Wednesday, January 19, 2022



The films facing up to school shootings

Since the horror of Columbine, school shootings have become a US epidemic – and it's something many films have reckoned with, including stunning new drama Mass, writes Leila Latif.On 20 April 1999 18-year-old Eric Harris and 17-year-old Dylan Klebold walked into their high school in Columbine, Colorado and, with one act of violence, changed America forever. Harris and Klebold's plan, which they had been working on for over a year, was to set off homemade bombs, but when those failed to detonate they instead walked through the halls and used the four guns they'd acquired to injure 24 people and kill 13 more before taking their own lives. More like this: – 22 films to watch in 2022 – Stories that reflect our oldest fear – The cult 90s film that blazed a trail The scale of the incident, plus the fact that it occurred just at the beginning of a new era of rolling news, meant the world looked on, gripped in horror. The police, unable to figure out how to handle it, took hours to enter the school and much of the massacre unfolded live on television. Reporters spoke to students on air, while they were still barricaded in their classrooms. Then, just as soon as the incident was over, the debate about what happened, and why it happened, began – one that continues to this day. Was the root cause of Harris and Klebold's actions the easy accessibility of guns in the US, the bullying they had allegedly been subject to, or the violent videogames they played – or was it that they were psychopaths, as some experts subsequently concluded about Harris, at least? Harris and Klebold left behind preparation videos and manifestos to be pored over by those searching for an explanation, or a way to prevent such an atrocity happening again. But in the years since Columbine, there has been a continuous stream of mass shootings, at schools and elsewhere; 298 schools in America have now experienced shootings since Columbine, leaving hundreds dead and many more injured.Mass is a four-hander about the meeting between the parents of a school shooter and one of the victims (Credit: Sky UK/ Bleecker Street)At the same time, there has been a range of films that have tried to make some kind of sense of these senseless, most horrifying atrocities – most horrifying, because of the way they shatter society's belief in the fundamental innocence of young people. These have varied in approach from Gus Van Sant's Palme d'Or-winning 2003 film Elephant, which methodically depicts a Columbine-like incident, moment by moment; to Lynne Ramsay's 2011 adaptation of bestselling novel We Need To Talk About Kevin, a stylised horror which explores a mother's relationship with her disturbed child, who goes on to commit a high-school massacre; and 2010's Beautiful Boy, a more straightforward drama about the parents of a teenaged shooter. Now comes another powerful addition to this bleak sub-genre: US indie film Mass, which speaks simultaneously to two worst-case scenarios ­– that your child could be taken from you by a monster, and that your child could be the monster itself. A stunning four-handed chamber-piece, Mass is set six years after a school shooting, and focuses on the parents of one of the victims (Jason Isaacs and Martha Plimpton) as they try to comprehend the tragedy by meeting with the parents of the shooter (Ann Dowd and Reed Birney). The directorial debut of actor Fran Kranz, the film has won plaudits both for its moving dialogue and as of one of the best pieces of ensemble acting in recent memory. But it also powerfully captures something bigger than the situation at hand: the collective despair that still exists decades after Columbine in a country where, pre-pandemic, mass shootings were happening, on average, almost once a week. At the same time, Kranz hopes that Mass is still, paradoxically, a hopeful film for the humane way in which it honours the depths of pain and trauma these events cause. "It's easy to move on. We see these sorts of tragic events, the frequency of them, as headlines that have their cycle in the media. And then we kind of move on with our lives. But the point of Mass in many ways is to stay with it. You know, the film takes place six years later and the state of these parents, their grief, is in many ways unchanged."Some know this trauma all-too-well – for Canadian writer and film critic Justine Peres Smith, these films have served as a way for her to process her own experiences as a survivor of the 2006 Dawson College Shooting in Montreal. In the years since, Peres Smith has turned to cinema and found its narrative beats and the sense of distance it offers have played into a more general, detached feeling about what she went through, as if it happened to someone else. "One of the strange things about memory is the images that you watch or that you experience, even if it's like watching what happened on television, almost start to override the experience itself. The more time passes and those memories kind of fade, the images I've watched feel closer to what I experienced now than the actual reality." Smith says she has found echoes of her experience in a number of films, including Elephant, We Need to Talk about Kevin, and Denis Villeneuve's 2009 Canadian film Polytechnique, a retelling of the 1989 massacre that killed 14 women at the École Polytechnique, again in Montreal. The different approaches Both Elephant and Polytechnique embody one particular approach to these horrific events which is to dispassionately re-enact them. They don't try to analyse what happened so much as confront just what it was that the victims went through, and find horror in the mundanity. Even all these years later Elephant, which is loosely based on the events of Columbine, is a difficult watch not only because of the cruelty of the gunmen but the naïveté of the victims; when the shooters begin to open fire, their schoolmates are torturously slow to react, losing vital time because they cannot comprehend just what is happening. Villeneuve's Polytechnique is similarly harrowing: one of its most uniquely unsettling elements is the way in which the college's brutalist architecture makes it feel like the victims are trapped within a concrete labyrinth. A less successful but similarly naturalistic and commentary-free approach was taken by 2002's Zero Day, which is presented as found footage from two teen shooters' video diaries as they count down to enacting a fictional massacre (which is eventually shown via security footage). The film provides no real reasons for the actions of "Andre" and "Cal" (who are styled to look just like Harris and Klebold), and thankfully doesn't tack on any over-simplification or invented traumatic event to provide motive. However lacking the directorial artistry of Elephant and Polytechnique, it also shows the limitations of dispassionate re-enactment, and ultimately feels like an empty endeavour.Gus Van Sant's Elephant was based loosely on Columbine and dispassionately re-enacts the horrific events (Credit: Alamy)Alongside these studiously unsentimental re-enactments, there have been some more salacious attempts to use school shootings and massacres as a plot point over the years – from films like Carrie and Heathers to the small-screen work of Ryan Murphy, who has featured school shooting incidents in both his TV series Glee and American Horror Story. However, Peres Smith is glad that these days the glib exploitation of the subject for dramatic effect seems to have dissipated. "I think the worst example was the school shooting episode of Glee [in which it transpired a gun had been accidentally set off by a student who had brought it into school to protect themselves]. That show is ridiculous but that episode is borderline offensive. I have so many issues with Ryan Murphy because he treats school shootings like pop culture. He's like 'I'm going to make a reference to Dario Argento and I'm going to make a reference to Columbine'." Pre-Columbine films like Carrie and Heathers may have felt able to be playful with the subject because it wasn't a regular occurrence; if they were made today, though, they might leave a nastier taste in the mouth. And then there have been the films that have somehow tried to "explain" the phenomenon of school shootings, directly addressing what they see as potential causes. Chief among these was Michael Moore's 2002 blockbuster documentary Bowling for Columbine, which sought to comprehend what caused the massacre by examining the prevalence of gun violence in the US. The film broke box office records for a documentary and won a plethora of awards, including an Oscar, which Moore received by giving a famously incendiary acceptance speech attacking George Bush and the Iraq War. In retrospect though, Peres Smith is unimpressed by the film's insight, "What Michael Moore was trying to argue that it's a culture of violence [that causes these events]. I think that's an oversimplification." And while Bowling for Columbine proposed solutions to the gun-violence epidemic, campaigning for tighter gun controls, the inaction that followed in the US made it feel increasingly futile – not least after the Sandy Hook school massacre in 2012, that left 20 children aged six and seven dead, when US President Barack Obama was unable to push through even the tamest of gun control legislation, a moment he later described as "the saddest day of my presidency."A slightly less simplistic analytical approach was taken by Matt Johnson's The Dirties, a 2013 found footage film about two bullied high-schoolers who, inspired by their favourite pop culture, including Quentin Tarantino and Christopher Nolan movies, make their own films about storming into their high school and shooting the boys who torment them. However where one of the pair is creating a cathartic fantasy to help them cope with young adulthood, it slowly transpires that the other is considering making their films a reality. For Peres Smith, the strength of Johnson's film is that he doesn't in any way present causes for this kind of violence  so much as an exploration of the "conditions that allow it to happen,": "a lot of it is [to do with] male rage," she says. "There are women who have also done this but it's obvious that this is a [problem of] young male rage, and probably a young white male rage would be more accurate." Addressing the search for answers If culture has inevitably looked for scapegoats to explain the unexplainable, then Ramsay's We Need To Talk About Kevin viscerally imagines what it is like to be the scapegoat. Tilda Swinton's Eva (Kevin's mother) is depicted as a social pariah, rounded on by angry neighbours who blame her for her son's actions; meanwhile in flashbacks, looking at their dysfunctional parent-child relationship, the film tempts the audience, too, to ponder Eva's possible complicity. "She comes to represent within the film what people have said about movies, video games, and rock music as a cause of the violence in our culture," says critic Marshall Shaffer. "Through the mother of the monster, we can experience so many of the moral conflicts and the knots that Americans tie themselves up in around the shootings, around nature versus nurture and how culpable we [all] are." Ramsay doesn't offer any obvious answers as to why the horrific event occurs and the film, and Kevin himself, have purposeful ambiguity. For example, something changes in Kevin when Eva throws him against a wall and breaks his arm – but whether it's a traumatic event that festers within him, or a triumphant moment for him, in providing him with ammunition with which to manipulate his mother, is up for debate. "She gives you evidence to support whatever [theory] you want [as to why Kevin does what he does]," says Shaffer. "And it is a litmus test for the viewer and to some extent proves just how difficult it is to solve this problem because there are so many determinants and you can see it and approach it however you want.We Need to Talk About Kevin is very purposefully ambiguous in its depiction of the titular character and his motivations (Credit: Alamy)More recent films that have touched on the issue of school shootings include the bold, brilliant 2018 drama Vox Lux, in which the pop-star protagonist is a shooting survivor, and 2020 teen satire Spontaneous, which uses the metaphor of a school where the students start to spontaneously explode. Both, in different ways, explore the trauma that follows those who live through mass shootings, and the survivors' remorse they live with. Mass, which Kranz says is not inspired by any single real-life event ("I drew from so many different aspects and details of shootings that I'd read about, just at schools, and found aspects in all that felt truthful to the situation that was conjuring up inside of me") also focuses on the indelible consequences of such events: six years on, the characters are not just devastated but also exhausted by pain. There is some sense of hope for the characters to heal and forgive and find joy in the future, but the film purposely offers no easy answers or solutions. Indeed, their attempts to gain control over what's happened are shown to be deficient: the male characters, in particular, know the events inside out, effortlessly reeling off times and locations. "They think if they know exactly what happened, they'll have an understanding of it and then it cannot affect them emotionally," says Kranz. "That proves to be a fallacy in some ways, and there's still a large element of their grief and anger that they haven't necessarily exercised." In this way, the film seems to offer a  meta-commentary on the films that came before it, suggesting that recreating events, poring over the specifics and focusing on the details of gunshots and adolescent school reports, won't offer any real insight into these tragedies. For his part, when Kranz first conceived of Mass, he wasn't interested in making a film about mass shootings that showed any of the violence. "This movie came from fear for my child and, and fear for my country and anxiety about the culture. I certainly wasn't interested in depicting violence. I didn't want to just observe – I wanted to offer something else." What Mass does offer is a conversation, even if the answers never quite satisfy the person asking the questions. What happened in the shooter's childhood? What did the school miss? Where could the police or his parents have intervened? Mass doesn’t blame Richard and Linda (Birney and Dowd) for what their son did but it doesn't shy away from how much they still blame themselves. Linda appears on the edge of tears throughout; Dowd plays her as a woman almost doubled over in pain. Meanwhile Birney explicitly spells out what Dowd embodies. "I regret everything," Richard admits, "The worst outcome imaginable happened. Any change I could have done could have resulted in a different outcome. I regret everything." Above and beyond its characters' meaningful but ultimately impossible search for answers, Mass offers the chance to confront loss. It ends on a moment of absolute silence, where the camera leaves the room and stares out over empty fields, a scene that Kranz wanted to use to reflect upon America's collective grief. "I was looking for an image that could [come from] 40 out of 50 states and felt distinctly American. There is forgotten survey-tape, the field is dead grass with discarded water wheels, There's an emptiness to it. It's a landscape for grief. It changes over time but you never really get away from grief. By the end of the film, there's the hope that these characters can live with this grief more easily – there's possibility in the landscape for forgiveness and reconciliation, and to heal despite unimaginable tragedy". Mass is released in the UK on Sky Cinema and in cinemas on 20 January, and is available to stream in the US now  Love film and TV? Join BBC Culture Film and TV Club on Facebook, a community for cinephiles all over the world. If you would like to comment on this story or anything else you have seen on BBC Culture, head over to our Facebook page or message us on Twitter. And if you liked this story, sign up for the weekly features newsletter, called The Essential List. 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Mary Janes for men are *officially* in for AW22

Menswear has been going through some growing pains of late. As brands waver between deciphering the future of streetwear and reinventing tailoring once more, they’re now also tasked with keeping up with our evolving views on gender. While the SS22 collections were certainly less focused on conventional menswear norms, AW22 is shaping up to be the season where archetypes are shattered once and for all. Need proof? Just look down. Mary Janes, the iconic schoolgirl shoe, have become a recurring item across the collections we’ve seen so far, cropping up at Erdem, Fendi, JW Anderson, and Comme des Garçons Homme Plus. In a segment of the industry dominated by sneakers and endless iterations of the Chelsea boot, they’ve made for an unusual – though far from unwelcome – guest.A familiar figure in fashion history, Mary Janes, named after a character in the American comic strip Buster Brown, started life as children’s shoes. In the 1920s, however, they became a staple of flapper style – what was Silvia Venturini Fendi saying about the New Roaring Twenties, again? – and are now widely considered a womenswear classic. Image courtesy of Fendi Granted, we’ve seen Mary Janes in menswear before. They were present in Riccardo Tisci’s SS16 Givenchy collection, for AW19 at Galliano’s Maison Margiela, at Bode and Telfar for SS20, in Gucci’s AW20 (worn repeatedly by, of course, Harry Styles), and for SS22 at Molly Goddard and Ernest W. Baker. What’s curious about their appearance this time around is how often we’ve seen them, and so early on in the season. The obvious justification here is that this is another attempt at genderbending ‘menswear’ collections, building on the foundation laid in during an inarguably SS22. A perhaps less obvious point, though, is that they are also part of a general interest for revising men’s sartorial tropes. Put simply, as menswear evolves, its traditions are being challenged: stiff suits shrink with preppy tailoring and expand with relaxed cuts, trousers flare and widen, shorts become skirts, and dress shoes become… well, Mary Janes. This season, Erdem and Fendi drew inspiration from prim, bourgeois menswear and gave its fundamental principles a good old twist. Looking to two 20th Century female photographers, Madame d’Ora and Madame Yevonde, Erdem created a wardrobe that occupied the grey zone between formality and informality – his t-strap Mary Janes with brogueing details, worn sockless, drove that point home. Brogueing was also present on Fendi’s Mary Janes, together with wristwatch straps (talk about repositioning a wardrobe staple). These had an air of preppiness to them, fitting right into the wardrobe of the show notes called the ‘neo-dandy,’ a contemporary reimagining of the late Romantic figure of unabashedly flamboyant taste. Photography Sarah Piantadosi. Image courtesy of Erdem. An attempt to blur gender barriers was also a prominent pillar of JW Anderson’s “silly” fantasy, making itself felt in what the shown notes called “kindergarten shoes” – single-strap Mary Janes that conjured memories of innocent childhood playfulness. Their chunkier proportions and thick EVA soles – definitely more toddler than dandy – chimed well with fashion’s nostalgia and the rise of kidcore. And somewhere in the middle of it all was Comme Des Garçons Homme Plus, whose double-strapped platform Mary Janes, worn with tailoring and shirting, were as playful as they were classic, though they looked subtle next to the pointy black patent kitten-heeled version they showed for AW21. As menswear continues to embrace flamboyance and seeks to disrupt and update its own codes, the co-opting of the femme footwear classic makes sense, echoing what we’ve previously seen happen with skirts and pearl necklaces. And while people have never exactly stopped wearing Mary Janes, fashion loves to find symbols for new mindsets, with the strappy flats serving as the perfect cipher. This autumn, people will be wearing Mary Janes whether to reminisce on their childhood days, subvert gendered tropes, or embrace neo-dandy sartoriality. While the jury’s still out on whether they’ll become menswear’s latest it-shoe, it feels safe to say that this is just the start of a wave of femme footwear to come marching down the menswear runways. Image courtesy of JW Anderson Follow i-D on Instagram and TikTok for more fashion.

Samuel Ross returns A-Cold-Wall* to its creative roots for AW22

Photography Rob Rusling. Images courtesy of A-Cold-Wall*Like many other designers, the two-year pandemic has allowed Samuel Ross time to rethink the way he runs his brand, A-Cold-Wall. One of the most significant results of these months of contemplation has been the parsing of the two strands of the label into ACW — the moniker for commercially-minded pre-collection — and, well, A-Cold-Wall*, a fashion-as-art, artisanally-informed proposal.  “Brittle. Render. Sequenced. Thought.”, A-Cold-Wall*’s AW22 collection, marks the first time since the distinction came about that Samuel’s showing the latter line on its own, allowing him to reconnect with a sense of sweet earnestness that so many independent designers crave when their businesses start to expand. “Over the last couple of months, I really had time to be alone in my own workspace, and just think,” he says. “I could just play with inks and materials, and really figure out how to bring back that level of organic, fluid development to the scale I now work at.”  Returning to a creative approach that favours raw intuition over step-by-step strategy, he started things off by playing with artistic materials, “like clay and plaster”, as well as “physically moulding shapes of interest for garments,” imbuing the collection’s 28 looks with a distinct, haptic sensibility. Heavy-set upper silhouettes bear down onto bow-legged bottoms, implying the weight and pliability of artist’s clay, and armour-like carapaces suggest a battle-ready toughness. Elsewhere, smears of metallic paint on weighty jerseys and outerwear pieces imply a sense of creative impulsivity — clothes treated as canvases, rather than products. The collection’s spirit is aptly captured in a film that Samuel collaborated on with photographer and director Rob Rusling — a broodily cinematic short that shares more in common with fine art films than your average fashion presentation. A spiritual successor to the enrapturing performance-meets-runway show A-Cold-Wall* staged for AW19 — you know, the one with naked body drenched in scarlet paint — it conjures an atmosphere of sombreness, austerity and ceremony, presenting fashion as a means to evoke an emotive response, rather than as something intended to be purchased and worn.  Indeed, it raises buzzy questions around what the role of a designer and creative director really is. Is it to create easily-worn, easily-desired clothing, or is it to challenge, to continually expand fashion’s artistic scope? For Samuel, the answer lies between the two — here, though, his focus here is firmly on the latter. “I wanted to be sure that about 70% of what we’re showing here is really directional,” he says. “What I'm proposing is that when A-Cold-Wall* shows runway, we should be showing ideas and perspectives, not just product.”  “Brittle. Render. Sequenced. Thought.” Talk us through the sequence of thoughts that led to that title? [Laughs] Well, we actually started off with some very long titles, and I was thinking about how we could from macro to micro — four or five words to really convey a sense of focus, as well as the idea of a piece of prose, or a story that's being told. With the word ‘brittle’, there's a sensitivity to it, but it still carries connotations of sharpness or fragility — an awareness to the materiality and how it may respond. With 'render', there's a double-sense — on one front, it touches on the ability to render clothes and operate and tell a story through digital surfaces, which feels very contemporary. But then there's also a sense of rendition — acting and the play, theatre and performance. With 'sequenced thought', it was really about sharing what's in my mind and how I've been feeling, both subconsciously and consciously, for the past six months. It was really about being honest, and producing something that felt more emotional. It was really about going back to how things made us feel, rather than trying to engineer an affect. In the show notes, you write about doing away with "the days of fixed forecasting, and predictive creativity”. How did you achieve that, and what impact did it have on your creative approach? Well, fashion companies often start off really artisanal, and then scale up and lose that patina. It's just what tends to happen. You have to try really hard to preserve and protect that initial sense of artistry and find ways to communicate value in a way that doesn't feel homogenised. As such, my real role is to make sure that when we're developing our perspective on product, silhouette and material, there's a sense of integrity and purity there. With this collection, I wasn't thinking about how we could make the best cargo pant or the best blouson -- I was thinking about what feelings I wanted to convey, and how shape and form helped contextualise those feelings.  Has the precarity of the past six months informed your process at all? I think that the concept of mortality has informed a sense of shape, and a couple of people I've spoken to about the film have said, "Fuck, this feels really dark and sombre!" I guess I’ve allowed my subconscious to really run wild, and if that’s what people are seeing, then that is, to a degree, what it is! That said, that hasn’t necessarily been my specific intention, but an awareness of mortality and the finality of life has enabled a freedom to really double down on creative expression. We don't have a lot of time, and when you know that, you just have to make sure that each expression, whether it's left brain or right brain, fills the room. Speaking of the film, you’ve collaborated with Rob Rusling this season. What draws you to his work?Rob and I first worked together for our SS19 show — our breakout show with the red body. I just felt like he was the perfect collaborator. He has a similar sensibility for theatrics, fine art and cinema, and there are shared visual sensibilities that I felt could be applied to A-Cold-Wall. Once I'd spent enough time mapping out the long-term proposition for A-Cold-Wall and deciding to present and sell our pre- and main collections separately, giving both facets space to breath, I knew I wanted to work with him. A particular thing that I appreciate about him is that we can have a back and forth, and we don't always agree on everything, but we're always happy to fight it out creatively for the greater good of the work.  What sort of conversations did you have working on this project?Well, we had so many conversations around exposing the Black body. The first exposure of nudity in A-Cold-Wall* was in our AW19 show, and we cast a white body covered in red paint. This time, we agreed that the body needed to be Black in order to tie it back to the founder being a person of colour, communicating a level of closeness and personal exposure, and also a way of humanising the body. It was about exploring this idea of strength against fragility; self-questioning against self-confidence. That’s such a feature of the Black male experience, in the same way that the fact that we have an extra 1.5 to 2.5% of muscle proteins is. Showing that by exposing parts of the Black male body that aren’t usually shown — the lumbar area, the buttocks, the thigh — just felt like the right thing to do, humanising it and opening up a slightly more sensitive conversation. Credits Photography Rob Rusling. Images courtesy of A-Cold-Wall* Follow i-D on Instagram and TikTok for more fashion reviews.

How to embrace your loneliness

There’s something rather disconcerting about waking up feeling galvanised and motivated, but yet staring out at the day in front of you knowing it’s empty and you have no plans. For some, it’s simply a symptom of their own poor-planning. But for many, it can provoke an existential internal conversation: Why haven’t I organised anything with anyone? Why has no one asked me to do anything? Then, there’s the question that makes you spiral: Does anyone actually like spending time with me?Solitude likes to gnaw eagerly at our mental health -- particularly when it’s not something we’ve asked for. Being ‘alone with your thoughts’ is so often framed as a dangerous thing but, moreover, it suggests that time spent with others is merely a distraction from ourselves. A way of getting through life by coping with our own problems rather than actively seeking to heal them. Recently, I’ve started to wonder what my relationship with my alone time was like. I tried to figure out what I enjoyed doing when I had moments to spare — catching shows or exhibitions I was worried I might miss; places I wanted to visit; or movies approaching the end of their cinema run. I wondered whether doing these things would only be enjoyable if I had someone to discuss them with afterwards. Or if I’d look back on these moments and remember the company more than the art I’d wanted to see in the first place. There is a two-fold definition of the word selfish: one is “lacking consideration for other people”, inarguably a negative trait, but the second leans towards something productive: to be “concerned chiefly with one's own pleasure”. Sometimes being selfish is an act of healing or self-care. Rooting your own happiness in decisions that motivate your own sense of self worth can be a good thing. What makes more sense is to practise a new kind of active solitude, one in which we stop seeing certain activities as off-limits unless they are done with other people. We can then end the pattern of forcing upon ourselves a feeling of missing out on things we’d likely enjoy, all because we’ve trained ourselves to believe we need a companion to do them with. Having started to do this about six months ago, I’ve since felt less of a crushing sense of pain or rejection tied to my own loneliness. Make an agreement with yourself about what you’re going to do, regardless of whether or not someone else is keen to come with you. Perhaps gently, and if you’re in the mood for it, ask on your social media or in group chats if anyone in particular would like to join you. And when you do ask, think about how you frame it: “I am doing X tomorrow. Does anyone want to come with me?”, rather than, “I really want to do X tomorrow, will anyone see it/do it with me?”. By placing your intentions rather than your desires at the centre, the idea of a dead inbox or rejections seem less callous. Your plans are already set in stone, all you’re asking is if anyone else wants to have that experience as well. Often, the process of finding someone free at a certain time can be tedious, so much so that it can spoil the actual enjoyment of the experience itself. After you’ve exhausted every option, calling out to friends who continually seem to be busy doing other things, that sense of loneliness is exacerbated in the most torturous manner. But if you know you’ll be doing the same activity with or without them, the presence of other people then feels less important. Of course, the suggestion here is not that cutting yourself off from the world is the answer to your own ailing happiness. Connections are important -- vital even -- but by understanding where they slot serendipitously into our lives, and where they’re placed purely for the purpose of our own validation, you might start to realise that you’re more capable of embracing your own loneliness than you once thought. Follow i-D on Instagram and TikTok for more on mental health.

A day in the life of legendary photographer Peter Hujar

Author Linda Rosenkrantz has long been a believer in the power of conversation: a means of revealing those rich intersections between truth and fiction, life and art. For her now-acclaimed literary experiment Talk (1968), she taped the cool, hilarious and clinically frank chit-chats (and psychobabble) between three art world New Yorkers and transcribed them verbatim. Linda's new book, Peter Hujar's Day, published by Magic Hour Press, follows in a similar vein. In 1974, she asked various friends to note down everything they did on an arbitrarily-chosen day and pour it into her tape recorder. One of those friends was Peter Hujar, who liked the idea, despite the supposed mundanity of his chosen day: December 18 1974. "I think, well, I didn't do anything," he confessed to Linda. "I just photographed Ginsberg, and that woman from Elle." What begins as a banal recollection of an unremarkable day unfurls as not only a fleeting resurrection of Peter's social network — the scrappy stock of the downtown demimonde of the 70s — but a poignant, unvarnished expression of the way he saw the world, through the lens and outside it. Here, Linda opens up about that conversation and their five-decade-long friendship. SELF-PORTRAIT, LYING DOWN, 1957. COURTESY THE PETER HUJAR ARCHIVE How did you and Peter first meet?I met Peter in 1956 when we were both in our early 20s. This was soon after he had moved in with the painter Joseph Raffael (known at the time as "Joe Raffaele"), who was then my closest friend and confidante, and it wasn't long before we became something of a triad. I found Peter intriguing — tall and handsome, shy and sly, looking at the world from out of the corner of his eye; already solidly committed to photography. Joe and Peter lived in a wonderful plant- and music-filled apartment on the Upper West Side of New York, along with a fat grey cat called Alice B. Toklas, and this became my almost nightly after-work refuge. It was there that Peter photographed me for one of the first times in a relaxed shoot with my much younger sister. Another very early occasion was when Peter, Joe and I took the subway to Times Square expressly as a Hujar photographing excursion, and he shot the very young-looking me in a Photomaton. I was amazed to be told recently that there are probably over a thousand separate shots of me in his archive. This was a time in my life when, recently graduated from college, I was working at my first (and, it would turn out, last) full-time job, in the editorial/publicity department of Parke-Bernet Galleries — an auction house that would later be swallowed up by Sotheby's). Together and separately, the three of us were all just dipping our toes into the New York art world that was beginning to explode. Do you have any memories of those first occasions that you found yourself in front of Peter's lens? The first few times were very casual and not formal sittings at all, so it wasn't that different from having my picture taken by anyone else. Strangely enough, I'm having a hard time recapturing the experience of the later photoshoots — of what they felt like. But there are enough examples of me laughing or goofing off to tell me that it wasn't always super serious. LINDA FINCH, C.1966. COURTESY THE PETER HUJAR ARCHIVE When did the trip to Italy happen?That was two years later, when Joe had gotten a Fulbright grant to paint in Italy. He and Peter were living in the ancient stone Villino Fioravanti in Bellosguardo, on the hills overlooking Florence, and they invited me to come for an open-ended stay. Being there with them proved to be one of the most magical times of my life. Actually living there together, my bond with Peter was at its strongest. During the day, our lives were almost monastic, with Joe painting in one room, me struggling over pretentious short stories on my Olivetti in another, while Peter might be studying Italian or out in the garden tending to his zucchini and zinnias. After dinner, we would get together in one of the common rooms, speculating about what our futures might be. A lot of the conversation consisted of them encouraging me to find a Virginia Woolf-esque room of my own and to be bolder when I returned to New York. I understand that it was upon your return from Italy that you met Peter's mother, and you were, as far as you know, Peter's only friend to have met his mother…Yes, I don't know of anyone else who spent time with Rose Murphy (almost always referred to by her full married name, though sometimes as "Rosie"). Peter didn't talk to me much about his childhood, which, in retrospect, is kind of strange in light of the abusive portrayal of it — and her — that has emerged since his death. But Peter was a master of compartmentalisation, consciously and carefully separating the different periods and elements of his life. I did know that he had conflicted feelings about his mother, but he was fairly light-hearted when he spoke about her. After I returned from Italy, he asked if I would deliver a gift to her (Florentine gloves?) and so I subwayed up to the far reaches of The Bronx where she and her husband (known to all as "Snookie") lived. I was greeted warmly, certainly not by the homophobia I had anticipated. They quite comfortably referred to Peter and Joe as "the boys" and even expressed the hope that they might find an apartment in their neighbourhood when they returned. A couple of times after that, Rose Murphy met me at my Madison Avenue office for lunch, smartly dressed in hat and gloves. NUDE SELF-PORTRAIT SERIES, #5 (AVEDON MASTER CLASS), 1967. COURTESY THE PETER HUJAR ARCHIVE I'm interested to hear about what inspired you to record conversations — from those between your three friends in Talk, to yours with Peter in your latest book. Had you always intended to publish them?With Talk, the idea came to me in a flash as I was about to leave for my summer rental in the Hamptons. My thought was to take a tape recorder, keep it running, Warhol style, and see if it might make a book. It soon became obvious that having a cacophony of voices just wouldn't work and so in the transcribing and editing — which took about a year — I pared it down to just the three voices in the book. The Hujar book was part of a larger project that was very much conceived of as a prospective book. I asked a number of people to pick one day in their lives, take notes of everything they did that day and then meet with me to record their report. The first two I did were with Peter and Chuck Close — who happened to be in the process of painting my portrait that day. The Hujar "day" was never intended to be a book on its own, and its backstory involves a lot of serendipity. Art historian Marcelo Gabriel Yanez came upon the transcript in the Hujar archive at the Morgan Library and told Magic Hour's Jordan Weitzman about it. Jordan in turn mentioned it to Francis Schichtel, who was working at the Hujar estate, and they had the idea that it could be a book and went on to produce it so elegantly. It was a very collaborative effort that also included Stephen Koch, who wrote the introduction. How did the recording process work?I left it up to Peter to pick the day, and, fortunately, it was one that happened to include interactions with, among others, Allen Ginsberg, Susan Sontag and Fran Lebowitz. He came up to my apartment on East 94th Street… I probably would have made dinner for him. Then, at some point, I turned on the tape recorder, and he relayed the events of that day. I'm not sure if I was using the big, bulky machine I had used for Talk or a more updated, portable one. NUDE SELF-PORTRAIT SERIES, #3 (AVEDON MASTER CLASS), 1967. COURTESY THE PETER HUJAR ARCHIVE Mid-way into the transcript, you learn that Peter had actually forgotten your request to note down the events of his chosen day before the sitting. The extreme precision of his memory is all the more impressive with this in mind. In the introduction, Stephen writes how Peter remembers things visually, or even, photographically.Yes, "distinctive" is the operative word. Stephen and I were just talking about this recently: how both of us can still hear Peter's voice so clearly after all this time, and yet it's difficult to describe it in words. It was quite deep and sonorous, yet understated; at times, it could be conspiratorial, affectionate, gossipy, informative but never pedantic. As he wrote in a letter to me once: "You know how I love details", and that was the charm and fascination of his speech; how richly textured it was. Of all the Day in the Life tapings I made, his was the only one that was truly a conversation that reflected the intimacy of our relationship; the others were almost strictly reportage – "I did this, and then I did that…" There are a few things I can actually hear in his voice. Like him telling me once that he had two pieces of advice for me: Never say "No" to your daughter and…Wear more jewellery. One of the great virtues of the monologue is how it is "about" Peter yet without any self-indulgence. And although intellectuals, luminaries and other downtown peers pass through his chat, they are never name-dropped. How did you interact with Peter's various circles? There was very little overlap. Of course, in the early years, there were mutual friends like Joe Raffaele and Paul Thek and later Vince Aletti. Oh, and I did get to know some of his boyfriends. Steve Lawrence became a friend, and there was a surreal evening when he brought over Jim Fouratt and his dogs. But, for example, I have never met Fran Lebowitz or Nan Goldin. One exception was Susan Sontag. She and Peter and I were part of a small group that went dancing — these were the days of the Frug, the Hully Gully and the Mashed Potato — at a place in the Lower East Side called The Dom, and the same group also went ice skating in Central Park a few times, always on Friday nights. There was one almost-connection, and that was the rock critic Lisa Robinson. Peter said several times that he wanted to introduce us because he thought we could be friends. Never happened. SELF-PORTRAIT, LYING DOWN, 1975. COURTESY THE PETER HUJAR ARCHIVE Going back to Peter's tendency to "compartmentalise", would it be accurate to say you represented, for him, a more domestic side?I do think that when I got married and especially once there was a child, he found a kind of serenity in our place in the way-West Village, maybe seeing us as just this side of bourgeois (saved by our creative pursuits). I remember one night, he came over and was cheerfully cutting out paper Christmas tree decorations with my daughter Chloe when, at a certain point, he announced that he was leaving to go cruising at the nearby piers. Included in the book are two photographs of Peter's loft at 189 2nd Avenue. How do they correspond to your memories of the place? To me, those two photographs look like a glamorised version of the loft in my memory. I saw it as very minimal. For instance, I know that he had a harpsichord, but was there ever really a piano? One strange thing is that several of us survivors have different memories of both the size and the placement of Peter's bed. ETHYL NUDE (III), 1979. COURTESY THE PETER HUJAR ARCHIVE It's quite difficult to reconcile the grandeur of those two photographs with what was in reality a penniless existence…Indeed, and very much in contrast to his rich creative and social life. Tuna casseroles were his standard dinner fare, he had a very limited wardrobe (which he was fastidious about maintaining) and coming up with the rent money was always a challenge. When anyone went out to dinner with Peter, it was always assumed they would foot the bill, and I remember one time, when we were switching our sheets, we gave Peter the replaced ones, which he was really excited about. Things like new sheets and towels were not in his budget. There were gifts of clothes too. I recall the requested (quite expensive) Pendleton flannel shirt, and the dark blue Guernsey fishermen's sweater we brought back for him from my husband's native island, which can be seen in many pictures of him and which he loved so much that he once said he'd like to be buried in it. Do you think Peter ever had a hunch that his prints would sell for such huge prices?I think Peter knew how good he was, and although his stubborn principles and demands did sometimes get in the way of commercial success while he was alive, he foresaw recognition. He once said to me very early on: "I'm going to have a show at the Museum of Modern Art next year."  I think he'd be especially pleased by how favourably he's now being compared to Robert Mapplethorpe, as more and more viewers appreciate the unparalleled depth, mastery and humanity in a Peter Hujar print. Peter Hujar's Day by Linda Rosenkrantz is published by Magic Hour Press SELF-PORTRAIT IN THE BATHS, 1979. COURTESY THE PETER HUJAR ARCHIVE SELF-PORTRAIT (WITH A STRING AROUND HIS NECK) I, 1980. COURTESY THE PETER HUJAR ARCHIVE “FOR LINNIE…”: NOTE BY PETER HUJAR ON THE BACK OF A PHOTOGRAPH OF LINDA ROSENKRANTZ AND JOY GOULD, TAORMINA, SICILY, 1959. COURTESY LINDA ROSENKRANTZ

Watch the full trailer for Netflix's series on fraud icon Anna Delvey

It feels as though the Shonda Rhimes-produced true crime series on our favourite socialite scammer, Anna Delvey, has been in the works forever — possibly because we’ve just been overexcited to watch it since the very second it was announced — but Netflix have finally given us a sneak preview of her glitzy hotel life and the designer wardrobe she copped with dud checks and credit cards in the first full trailer. And thank goodness for that, because we’ve been obsessed with the Moscow-born fashion intern who posed as a fake German heiress and stole from Manhattan’s elite since the story broke back in 2018.While the real Anna was released from prison early last year, and now faces deportation back to Germany (where we can only hope she will become an influencer and release her own beauty brand), there has been a host of new content around her story. From the Emma Corrin-starring seminal West End play Anna X, to a BBC dramatised podcast, now Inventing Anna is the latest addition to the Delvey canon, and will follow the stories of those within Anna’s inner circle, as well as the journalist investigating the mysterious socialite. Before the show becomes available to stream next month, here’s everything you need to know about Inventing Anna.  What is the plot of Inventing Anna? Inventing Anna will follow the glamorous but fraudulent life of Anna Delvey as she poses as a New York socialite and tricks fashion insiders, art world party people, wealthy investors and bouji hoteliers into believing her glitzy ruse. It’s not the only Anna Delvey show in production though. While a Lena Dunham-written series for HBO will be based on the tell-all book of one of Anna’s ex-friends, Inventing Anna is based on the New York magazine article "How Anna Delvey Tricked New York's Party People" by journalist Jessica Pressler. As a result, the story will be told through the perspective of Vivian, a journalist piecing together the accounts of everyone in Anna’s world. It seems as though the series will also deal with Anna’s eventual arrest in 2017 and her sentencing in 2019, with Shonda writing the series as the trial was happening. “It was this very crazy experience,” she told Variety in 2018. “We literally are pausing and waiting for the verdict so that we can write the end of the show.” Who is in the cast? Taking on the lead role as the fraudulent fake heiress herself is the Emmy-winning star of Ozark, Julia Garner, who stepped into the role after Orange Is the New Black and Cam star Madeline Brewer dropped out due to scheduling conflicts. Playing Anna’s group of duped NYC besties is Laverne Cox as personal trainer Kacy, Alexis Floyd (The Bold Type) as Neff, a hotel concierge and aspiring filmmaker, and Katie Lowes (Scandal) as Rachel, Anna’s ride or die whose career and credit score is almost destroyed by their friendship. Vivian, who is based on the New York Magazine article writer, will be played by Anna Chlumsky (who you may remember from that Macaulay Culkin-starring 90s movie My Girl). Who is behind the camera? Inventing Anna is the second show from Shonda Rhimes and her production company Shondaland since they signed an exclusive contract with Netflix in 2017 (the first being everyone’s favourite horny period drama Bridgerton). Shonda has also brought in her Grey’s Anatomy partner Betsy Beers and The Devil Wears Prada director David Frankel to produce the show alongside writer Jessica Pressler. This isn’t the first time one of Jessica’s stories has been given the cinematic treatment either: her acclaimed 2015 article, “The Hustlers At Scores” was turned into the J-Lo starring 2019 movie Hustlers. Is there a trailer? Netflix have just dropped the full trailer of what we can expect from the new show. Soundtracked to Megan Thee Stallion’s “Do it on the Tip”, Inventing Anna promises chic runway shows, champagne-filled business meetings and dreamy holiday escapes as Anna, in her oversized black-out sunglasses, deceives her way to the top of New York’s social scene. That’s before those around her start to realise the reality behind the facade though, with the trailer suggesting the series will also cover that infamous Marrakech visit that left her friends unexpectedly paying Anna’s tens of thousands of dollars hotel bill. When will Inventing Anna be released? Inventing Anna will be available to stream on Netflix from 11 February 2022. We can’t wait! Follow i-D on Instagram and TikTok for more TV series news.

What happens to fascist architecture?

Across Europe, many controversial monuments still remain. Alex Sakalis visits a small Italian town that has found a way to contextualise and defuse the architectural legacy of fascism.On first appearances, Bolzano in the far north of Italy is just like any other alpine town. Nestled in a valley lined by steep green hills peppered with castles, barns and churches, and terraced with vineyards, the city is a whimsical snow globe of winding streets, pastel-coloured houses and Baroque taverns. But cross the Talfer river on the western edge of town, and suddenly it's a different story. The cosy streets are replaced by wide avenues and large, solemn squares overlooked by austere, grey buildings. The architecture is linear, monotonous and domineering, with porticoes of tall, rectangular columns and strange, looping arches that gallop across the avenues like viaducts to nowhere. More like this: -          Why the tiny house is perfect for now -          Ten visionary ideas for the future -          Poland's extraordinary churches Amidst this gloomy ensemble, two structures stand out. The first is the city's tax office, a hulking grey block adorned with a gigantic bas-relief depicting – across 57 sculpted panels  – the unassailable rise of Italian Fascism, from the March on Rome to the colonial conquests in Africa. In its centre is a depiction of Mussolini on horseback, his right arm outstretched in a Roman salute. It's a remarkable piece of fascist agitprop architecture – awe-inspiring, odious and perplexing all at once.The Victory Monument in Bolzano is a perplexing example of fascist agitprop architecture (Credit: Alamy)The second is the Bolzano Victory Monument, a striking arch made of white marble, with columns sculpted to resemble fasces, the bundle of sticks that symbolised the fascist movement. It has an ethereal, almost ghostly presence, rising like a mirage out of the grey apartment buildings and green trees that surround it. Along its frieze, an inscription in Latin reads: "Here at the border of the fatherland set down the banner. From this point on we educated the others with language, law and culture." Erected in 1928, it's currently surrounded by a high, metal fence. It has been a rallying point for far-right marches and the object of several attempts to blow it up. The historian Jeffrey Schnapp has described it as "the first truly fascist monument". Yet today these two pieces of fascist architectural propaganda are the centrepiece of a bold artistic experiment in addressing the debate around contested monuments, one which offers a template for other communities divided over whether to tear down or keep up monuments with racist, imperialist or fascist connotations. Prior to World War One, Bolzano (or Bozen as it's known in German – both names are official) was the largest city in South Tyrol, a mountainous province within the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Both city and province were overwhelmingly German speaking, but at the 1919 Peace Conference they were awarded to Italy on security grounds. South Tyrol would provide Italy with a natural northern border along the ridgeline of Alps, and grant it control of the strategic Brenner Pass. As a border town with a mostly non-Italian population, it was subject to a policy of intense Italianisation under Mussolini. Place names were changed, Tyrolean cultural institutions were closed, and German – the native language of 90% of the province – was effectively banned.The Valley of the Fallen in Spain is Franco's most notorious architectural legacy (Credit: Getty Images)A huge new city quarter and industrial zone were built across the river from Bolzano, and thousands of Italians were encouraged to settle. The new town was festooned with numerous monuments and buildings dedicated to the "glory" of fascism. After the War, the Italian government attempted to atone for the fascist policies by granting the inhabitants of South Tyrol a high level of autonomy. Cultural and linguistic rights would be respected, public service jobs would be allocated proportionally based on language, and 90% of tax revenue would remain inside the region.However, the landscape of fascist monuments remained a source of friction. "For German speakers, they were a symbol of the fascist Italianisation process which had tried to annihilate their culture and language. They wanted the monuments torn down," says Andrea Di Michele, professor of contemporary history at the University of Bolzano. "While Italians, now a majority in Bolzano but surrounded by a predominantly German-speaking province, latched on to the Victory Monument in particular as a symbol, not of fascism, but of their Italian identity in the region." Persistent vandalism and attempted bombings saw a large metal gate erected around the Victory Monument, while the tax office had to be guarded around the clock by military police. The two buildings were used as a rallying point for rival marches between Italian- and German-speaking far-right groups. Frequent attempts to resolve the conflict ultimately collapsed into mutual incomprehension.Nazi-era sculptures by Karl Albiker at Berlin's Olympic stadium remain standing (Credit: Alamy)Italy is not the only country that has struggled with the architectural legacy of its fascist era. In Spain, a "pact of forgetting" meant that fascist monuments from the Franco era remained largely undisturbed until 2007, when the Historical Memory Law provided a legal framework for their removal. In 2010, an inscription glorifying Franco was removed from the frieze of the Spanish National Research Council, leaving a largely blank slate. Meanwhile the last public statue of Franco was taken down in February 2021, a move opposed by Vox, Spain's third largest political party. Buildings that are too large to dismantle continue to pose a challenge. The University of Gijon is the largest building in Spain, built during the early years of the Franco regime in a Neo-Herrerian style, and described as having "exceptional architectural value". Yet the left-wing council in the region has repeatedly vetoed attempts to have it proposed for Unesco recognition, saying that "a building linked to Francoism cannot be a World Heritage Site". Franco's most notorious architectural endowment is the Valley of the Fallen – a gigantic compound containing a basilica, a guest house, several monuments, a huge cross and a mausoleum containing the remains of more than 30,000 people. Franco intended it as a monument of national reconciliation and its crypt was consecrated by Pope John XXIII in 1960. But others consider it an exaltation of Francoism and have compared it to a Nazi concentration camp. In 2019, the remains of Franco were exhumed and removed, and in 2020 the government proposed turning the site into a civil cemetery. But the debate has remained largely a binary one – removal or preservation, with little in between. The contested legacy of the Spanish Civil War and Francoist rule is what makes the debate so polarised and complicated. In Germany, meanwhile, you would struggle to find any architecture from the Nazi period. Most of it was destroyed during the War, or shortly afterwards as part of the country's denazification process. Surviving fascist buildings were simply repurposed by scrubbing away swastikas and other fascist symbols – most notably in the Berlin Olympic Stadium. Others, like the 1935 Congress Hall in Nuremberg, were chosen to house Nazi documentation centres, their monumentalism seen as symbolic of the hubris and megalomania of Hitler's architectural ambitions.All fascist symbols have been erased from the Berlin Olympic stadium – and from all of Germany's Nazi-era architecture (Credit: Alamy)In Italy, the EUR district in Rome was conceived by Mussolini as an architectural celebration of fascism. Wandering its eerie landscape, you come across the Palazzo della Civiltà Italiana, whose façade is emblazoned with a quotation taken from Mussolini's speech announcing the invasion of Ethiopia. Just north of Rome's city centre lies the Foro Italico sports complex, whose entrance features a 17.5m-tall obelisk with the words MUSSOLINI DUX carved into it. Inside the Foro Italico hangs The Apotheosis of Fascism, a painting depicting Mussolini as a kind of God-Emperor. It was covered up by the Allies in 1944 for being too grotesque, and then uncovered by the Italian government in 1996. "In Italy, which has allowed its fascist monuments to survive unquestioned, the risk is different," writes the historian Ruth Ben-Ghiat. "If monuments are treated merely as depoliticised aesthetic objects, then the far right can harness the ugly ideology while everyone else becomes inured." Contested spaces In 2014, a cross-communal group of historians and artists in Bolzano convened to discuss how to resolve what was becoming an increasingly fractious and emotionally charged dispute. The social dynamics of the city had turned the buildings into contested spaces, creating a necessity and a sense of urgency that a solution be found. "The binary choice was either to destroy the monuments or leave them up," says Hannes Obermair, Professor of Contemporary History at the University of Innsbruck and one of the experts tasked with finding a solution to the Bolzano issue. "But if you remove the monuments, you remove the evidence, and avoid dealing with the complex layers of history and identity which drive this dispute. Alternatively, keeping the monuments up without challenging them simply normalises their fascist rhetoric."The EUR district – or "Square Colosseum" – in Rome was conceived by Mussolini as an architectural celebration of fascism (Credit: Getty Images)In the end, a creative solution was found, one that managed to unite the city and defuse the tension between the two communities. The solution was to "recontextualise" the monuments, maintaining their artistic integrity and historical importance, while simultaneously neutralising and subverting their fascist rhetoric. "This was an opportunity for the city to have an honest conversation about its history," says Obermair. "The disputes are less about the past than about the present. So what kind of society are we now? Are we a society riven by past ideologies or are we a democratic and pluralistic society that believes in the values of participation, tolerance and respect for humanity?" First up the Victory Monument, which elicited strong emotions on both sides. It is explicitly fascist, extolling the conquest and colonisation of South Tyrol and the alleged superiority of the Latin civilisation. But through a complex palimpsest of ideologies and symbols, it is also seen as a celebration of Italian victory in World War One and a memorial to the fallen Italian soldiers of the war.The monument also has significant historical value – as the first fascist monument anywhere in the world – and artistic merit, being an eminent example of Italian Rationalism, a movement now seen as important to the development of modern architecture as French Art Deco and German Bauhaus. Some of the most important Italian architects and artists of the time worked on the monument, including Marcello Piacentini and Adolfo Wildt. The first intervention was to affix an LED ring around one of the columns, symbolically stifling the fascist rhetoric without damaging the artistic integrity of the monument. Next, a museum was built in a crypt beneath the building, which detailed the turbulent modern history of Bolzano, putting the monument's creation into context, and exploring the debate surrounding it. Next came the bas-relief. The task fell to two local artists, Arnold Holzknecht and Michele Bernardi. Their idea was simple: to take a building with explicitly fascist rhetoric, and recontextualise it as an anti-fascist monument. The artists decided to emblazon the Hannah Arendt quote "Nobody has the right to obey" across the frieze in German, Italian and Ladin – the region's three official languages. The quote is even more subversive when you remember that the building currently houses the city's tax office.The explicitly fascist tax office in Bolzano has recently been recontextualised (Credit: Città di Bolzano)"Leaving the monuments in situ allows you to contemplate the context in which they were created," explains Di Michele, who was also a member of the cross-communal taskforce. "It creates a dialogue about them and about fascism in general, and allows us to better understand the strong urban impact of fascist architecture and the far-reaching dimensions of the artistic interventions. If you move them to a room in a museum you cannot understand what impact they were intended to have and have had on the city, on the urban and symbolic layout." The artistic interventions were a huge success, praised by politicians and civil society members from both communities. There are still occasional communal tensions, but not about buildings. That chapter has been closed. They even managed to neutralise the extremist rallies that were blighting the city. "The Italian far-right used to assemble every year in front of the bas-relief and perform the fascist salute," says Obermair. "But with the Arendt quote there, they feel humiliated. So they've stopped coming. Likewise, the far-right groups from the German-speaking community used to rally in front of the Victory Monument to say 'Look how Italy is oppressing us', but now they can no longer say that. We've destroyed their toys, so to speak." Obermair is enthusiastic that the Bolzano model could be successfully replicated in other parts of Italy, as well as in other countries struggling with divisive and complex fascist legacies, such as Spain. The model also offers a solution to the debate over statues in the UK and US. "Of course the social context in Bolzano is important, and each community needs to imagine its own artistic intervention," says Obermair. "But the basic idea, that we shouldn't destroy monuments but radically transform them, is a powerful one. It provides people with the tools to reflect on history, question ideology and critically examine the built environment around them. No architecture is neutral. Ultimately it is we, not the monuments, who should have the final word." If you would like to comment on this story or anything else you have seen on BBC Culture, head over to our Facebook page or message us on Twitter. And if you liked this story, sign up for the weekly features newsletter, called The Essential List. A handpicked selection of stories from BBC Future, Culture, Worklife and Travel, delivered to your inbox every Friday.

Art Dubai announces line-up for 2022 – and a whole new section on digital art

The 15th edition of Art Dubai 2022 has announced it’s dates for 2022, taking place from March 11  to 13. Returning to its long-standing location at the Madinat Jumierah, Art Dubai will feature over 100 contemporary and modern galleries from over 40 countries.For its 2022 edition, the Art Dubai galleries will be divided into three sections: Contemporary, Modern Bawwaba and a new section called Art Dubai Digital, which is making its debut by highlighting digital and an NFT section – something that has notably disrupted the art economy in the last few years. A physical section of the fair will highlight a curated selection of digital artworks presented by 17 international galleries and platforms, examining the context out of which NFTs, cryptocurrency and video art have grown since the 1980s. The exhibits will be supplemented by talks and education programmes, and will include the Global Art Forum, with a series of introductory talks. “Art Dubai is a truly global fair, and this is reflected in both the quality and geographic spread of the galleries participating in our 2022 edition, which will be our largest to date,” says Pablo del Val, artistic director for Art Dubai. “That so much of the programme is drawn from the Global South highlights the increased interest in and appetite for collecting non-Western art, the strengthening of the gallery scene beyond the traditional centres of the art world, and the role Art Dubai plays as a platform for the region. We are particularly pleased to launch Art Dubai Digital, which will provide an important and needed bridge between the rapidly-developing global crypto-sphere and the international art market.” Art Dubai Digital will include a dedicated gallery section curated by the Chris Fussner, Web3 speaking and director of Tropical Fruits Institute. It will include contemporary galleries with devoted digital art and NFTs, as well as galleries that have been working with digital art since the 1980s and NFT e-commerce sites that are transforming existing physical art into NFTs. Moreover, Art Dubai is also launching a Campus Art Dubai 9.0 Blockchain Edition, an eight-week NFT strand within the fair’s educational programming. The course is led by local and global experts on blockchain and the NFT art sector, and will be supporting 12 UAE and international artists with digital backgrounds. View more at

Jerry Lorenzo, Raul Lopez & Angelo Baque on making it as self-taught designers

As curator of this year’s edition of INNERSECT, east Asia’s leading street culture event, Jerry Lorenzo had one theme and one theme only in mind. Balance. It’s a topic chosen by the Fear of God founder for its personal importance to his life and career and over the three-day-long festival, taking place over 15-17 January in Shanghai, it will be explored through a series of events and immersive installations. Jerry is also inviting close friends and family to take part and reflect on the theme, including Raul Lopez, who co-founded Hood by Air with Shayne Oliver in 2006 before founding his label LUAR in 2011, and Angelo Baque, who after years as brand director of Supreme is defining the possibilities of meaningful streetwear with Awake NY. Although their creative output is different, the three designers are old friends, united by their distinct visions and unconventional pathways. Each of them made their way without any formal training, often having to overcome obstacles in an industry that at times felt indifferent, even hostile, towards young men from minority backgrounds trying to forge their own path. Now firmly established as some of the most influential and celebrated figures in their field, they are looking back and thinking about how they might be able to make a difference for those coming after them. The four of us sat down for a conversation intended both as a moment of reflection for the three designers, and as guidance for those starting out. We discuss the importance of balanced living, collective legacy, paving the way for others and the late Virgil Abloh, who passed away in the days following our conversation.  Angelo Baque Eliot Haworth: Jerry, can you kick off by talking about balance and why it’s important to you? Jerry Lorenzo: I’ve always tried to keep my work and my personal life both integrated and balanced. I need to be genuinely myself in my work, without turning anything off or hiding any part of myself, and I need my work to function in a way that is healthy and complements my personal life. I’m always looking for cohesion rather than having to separate the two. It’s definitely a goal. Raul Lopez: You pretty much summed up where I’m at right now. Before, I was driving myself crazy with being a designer and then being Raul. It was like two separate lives and it’s one of the reasons why I needed to take some time off for myself. I needed to find that balance. At the end of the day, if you burn yourself out by going non-stop and not really taking time for yourself, your creativity just fades away. Once I took a step back, that was like ten steps forward for me, that was a blessing. I started taking care of myself, which I wasn’t doing. I realised that I never really gave myself the respect that I deserved.  Angelo Baque: It’s interesting, listening to Jerry and Raul, I think of duality of character. There’s the Angelo Baque who lives in New York, the guy who does Awake, et cetera. And then today I posted a photo of me and my grandmother, that’s just regular Angelito. For me, appreciating and giving space to that part of myself is part of the process of maturation, as a man and as a creative. That’s balance. Because, and maybe my two peers can identify with this, I’m constantly looking at the outside, validating myself by these small victories, whether that’s a collaboration or a drop, or whatever. And to a certain extent that’s fine but the truth is what matters most to me is hanging out with my grandmother, for me that’s finding what’s real. Raul: I feel like we’ve all been through the ups and downs in the industry. And we have all been scrutinised and put under a microscope. It’s really beautiful to see all these people you grew up with come through that. I’m a fan of Jerry, I’m a fan of Angelo. Not only because they’re my friends, but the work is good and it shows.  Jerry: Raul, you might not know this but yours must have been, like, the second fashion show I’d ever been to. You were just doing you in the best way possible and without even knowing it you inspired me. Same with you Angelo.  Raul Lopez Eliot: It’s really nice to hear that you’ve drawn inspiration from one another. As designers who have made your way without any formal education, has finding inspiration in your peers been important?  Raul: 100%. You need to find peers that nurture you and can mentor you. Even now I go to Angelo for advice all the time. And there are so many other people in the industry that I hit up. That’s always my advice to people. Just ask. We are so conditioned to be afraid of asking. Eliot: How are you all managing the transition from being outside an industry, to being situated within it and becoming figureheads in a position to help others?  Angelo: Truth is, every internship I had, in any corporate room I had access to, no one ever looked like me, ever. And if there ever was anybody that looked like me, the last thing they were trying to do was help me. Because they were operating from a place of fear and scarcity. Today it’s quite the opposite. Whatever it is that you wanna know, my resources are your resources. The most valuable asset that I have is knowledge, because that’s the only way we are going to grow and advance. At this point, one of the main objectives of being in the position I’m in is to let other people in and teach them to hold their space once they’re inside. It’s true what Raul said: closed mouths don’t get fed. But it’s also important to make sure there’s a culture where people know that they can ask in the first place. Because I never felt that.  Jerry: I think we are finally in a position to be asked a question, right? And we are finally in a position to encourage people to ask. These are all new waters that none of us have swam in before.  Jerry Lorenzo Eliot: What does that look like in practice, how do you try to make yourselves accessible?  Angelo: To give a simple example, taking two minutes out of my day to reply to a kid who reaches out in my DMs is not a big ask. I know what it’s like to be on the other side. To not have anyone to ask questions to or just get dead silence back if I did find someone. It’s important for me, too, because I don’t know the impact I’m having on a kid and it’s a big thing to actually see it. When I dropped my first Asics with the colours of the Ecuadorian flag, more than any success measured by sales, what mattered the most to me were the random Ecuadorian kids who messaged me and said: “Yo, thank you. Thank you, because now I’m seen. It makes it easier to talk to my parents, because I show them you. You’re born in the US and a child of immigrant parents and you didn’t become a doctor, or a lawyer, or a teacher. Now it makes it easier for me to have that conversation with my parents and they can believe that I can actually have a career out of being a creative.” Jerry: That’s so important. My dad was always, “Get an education and get a salary job that’s going to give you some benefits.” Doing anything creative is seen as risky. I wouldn’t say that it’s totally looked down upon, but that’s definitely not encouraged. And so being of colour and being in this creative field, it’s a different type of responsibility. It’s super deep. You realise that you are actively changing the understanding of what is possible. Because we all come from families that don’t encourage this line of work. Raul: Jerry, I feel it’s important to also say that you guys have both hustled. I couldn’t go to fashion school. I didn’t have the luxury of being able to get that kind of education, so I had to do it myself. I wouldn’t be the same without that. Jerry: You’re trying to say: don’t think that being given the knowledge is going to take the place of the hustle that is also necessary.  Raul: Right, you need the hustle. Just because you have the knowledge, the access, it doesn’t mean you’re gonna know what to do with it.  Jerry: I think, as a father, that’s something I also struggle with. Although I’m exposing my son to a life I was never exposed to as a child, the biggest thing I want to give him is the work ethic, the discipline. The education can inform you, but what really sustains you is the hustle.  Angelo Baque Eliot: Your three brands occupy quite different parts of the industry. Aside from the work ethic, is there something that unites what you do and that has been uniformly important to your individual successes?  Angelo: The common thread between all of us is actually our individuality. It’s precisely because we’re not the same. I think if you look at the three of us, the one thing that is consistent is that we each have a strong belief in our own ethos and vision, our own world and we’ve stuck to it through and through.  Jerry: Ultimately the thing with the most longevity is individuality. We’ve all been there, hustling for validity and acceptance from others, not knowing that it was never necessary in order to become who we needed to become. And that’s really the answer that I’m trying to give to people coming after me who are asking the question: “How do I get in?” There’s no way to get in. You are already in. There’s no need to chase circles or fashion cliques. Chase yourself and the answer is right there. You just got to build it. It’s like Virgil going to Louis Vuitton. He did it his own way and he’s shown that people of colour and our point of view are valid. That they can lead a big fashion house. He pushed the conversation forward to the extent that there can be multiplicity. I can feel valid saying I’m happy doing my own thing with Fear of God in LA. That’s a new thing for our culture. It’s a new thing for us to be able to say: “You know what? I’m cool, I don’t want that creative director job. I’m cool building my own house. My own dream.”  Angelo: I just think of legacy. We weren’t having these conversations five years ago. Being able to start Awake and bring intention and consciousness, to help bring my friends up. Just changing the way we think and operate as creatives and as a collective, for me that’s the norm now. What’s the norm going to be 15 years from now? There’s going to be multiple Virgils, multiple Jerrys, multiple Angelos and Rauls. That’s the whole point of the work that we’re doing. I’d be lying to you if I said that I didn’t want 200 million dollars, that would be great. But what’s really going to make me happy, and it goes back to the idea of balance, is helping others and bringing change. Jerry: It ain’t the 200 million. You know what I’m saying? With being of colour and being part of the overlooked and the unseen, comes the luxury of responsibility. For so long we’ve been in a culture that we have so much influence over but so little ownership of. Now we are transitioning into ownership and really being able to participate in the influence of our ideas, and there’s a responsibility that comes with that. We are all here at the forefront, the three of us and everyone else that’s part of this community. We all know that we are just knocking down doors and breaking barriers for those who come behind us. We know that this isn’t about us, it’s about the next generation. And in reality, that’s a luxury.  Created in collaboration with 1 Granary Raul Lopez Credits Photography Baud Postma

JW Anderson brings a bit of silliness to Milan Fashion Week

Ahead of the JW Anderson AW22 ‘show’, in the chaotic rooms of the Scala nightclub in Kings Cross (the only way to describe it to out-of-towners is ‘mass’, a word that Jonathan Anderson is currently obsessed with) there is a vibrant atmosphere. People are running around, there’s hair and makeup happening where the dancefloor should be, neon strobe lights are darting all over the place. Tables are covered in pigeon-shaped clutch bags and ridiculous, knitted elephants. A sleeveless top woven from hundreds of brightly-coloured rubber wristbands swings from a rail. Bright, clashing prints and textures sit side-by-side — Zebra! Sequins! Lamé! — while models are tucking into lunch at the sticky-floored bar. It’s almost like the old days, back when backstage areas were as fabulous as front-of-house, and far less sanitised. This all should have happened in Milan, where JW Anderson was meant to make a splash as the city’s new arrival on the MFW schedule, followed by a big party that the city’s fashion-conscious kids would have clambered to get into. Instead, Omicron has delayed those plans (they have been pushed back to June) and instead, the show is happening digitally — something which Jonathan has successfully avoided during the pandemic with his ingenious alternatives. So, here we are in a nightclub at 2PM, surrounded by his most irreverent collection to date.  For Jonathan, the word he started with was ‘silly’. “It’s a very British word,” he points out with glee. “Sometimes your parents will say: “Oh, don't be so silly!” I like the idea of going back to a naive state of mind, so that it’s almost a blur of a vision of going out. Maybe it is fine to even project into a utopian vision of going out.” Going out may seem silly to some, but for young people especially, it’s cathartic to give into the frivolity of hedonism, especially when everything else happening in the world feels so serious. This was an incredibly fun collection, ridiculous even. Pigeon-shaped clutches, for crying out loud! Silver catsuits — so tight and reflective, you could call them pigeon-smugglers. In fact, all together, the lineup looked like a group of boys and girls in a queue for some nightclub or foam party, albeit some of them in costume.  There were the buzzcut boys in polo tops, except the tops were actually dresses with undulating hooped hems or second-skin playsuits, and girls in sassy one-shouldered dresses and handbags slung over their shoulders. There were remnants of parka jackets, ready to be discarded at the cloakroom. It all felt a bit scally, but in a celebratory way. It has the youthful joy of getting ready to go out, the willingness to queue for a club like Scala, and the promise of an after-party at someone’s dorm. “Bits, pieces and fragments of youth, like confetti scattered around at a house party,” as the show notes put it. “Optimistic and fun,” is how Jonathan described it.  It’s interesting to consider that Jonathan was also thinking about hyper-masculinity, having watched a documentary about Cristiano Ronaldo (hence, the sequinned football shirts in minuscule proportions). Football is still such a strangely masculine pursuit — almost like what fashion is to gay men and women, some would argue. Jonathan said he was imagining the footballer on an empty pitch, not kicking a ball but doing the same movements — and he came to the conclusion that he would look like he were dancing. There’s a nice through-line there, but ultimately Jonathan is no stranger to provocation. Almost a decade ago, he sent out male models in wool micro-skirts and ruffled tunic dresses in his AW13 show, long before gender-fluidity was common parlance on the front row. It bombed in terms of sales, and mainstream media coverage, but succeeded in cementing him as a provocateur. Oh, how times have changed! Here was a hint of that collection, but with so much more irreverence. By seemingly toying with the notions of taste, and perhaps even class, Jonathan managed to unpack something interesting to say about gender — which is no mean feat in 2022.  Follow i-D on Instagram and TikTok for more on fashion.

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