Young Breakdancers Defy Gravity in Linda Brownlee’s Urban Portraits
B-boys Jay and Perry Howell are suspended in motion in Linda Brownlee’s surreal series, Headstands, No Hands, in which the 18-year-old twin performers skillfully turn the cityscape upside-down. Ireland-born and London-based Brownlee has long been fascinated by the physical brilliance of breakdancing and the hip-hop culture that feeds it. “I spent a summer in NYC in 2001, and I remember taking long slow commutes from my job to watch the dancers in the subways,” she says. “I was completely mesmerized.” The versatile photographer, whose fashion credits include shoots for GQ, Dazed & Confused and Vogue Russia, first came across the Howell brothers performing with their dance crew, Rain. Teaming up with stylist Ruth Higginbotham and using east London's concrete lots as her backdrop, Brownlee casts new light on how our bodies relate to the city environment. “I wanted to remove Jay and Perry from their natural dancing locations,” she says. “The quiet lines of this unfamiliar architecture seemed to support rather than distract from the twins' unassuming but powerful moves.”
A Bespoke Edit of Emily Kai Bock's Cutting-Edge Documentary on NYC’s Rap Underground
Mykki Blanco, Angel Haze and C.J. Fly hold forth in this exclusive edit of filmmaker Emily Kai Bock’s new documentary on New York’s underground rap scene, Spit Gold Under An Empire. “So many people there are really pushing the form,” she says of the city's hip-hop avant-garde. “It’s the most interesting and authentic thing going on.” Filmed largely in Brooklyn, the movement’s epicenter provided its own backbeat. “When you’re there, you can hear people in the apartments above and below you, people yelling on the street and car radios going by—it’s like a backing track, and if you’re raised there, it’s in your blood,” says Bock, a rising Montreal-based director with a fine art background who hit the ground running on the music scene with her stunning video for Grimes’ “Oblivion,” which became an overnight sensation. Produced by Somesuch & Co. and set to premiere at the Sundance Film Festival this week alongside efforts from independent directors Abteen Bagheri, Bob Harlow and Tyrone Lebon, the short is part of a series exploring the musical lives of American cities including the New Orleans bounce craze, shoegaze in Portland and Detroit’s warehouse scene.
Click here to view Spit Gold Under an Empire in full, alongside other works in the New American Noise documentary project, from January 19.
Jacob Sutton, London
The last joke that made you laugh:
It was something about drinking less and doing more exercise. I tell that one a lot.
Your biggest fan:
Probably my mum. “Hi Mum.”
Your secret nickname (or, your porn name):
Your claim to fame:
I was attacked by a female orangutan in Borneo and she tore my t-shirt off. I was told on returning to a small village that the only person this had happened to previously was a French man in 1979 who was fully stripped and thrown around by a large dominant male. I felt both famous and fortunate.
Ryan Gosling comes over for dinner and you’re cooking:
He always wants KFC… he’s going to have to cut that stuff out.
Your spirit animal:
Something lesser-spotted—rare but not necessarily exotic.
The last dream you remember:
I saved a child from a fire. It was real Hollywood Backdraft stuff.
If life could resemble any film:
The Getaway and I’d be Steve McQueen, though the reality is closer to a Woody Allen movie.
Your million-dollar app idea:
The “Where did I lose my phone, bag, coat shoes, dignity app.”