Matt Starr occupies a unique space on the New York art scene. He rarely, if ever creates his work around the ‘gallery’ form, instead choosing a mix of performance and photography as his primary mediums, with themes so comical it borders on ‘meme’ art. It’s usually interactive and funny, but always rooted with social commentary. It’s often a challenge to extend that kind of intangible and droll work into the consciousness of art-industry types, but Starr continues to capture the attention of media and art brands, including his latest venture with Culture Corps.
While many of his peers were away in Miami, Starr was tapped by Culture Corps (Art Production Fund’s Doreen Remen and Yvonne Force) to create a 1 day rotating exhibit with luggage brand Raden at New York’s most prominent hotels. With only a small team of assistants, Starr brought colorful Raden luggage—enough suitcases to carry all the earthly possessions of multiple people—to hotels including The Plaza, The Standard, The Edition, and The Mandarin, creating a humorous spectacle that made passersby stop in their tracks. Starr even attempted to check into the hotels with the luggage in tow, which also had the labels ‘Fragile,’ ‘Very Fragile,’ and ‘Extremely Fragile,’ plastered on them. It all happened to take place on one of the busiest shopping days of the year, Cyber Monday, and beneath the surface Starr was challenging the ideas of conspicuous consumption that drive the country into a frenzy every holiday season. We reached out to Starr to learn more about the ideas behind this quirky performance.
How did this performance change from Amazon Boy, which dealt with similar topics of consumption?
Amazon boy was about going somewhere and this most recent project is about waiting. Both are about being.
What made you choose hotels as the platform for the performance?
Hotels are interesting spaces. They’re very liminal. They’re inviting and exclusionary at the same time. When I team up with companies to make art, I’m not interested in making objects for one to costume passively. I always want to set up a situation or experience for people to engage with. It’s more interesting for me and everyone else involved. Since I partnered with Raden (the luggage company), hotels made the most sense. I thought about doing something at JFK or LaGuardia but was afraid of being mistaken for a terrorist and shot.
It seems that while millennials prioritize experiences over products, there’s also an increase in materialistic tendencies. Do you feel that this performance fits between those opposing ideas?
Totally. I think everyone is interested in spectacles, whether they like what they’re seeing or not. People are programmed to notice the ‘thing’ that stands out. I like being that thing. And I like using the banal objects that most people take for granted (i.e. Amazon boxes, luggage, baby clothes, etc.)
What were the reactions like from onlookers? What about the reactions from the hotels?
Onlookers were shocked. Most couldn’t fathom what was in the suitcases. They wanted to take pictures and know what was inside. A handful asked to take the luggage with them.
Hotels were annoyed. Some had mixed reactions.
The Plaza for example, was very warm and kind at first. After a while they made it clear there wasn’t enough room for all my luggage. I was pretty shocked how helpful they were being. They offered me a complementary drink and let me and my handlers take everything inside to a safe spot, but as soon as I realized I was at the wrong hotel they became cold and removed. People kept taking photos of me which they didn’t like. They thought it was a stunt.
At the Mandarin, we were shooed away immediately. We barely unloaded all the luggage before the general manager came out and asked us to not block any signage and take the luggage and go. It was early in the morning, so I don’t blame them. I should’ve have offered the door men some coffee.
The Standard was warm and welcoming, asking to take pictures with the suitcases.
None of the reactions surprised me. All were very telling of them and what the expectations of their guests are.
Your performances are a bit playful, but underneath the surface you’re looking at society and social behaviors…is your outlook optimistic?
I’m only concerned with creating an experience for everyone (all demographics). It doesn’t have to make sense and most of the time it doesn’t. My performances are dealing with normal people doing relatively normal things, just a bit exaggerated, which force people to pay a little bit more attention than they typically would to their behavior and those around them. So yeah, optimistic.
Art Basel Miami Beach 2016 has come to an end, and as the everyone settles back into their daily routines, they have all the photographic evidence they need to recall the wild week. In one of the most memorable Basel week of the last few years, there was everything from NYC club pop-ups to gorgeous art installations. Performances ranged from Madonna to Gucci Mane, venues were transformed with neon lights or ‘gardens of Eden,’ and of course there was a steady stream of eye candy with people like A$AP Rocky, Adrianna Lima, Emily Ratajkowski, and many more. Here are some of our favorite highlights from one of the best events of the year.
Next week art lovers from all over the world will descend upon Miami for Art Basel 2016. It’s one of the biggest celebrations of art all year, and a place to check out some of the most famous artwork alongside burgeoning new talents. But it’s also one of the best party destinations to close out the year. We’ve compiled some of the events we’re most excited for, so grab your sunglasses and find us in Miami Beach!
Check back for updates throughout the week!
Whole Glory – Starting in New York Scott Campbell began a series of interactive tattoo exhibits, where visitors were selected by a lottery to put their hand through a wall and get a blind tattoo by Campbell himself. Now, in collaboration with Milk Studios, he brings the latest installment of Whole Glory to ABMB.
Where: 2400 NW 5th Avenue
When: 12/1 – 12/2
Bombay Sapphire Artisan Series Finale – Bombay Sapphire and Russell & Danny Simmons are hosting the series finale of their Artisan Series, where they will select a winner. Jermaine Dupri will perform a set.
Where: 11 11 Lincoln Road
When: 12/1, 8:30pm
L’Eden by Perrier-Jouët – Perrier-Jouët is hosting a 3-day pop-up with Simon Hammerstein, known for his immersive NYC theatrical offerings at The Box and Queen of the Night. Invite Only
Where: Faena House, 3315 Collins Avenue
When: 11/29 – 12/1
Take-Two Miami Beach Kickoff Party – Following a discussion panel,one of the companies behind gaming titles like Grand Theft Auto and NBA 2K will bring together gaming, music and art with an after-party featuring Virgil Abloh, Chelsea Leyland, and Kitty Cash.
Where: Oceanfront Miami Beach, Audemars Piguet Art Commission Site Between 21st and 22nd Streets
When: 11/30, 7:30pm
Alexis Gideon: The Comet and The Glacier Cocktail Reception – Alexis Gideon presents his first large-scale exhibition at the not-for-profit Locust Projects alongside art by HUFFER Collective and Katie Bell.
Where: 3852 North Miami Avenue
When: 11/29, 7pm
Charity Gala at the Shore Club – Daniel Staford debuts a new piece titled Rihanna “Sacred Vision” at this invite-only gala benefitting Michelle Tidor for Kids. There will also be a new unveiling of a Kim Kardashian ‘Uncensored’ portrait. Invite Only
Where: Shore Club, 1901 Collins Avenue
When: 12/2, 8pm
The Basement at The Miami Beach EDITION – The Basement follows the Pink Party kick-off with one of the best lineups at Basel, including two of the most famous DJs in the world, Theo Parrish and DJ Harvey.
Where: The Miami Beach EDITION, 2901 Collins Avenue
11/30 – Theo Parrish
12/01 – Bedouin, LUM, Oceanvs Orientalis
12/02 – “A Very Special Surprise After Party”
12/03 – DJ Harvey
1800 x Billboard “In Focus” Photography Exhibit – An exhibit of original hip-hop photography including works by Cam Kirk, Gunner Stahl, and Placed + Faces. An after-party with Rae Sremmurd will follow.
Where: Up&Down at The Nautilus, 1825 Collins Avenue
When: 12/2, 8pm
Up&Down Pop-up – NYC staple Up&Down is hosting a 4-day pop-up at the Nautilus, and like its Manhattan counterpart, expect surprise performances.
Where: Nautilus, 1825 Collins Avenue
When: 11/29 – 12/3
Silencio 5 Year Anniversary – David Lynch’s Paris club Silencio celebrates 5 years with a party during Art Basel, featuring an art instillation and performance by Michelle Lamy, as well as a musical performance by A$AP Rocky. Invite Only
Where: Palm Court Event Space, 140 NE 39th SStreet
When: 12/2, 9pm
ORA Grand Opening – The new Miami club ORA has a 3 day opening lineup featuring:
12/1 – A champagne soiree with Perrier-Jouët By Night. Invite Only
12/2 – Raspoutine Paris pop-up with DJ Fabrice Dayan and Wild Belle. Invite Only
12/3 – The SCOPE Art Show party with Fool’s Gold, featuring Nick Hook and Theophilus London
12/3 – Treats! Magazine brings LA’s Blind Dragon and Five Four for a party with Absolut ELYX and curated art by Powerhouse.
Where: ORA, 2000 Collins Avenue
Interview Magazine & Cadillac – Interview and Cadillac are bringing artists Derrick Adams, Aerosyn Lex Mestrovic, Shantell Martin, and Ellington Robinson for an exclusive exhibition.
Where: Maps Backlot, 342 NW 24th Street
When: 12/2, 6pm
The Webster x Enoc Perez Launch – The Webster will unveil its new collaboration with Enoc Perez with a private launch party, debuting tote bags, art prints, and a special collaboration with Bamford Watch Department. Invite Only
Where: The Webster, 1220 Collins Avenue, 2nd Floor
When: 12/1, 3pm
Ivy x Art Basel – Ivy is hosting a cocktail party celebrating the popular painter Bradley Theodore at the newly opened Nobu Hotel.
Where: Nobu Hotel, 4525 Collins Avenue
When: 12/1, 7pm
Abolut Elyx Pop-Ups:
Absolut Elyx ‘A Little Bird Told Me’ – A reservation-only pop-up bar, with renowned bartenders and a unique cocktail menu.
Where: The Miami Beach EDITION, 2901 Collins Avenue
When: 11/30 – 12/4
Absolut Elyx Retail Store – Coinciding with the new Elyx webstore is a retail pop-up featuring the brands signature wares and limited edition products too.
Where: Spectrum Miami Art Show, 1700 NE 2nd Avenue
When: 12/1 – 12/3
Abolut Elyx & Water For The People Benefit – A charity benefit featuring a DJ set by Mia Moretti and an auction of a Hugo McCloud piece by Paddle8.
Where: Nautilus South Beach, a SIXTY Hotel, 1825 Collins Avenue
When: 12/1, 6pm
Pink Party by the Haas Brothers – The Basement at the Miami Beach EDITION celebrates its 2 year anniversary hosted by the Haas Brothers, with a performance by Thugfucker.
Where: The Miami Beach EDITION, 2901 Collins Avenue
When: 11/29, 11pm
With serendipitous timing, Monocle highlights one of Canada’s most vibrant cities as part of their City Guide series
As much as we encourage discovering boutique hotels here at A Hotel Life, we also emphasize traveling, exploring, and discovering the off beaten paths that make each destination wonderfully unique. Steven Rojas has been an eager supporter of that mission as well. Having spent most of his adult life working in hospitality, he too appreciates the communal spirit of a great hotel. But he’s spent the better part of the last couple of years documenting his adventures outside of the city, getting in touch with nature and exploring parts unknown. At a time when people are re-examining their relationship with technology and prioritizing ‘experiences’ above all, we talked to Rojas about embodying this desired idea of the modern adventurer.
Rojas was joined by Paige Steele and Zelda Rojas during the interview, and shares most of his adventures with both.
You’ve been engaged with all of city culture for years, what got you suddenly interested in the outdoors?
I’ve always been into the outdoors. I’ve been into the outdoors since I was a little kid, my parents were into the outdoors. I’ve always been into it because my mom was into it, I just took it more seriously. Either I got older or the city got more boring, or a combination of both.
What was your most recent adventure?
I applied to this NASA program [to attend and photograph the launch of Osiris Rex], they only accept a handful of people, and I got lucky. Scribner’s just opened in Hudson Valley…awesome hotel. They’re all amazing people, I just don’t want it to get overrun by douch-y New Yorkers (laughs).
For New Yorkers like yourself looking for weekend getaways, what are your best recommendations?
Paige:We went to Minnewaska state park and we did the ice caves.
It’s easy, one of the easier ones. My go to with everyone is I’ll tell them to wake up early, drive to Phoenicia and have breakfast at Phoenicia Diner. When they’re done with breakfast to drive over to Kaaterskill Falls and do the hike up to the top, and when they’re done there get lunch at Mama’s Boy, and then from there head over to Hunter Mountain. You can do zip-lining, go hiking, or snowboarding if there’s snow. There’s a new brewery over there, if you’re a beer person. Then you can go across the street and have dinner at Scribner’s and have a cocktail. Stay the night if you want.
Or you can go to Hudson Valley, more Hudson Town, and stay at Rivertown Lodge which is run by Ray Pirkle. The restaurant I like over there is Fish & Gain, and the breakfast spot is Bonfiglio.
How do you get your fix when you’re stuck in the city?
If it’s a warm day you go rock climbing under the Brooklyn Bridge at The Cliffs, if you want to do indoor climbing you can do Brooklyn Boulders, or The Cliffs in Long Island City. The park is free, anyone can go to Central Park and go for a good long run. 6 miles all the way around. You can always go to Chelsea Piers as well.
As someone who works in hospitality, what do you look for in places to stay? Especially considering these quaint locations probably don’t have fancy hotels…
We’ve had good and bad experiences. There’s a teepee in Woodstock, there’s a guy who rents out his teepee in his backyard, next to a river.
Paige: We stay everywhere from a teepee to literally a Motel 6 on the side of a highway 4 hours north of the city.
If you’re going to live the true #camplife, #glampinglife, #tinyhomes, hashtag whatever these millennials are coming up with…in the back of the Jeep we have tents, sleeping bags, hammocks. We’ve slept in the car, one night we had an Airbnb so bad, SO bad that we slept in the car in its garage outside. It was freezing.
The latest thing is Mandy Coon and Peter Miszuk’s place. They have a tiny house they built for people to rent out in Black Swan Lake.
As nature photography is getting bigger, your photos has received a lot of attention, and you even exhibited for the first time last week. Was that a goal of yours?
I would do this even if I didn’t know how to work a camera. I’m not doing this to show off. I don’t think people should worry about what they’re doing for other people. You don’t like the same things you liked 2 years ago, but it happens to be that the things you like now other people like. You think it’s a coincidence? It’s a natural progression.
What’s on your trip wishlist?
Nepal, I was meant to go to Everest. I’m just going to trek from Nepal and go to base camp 1. Iceland, we’re going to sneak over there for a bit. We’re going to Puerto Rico in a couple weeks. Big White Vancouver. Yosemite, I’ve always wanted to go there. Big Sur is amazing, I reccomemend it.
In the last year, Anouk Colantoni has transformed her passion for illustration into a creative platform. Her self expression through sensual, sweet, and quirky caricatures capture the feelings of a young woman in a big city, and led to her first solo exhibit at Wallplay and commissions from major brands. Recently Colantoni was tapped by the Beekman Hotel ahead of their long-awaited opening, to capture the spirit of the famed building in the way she knows best.
What did you aim to capture about the hotel and the space?
I aimed to capture the romance of the The Beekman. The Beekman’s intricate and intelligent structure, has remained steadfast as New York City has morphed and modernized around it; and has truly stood the test of time. The details from the Gothic dragon iron, to the storybook-like turrets – tell a tale of times in New York come and gone. The beautiful, luxurious new comforts and finishings invite you in to stay and make your own moment New York history in such a special way – I was lucky enough to be invited in before the doors reopened to take creative license in visualizing and expressing the richness of the details in the iconic rooms.
What was your favorite part of the hotel?
The Turret suites with their own personal rooftop gardens are my favorite spaces in the hotel.. There are two of them, they are filled with one of a kind art, restored architecture and luxurious clawfoot baths, views of Downtown New York like no other – I would like to live like The Little Princess in there is my dream!
I adore the cast iron dragons, a symbol of wisdom and longevity, and the features of a Renaissance Revival glass ceiling and built from granite, red Philadelphia brick and tan Dorchester stone.
Did you learn anything new about New York from doing this project?
As a French/Australian artist living here in New York, I feel like I knew nothing before I researched this project! I came to this project as a lover of the city today, and then delved so deeply into the city’s past allowed me to somehow become a part of it, to feel like I have some understanding of the energy that exists only here. It gave me also a great cultural overview of what was going on across America and the world at large over the past 120 years – the city being the home to some of the greatest musical movements – the Jazz Age – home to literary giants I love – Poe, Ginsberg – and learning about the history of all the iconic Art Deco buildings that raced up to make the city sky line that I love.
What was the most interesting thing you discovered about the building itself?
I marvel at how this one steadfast structure has constantly transformed itself and invited so many new inhabitants over the years to create great things within its walls, from Edgar Allan Poe’s The Broadway Journal which was first made in the building in 1845, to the fact it housed lawyers, architects and advertising agencies – how it rose again after a huge fire and after over 60 years being uninhabited, to burst back to life as this new luxurious hotel… wild!
What are you most looking forward to at the hotel…Keith McNally’s restaurant opens this week!
Oh yes sir – I am all about the opening of Augustine, the latest of McNally’s restaurants to open – Ill be in a booth or at the bar for a Kir Royale (yes, I think I’m in the ’70s) and some oysters, tout de suite!
Check out Anouk’s newest mural at The Flowershop later this month, and pick up her prints right HERE
As much as we encourage travel on this site, there are many moments when we can only be wishful about our desired adventures. During these times, there’s nothing else we can turn to other than films, which we can count on to transport us and give us a sense of fantasy. And while a rainy weekend at home is the time you’re most in need of a transporting effect, these films might just give you the motivation to buy a plane ticket and create your own story.
On Friday André Saraiva is debuting an Azulejos (Portugese ceramic tile) mural in Lisbon, where the artist has spent the better part of the last year. It’s the biggest of its kind, and possibly the most complete work in his prolific career (he referred to it as his Sistine Chapel), covering all of the styles we’re used to seeing. Ahead of the unveiling of this opus, we looked at the influence of Saraiva across art, fashion, and hospitality. While his creative output extends to everything from pop-up clubs with Paul Sevigny to sock collaborations, we picked our favorite ways to experience Saraiva’s aesthetic:
To celebrate the launch of Curio-Cité, Google enlisted urban explorer David de Rueda to take you through the hidden corners of Paris.
In a densely populated neighborhood of Bangkok, a community comes together to make use of what was otherwise considered unusable spaces, fostering creativity & morale. Check out these “Unusual Football Fields.”
Jungles In Paris shows us the art of tradition in this short film where time stands still in traditional Viennese coffee houses.
Jungles In Paris explores the only remaining single-chair ski lift in the United States is in central Vermont, at a no-frills mountain called Mad River Glen. Check out the full story and more from Jungles in Paris here.
Because we want you to have the best travel year yet and because it’s a big world out there, we have compiled our top destinations for 2016 to help you #travellikeyoumeanit
From Nashville’s booming culinary scene to the unique landscapes of the Atacama Desert in Chile, our editors have their eyes and ears on destinations that will make 2016 purely epic. Get ready to have your mind blown.
This past October, I had the opportunity to do something out of the ordinary. I got to pack lightly and explore a place unknown. Not necessarily a new country or city, but discovering the magic of somewhere quite near. No itinerary, no expectations, the only thing we brought with us was good intentions and a sense of adventure.