Sharif Hamza: Dreams of Levitation

A Soaring Portrait of Daredevil Motocross Riders High Above the Nevada Desert

“As a sport that involves great personal risk, freestyle motocross is a perfect way to create a sense of story and proved a beautiful way to look at menswear,” says NOWNESS contributor Sharif Hamza. The V, Vogue and W photographer's black-and-white portrait of professional motorcycle riders Tim O’Brien and Greg Garrison captures the duo revving across a barren Nevada plain. “I love spectating people who are able to do something with their bodies and minds that I understand but couldn’t be capable of.” With the stuntmen flying overhead, Dreams of Levitation features model Shaun de Wet clad in metallic, biker-inspired gear by up-and-coming New York-based designer Tim Coppens, and a hypnotic voiceover written by Laura Albert and read by De Wet. “The voice she created is that of the rider in his later years, washed up and living a normal life,” adds Hamza of the contribution of Albert, who under the pseudonym JT LeRoy became the provocative voice of the literary counter culture in 1999. “She helped me to think about who the man is beyond his sport. He’s a roadside mechanic, reminiscing on a peak in his life, a time when he was capable of anything.”

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Conversations (15)

  • ddavid
    Along time ago, in fact a very, very long time ago, I had a Bultaco 125cc motocross bike, which I raced -- although not professinally. The images, fabulous in black and white; the narration in that resonant voice; and the magical words crafted by Laura Albert -- all combine to bring back not only the memories of those days, but more importantly the feeling. You have all made something very special, very poetic.
    • Posted By ddavid
    • October 14, 2013 at 3:06PM
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  • Lucinda Riva
    Pure Poetry over haunting music, and vast images...Mystical words over arid landscapes... "to this singular moment" "the inevitable tender sinking" "pacing the veins of the wind" draws me back to this film, "at play in the fields of the Lord". Thank you, Laura heart aches in joy.
  • Lucinda Riva
    Spacious, measured, beautiful, through the finger tips merging beyond, "am I at play in the fields of the Lord..." Laura Albert, thank you....xoxo
  • MJR
    "speed becomes stillness" "ritual of walking" "present..was" these were my favorite bits. this shows the raw genius of thought that is Laura Albert and Hamza's super high production value (pun intended).
    • Posted By MJR
    • October 10, 2013 at 11:25PM
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    The marriage of images and words succeed in conveying the sense of time and life suspended at a moment of peak experience that is felt by many who participate (for lack of a better word) in extreme sport. Bravo!
  • Mary Meyer
    Motocross made literary. Already poetic and stunning, it has now gained new depth with Laura Albert's narrative. It all works. Beautiful.
  • Brownie72
    What a beautiful coming together of Hamza Sharif & Laura Albert - I love this, so simple but precise and it's the musicality that tied it all together - genius! I also kept thinking Mad Max when he was walking - life is a thrill but don't let it disappear too fast! Loved!
  • Jason Lahman
    A beautiful meditation on the body released from gravity! I also really appreciate the use of material metaphors to convey the seeming solidity of interior experiences: "tintype-memory", "atmosphere crystal-cut", "a melting flourish", "feeling the raw question"... fine work here! Keep it up.
  • Johnnie Luis
    I never thought poetic inspiration could be achieved through X-games rituals--good pairing. It's nice to see both poet and rider letting go!
  • Jay Hizzle
    This project is the lovechild of Whimsy and Rugged. This short stirred in me the desire to get on my bike and hit the back roads. It strikes a beautiful, yet haunting, harmony between the transcendental nature of riding and the very real danger of succumbing to one's passion.
  • jdongbang
    Rugged, yet sensitive. Moving
    • Posted By jdongbang
    • October 10, 2013 at 4:44PM
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  • Nicole V. Gagné
    Sharif Hamza and Laura Albert have created a beautiful and poetic short film, bravo!
  • Lucinda Riva
    Ebb and flow words, timeless and soothing... at Play in the Fields of the Lord, my long-favorite...
  • janjamm
    This is such a cliched vision. Really. Both the verbal expression and the visuals are boring, like listening to your father tell you what manhood is.
    • Posted By janjamm
    • October 10, 2013 at 12:49PM
    • Share Comment:
  • Kodachrome 25
    Whispering stupidity!!!!!!!!!!!!

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    No Sour Meadows

    A Private Tour of Beatrix Ost and Ludwig Kuttner's Avant-Garde Country Paradise

    Stretching across 500 acres of Charlottesville, Virginia, is Estouteville, a 19th century Edwardian ranch and home to arts patrons and textile entrepreneurs Beatrix Ost and Ludwig Kuttner. An artist, writer and theater producer, the German-born Ost, together with her philanthropist partner Kuttner, discovered the idyllic estate in 1982, when she swung a pendulum over a map of the East Coast which led her to Albemarle County. “There are endless treehouses, sculptures, and art pieces made by other people on the property,” says today's filmmaker Columbine Goldsmith. “They live a life that is very community-based and focused on encouraging the talents of the people around them.” Ost’s idiosyncratic personal style and snow white, purple-tinted hair have earned her a cover of the New York Times Magazine and editorials for Harper’s Bazaar, while Kuttner is the unlikely gourmand, using the grand scale of their private playground to grow local produce. “We really followed them around on what is more or less a normal day,” adds Goldsmith, who was joined by the couple’s granddaughter, Eva, as the family explored the nearby lily pond, with its very own resident snake. “Every part of the farm is a seamless fusion of wild eccentricity and homely life.” 

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    Sharif Hamza: Hydro Powered

    The Director Gets Pulses Racing with a Rowing-Themed Fashion Short

    Vanguard photographer and director Sharif Hamza melds Ivy League style with Olympic intensity in his new film, enlisting professional athletes and models for a sleek training session. The filmmaker drew inspiration from the air of exclusivity surrounding the sport. “Rowing has always seemed to be somewhat elitist to me; something that everybody recognizes, but a privileged few actually get to experience," Hamza says. "I also associate that with the world of fashion. So the context was ideal." 


    Location: London Regatta Center, Docklands, London

    Distance from 2012 Olympics site: 4.2 miles

    Shoot duration: 11 hours

    Approximate calories burned: 37,224

    Cast: Four male models; five collegiate rowers

    Makeup: YSL Touche Eclat under the eyes; Giorgio Armani Face Fabric Foundation; No7 Protect and Perfect body lotion

    Special effects: Caudalie Beauty Elixir to create a post-workout glow; three tubs Vaseline to mimic sweat

    Hair: Two pots Redken Hardwear 16 Super Strong Gel

    To drink: Vita Coco coconut water

    To eat: Spanish tortilla, sausage plate, asparagus quiche, Bounce protein balls, GoRaw organic bars, brownies, carrot cake

    Boat: Vintage Burgashell coxed four, circa 1980, measuring 12.5 meters long

    Camera: One Arri Alexa (with launch)

    Wardrobe: Raf Simons, Sunspel, Prada, Dior, Tabio

    First aid: Sixteen Band-Aids for blisters on the models’ hands

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