the next big thing in Chinese fashion, the fresh-faced muse took on the palm-tree lined city state to develop her portfolio, which already includes shoots for Vogue and Elle China. Randeria’s images capture her enjoying the dynamic mix of cultures—predominantly English, Malay, Chinese and Indian—that inform Singapore’s architecture, cuisine and curious local lingo, Singlish. In the hybrid parlance “Basket!” is an exclamation of frustration, while referring to someone as “zai” means they know how to keep cool under pressure. “Singapore is a surprisingly relaxed city,” says Randeria. “Even though it’s rich and business-like, don’t go expecting the incessant global bustle of Central Hong Kong.” Here Chen shares her discoveries beneath the many roofs of the vibrant “Sin City” of the Southeast.

Ku De Ta
This DJ bar and restaurant sits on the 57th floor SkyPark at the top of the Marina Bay Sands. Singapore’s best place to go for a sundowner—they have great Asian-influenced martinis—and watching the city lights come on.
1 Bayfront Avenue, Marina Bay Sands SkyPark, Singapore 018971

Rasa Spa, Siloso Beach
Where I go for Thémaé tea facials and massages. It’s also right by the beach so I can go for a swim. I came here after last year’s fantastic ZoukOut music festival —a great relaxation session after an all-night party.
Shangri-La Hotel, 101 Siloso Road, Sentosa Island, Singapore 098970

Haji Lane
A small and colorful street full of modern independent fashion boutiques and Egyptian bars, this is in the middle of the Kampong Glam neighborhood, with the large golden-topped Sultan Mosque at one end. It’s a fun place to shop and browse, especially at K.I.N. at  51 Haji Lane, which stocks interesting local labels and fashion magazines. 
Haji Lane, Singapore 189244

Geylang Road Durians
Although it’s known for being the red light district, it’s also where you can get the best durian fruit—the creamy varieties you can get here in Singapore are the best I’ve ever had. I can easily eat two in a go. They range from S$2 to S$28 each and don’t stink at all—maybe just a feint whiff of marker pen. Eat them with mangosteens, they complement each other really well. I can recommend one large fruit stand, which also do fresh coconuts to drink.
Fruit stand on the corner of Geylang Road, Lorong 19

Lau Pa Sat
Unlike other Asian cities, Singapore has banned street food stands, so instead there are many quality controlled hawker centers. Forget restaurants—this is where to find real local Peranakan dishes—a fusion of Malay, Chinese and Indian cuisines. Lau Pa Sat is the city’s historic and beautiful Victorian wet market, now renovated with food stalls. My favorite are the amazing skewered king prawns outside on the side stands—numbers S7 and S8. It’s called Best Satay. 
18 Raffles Quay, Singapore 048582

Actually
One of Singapore’s best boutiques has two stores near each other, both close to Haji Lane. It’s a friendly place, and great for international street brands such as BOY, plus accessories and collections from local designers.
29A Seah Street, Singapore  188385 and 118A Arab Street, Singapore 199813

Gillman Barracks
A 10-minute taxi ride from the city center and you’re in these whitewashed army barracks, seemingly in the middle of the jungle. It opened in September as the city’s new contemporary art hub and there are galleries from around the world, although mainly from Asia. It’s a little quiet at the moment, but more galleries are moving in this month.
9 Lock Road, Singapore 10893

New Majestic Hotel
This boutique hotel sits in the middle of historic Chinatown down a quiet lane. The full glass front is always open to the street during the day—the lobby has a great pop-up bookstore and an elegant mismatch of furniture. Upstairs, each room is different, many done up by local designers. It’s chilled out, friendly and also a walkable distance to Club Street, the upmarket nightlife and bar area of Chinatown.
31 Bukit Pasoh Road, Singapore 089845

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