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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?
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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Hotel Antumalal: Jungle Bookings

Photographer Jonathan de Villiers Ventures to Chile’s Modernist Rainforest Retreat

Juxtaposing the clean 1940s modernist architecture of the exclusive Hotel Antumalal with its lush, vibrant surroundings, photographer Jonathan de Villiers captures the enduring appeal of the tranquil South American haven and its local hot springs. “It's this backwoods Chilean take on Modernism,” says de Villiers of the hotel’s unique atmosphere. Built 61 years ago, with private gardens overlooking Lake Villarrica, the Antumalal is set just over a mile outside the city of Pucón and has hosted the upper echelons of European aristocracy throughout its lifetime, including Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip. Surrounded by the contrasting temperate rainforest and snow-capped Andes mountains, the hotel offers outdoor activities such as rafting, kayaking and skiing, as well as visits to the active Villarrica volcano nearby. Designed by Chilean architect Jorge Elton, a student of Frank Lloyd Wright, the building and its interior décor has been lovingly overseen by the daughter of its original owners—any tired or worn out furniture or fittings are replaced with locally produced pieces exactly matching the originals to maintain the hotel's perfect 1940s homeliness.

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Haute Dogs

NOMA Veterans Serve Up Hot Dogs and Champagne at New London Eatery Bubbledogs

Photographer Erik Wåhlström explores the aesthetic dimensions of wieners in this series of stills taken at Bubbledogs, the first-ever restaurant to specialize in the high-low mix of champagne and hot dogs. The brainchild of husband-and-wife team James Knappett and Sandia Chang, Bubbledogs is a daring step away from the culinary couple’s fancy food background. Having met while working at Thomas Keller’s three Michelin-starred Per Se in New York, the pair subsequently did stints at Noma and The Berkeley, with Knappett in the kitchen and Chang managing the front of house. “It’s just always this thing that’s been in the back of my mind,” says Chang of the buns and bubbly combo. “James gave me this little hotdog necklace charm, and later I got a small champagne bottle, and that’s when I first thought, hey, these go really well together.” Generally considered the go-to American ballpark snack, Bubbledogs’ take on the frankfurter is decidedly more gourmet. Current options on the menu include the BLT dog, wrapped in bacon and served with truffle mayo and caramelized lettuce, and the Jose dog with guacamole, sour cream, salsa and jalapenos. The menu will be complimented by a wine list that includes an extensive list of champagnes and sparkling wines from small, lesser-known producers. “It was really about creating something unpretentious and delicious,” says Knappett, “a place that is slightly unexpected and a little different––and nothing is less pretentious than a hotdog.” 

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