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FEATURES

Filtering by Category: Film

Joanna Going

Mable Yiu

Photo courtesy of  Benjo Arwas

Photo courtesy of Benjo Arwas

by Mable Yiu

House of Cards star, breast cancer awareness role model, and successful single mother Joanna Going, sits down with us to discuss her roles as an actress and definitions of success.

Have you always wanted to become an actress? What led you to attend the American Academy of Dramatic Arts after going to college for 2 years?

I became interested in acting at the age of 14, when I got involved with a local theater company’s production of The Tempest in my home town of Newport, RI. I continued doing theater throughout high school, and when it came time to apply to colleges, I knew I wanted to study theater. The American Academy of Dramatic Arts had been on my radar, but, at 17, I wasn’t ready to move to New York, and wanted the more traditional college experience, so I joined the BFA Acting program at Emerson College in Boston. After two years there, I truly knew I wanted to focus on acting, and desired a more conservatory-type atmosphere. I took six months off to play Thea in The Incredibly Far Off-Broadway Ensemble Theater’s production of Hedda Gabler in Newport, and then moved to New York to attend the American Academy of Dramatic Arts.

What has it been like to work on such a successful Netflix series House of Cards? How has that experience been different than filming other TV shows and movies, such as your current role on DirectTV’s KINGDOM?

It was an honor, and a little bit intimidating to come in to the second season of House of Cards, a show that was flying high on the well-deserved success of their ground-breaking first season on Netflix. I had been a fan of the show from the moment it was released and was over-the-moon to be a part of it. 

As a guest part, albeit a recurring one, hopping onto a moving train and visiting for a while is quite different from being a part of the building of a new show from the outset, as is the case with Kingdom. Creator Byron Balasco, just named one of TV’s Most Powerful Showrunners 2015 by The Hollywood Reporter, has been very inclusive with the cast in discussions that shape the characters and the direction of the story lines. We are given a lot of freedom as actors to develop our roles emotionally and visually in a way that is setting the tone of the world where our show exists. We live in that world, we own it, and we feel validated to make the outrageous choices, or take the time to give attention to the small details that all add up to giving the richest life possible to Byron’s beautifully drawn cast of characters.

Can you describe your work advocating for breast cancer awareness?

There are several women among my friends and family who have battled breast cancer, including my daughter’s aunt, grandmother, and great-grandmother. The aunt, who is a dear friend, learned she had the gene markers for breast cancer, and opted to have a preemptive double mastectomy. It was a difficult choice, but a pro-active one. I admire her so much and I am grateful for her example to her daughters and nieces, who may also have an inherited propensity toward developing breast cancer, in letting them know that you can get out ahead of this disease, if necessary, beat the threat, and continue on with a healthy and happy and beautiful life. Education, awareness and early detection are the key in the fight against breast cancer. 

What was the process like creating a work-life balance with raising your daughter? Do you have any advice for women who want to have both a successful career and family?

I’ll be blunt: it isn’t easy. Especially since becoming a single mom. It was simpler when she was a baby and I could travel her with me to out-of-town locations, along with a nanny, who’d get a nice chunk of my paycheck. (Sidebar: in the ongoing discussion of the gender pay gap in Hollywood, it would be interesting to examine the percentages of males’ and females’ income that goes toward childcare!)

Once my daughter started school, I limited my work options to closer to home. It felt important to me to give her that consistency of always having a parent around, as well as an uninterrupted school life. I chose to take a step back from my work and focus on raising my child, and I was very fortunate that my then-husband was working on a very demanding hit TV show, and afforded me the chance to do that. I know the majority of women who work outside the home do not get the luxury of making that choice. During that period I threw myself into the work of running a home, taking care of a family, and went a little volunteer-crazy at my daughter’s schools, while continuing to audition and take the occasional close-to-home job. 

It made me happy, and I am forever grateful for the years I got to be THAT mom. But eventually, with the end of my marriage, I needed to get back to my profession in full-force, and for that it truly did take a village of friends, relatives, school, and nannies. My daughter and I are parent and child, but also a team, we support each other, and she has grown to understand what my work means to me. As necessary as it felt for me to be a mostly, stay-at-home mom when she was little, I am so grateful to now be able to show her what it means to be an independent working woman.  

To find a balance between work and family, you need to find the center of yourself, and know what satisfies you. There are no rules. Only what works for you and your family. If you are lucky enough to have a choice, and quit your job to stay at home and raise your kids and are miserable every second, that is not what works for you. If you go to work and cannot focus, devote your full attention to your job and find satisfaction in it because you are consumed with worry and the gut longing to be with your kids — then maybe you need a different arrangement. Of course, for many mothers there is not a choice: there is the necessity to work, and there is family to be nurtured. For everyone it is vitally important that you create a network of support for yourself and your children; extended family, friends, teachers, classmates. Nobody can do it alone. Take the opportunity to teach your children to build a community, and be willing to reach out when you need help.

What are your plans for your career in the future?

My immediate plan is to continue my work as “Christina Kulina” on Season 3 of KINGDOM, which begins shooting next week. Beyond that, it is my simple hope and prayer to be a working actress, with the ability to support myself and my family, long into my old-age.

Moving Pictures

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Antoine Wagner is rocking the photography and film world with his unique vision and decidedly refreshing attitude.

Antoine Wagner is a French/American artist, photographer, and filmmaker, born in 1982 in Evanston, IL, who lives and works in New York and Paris. He holds degrees in theater, political science, and film studies. And if that’s not enough to pique your curiosity about this multifaceted artist, his brag-worthy lineage may grab your attention: He is Richard Wagner’s great-great grandson and Franz Liszt’s great-great-great grandson.

But as impressive as Antoine Wagner’s ancestry may be, it is really beside the point once you see his decidedly contemporary work. In fact, when I asked him to name a formative experience, he doesn’t mention his work at Bayreuth but instead recalls riding on his father’s shoulder through the Tate in London.

Watermill to Rome

It’s no surprise that in 2005, having recently graduated from Northwestern, Wagner was invited to do a residency at Robert Wilson’s Watermill Center, in Watermill, NY. Or thathe recently finished a Villa Medicis residencyat the French Academy in Rome. Last year he published an acclaimed book, Wagner in Der Schweiz, a collection of photographs inspiredby his esteemed ancestor’s time in Switzerland (the opera composer fled his native Germany for about a decade due to his participation in two revolutionary movements). He appears in the documentary film Wagner: The Swiss Years, which premiered on SRF in Switerland and was presented at the Villa Rietberg in Zurich and at the German Embassy in New York City.

A Refreshing Attitude

Wagner claims that his art career was inspired by the fact that “I was two feet too short to play in the NBA, but I was the right size to appreciate performances on stage and to be at eye level with the Impressionist paintings hanging in the Paris museums.” His photography has received awards such as the Prix de L’Academie Lyrique Pierre Berge in Paris, and in 2011 he produced and directed the tour documentary From a Mess to the Masses, about the French alternative band Phoenix. Recently, he collaborated with fashion designer Julien David and his team in Tokyo, learning Japanese in the process.

An Emotional Response

Wagner’s work, as seen on these pages, speaks for itself. But the artist is continually surprised by the response he receives from viewers. “I keep wondering how strangers can be touched by my work and express their gratitude so intimately,” Wagner says. His self-effacing attitude and humble response to success seems to feed his creativity. “If you think in terms of career,” Wagner notes, “you easily forget that every project is a new challenge. Luckily, my landlord does not know that!”

Antoine Wagner is at work on an exhibition in Hamburg for May 2015 and plans to direct his first U.S. feature film. To learn more, visit antoinewagner.com.

The Magic of Marfa

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Rainer Judd spoke with Fairweather magazine’s publisher, Alexandra Fairweather, abouther new screenplay—basedon her childhood growing upwith her father, renowned artist Donald Judd, and mother, dancer Julie Finch. Not to mention the definition of art, the rewards of establishing the Judd Foundation, and how much fun it was recently drawing on the walls of the Ace Hotel in London.

"It was wonderful to be in Marfa for three-and-a-half weeks,” explains NYC native Rainer Judd about her recent trip to the city in the high desert located in West Texas approxi- mately 200 miles southeast of El Paso.

“I started going to Marfa when I was two years old,” reflects Judd. In the early 1970s, her father, artist Donald Judd, acquired property in Marfa and the ranch lands of the Presidio County as well as several buildings in town in order to exhibit permanent installations of his work and art he collected. “I do remember the view from the airplane being

so distinct—the contrast with NYC, where you see all those buildings, and it’s just people, people, people. Then you see the desert and there’s not a single house that you can see from the plane. And I remember starting to really love the contrast of me in a place with no one in it and then me with millions of people.”

When asked how she would describe Marfa to someone who has never visited before, she explains, “It’s like an island that is not surrounded by water, it is surrounded by high desert. It changes your sense of time; it differently shifts you in terms of your sense of scale with the natural world and the night sky. It has this incredible ability to empower you and humble you at the same time. There’s some- body to talk to if you really need someone to talk to, and you will meet people that you are meant to meet, because it’s magical in that way, just like how NYC has synchronicity. But it’s also a character test of sorts: If you like being with yourself then you really like it there, since there’s time to reflect.”

FIRM FOUNDATION

Donald Judd’s living and working spaces, including his residence, art studio, architecture studio, library, archives, and range office, reflect the magical influence of Marfa that his daughter prizes. The spaces are managed by the Judd Foundation, which Rainer and her brother, Flavin, serve on the board of in order to restore, preserve and promote the legacy of their father.

Rainer Judd reflects on the challenges and rewards of establishing the foundation: “The challenges in the beginning years were of a financial-strategy kind, and I feel for every artist foundation that has to deal with that particular challenge. Now that we’ve moved past that initial phase, I get to enjoy the rewards, and one of them has been working with my brother and our board members and staff. A few things have evolved—one is my own relationship with leading and leadership and how I engage with the foundation and my brother. I think children of artists and heirs take on that kind of responsibility because they feel that it’s their duty, without questioning how they can be happy in it. But when we do things that make us happy—as this foundation makes me—we excite other people.”

PUBLIC SPACE

Last year, the Judd Foundation, after a major renovation project at Judd’s studio and home in NYC at 101 Spring Street, opened the space to the public. And while Rainer Judd still views the building as her home, she has found it to be wonderful to open the space to a wider audience. In particular, she has enjoyed seeing students visit the space. She laughs, reflecting on how the children probably think her former home looks so bizarre, wondering “’what is this? And why does this exist and what was this guy thinking?’” Rainer Judd is very excited that opening the space to the public will probably not only raise “some good questions in people’s minds” but also hopefully inspire people to go visit Texas.

Since 2006, the Judd Foundation has also developed The Oral History Project. The project has interviewed 100 individuals from the creative communities of which Donald Judd was a part in Soho, New York, and Marfa, Tex- as. Rainer Judd found it particularly interesting how everyone who did an interview seemed to have something they wanted to say. “They understood that it is a moment to tell a story or go on record and really reveal a story what it is that they think is important in the world and life and living in art and their experiences with Judd and the community of Soho,” she says.

PAST PERFECT

Rainer has also been reflecting on her own past as she completes a fictional screenplay based on the events in her life. “It is based on events in my childhood and the amazing people that were a part of raising me; it’s told through the eyes of a seven-year-old girl named Luna,” she explains. She considers her process of making the film as “long-form magic making,” which embodies the idea of making “something that holds your attention.” She continues, “I feel really excited, and it’s been an incredible learning process to take stories and bring something together and make something hold. It’s like making a gift to yourself and putting it into one package.” As she has crafted her screenplay, she has realized, “It’s a way to not only pay homage to those incredible people but to your own recollections. You get to have it as a time vault or even better to take the harder stuff in life and make something poetic and beautiful out of it. I think that’s why we like artists. You take the good and the bad and you elevate it to something that is universal for everyone.”

Artists have always played a unique role in society. Rainer points to a recent Willie Nelson song: “He sings that he told his mother he was dealing drugs, and she replies ‘Thank God you ain’t writing songs.’ It’s a beautiful ode to the artist.” She explains, “It’s kind of like how rascals are treated in society; either you get them and appreciate their existence for being the rebels or just distain them and judge them, but it’s such a great role to be the creatures that bring out people’s judgment; it’s what brings about people’s evolution.”

Rainer explains how she was always very interested in film. She notes, “It is interesting I know a lot of other Soho kids who were really interested in film... to be in such an interesting environment, it’s almost like you need to integrate interesting subjects, to be so stimulated as a kid...film is a medium that allows you to bring other mediums that you are exposed to together.” She continues, “the visual language has been attractive for me, but it has taken a long time for me to be conscious that I was so visual.” The Soho environment surrounded by artists was an incredible atmosphere filled with creativity. Rainer and her friends called themselves the EDKs, the eccentric downtown kids. The group were good friends as teenagers and would often cater Donald Judd’s dinner parties. “I think it was while eating loaded down sundaes at three in the morning after catering the party, debating whether we would sneak out and go clubbing or go to bed. We had conversations; we were so snobby, if a party was happening above 14th street, we wouldn’t go. It was just the name that fit, EDKs, there were probably four or five of us. My dad would give us a few bucks for pulling together a pretty amazing meal. We were quite adventurous unbeknownst to my dad at that time...excellent with the incredible clubbing scene with the Beastie Boys and Def Jam... places like Milky Way that were off the map hip hop clubs; there probably were drugs going on, but we were teenagers and we were interested in the music. There was this love of great music and dancing.”

Donald Judd always said to his daughter, “You don’t realize how dangerous it is out on the streets,” and “I probably didn’t,” reflects Rainer, who moved back to NYC from Marfa when she was 13 years old, “but I also felt I had a certain amount of street smarts and I felt New York was my territory.”

Today, as Rainer goes back and forth between NYC and Marfa, she notes that Marfa has not changed very much, at least not the landscape, which is the most important aspect to her. “The population is still around 2,000, so if you were graphing it, there is different stuff to eat therenow, and I think the eight or so people that you might have dinner with have rotated a bit and some really special people of the community that I grew up with and have grown up with have passed, but overall there hasn’t been a big shift for me. It’s one of the special things about it; some buildings still have the same paint. It’s not that different. You still have to drive two hours to the airport or for a medical emergency, a lot of things haven’t changed.”

ARTFUL MUSINGS

When asking Rainer about her definition of art, she explains, “I think I have a drawing that says, ‘I can’t stand some people’s art, but I can’t live without mine,’ but, I also feel like it’s something I’ve got to do. I don’t feel like I would be a good person to be around if I wasn’t making it in some form, myself. She recently did an incredible project at the Ace Hotel in London, where she drew on the walls of one of the suites.

Rainer continues her thoughts on the definition of art, “Maybe it’s similar to what Gandhi said about God; I don’t mean to make that direct connotation. I remember when I was 18 trying to figure out religion since my dad was an atheist and I was just kind of always going to different churches and for myself was trying to get a hold of what religion was and Gandhi said about God, “I feel It though I do not see It.” And I love that. It is just so democratic, whatever it is to you, so maybe art is like that, you know that thing, yeah, that thing you can’t live without. Whether you are one of the people that take it in all of the time or one of those sweet souls that are a little bit more sensitive that can’t take that much in, it’s that thing you can’t live without.”

To learn more about the Donald Judd Foundation and its programs in Marfa and New York City, visit juddfoundation.org.

Meet the Afronauts

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EVAN HUGHES on a documentary photographer who blurs the lines between truth and fancy to create a surreal, imaginative retelling of a stranger-than-fiction African space program.

Fifty years ago, the United States and the Soviet Union were engaged in a well-publicized “space race” that included satellites, manned space flights, and, of course, NASA’s Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo programs, which culmi- nated in the moon landing in July 1969. But there was another, lesser-known contender in the space race: the newly independent African nation of Zambia.

Reaching for the Stars

In 1964, a Zambian grade-school science teacher declared that he was establishinga space academy with the goal of sending a young woman, two cats, and a missionary to Mars. When an application for $7 million in

funding from UNESCO never materialized, the little space program that could sputtered. Today, the whole enterprise is shrouded in myth and mystery.

Fictional Documentation

For an artist fascinated by strange-but-true stories, the Zambian space program was an inspiration. Christina De Middel, a Span- ish photographer with a decade of news photography behind her, created a fictional documentation of that long-ago Zambian space program, featuring dreamy, unexpect- edly haunting images of the “Afronauts.” De Middel’s series and self-published book of the same name have been celebrated and short-listed in the art world, including the ICP Infinity Prize in 2013, and shown in gal- leries and museums all over the world.

A Haunting Photo Series

De Middel’s series is intentionally mysteri- ous, blending the fanciful with the factual. Elephants and cats appear, as do oil drums. (Reportedly, the Zambian space program prepared its prospective astronauts for the rigors of zero-gravity by placing them in oil drums and rolling them down a steep hill.)

Her experience as a documentary photogra- pher for Spanish newspapers and for NGOs such as Doctors Without Borders and the Spanish Red Cross allows her to play with the language of photography in a way that forces the viewer to question the veracity of what they are seeing. In this respect, Afronauts may remind some viewers of Luis Buñuel’s surrealist documentary film Land Without Bread. But where Buñuel could be satirical, De Middel’s approach is always warm and affectionate. Though that long-ago space program never took off, the Afronauts series speaks to the very human urge to exceed our limitations. As De Middel has noted, “You don’t have to be American and work for NASA to dream of going to the moon.

Cristina De Middel is represented by Dillon Gallery. To learn more about exhibitions and publications, visit dillongallery.com.

A Prized Point of View

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by Alexandra Fairweather

BLAKE FARBER sees things his way— and that has made him a sought-after music video director and rising filmmaker.

Yes, BLAKE FARBER is already a rising international director, cinematographer, and editor. But if he ever needs a little inspiration, he can draw it from his collaborators. You may have heard of a few of them: Beyoncé, Alicia Keys, Dropkick Murphys... In fact, when Farber was co-directing Beyoncé’s “Countdown” video, he was blown away by the singer-songwriter-dancer’s ability to work 14-hour days while six months pregnant. “She’s a great person to work with. She is nonstop working—she was even moving the lights, because she knows how they look best on her. It was great,” says Farber.

But despite the glitz and glam—the young director has also worked with such luminaries as Sepultura, David Sanborn, Anitta, Dead Fish, Negra Li, Onree Gill, Joe Sample, Branford Marsalis, Hank Jones, Jonatha Brooke, John Mayer, Nile Rogers, and Jordin Sparks—the NYC native still considers himself “more of a downtown punk guy.” And that’s actually how he described himself to me when we first met at the Cavalier Gallery, where his father, world-renowned photographer Robert Farber, was exhibiting his gorgeous photographs to benefit the National Meningitis Association.

After hitting it off at the gallery, I suggested we meet again at a wine bar. But Farber teased, “Wouldn’t you rather go to some cooler, hipper café?” (We ended up compromising and met up at a Czech café in Chelsea, Café Prague.)

As it turns out, growing up with photographer parents allowed Farber to see everything as a potential photograph. “I see this table as a photograph,” he said of our café table. “I even see that door as a photograph.” He’s seen things his way since he was 16, when he dropped out of Santa Monica High School to pursue a career in film. “I was already writing screenplays, drawing storyboards during class, and the teacher would take them from me, so I thought, This isn’t the place for me.”

The boy wonder landed a job at Fox Studios. “I learned filmmaking from watching. I helped set up the lighting on sets and I learned by faking—I faked it completely and got yelled at a lot. That was my Film School 101.”

FARBER started to get noticed as a director when he combined his developing film craft with his other passion: music. Having formed his own punk rock band, Olde York (which has already toured Europe twice), he casually started shooting music videos for
his friends’ bands. The response was encouraging. “People loved it and said I should keep doing this,” he recalls.

Since then, Farber’s career has skyrocketed—and taken him all around the world, including shooting K-pop videos in South Korea, music sensations in Italy, and rap videos in Qatar. Then there was that time in Brazil when his whole apartment building was held hostage by machine-gun-toting thugs until every bit of cash had been stolen. But even in adversity, Farber finds a way to spin things his way: When the thieves set the hostages free but took Farber’s dog with them, he steadfastly searched for his dog, which resulted in his search becoming a Brazilian media sensation.

These days, in addition to his already successful music production career, Farber is working on several feature films that are in pre-production. To learn more, please visit blakefarber.com.

Becoming Visible

Mira Dayal

PHOTOGRAPHER, ACTOR AND BILLBOARD ARTIST JOSH LEHRER ILLUMINATES BROADWAY FROM ALL ANGLES.

JOSH LEHRER is lighting up Broadway. A renowned photographer, known for capturing the theater’s magic by shooting images of the faces of actors backstage, Lehrer has also designed some of the most memorable billboards of the Great White Way.

“Anytime we create art for a crowded landscape, we ask ourselves, ‘how do we get the public to pause and grasp the information?’” asks Josh.

He is animated by the challenge of capturing—if for only a heartbeat—the gaze of the passerby in the visually over-stimulated Times Square. His formula is simple: Trust the viewer and don’t tell the whole story.

An accomplished actor, Josh has worked with renowned directors like Robert Wilson, Andrei Serban and Julie Taymor. He was also the executive director of the Atlantic Theater Company.

THE BOSTON native began his career produc- ing still photography at Showtime. He decided at the age of 40 to change it up and enroll in New York’s International Center of Photography.

While in school, he worked on a series of imagery called Back Stage, where he captured Broadway and regional actors as they prepared for their turn in the limelight. The series reignited his love of the theater and the wonderful portrait opportunities that actors present.

Around the same time, he landed his first billboard ad for fedging fashion label, WDNY, which caught the eye of entertainment advertising giant, SpotCo. In the end, not only did the billboards pay for his tuition, but they also grabbed the attention of agents looking for fresh blood in the billboard and celebrity portrait world.

Of all the advertising campaigns and billboards, Josh is most proud of the work he did for Hair. He was so taken by the actors’ energy in the show he had seen the night before, that he came to the shoot the following day with the idea of capturing the cast mid-leap.

His other Billboard credits include the Broadway hits Kinky Boots, La Cage, Three Penny Opera, Chicago, Passion and Hurley Burley.
 

“My love of theater predates anything else,” says Josh.
 

Josh lists Tina Brown and Ethan Hawke as among his many favorite portrait subjects. Hawke, he explains, has the courage to be honest in front of the lens. “Everything in the acting profession teaches honesty and truth in the moment,” says Josh. “It is very difcult for many trained actors to surrender to the implied artifce of still photography. Ethan can do it always.”

Brown, he says, recognizes a photographer as one who wields signifcant power over the article, ad campaign or portrait, and how the viewer sees the subject.

“When I arrived at her house there was a spread, crab salad, and she had researched me; she knew my work! She said ‘this must be important if they sent Josh Lehrer.’ She knew how to make me do my very best.”

Josh moves ever forward while at the same time following in the footsteps of his photographic idols: Walker Evans, Dorothea Lange and Mary Bow White.

DESPITE HIS thriving business in the rarifed world of Broadway, his mantra is that society is only as strong as its weakest members.

So in 2008 Josh set out to bring to surface the lives of one of the city’s fastest-growing homeless populations: transgendered youth. With that focus, his art project, Becoming Visible, was born.

The result was a series of portraits of homeless teenage transvestites that has been exhibited in museums and galleries worldwide, including at the Robert Miller Gallery in Manhattan.

In the series, for which he received the Photo Philanthropy Award, he asks the viewer to pause in a sea of visual stimulation and see the world through the eyes of society’s castofs.

“We, as a society are as sick as our weakest members,” he said. “I want to illuminate the segments of society that we are sometimes not aware of.” 

Bravo, Josh, Bravo!