Thursday, December 5, 2013

The Digital Witches of Bushwick

The smell of incense and alcohol filled the blacked out room, which lies in the back right corner of the witchcraft store Catland. The only light sources were 2 dim blue hanging lights and several candles on the floor. There was a long table in the back of the room cloaked with a black cloth and covered in crystals, gems, crystal balls and drinks for mixing. A sign sat on the tabletop that read, “hot toddy, bloody mary, lover’s milk and moon milk.” A young witch named Anna Hay Moon stepped onto the small stage, a white projector hanged behind her and 4 rows of small black folding chairs sat in front. “ Our email list is on the bar, we are digital witches.” She said.  Anna is a member of the Moon Church a witch coven in Bushwick, Brooklyn.
On Wednesday night Catland stayed open until 1am for the Moon Church’s first zine release event. The zine is a collection of artwork, photography, poetry and spells created by the members of the coven. Their event featured several performances ranging from singers, poets, authors and musicians.
By 9:30pm the room started to fill, chatter spread from the aisles of chairs to the floor where people laid and discussed, chakras, the zodiac, sex and instagram. Sarah Schled stepped on stage and rung a small golden bell, once everyone silenced she burnt sage and wafted it in the air with a bird’s grey feather. Anna then returned to the stage and “called the four corners” the guardians of air, earth, water and fire. The audience then joined her in deep breathing, followed by an ominous alm sound, which vibrated across the room.
The first performance was by a woman named Christina, who is also a member of the moon church. Christina kneeled on the end of the stage in a yellow sequined traditional Indian Churidaar Kurta dress and played experimental electronic music off of an app on her Ipad. Holding the microphone close to her face and looking down she moaned into it and sang about revolution.
“The moon church is a collective of women who are artists, witches, dancers, tarot readers and healers.” Said Christina, who joined after meeting members at the yoga class she instructs at Body Actualized.
The moon church was started this past January by a handful of young women living in Brooklyn, NY.  Their meet-ups are rarely in the same location and are coordinated through their email list and facebook page. A typical meet-up for the young witches involves calling the four corners, chanting, meditating and reading tarots. The coven describes themselves as a “community of socially and ecologically engaged women aiming to breathe new life into the archetype of the witch”.
Witchcraft has become a trend this year within fashion and culture with shows such as American Horror Story: The Coven, chain stores like Urban Outfitters have even started to sell witchcraft items.
“Witchyness has been trending hardcore in fashion and music and culture as a whole. Beyond the aesthetic there’s a shift in the mindset of young people towards self-empowerment and their role in the global consciousness (manifested in the internet). There's an impulse towards focused intention and mindful interaction.” Said Molly Burkett, a tarot reader at Catland and member of the moon church. Molly has been reading cards for 10 years and met the women of moon church at the Body Actualized Center.
The next performance was by a female and male duet called The Orchids. A film played on the projector of a woman lying in a bathtub surrounded by growing plants. The duet, Ben Bromley and Sarah Scheld sat at the back of the stage and hummed softly into the microphones rocking back and forth to the beat. The film was created by Sarah and was originally used for a college assignment. Sarah has a bachelors degree in film and is one of the original members of the moon church.
The crowd applauded and welcomed the next performer, Mary Green. Mary wore a black dress wrapped in green LED lights. “Equality is love” she said “And love is telepathic”. She sang original songs along to her acoustic guitar and closed by covering A Beatles hit song “Black Bird”, which the entire audience sang along to.
“Moon church is just the feminist arm of a larger movement towards acknowledging innate divine power and global connectivity. Regardless of whether you jive with our practices, you can relate to the purpose behind them.” Said Molly Burkett
The moon church’s zine is being sold in Catland. Along with the zine Catland offers a wide array of crystals all which have special meanings and uses, as well as books, tarots and even clothing.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

James Valeri, the Creative Force Behind Document Journal

The cork-wall in Document Journal’s office was covered with photos shot by artists such as Terry Richardson, Benjamin Lennox, Nathaniel Goldberg and Hedi Slimane. James Valeri and his partner Nick Vogelson were discussing which images they should put into the magazine and which images would make the cover. The photos ranged from high contrast black and white beauty shots to elaborate stylized fashion spreads. “We are just waiting on Kate Moss’ approval of the artwork Paul McCarthy did on her Mario Testino image before we can go to printers.” said James. Getting Kate Moss to be on their cover has been a huge achievement for James and Nick who only started this magazine a year ago.
Document Journal is a biannual art and fashion magazine based in New York City. Each issue features dozens of artist collaborations, filling Document with beautiful images that are considered collectible rather than consumeristic. The pages consist of fashion stories, sculptures, paintings, photography and literary works.
"Our magazine is different in that unlike most American magazines it's not about the trend of the moment, and it's not just for fashion people. Document is not just fashion, it's art, and it's literature. Having an elevated quality of content was very important for us. We wanted to create timeless images that would resonate with anyone who appreciates beauty." said James
James, the creative fashion director of Document Journal, started the publication in 2012 with partner Nick despite the well-known dramatic decline in print publication readership. “All of the magazines we love are European, they are like coffee table books, there is a huge market for them in Europe. I felt as though the U.S was lacking collectible publications like Self Service, Gentle Women etc., so I knew there had to be a market here for it.” said James.
Document’s revenue is mostly dependent upon advertising revenue. The publication features major advertising campaigns by companies such as YSL, Stella McCartney, Hermes, Cartier and many more. In order to save money the independent magazine keeps the staff small with less than 10 employees and even less interns.
As the magazine’s creative and fashion director, James creates concepts for many of the fashion stories that are put into the magazine. After he has come up with a concept he has the fashion market editor pull and request looks for the shoots. James started his American career in fashion as a stylist assistant and being very hands on he styles many of the stories seen in Document’s issues.
James was born in London but grew up in Rome with his parents and older brother.  When it was time for him to go to college his parents decided to send him back to London, where they hoped he would study law or architecture. Despite his parent's hopes James went to the London College of Fashion and studied fashion public relations and journalism. His studies took him to Milan where he  landed an internship with stylist Carine Roitfeld. After working with Carine, James realized that he wanted to be a stylist and not a fashion journalist.
When he graduated he started working at Flair magazine in Milan and would often be sent to New York on photo shoots. It was during his time working on such photo shoots that James decided he wanted to move to New York.
At just 25 James moved to New York where he had to start fresh as a freelance stylist assistant. He assisted stylists Marie Amelie Sauve (now editor in chief of W Magazine) and Andrew Richardson for a few years before deciding to go out on his own. He came into contact with his partner Nick many times during his many years as a freelance stylist. It was after a Bullet Magazine photo shoot that Nick at the time the creative director of the publication asked James about putting together a magazine.
"We knew we wanted to create a magazine so beautiful you would want to keep it as an accent in your home." said James.
Having no budget, James called everyone he had worked with over the years and asked if they would contribute. " 8 out of 10 would say no but 2 times something would work out and one big name would attract another and eventually it started building and coming together."James and Nick had to learn everything it takes to produce a magazine themselves, right out of James' apartment. Nick had formerly worked in publishing and took charge of printing and advertising while James became the creative fashion force behind the content.
Document's third issue hit U.S. stores last week and has collected a lot of buzz from publications such as, nymag,,the huffington post, and many more. You can purchase a copy at your local magazine store, or online at or

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Protest Karaoke at the MOMA

New Yorkers usually stumble downtown to get their fix of karaoke, but on Friday night they were able to sing, shout and in some cases screech in one of the cities most esteemed institutions, the Museum of Modern Art.
Artists Angel Nevarez and Valerie Tevere hosted the MOMA’s first ever Karaoke event, “Another Protest Song: Karaoke with a Message,” in conjunction with the current exhibit MOMA Studio: Sound in Space.
The first performer was Nevarez, who was joined on stage by a young girl. Angel announced that he was protesting the use of cars. After singing, “It’s My Life” by Sunfly, he announced that every singer would receive a glass of white or red wine.
A woman visiting the museum from Queens sang “War” by Edwin Starr, and the audience began to grow. Curious museum-goers gathered around the lobby area peering down the stairs, and applauding.
“I’m protesting the government. F**k you government!” said Nima Beckie of Staten Island, who sang “Fighter” by Christina Aguilera. Nima said her grievances included her lack of access to mental health care.
Navarez said he and Tevere came up with the idea as they had a conversation with a friend who served in the Vietnam War. They started to wonder about protest songs for wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which led them to create a website called, a database where people can upload and share their original protest songs. Hoping to continue to encourage public protest participation through song they decided to host this event in the MOMA.
Both artists had collaborated on a piece being displayed in the Sound and Space exhibit. A bicycle connected to a record player, that when pedaling the record spins and music plays through a set of headphones.
The crowd grew as the speakers blasted the intro to "War Pigs" by  Black Sabbath.
Steve Hager, a professor of media at College of Staten Island came to support his colleagues, the curators, and to protest against war, particularly against the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. “Isn’t it awesome, I ended up singing War Pigs in the MOMA,” he said.
“I guess I can scratch that off my bucket list.”
Valerie and Angel will be holding this event again on Friday October 25th from 5:30- 8pm, in the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Sculpture Garden if weather permits. The Sound in Space exhibit runs through November 24th.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

L'umo Vogue

This week I worked on a photo shoot, shot by Johan Lindeberg for L'uomo Vogue. Meaning I got to spend two whole days with Johan Lindeberg, in and out of incredible artists' studios. I can't really go into detail, but the issue comes out in July. And I'm still floating.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Update; It's been awhile...

Finals week is wrapping up and I am currently avoiding my last feature article.—

The second issue for the magazine I've been working for at school comes out tomorrow!
For me having this issue come out is the equivalent of Blue Ivy making her face debut in BeyoncĂ©'s documentary. I can't wait to share my baby's face!

Also, I started my new internship with Document Journal last week, and as of Wednesday I will be there full time.
I'm going to try really hard to blog about my internship and my summer adventures.I also made a promise to myself, and my father that I'd use my film cameras more. So if my photos don't totally suck, I'll post them too.