“The Wahi Series”, – Northern New York City as seen by Kasandra Enid Torres

07.03.2019 | Art , Blog , Culture | BY:

Kasandra Enid Torres is a culture and fashion photographer based in Washington Heights, NYC who has been documenting the soulful inhabitants of her neighbourhood for the past three years. Her series titled “Wahi” — short for Washington Heights —  diaries the vivacious poetic spirits of the busy district in ways which treasure the Old New York City aesthetic with a 21st Century twist. In conversation with the photographer , Twin discusses her inspirations and experiences throughout the process of the project. 

When did you first start shooting in New York? 

I moved to the city at the beginning of 2013 after graduating from Savannah College of Art and Design in 2011. For the first two years I didn’t shoot much, I was constantly working 24/7 and if I had free time I spent it sleeping. I was also on an artist block, I wasn’t sure what to shoot. I came from an art background making abstract photography and films. To get myself unstuck, I started to shoot anything and everything.

What inspired you to start the “Wahi” series? 

Around 2015 I started to shoot regularly. At the time I didn’t have access to models so I decided to shoot outside in my neighbourhood. I am not the most extroverted person and having to go out to make pictures by approaching strangers was daunting to me. It was definitely a challenge. I slowly got more comfortable with it and found my flow. I got my hands on a Hasselblad Superwide C, which is a medium format camera with no viewfinder. It was fun experimenting with it and finding its sweet spot. It is a somewhat big and chrome camera. I liked shooting with it for this series because it attracts attention. It is also a conversation piece, people approach me asking me about it and allow me to take their portrait. 

How do you select your subjects? 

I walk up and down on St Nicholas Ave between 168th and 191st street, keeping myself open for opportunities. I am attracted by really interesting people, how they are dressed, how they walk, their  expressions etc. I also choose things that speak to the culture of the neighbourhood, such as the supermarkets, the crowded bus stops, the chairs, domino tables, and the empanada carts. 

What’s your favourite thing about Washington Heights?

My favorite thing about this neighbourhood is the people. I love being surrounded by other hispanics. Having lived away from my family for the past eight years, I like being reminded of my culture and roots. I like listening to the radio blasting salsa or reggaeton while walking to the supermarket. I like watching the intensity of people playing dominos. I love the sidewalk parties of people chilling on their lawn chairs, drinks in paper bags, puffing from hookahs and grilling up on barbecues.  I love the wafts of food smells, such as pernil, mofongo, empanadas, and asopao. It feels like home. 

What would you like people to take away from viewing this series?

I want these images to give the viewer a look inside this Old New York style neighbourhood. There really aren’t many places like this in the city. Majority of the city has been gentrified and franchised. I want them get an honest raw interpretation of this community.  I want them to be able to see how interesting and cool the neighbourhood is, to feel as if they were there. 

Can we expect to see more projects like this from you in the future?

Yes I will continue to document series like this one. I just wrapped up a series I shot near the Adirondacks in January of a Snowmobile drag race. I shot that one during an insane blizzard! I am also currently shooting a series at busy subway platforms like Times Square, documenting all types of people.

What’s next for you as a photographer? 

I am always looking for new ways to challenge myself. With each new series I try to do something I haven’t done before, be it a camera technique, lighting technique, shooting a specific way or subject matter. 

Where can one view more of your work?

Majority of my work is online. I have work published here on Twin (my Afropunk series), Document Journal, a couple of other indie magazines and my website. My Dependence series is published on issue 7 of Recens Paper, another of my favorite project. In the future, I aim to have a gallery show at a space in the neighbourhood. I want to give back to this community that has given me so much. 

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Porches

In The Eye Of The Storm With Porches

01.02.2016 | Music | BY:

“The storm was beautiful, but now there’s lots of it to slowly melt and just slush away” comes creator of Porches Aaron Maine’s melodic musings from out of my iPhone on a dismal London night. I’ve called to chat about Porches new album Pool, which has been three years in the making and marks a peak of Maine’s impressive output. Talking to the frontman, the sense of excitement about having an audience for the new record is palpable, which is understandable given that it’s been ready to go for months. And it’s been well worth the wait.

Sonically the album marks a new, more experimental direction for the band (which includes his partner Greta Kline aka Frankie Cosmos). Guitars are swapped for synths and drum machines to intoxicating effect. Indeed, speaking to Maine a couple of days after New York’s recent blizzard feels like apt timing. With a sound that’s both surprising and familiar, cosy and alienating; it’s wholly immersive and will whip up another storm in 2016.

You existed in a couple of guises and line-ups before Porches, what was it about this name and group that stuck? 
I guess Porches the name and project started a while ago, like five years ago, when I came back from a tour with my rock band. Back then everyone was living in different places and we weren’t practising, so I made a new batch of songs that felt really different. I don’t really remember why I called it Porches though. I’m not particularly fond of it anymore but…. it’s just a name. And it took a while to start playing those songs live and to figure out how to do it. It wasn’t until Cameron and Greta joined the band that it felt like the kind of line up and instrumentation was finally something special. Before that we were messing with backing tracks and different members.

What was the inspiration behind the album? 
I listened to more music, saw more things and experienced new things by living in the city. For me it was important to make something different, that made me feel different that made the audience feel different too. I was paying more attention to music that was being made currently and in drum machines and electronic music saw this cool, exciting potential for something new, and how far you could go with it. It feels really fresh still, even though its widely done to me it felt more exciting than guitar music.

Yeah, it feels like you’ve managed to create something surprising from what at first sounds familiar. I’m interested especially in the motif of water throughout the album, both lyrically and in the quality of the sound, was that a conscious thing or did that evolve naturally?
I was actively trying to make something that made you feel that way… Watery.

And when you’re writing, are you speaking from personal experience or as a character?
The songs are definitely personal. I know in this album the lyrics are pretty abstract, they’re not experiential or based on actual events in my life, but they are a collage of my mood, or whatever I was feeling like that day. Kind of like a set of emotions I put together to paint an emotional landscape.

They’re kind of like impressionist paintings?
Yeah and it was exciting to do that for the first time. I feel like I have always just clung to an experience and it was freeing to not have to experience something psychically to write about it. It taps into a different place. It’s not based on any specific instances so it’s just like a portrait of myself emotionally. Because of that I still feel in it (the album) and still like the songs and can get behind them.

So are you quite considered in your approach to making records? 
I definitely live in the song for a while, or at least I live in the recording for a long time. I kind of like that vibe of a recording that’s been loved and given the attention that it deserves.

I’m interested in the eye contact element of performance. Do you ever find it uncomfortable? What’s your performing technique?
I actually made a conscious decision to perform with my eyes open. I realised that I was always closing them or looking down. It’s funnier and more interesting to scan the audience, to look at everyone and how they were feeling.

Have you ever got up on stage and completely screwed up?
Um (long pause) I mean I’m sure… I don’t know! I’ve l tried smoking weed before performing and I just can’t. It’s fun and sounds very special but I’d be psyching myself out. We try to be really focussed and professional. That wasn’t always the case, but it’s been like that for a while now! I

What was the evolution into music, could you have been a banker?
Hah, no. I went into college to study painting but always knew and felt more passionate about the fact that I truly needed to make music. And it was just a matter of time before I realised that it could be a thing.

It’s easy to romanticise creativity in the city, but what’s it actually like being an artist in New York these days? 
There’s an insane amount of creative people but I don’t really know if New York embraces them, but at the same time that’s where people get their energy from. It’s something to, not rebel against, but to struggle with. It’s very not chill. You kind of have to be on your shit if you want to make it happen and want to stay around. I love that.

Pool is released 5th Feb 2016 on Domino

Main photo: Jessica Lehrman

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Nike Womenswear Pop-Up

12.08.2014 | Fashion | BY:

Twin contributor Robert Storey has designed the new Nike womenswear pop-up in New York. The space is broken into distinct areas that include pro bra, train, run and live. Running with the designs within the collections, the space focuses on symmetry and bold colour schemes of blue, green, pink and orange. You’ll also find an all-white gym for lucky visitors to work out whilst trying on the merchandise, as well as a fitting room for bespoke sports bra measuring.

Nike Womenswear Pop-Up – Mulberry Street, New York, NY 10013

nike.com

storeystudio.com

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