CocoRosie: After the Afterlife

The Experimental Folk Sisters Premiere A Psychedelic Fantasy

A furry beast cavorts on the shoreline as Hawaii becomes a psychotropic paradise after being given the CocoRosie treatment in the band's newest video release. Filmed by Mike Basich in the island state, “After the Afterlife” is taken from the forthcoming album Tales of a Grasswidow. “It was exciting to be given so much creative space when working with CocoRosie,” he says. “It was a special project filming it in a place where the girls grew up in their younger years; adventuring through nature, dreaming of other lives in the land of Hawaii.” Since their debut release La maison de mon rêve in 2004, sisters Bianca (“Coco”) and Sierra (“Rosie”) Casady have forged their own freaky following, using rare instruments and far-out vocals to pioneer a free-spirited brand of folk that has led to collaborations with such artists as Antony Hegarty and Devendra Banhart. The pair have also provided soundtracks for Escada and Prada campaigns, lending the track “Trembled Blossoms” for the latter’s spring/summer 2008 animated short, and are currently preparing a project with acclaimed American theatre director Robert Wilson on a production of Peter Pan by the Berliner Ensemble. Through their music and various projects, the siblings are also committed to the global feminist fight, as Bianca relayed to NOWNESS.

Why is it important to attack patriarchy through your music?

Bianca Casady:
Patriarchy is over. This is my slogan of hope. We must project optimistic images. I don’t want to see popes and presidents and warlords any more. Most of all, I am tired of the male image of God. We are from the earth, she is our mother; we must protect her. 

Can you tell us more about your Future Feminism project? 

BC: Burning dialogues about a desperate need for a revitalization of feminism and concern for the planet quickly turned into planned meetings between us, Antony Hegarty, Kembra Pfahler and Johanna Constantine. We are working on a book as well as an art exhibition for next fall. 

Are you hopeful for the future?

We are bursting with optimism. I feel there is currently a global awakening to the realization that we have been comfortable in a social prison for thousands of years. Women and men are oppressed by patriarchal views, systems and religions that despise women, who have hijacked her power of creation and called her a whore. Wherever we can we must resist and reinvent. There will not be an invitation for women to take the seat of power—we must just take it. 

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    Karl Lagerfeld: Zillions

    Malcolm Venville's Crusade to Pose a Single Question to the Illustrious Designer at His Alpine Exhibition

    There aren’t many people who you’d endure several flights, two long train journeys, exceedingly early wake-up calls and a soggy McDonald’s hamburger dinner to spend one minute with—but that’s how powerful the pull of fashion legend Karl Lagerfeld can be. And that pilgrimage is exactly what director Malcolm Venville undertook for a brief encounter with the Chanel and Fendi designer, artist, photographer and one-man cultural phenomenon in St. Moritz in February, where the polymath was revealing an exhibition at Galerie Gmurzynska. The series featured Lagerfeld’s new set of fire etchings on glass—based on portraits of his muses such as Theophilus London, Freja Beha Erichsen and Aymeline Valade—and evolved the Kaiser’s extraordinary photographic legacy, which has yielded not only a multitude of ad campaigns, but also groundbreaking books like The Metamorphosis of an American and The Beauty of Violence, both of which distilled the model-to-muse relationship, focusing respectively on male faces Brad Koenig and Baptiste Giabiconi. Navigating the alpine VIP frenzy, filmmaker Venville came straight up against the unrealistic expectations of the Kaiser’s media and creative schedule. Hence he delivered just one potent question, appealing to Lagerfeld’s savoir faire. “To borrow from Hamlet,” says Venville, “brevity is the soul of wit, and he couldn’t be more interesting in that respect.” The director would know, having helmed the films 44 Inch Chest starring John Hurt and Ray Winstone and Henry’s Crime with Keanu Reeves. “I felt there was a lot of power in his answer,” he says of Lagerfeld. “It’s all about the artistic process being intuitive and spontaneous.”  

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    Nobuyoshi Araki: Sakura

    The Photography Legend Turns a Sensual Lens to Tokyo’s Annual Floral Explosion

    Known for his darkly erotic portraits of women and his suggestive shots of flowers, Japan’s prolific Nobuyoshi Araki set out to harness the stunning cherry blossom season in Tokyo for this exclusive series. An annual occurrence in the Japanese capital and the center of centuries of local tradition and literary inspiration, the sakura flower has very rarely featured in Araki’s oeuvre. This year, as the trees bloomed early in Tokyo, the celebrated lensman used vintage Polaroid film, framing the vibrant pink flowers’ silhouettes with a distinctive, pitch-dark corroded border. Shot amid the petals at Tokyo’s Hamarikyu Gardens and Aoyama Cemetery, the results seem to reflect the traditional Japanese interpretation of the cherry tree as an enduring metaphor for the cyclical nature of life itself. “The city’s skyscrapers appeared as gigantic tomb stones in the background,” Araki explains of his melancholic urban florals. “Then at the graveyard I photographed a beautiful woman with a baby in her arms and another child happily running around the trees. For the first time, I realized that cherry blossom brings happy memories too.”

    Do you go to see the cherry trees in bloom every year?
    Nobuyoshi Araki: I hardly ever go, but I’m still very attracted to it. The flowers only blossom for one to two weeks out of the whole year, which creates this ephemeral quality. People sympathize with that.

    What attracts you to the cherry blossoms in particular?
    Araki: Flowers are there for me to love, and cherry blossoms are the top of their kind. I can’t quite put my affection for them into words, and that’s why it continues to hold a special place in my photographs. When standing under the old trees, the layers of flower petals look like women’s underwear, transparent to the sky above.

    How do you feel these Polaroids stand out from your previous work on the subject?
    Araki: They are completely different. In recent years I have experienced the tragedy in Fukushima, the threat of the nuclear power station and the passing away of a very close friend. I believe that that emotional proximity to death brought a different dimension to my work this year. Photography has never been a method of documentation for me, but a reflection of raw feelings and sensations born out of my experiences. This is why I only trust my libido—instead of "thinking" about photography, which is something I completely gave up some time ago. I don't analyze the situation; I capture the moment.

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