Cultrface is a blog about culture and how it can enrich our lives.

The creative direction of Tyler Adams

Tyler Adams is a creative based in LA. He works predominately in casting, photography, and art direction and boasts clients such as BET, Def Jam Records, Nike, Stussy, and Warner Music Group.

There’s something very cool and understated about Tyler’s art direction. I like his use of lighting and colour and the mix of urban landscapes and personal portraits, sometimes in the same image.

In an interview for Full Service Radio (below), Tyler discussed his work style, what it’s like living in LA, and how he got into photography.

New teaser trailer for The Flash (starring Michael Keaton's voice)

The Flash - Teaser Trailer HD | DC FanDome 2021 | Keaton's Batman Sneak Peek

“Tell me something. You can go anywhere you want, right? Any timeline. Any universe. Why do want to stay and fight to save this one?”

That’s all we get in terms of Michael Keaton‘s Batman (besides a few seconds of his Bat-head in silhouette form) in the new Flash trailer but it’s enough to whet the appetites of many, including my own. But the main theme of the trailer centres on The Flash and his crew leaving the DCEU and finding themselves in Tim Burton’s Batcave. The ending also teases a reveal of the Batmobile, hidden under some tarp but the trailer cuts to black before we get to see it, followed by a “holy shi-“.

The Flash is still in production but should be released in cinemas in November 2022.

Batman/Keaton related: How Michael Keaton perfected the role of Batman

'Bold Black British', curated by Aindrea Emelife

© Ibrahim El-Salahi

‘Bold, Black British’ was an exhibition held at Christie’s London between 1–21 October, showcasing Black British art from the 80s until the present. It was curated by Aindrea Emelife who wanted to show a wide range of Black British art besides a few paintings:

‘I like to see my curatorial practice as a Trojan horse,’ Emelife explains. ‘I want people to go into exhibitions with one idea, and have other ideas leap out at you, challenging and moving you at unexpected turns, asking you to look again at the history you thought you knew, or look closer at a history that has been seldom looked at.’

I found about this way too late but you can see some of the art via Wallpaper.com and a list of the featured artists on the Christie’s website as well as a 3D virtual tour.

Brain Pickings is now The Marginalian

I won’t bore you with the inner workings of SEO but I always wince a little when I see a longstanding site change their name (and domain). Not because it’s cringy but because, in some ways, it’s starting from the beginning again. But when I read about Brain Pickings changing its name to The Marginalian and the reasons behind it, I said “to hell with that, good on them!”

Brain Pickings was born on October 23, 2006 as an improbable idea in a young mind only just becoming literate in the language of life. Fifteen years hence, it is reborn as The Marginalian — reborn as what it has always been beneath the ill-fitting name chosen by a twenty-two-year-old immigrant in whose ear the tired puns and idioms of a non-native language rang fresh and full of wonder: an evolving record and ongoing celebration of my readings and my loves, of all that makes me feel most alive.

It also taught me a new word: marginalia – marks made in the margins of a book or document (and a word I will add to my favourite words list). To Maria, congratulations on the rebirth and happy 15th birthday to the site!

The Morning News's "Secret Horror" movie list

I’m not big on Halloween but dabble in Halloween-related media when October rolls by. I’m also partial to a good horror movie as long as it doesn’t mess my head up too much. Unfortunately, I don’t think any of the movies in The Morning News’s “Secret Horror” list would fall under the latter category, regardless of quality. Dennis Mahoney chose 5 “underappreciated horror movies to thrill and disturb you this Halloween season” including Don’t Look Now which I have seen, funnily enough:

This one’s known for a scary red dwarf and an infamous sex scene with Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie. It’s really about dread. You should know going in that Don’t Look Now (1973) isn’t a traditional horror movie, nor are the supernatural forces readily apparent. The story is one of constant anxiety, a cumulative holding of breath that makes your brain more susceptible to hidden meaning, hallucination, and psychological discomfort.

That one did mess me up. The jumpscares and transformation scenes get you first but it’s the psychological stuff that lingers after the credits roll.

Halloween/horror related: queer Halloween parties in Castro, The Addams Family promo that became Michael Jackson’s Ghosts, Carvell Wallace on Candyman and the exploitation of Black pain in cinema, and Get Out: Black Solidarity and Knowing the Code

How many countries can you name in Europe? (QUIZ)

Can you name 47 of the European countries listed in this Sporcle quiz?

This will put your geography knowledge to the test, particularly some of the name changes of certain countries and how many of the tiny nations you can remember. Oh, and those pesky municipalities. I’ve said too much already…

I got 43/47, although (spoiler alert) I think Georgia not getting mentioned as a separate country was unfair.

For a bigger quiz, see how many countries you can name in 15 minutes.

A UK Black History Month Post (2021)

I’m going to quote myself from last year because it’s still relevant:

It’s been a challenging year to navigate and, needless to say, Black people are tired.

I’ve not really written anything specific about Black History Month this year but I have thrown in some Black British content here and there. So I’m going to emulate last year’s BHM round up post for 2021. It’s been tough finding decent BHM content because so much of it is whitewashed or performative. People are retreading the same steps and the same “look at these famous slaves!” lists of influential Black people, often written by white people. Or pledges for more action that were made last year and the year before. I’m also not pleased about a few articles regarding more Black presence in the police force which is the most counterintuitive suggestion to make in any month, let alone Black History Month. But I digress.

Same format as last year—some stuff from the Web, some stuff from the Cultrface archives, and people you should follow.

From the Internet

From the Cultrface archives

People to follow

See 2020’s list for more people to follow

  1. Demi Colleen: Twitter | Instagram
  2. Kuchenga: Twitter | Instagram
  3. Emma Dabiri: Twitter | Instagram
  4. Sareta Fontaine: Twitter | Instagram | Website
  5. Lauren-Nicole: Twitter | Instagram | Linktree
  6. Nathaniel A. Cole: Twitter | Instagram | Linktree
  7. Matilda Egere-Cooper: Twitter | Instagram | Linktree
  8. Tanya Compas: Twitter | Instagram
  9. Nicole Crentsil: Twitter | Instagram | Linktree
  10. Ronke Lawal: Twitter | Instagram | Website

TheArtfulGabby is doing Halloween makeup every day for charity

The very talented TheArtfulGabby demonstrated her makeup talents for spooky season by transforming into different characters every day this Halloween month for charity. So far she’s done Frankenstein’s monster, The Picture of Dorian Gray, The Joker (the 3 most recent ones), Harley Quinn (my personal fave), and some Marvel characters (Black Panther and Spider-Man).

I’m scaring myself with horror games over on Twitch and doing 31 days of Halloween makeup to raise money for the Born Free Foundation! They’re an amazing charity that work to stop the exploitation and suffering of animals in the wild and in captivity. I’m not a fan of horror at all, so this is a big challenge for me this year, but we’re currently on £930 when our goal was £450! At £1,000 I have to shave my eyebrows off live on stream! Eek! 😂

TheArtfulGabby

The attention to detail is incredible. Go follow Gabby on Instagram, Twitch, and check out Born Free and help save the animals.

Rhea Dillon on 'Nonbody Nonthing No Thing', her debut solo exhibition

“Being Black British is part of my ontic and ontology so it’s always present in my work because it is me.” Photography by Theo Christelis, via V.O Curations

For AnOther, Sagal Mohammed spoke to Rhea Dillon about her first solo exhibition, entitled Nonbody Nonthing No Thing. The Black British-Jamaican artist, writer and poet uses a variety of media to interpret what she calls the “‘rules of representation’ as a device to undermine contemporary Western culture” and “‘humane afrofuturism’ as a practice of bringing forward the humane and equality-led perspectives on how we visualise Black bodies”.

Nonbody Nonthing No Thing is one of those works, showing abstractions of Blackness in the form of 7 paintings and sculptures. The above image depicts “landing” and how the Diasporic experience for Black Africans and Caribbeans meant leaving the known and landing in the unknown. That fragmented journey, which doesn’t stop when the plane touches down or the ship anchors, is captured brilliantly in this work.

Nonbody Nonthing No Thing is at VO Curations in London from 15th Oct–11th Nov 2021 so get there if you can.

Carvell Wallace on Candyman and the exploitation of Black pain in cinema

Carvell Wallace wrote a brilliant essay on Candyman and chronicled a history of Black pain in cinema for The Atlantic.

Ultimately, DaCosta’s Candyman character becomes a cipher that the film’s characters, and by extension its audience, have no choice but to live with—the absence upon which anything can be projected, bequeathed by centuries of Black trauma. This is perhaps where the film hews most faithfully to the Clive Barker short story upon which it is based. “I am rumor,” his monster reminds his victim, and us, in “The Forbidden.” “It’s a blessed condition, believe me. To live in people’s dreams; to be whispered at street corners; but not have to be. Do you understand?”

I enjoyed Candyman (1992) even if it was a white liberal depiction and exploitation of Black pain as Wallace surmised. Candyman (2021) rewrites, recreates, and renews the ghosts of that film (figuratively and literally) and extends the lore for Black people to feel much more than they could imagine—myself included. I want to watch it again and I will at some point. It was an intriguing film and something to be appreciated and studied (but maybe not by and for white people).

Tina M. Campt's 'A Black Gaze'

I follow MIT’s tech blog and stumbled upon a book from their press called ‘A Black Gaze’:

In A Black Gaze, Tina Campt examines Black contemporary artists who are shifting the very nature of our interactions with the visual through their creation and curation of a distinctively Black gaze. Their work—from Deana Lawson’s disarmingly intimate portraits to Arthur Jafa’s videos of the everyday beauty and grit of the Black experience, from Kahlil Joseph’s films and Dawoud Bey’s photographs to the embodied and multimedia artistic practice of Okwui Okpokwasili, Simone Leigh, and Luke Willis Thompson—requires viewers to do more than simply look; it solicits visceral responses to the visualization of Black precarity.

With regular discourse around cultural appropriation and Black art that falls under the white gaze, it’s important to bring the conversation back to Black people creating for Black people and what that means for us.

You can buy a copy from Bookshop (affiliate link) or head to the book’s official MIT Press page for more stockists.

A brief history of pumpkin spice

Moss and Fog looked at the history of pumpkin spice:

The fall’s unofficial flavor wasn’t always pumpkin spice. But as people’s love of autumn and all things nostalgic reached fever pitch, the unmistakable seasonal taste cemented its place

The history of that spice mix goes back much farther than you might think. Indeed, this American invention can be traced back as far as 1796 in the cookbook American Cookery. In that very old book, they talk about recipes for ‘pompkin’ that include the same spices.

Pumpkin spice’s memeification detracts away from its origins but its popularity has given Certain Demographics the chance to experience a bit of seasoning in their otherwise flavourless food. That can only be a good thing.

Kyndall Cunningham's interview with filmmaker Ashley O’Shay

Unapologetic Trailer

Kyndall Cunningham spoke to filmmaker Ashley O’Shay about her latest documentary, ‘Unapologetic. The film examines the way Black organisers in Chicago—primarily focusing on two young Black women, Janaé Bonsu and Bella BAHHS—came together in the wake of Rekia Boyd and Laquan McDonald’s murders by the police.

H: Given the history of infiltration in social movements, how were you able to build trust with this community?

AO: I think being a Black woman helped, as far as them being comfortable and feeling like they could open up to me. But I just tried to keep showing up as much as possible. Even when I wasn’t there with the camera or doing an interview, I would try to go to their different rallies to just show support and amplify the work they were doing. I think after a while, when someone keeps showing up like that, you can build that trust with them. And I think also that as I was building stronger relationships with my main subjects, Janaé and Bella, that helped make other organizers in the space feel more comfortable with me as well.

[…]

H: The film is also very nuanced in showing the importance of Black women leaders but also dispelling this myth that representational politics automatically lead to liberation for Black people, particularly with Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot.

AO: Yeah. We see people like Lightfoot in administrative positions, you know, running a campaign and uplifting herself as this Black gay woman, but everyone knowing, like, hey girl. We saw you at the Chicago police board hearings telling people to shut up after their time was up, and basically saying there’s nothing productive about the work that young Black people are doing. And she has a history as a prosecutor and all these other things that show you that all skinfolk ain’t kinfolk. I think depending on the space you’re in, it’s going to differ how your identity does or doesn’t show up. I think it’s really important to remember the communities that are actually doing the work for us.

Lightfoot is an enemy to progress and she knows it. I am grateful for the work of Black women who actually care such as Ashley O’Shay, Janaé Bonsu, Bella BAHHS, and countless others—past and present.