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Biography


Alia Kahan was born into the unusual. She was raised between a West Virginia commune, sugar plantation era North Shore Oahu, and suburban California. She attended Parsons in NYC for a BFA in Art, Media & Technology. Graduating into the recession, she hustled a multitude of jobs and built a freelance writing and editing career. She spent summers working as a cook in a Zen Buddhist center, then she shaved her head, sold all her belongings, and set off to backpack Mexico & Central America. Here she began surfing and changed everything to pursue the sport. She continued working as a freelancer as well as in culinary and customer service roles, while volunteering and community-building in her free time. Six years later, she is still surfing every day. She lives in a self-built Sprinter motor home, based between Mexico and California, with her rescue dog, Arroyo.

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Biography


Alia Kahan was born into the unusual. She was raised between a West Virginia commune, sugar plantation era North Shore Oahu, and suburban California. She attended Parsons in NYC for a BFA in Art, Media & Technology. Graduating into the recession, she hustled a multitude of jobs and built a freelance writing and editing career. She spent summers working as a cook in a Zen Buddhist center, then she shaved her head, sold all her belongings, and set off to backpack Mexico & Central America. Here she began surfing and changed everything to pursue the sport. She continued working as a freelancer as well as in culinary and customer service roles, while volunteering and community-building in her free time. Six years later, she is still surfing every day. She lives in a self-built Sprinter motor home, based between Mexico and California, with her rescue dog, Arroyo.

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Resume


SKILLS

· Spanish | Conversational fluency: language & Central American culture

· Writing, editing & proofreading | Story ideation | Editorial staff management

· Social media & marketing | Internet campaigns | E-commerce | Photography

· Microsoft Word & Excel | Adobe Creative Suite

· Knowledge of multiple industries: surfing, yoga, travel, retail, culinary

EDUCATION

PARSONS THE NEW SCHOOL FOR DESIGN New York, NY

BFA Photography2009 School of Art, Media, and Technology, Dean’s Scholarship

Resume


SKILLS

· Spanish | Conversational fluency: language & Central American culture

· Writing, editing & proofreading | Story ideation | Editorial staff management

· Social media & marketing | Internet campaigns | E-commerce | Photography

· Microsoft Word & Excel | Adobe Creative Suite

· Knowledge of multiple industries: surfing, yoga, travel, retail, culinary

EDUCATION

PARSONS THE NEW SCHOOL FOR DESIGN New York, NY

BFA Photography2009 School of Art, Media, and Technology, Dean’s Scholarship

Writing Samples


Writing Samples


 

WRITING SAMPLES

FASHION:

“Photo Diary: New York Fashion Week”

Coverage of NYFW A/W 2010, published by Flavorwire.com, Monday Feb 22, 2010

The Internet is home to a glut of information on how to fake your way in to New York Fashion Week (seriously, Google it). But for the hundreds who desperately want in there are thousands who don’t understand why this week, or its worldwide counterparts, matter. New York Fashion Week has become an arena housing a spectacle of sartorial gladiators, a place to see and be seen, and a bit of an enigma to those who don’t work within the industry.

Perhaps it’s because Fashion Week is about more than just clothes. It exemplifies much of the quintessential New Yorker’s spirit, i.e. a willingness to get your hands dirty, a toughness that is untarnished by its accompanying grace, and the indestructible love of being in the thick of things. It proves it is possible to thrive on experiences — and to live on free Zone Indulgence bars and Light Frappuccinos, to don bare legs and five-inch heels in the midst of a snowstorm, to reapply your makeup in Sephora between show and party, and wash up in a portable toilet.

Plus this year marked the end of an era: the last season after 17 years of shows at Bryant Park before it moves to Lincoln Center. Below, check out some of our favorite images from a week filled with sartorial adventures.

“Portable Exclusive: Knitwear by Lars Andersson” Published by Portable.tv, March 15th, 2011

This video — the second for New York City-based knitwear designer Lars Andersson — offers titillatingly fragmented glimpses of his knitwear for Spring/Summer 2011. The Swedish-born designer’s inspiration for the collection sprung from Wilfred Thesiger’s iconic images of Bedouin tribesmen from the Arabian Peninsula, and the draping and layering of this traditional garb contrast quite nicely with influences of Americana. For despite the exotic lean, Andersson feels this collection is quintessentially American, saying, “I was drawn in by various tribes from the Middle East in a very abstract way, but I was also compelled by images of Kurt Cobain, and focused in on certain aspects of the American grunge aesthetic.” The video only gives a peek at the actual knits, but its visuals arouse a kind of longing that is more sensual than sad and it conjures desires that the clothing would suit, rather than simply desire for the items themselves. The music alone is spellbinding, charged with the same dark and sensual energy as the collection; pregnant with breathy glitches and evocative of tribal life itself, the original score is by The Black Soft (the members, Chase Coughlin and Joey Topmiller, also did the music for Andersson’s previous video).

ART:

“Generative Art Goes Black Metal” Published by Portable.tv, April 14th, 2011

There are trend-riders aplenty extracting elements from the black metal genre to boost the popularity of their work; whether or not Mickaël Sellam is another of these is up for debate. Black metal—that defiant celebration of animal humanity that was (arguably) birthed in late 80s Scandinavia—has seen a recent rise in prevalence. From more “popular” music to documentaries and fashion, the dark and often violent aesthetics of black metal have worked their way into the relative mainstream. Most contemporary inspiration begins and ends with the visual vocabulary of black metal, a mere topical expression of one of the most complex—and most misunderstood—genres to date.

With his installation, Black Metal Forever, Mickaël Sellam reaches at least a little deeper, drawing on the musical component that drove black metal into politics and public consciousness, and integrates these aspects into a moving sculpture that generates sound with each shift in its alignment. Placed publicly in Paris’ Centquatre, or 104, it uses a variety of motion-generated programmed sounds, including the recognizable sample from Burzum‘s Erblicket die Töchter des Firmaments off their 1993 album “Filosofem” (which is like the Led Zeppelin of black metal). The body of the piece is a customized track-mounted work platform, or “cherry picker”, a mechanical skeleton fleshed with a black, sinuous surface that lends it the appearance of beast more than machine. Alexis Chazard customized the mechanics, computer, and software, allowing for the minutes of enrapturing movement and sound that make up each performance. The artist himself elaborates on the process:

“Equipped with sound sensors that amplify the noises it makes while moving, the machine becomes a massive and worrying musical instrument that plays in a dramatic atmosphere. From the top of the picker, the operator directs and synchronizes the movements of the machine so as to produce a spectacular and wild soundscape, a mechanical black mass.”

Adding music to aesthetic isn’t quite enough to bond the piece to the genre it claims its title from; seminal black metalist Tom Cato “King” Visnes of the very publicity-engaged Gorgoroth stated in the controversy-rich documentary True Norwegian Black Metal that it’s the “message that’s important, not the music.” The installation appears as a moment of genre-worship more than a black metal initiative in its own right; this towering, mechanical false idol is far more deifying than the movements’ non-doctrine doctrine would support. The use of the cherry picker—something so tied to industrial, modern culture—almost implies more of a criticism of black metal than a celebration of it.

The installation doesn’t seem to quite tap into black metal’s holistic ideological foundations—existential and moral nihilism, a focus on the individual over the whole, and a general anti-societal inclination—which are fundamental to the movement. It’s a tough thing to make anything “black metal” and find embrace from the genre’s engaged and passionate fan-base; if black metal is “a war against what everyone knows” then sharing it among the masses may innately defy the culture’s core values. What’s more, most black metal originalists are of the school of thought that the term “genre” represents time and place more than style and therefore, by their terms, any of the later/contemporary projects that coin themselves “black metal” can’t be—we know, it’s an elaborate attitude rife with contradictions.

Though Black Metal Forever appeals to both the tech-geek and metal-head qualities in us, we’re afraid the enjoyment of it is limited at the technical and visual components—

without declaring it black metal-related it would have been a hit for us, but we can’t ignore ideological incongruities.

CULTURE:

“The Conflict Between Marriage and Equality: Ryan Conrad and His Against Equality Campaign”

Published by Fruitflylife.com, October 13, 2010

A middle class white couple in their late 30’s, embracing a Gerber-like child, smiles back from a sunny photograph. They are the perfect image of the conventional American family save one small caveat: both parents are dads. This is the image of a typical pro- gay marriage campaign, which paradoxically portrays family in the exact way anti-gay marriage campaigns do. Ryan Conrad asks us, are either of these actually an accurate depiction of family today?

Ryan Conrad is founder of the Against Equality digital archive and editor of the controversial new book Against Equality: Queer Critiques of Gay Marriage. Last Tuesday he gave a lecture at the radical (and mostly gay-centric) Bluestockings, bookstore, fair trade café, and activist center in New York City’s Lower East Side. This stop was just one of many on his current tour of the North-Eastern United States, an expedition to enlighten us as to how the fight for gay marriage may pose a threat to actual equality. It’s an endeavor that has given cause for upset among many activists who spend countless hours fighting for equal rights, most of whom focus on same-sex marriage.

Conrad argues that the sheer overload of resources being put toward this single issue of gay rights is one of the major reasons why this undertaking is so problematic. “Too much focus on gay marriage leaves little room for other issues,” he stated plainly. The fight to legalize marriage for same-sex couples has been a hot topic in both the media and the courtroom, but it has pushed aside other issues of importance for the LGBT community. Hate crimes, homelessness, teen suicide, and HIV/AIDS were just a few of the concerns voiced that many homosexuals, single or not, worry about regularly. One audience member summed up the frustration of having couples’ rights over-emphasized by asking, “When did being queer come to mean being in a couple?” Why is marriage the equality issue of the utmost importance when it only immediately benefits gays who are in couples – is marriage that important to our society?

We’ve certainly been witness to a recent resurgence of mid 20th century values; the nuclear family seems to be a trend that has resurfaced, and particularly seen a great deal of media frenzy. Obsessive coverage of celebrity marriages and child bearing has magazines and entertainment news all but declaring, “Marriage is the new black.” In a society where more than 50% of marriages end in divorce and the majority of cases of violence against children involve family members it can be hard to believe we still put so much faith in the institution of marriage as the standard for a healthy family. According to Ryan Conrad, most of us don’t actually believe in this at all.

Conrad sees us as a society that has grown beyond the romanticism of the conventional family structure. The 1980’s birthed non-traditional families as a growing trend in film and television, replacing Leave It To Beaver with the likes of Three Men and a Baby or Junior. Conrad chose the examples My Two Dads and Full House, saying, “Here we have two families, one with two dads and one with three, and none of them is gay. How is it that straight people have been liberated beyond conservative family norms where gays are now digging up outdated ones?” Why do so many queer couples identify with the values of familialism, when they are derived from a demographic that is hardly inclusive of their own culture?

This is the major point of issue for the Against Equality Collective. It rejects state marriages as an institution based on love and instead sees them as contracts born of the archaic tradition of “owning and controlling women.” It’s a dreary sentiment for the romantics among us, but not one without historical precedent, and it does seem widely accepted that love and marriage don’t automatically* go hand in hand. Commitment and fidelity, Conrad reminded us, don’t necessarily* either, and defining a committed relationship, as a life-long partnership between only two individuals is limiting and non- inclusive.

Coalitions for gay rights are ideally supposed to represent the concerns of the whole but many seem solely focused on those of couples. Equality Maine, which should represent Conrad and the rest of the Maine-based collective, has prioritized marriage despite the fact that their mission statement boasts their work to secure “full equality” for all LGBT people. Conrad, like many others, feel their needs aren’t being addressed and that these coalitions for gay rights would be better described as coalitions for gay marriage. Equality Maine’s executive director, Betsy Smith, testified at the Maine Equal Marriage Bill public hearing, insisting “many gay and lesbian families experience real harm every day because they cannot marry.” And while in some instances this may be true there are still plenty of protections marriage may not provide.

It is important to consider that the combining of assets between two people is often only beneficial for wealthier citizens, leaving the more poverty-stricken among us actually often worse off than they began. After marriage some people may find themselves suddenly stripped of benefits like SSI, financial aid, or state aid, and if they’ve been relying on any of those it could be a major financial problem. Conrad gave us a hypothetical scenario of an impoverished gay couple that has (adopted) a child, and with only one legal guardian they receive aid for single parents. If given the option to marry it could provide them with mutual parental rights as well as spousal ones, but they may find themselves struggling to feed a legally recognized family without any welfare.

Naturally, finances are not generally the driving force that causes people to marry. In nearly all cases there are powerful emotional reasons to participate in the institution of marriage. The ceremony itself is of great importance as well, allowing a couple to have their relationship celebrated among family and friends. A lot of gay couples want the recognition of the state as well, or at least according to Betsy Smith. She spoke for the LGBT community by testifying, “In addition to the legal protections, marriage conveys the respect and dignity for one’s family. It conveys an understanding that you’re a loving couple, that you’ve made a commitment to care for each other through sickness and health and provide a stable home for your children.” She and Equality Maine were immensely dissatisfied with not being granted the term ‘marriage’, but instead ‘legal partnership’, saying, “They don’t respect our relationships enough to call it marriage.” The majority of people at Tuesdays lecture agreed with Conrad that the state is not the factor that grants dignity to a couple’s relationship.

Many believe that the state should have no interaction with the spiritual and social aspects of marriage at all, particularly since most ceremonies are generally religious. Regardless of sexual orientation, there is a large population that thinks that government sanctioned marriages are unconstitutional because they clearly integrate church and state. Conrad’s doubts in our government had him question why anyone would even want it involved, going so far as to qualify it as an individual. “If the state is a misogynistic- racist-homophobic-bigot, hell-bent against your relationship, why would you invite it to your wedding?” While the whole audience laughed at this, it appeared plain that no one really accepted this question as a joke.

There was once a time when radical queer politics were geared toward a more literal approach to equality, fighting for a society in which individual rights were truly equal for all citizens regardless of any factors such as age, race, sex, gender, or sexual orientation. Where the fight for single payer health care used to be a major focus of the gay movement they now seek healthcare only for those in legal partnerships. Conrad emphatically impressed that “equality rhetoric demands that we put our energy into ending opposition instead of seeking a queer utopia.”

Funding is the real catalyst of change, however, and since large policy campaigns depend on financial contributions, the concerns of the wealthy are generally those that are addressed. Some tend to have a picture of gay America as composed of middle class white male couples, but this imagery is based largely on campaign materials funded by that very demographic. Considering that the working class is the actual majority, these coalitions are generally ineffective in actually changing the condition of most peoples’ lives. Without funds going toward other concerns, for example, anti-hate crime awareness, many people’s lives are being negatively affected. A number of people believe that this is apparent in the recent brutal assaults of gay men in New York City this last week, one even inside the iconic gay bar, Stonewall.

In the end, Against Equality’s mission statement makes the collective appear much more sensational than it really is. Mostly the collective, the book, and their passionate representative simply want us to restructure the marriage contract for a modern and more equal society. How do we meet our material needs (health and home) and affected needs (dignity and respect) without trying to fit within conventional modes of legal marriage? This leaves us with a lot of questions about what the future of the American family will look like. How we configure the complicated and often messy arrangements that define a family within the structure of our government isn’t a simple matter to be left to the few, and that’s precisely why Ryan Conrad wants to get everyone involved in the discussion.

MUSIC:

“Spoek Mathambo Gets Control”

Published by Portable.tv, February 25th, 2011

You may know Nthato James Monde Mokgata as Spoek Mathambo, the South African “rapper” that’s been generating a lot of international buzz, especially during the worldwide Rainbow Nation craze that accompanied the 2010 World Cup.

But Spoek (“Ghost”) Mathambo’s intrigue is founded on more than just geography; he is a creative force who explodes genres in a manner that is far more complex than a simple mashup of styles. His reputation as a rapper was developed as the front-man of SWEAT.X and PLAYDOE, but his first solo album “Mshini Wam,” which dropped in late 2010, showcases a sound unique enough to engage even the most jaded of ears. At a mere 24 years of age, the young man from Soweto (SOuth WEstern TOwnships, on the outskirts of Johannesburg) is on the forefront of a musical movement, coining his unusual sound as “Township Tech.”

Infused with sociopolitical context, Spoek Mathambo most notably incorporates elements of rap, dubstep, and darkwave and is often compared to M.I.A. and Major Lazer, though his music is less aggressive and less spaced-out, respectively, to these equally talented acts. Actively involved in the evolving Afro-futurist movement, Mokgata is a self- proclaimed participant in “a new wave of energy in Africa, which is intent on nurturing a sense of progressiveness while maintaining a pride in culture.”

Spoek Mathambo’s fourth video from his debut album is Control (a cover of Joy Division’s classic She’s Lost Control), made with photographer-turned-director Pieter Hugo and photographer-cum-cinematographer Michael Cleary. Exploring township cults and street gangs, the video features the kids of a neighborhood youth dance troop, Happy Feet, engaged in activities as dark and mystic as Spoek Mathambo’s sound. Rich in visual texture and impressively vivid for black and white, Control marks his arrival as a music video creator of note; his music videos past have been evolving toward this moment of cinematic success.

PUBLICITY:

“What’s Going On, October 1, 2010”

Published on rby45rpm.com, for their bimonthly online newsletter.

We have featured many of our 10th year anniversary items in the last few issues of What’s Going On and we’re extremely thrilled to announce that the whole collection will be available to the public beginning Friday, October 8th at our SoHo store.

The passion each person at 45rpm has for our products is even more focused in celebration of these monumental ten years. So much thought and energy has been put into the collection; every single piece is extraordinary in both its physical and symbolic construction. The collection comprises a number of special items: thirteen styles for men, ten for women, and four accessories, all made from exceptional fabric and many featuring our iconic natural Japanese indigo, Ai.

Many of the anniversary items are made of our organic Eco cotton, made from the finest lightweight fibers, handpicked in a mountain region of Peru. This we hand-knitted into a Tylorian Jacket for men and a wrap sweater for women, both available in Ai or Norazome. The anniversary accessories are fashioned from Nepalese cashmere, hand woven and hand spun with an uneven and rough texture. This exclusive cashmere has been utilized to craft stoles and scarves, which are available in brown, red and navy.

The front display of our SoHo store has been filled with eleven Kago, one for each year our doors have been open to you and one for the New Year. These Kago, or “baskets,” are entirely hand made by our Tokyo staff, woven with strips of fabric saved from our collections of the last decade. With every textile and garment we create we plant a seed, and each person engaged in 45rpm, especially our customers, are the elements that support our growth. The vessels of indigo are symbolic of the act of planting these seeds, all supporting a solitary white Kago of the future, yet to be colored with what’s still to grow.