Mimi Zeiger

Critic, editor, curator and instigator.

Brasília is a living museum for monuments and architecture,” says photographer Daniel Shea, who recently traveled from his home in New York City to central Brazilto shoot the iconic modernist city. “The buildings retain their function, but the city is really a historical site.”

From the air, Brasília looks like a bird or an airplane—a city poised to take flight into the future. It was designed and built to do just that. In the late 1950s, Brazilian president Juscelino Kubitschek envisioned a new federal capital in the country’s rural interior, one that would leave behind the colonial baggage of the old capital, Rio de Janeiro. He held a competition, and an international jury selected Brazil’s brightest talents to conceive not just individual buildings, but the workings of an entire city. His forward-looking utopian dream was inaugurated in 1960, and today Brasília is known as an unusually intact time capsule of what we used to think of as the future.  Read More …

Los Angeles–based architect Barbara Bestor may have been dubbed queen of her neighborhood after publishing the book Bohemian Modern: Living in Silver Lake, but her love of art and culture goes beyond any zip code. A nonstop traveler, Bestor works what she’s seen—bright tile in Istanbul, mud mosques in Mali—into bold designs that are changing the face of L.A.

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In 1909, the french banker Albert Kahn began his Archives of the Planet, a project as ambitious as its title suggests. During the next 22 years—and spanning a world war—Kahn sent a fleet of photographers to more than 50 countries around the globe to create a visual record. Today, the archive is housed at the Musée Albert-Kahn, located in the financier’s former garden estate in suburban Boulogne-Billancourt, just west of Paris. His collection of 72,000 perfectly preserved color autochromes documents a world on the verge of the modern era. Snippets of history we’ve grown accustomed to seeing in sepia tones are pictured in vivid color. These are snapshots of another time, but bright hues in most images render the subjects—including World War I soldiers and Vietnamese performers—immediate and full of life.

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Based, in Bologna, Italy, Blu creates politically charged murals, borrowing visual inspiration from the Surrealists. Using house paint and rollers to draw human figures, Blu often comments on the exploitation of natural resources. Graffiti artists have long used video to document their ephemeral work, but Blu’s videos thoroughly reinvent the practice. In his digital stop-motion films, he animates his figures frame by frame, and the drawings appear to come to life as Blu paints out each old image and creates a new one.

Swoon’s artwork stand out in a street art world that’s oft populated with brash, pop art figures. Where some of her guerrilla colleagues fill walls with Andre the Giants, cartoon characters, and Andy Warhol wannabes, she creates life-sized paper cut outs of everyday people, realistic rendered in black and white. With her bike nearly for a quick getaway, she wheat pastes these enigmatic souls—women, children, mermaids—at eye level where they interact with people who happen by. Born in Daytona Beach, Florida and trained in fine-arts at Brooklyn’s Pratt Institute, Swoon’s illustrations and hand-cut paperwork draw on formal and folk traditions—German Expressionist and Japanese wood block printmaking, Mexican papel picado, and Wayang Kulit, the shadow puppets from Central Java. Read More …