Improvised Life » identity If you can't hunt with a dog, hunt with a cat... Wed, 23 Apr 2014 08:24:11 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Role Model: 13-year-old Girl Eagle Huntress Tue, 22 Apr 2014 08:04:09 +0000

Asher Svidensky via

Twenty four-year-old photographer Asher Svidensky traveled to west Mongolia with the intention of documenting the lives of traditional Kazakh eagle hunters, people who tame eagles for the purpose of hunting smaller animals. In Ulgii (or ölgii), the capital of the far west, he photographed the young 13-year-old boys as they trained with their fathers, a tradition from which girls were usually excluded. He was surprised to meet a young eagle huntress, 13-year-old Ashol Pan, the daughter of an experienced eagle hunter. (more…)

]]> 1
How Vivian Maier Defied the Norm and Made Her Secret Art Thu, 17 Apr 2014 08:37:11 +0000

(Video link HERE.) In the March 31st New Yorker, Anthony Lane asks a compelling question in his review of Finding Vivian Maier, a documentary about the nanny who, during the 50′s and 60′s, secretly photographed the street-life of Chicago during her time off. It was not until years after her death that her enormous body of photographic work was found. Writes Lane: (more…)

]]> 3
Being Okay with Not Knowing Where You’re Going Mon, 14 Apr 2014 08:14:26 +0000

Joan Miro

We know a lot of people who are in big changes in their lives. The work they did for decades has disappeared. Or, they  simply feel a powerful need to move into new territory in the way they work or live or create. The central locus on which they relied is changing and they are once again without answers. Because life IS change, and that is the deal.


]]> 6
Fantasy Facelift Redux: ‘It is better to look forward and out’ Thu, 06 Mar 2014 22:00:03 +0000

Carlos Otero Blanco

Our recent Fantasy Facelift post got quite a response, including a number of emails from readers. One particularly wise and moving one came from our friend Ellen Silverman, who has been working on various photography and video projects in Cuba. Here’s what she wrote: (more…)

]]> 3
Fantasy Face-Lift Tue, 04 Mar 2014 09:00:15 +0000 Maria Robledo

Maria Robledo

Maria Robledo sent us some these images she found in her vast photo archive. At a photo shoot at Maria’s studio, Suzanne Shaker and I were playing “face lift”, standing behind each other and gently “lifting” the other’s face. It was a funny, weird, grown-up girls’ game played by women who’d never actually get a face lift. We’re game to go where our faces take us…

For a moment, we found a way to improvise younger selves.  (more…)

]]> 2
Mindshift: Imagine Wearing Someone Else’s Outfit (or Body) Tue, 18 Feb 2014 08:38:11 +0000

Artist Qozop juxtaposed the dress of youths with that of their elders in an project designed to show that societal beliefs and traditions are often reflected through the clothing we wear, especially in Asian cultures. By swapping the clothing of the young with that of their elderly relatives, Qozop literally places them in the others shoes.

We’ve been using Qozop’s strategy as an interesting exercise in imagination. (more…)

]]> 1
7-Year-Old Calls Out Lego on Their Limiting Thinking Wed, 05 Feb 2014 23:00:59 +0000

Seven-year-old Charlotte Benjamin recently wrote the Lego Company calling them out on their gender-stereotyped toys:

 All the girls did was sit at home, go to the beach, and shop, and they had no jobs but the boys went on adventures, worked, saved people, and had jobs, even swam with sharks.

She calls on the Lego company “to (more…)

]]> 0
Tattooed Freckles…Freckle Tattoo Mon, 03 Feb 2014 23:00:22 +0000

Jeff Singer

In addition to her promotion of toast as comfort food, we also dig restaurant-owner Giulietta Carrelli's freckles tattooed on her cheeks, yet another innovative, curiously pragmatic cosmetic tattoo. Don't got freckles? Tattoo them.]]> 0
What Language Does Your Body Speak? Wed, 08 Jan 2014 09:17:15 +0000

Gracie Hagen

Artist Gracie Hagen‘s project Illusions of the Body explores the distance between media-propagated imagery of men and women with impossibly pristine bodies, and the genuine very-imperfect reality of our own flesh.

Hagen photographed her “normal” models in two separate poses. In the first, they took conventionally sexy poses that accentuated the parts they themselves thought acceptable, while hiding sections they considered unattractive. In the second frame, they struck an unflattering pose.

While Illusions of the Body’ was made to explore the norms that we think our bodies are supposed to look like, to us it gives a more powerful message: (more…)

]]> 0
Unusual Paths: Why Give Up Celebrity to Become a Buddhist Nun? Thu, 12 Dec 2013 09:48:40 +0000

(Video link here.) We love knowing about people who make the decision to change their lives radically and take a leap onto what might seem an opposite path; the willingness to change is at the very heart of improvising. So we were really interested to hear why Ani Chudrun, who used to present Top Gear, the BBC TV program about cars and driving, gave up fame in 1993 to become a Buddhist nun.

In this quiet, curiously fast-moving 7-minute video portrait, Chudrun explains what led her away from a life of celebrity, drugs and materialism to one of reflection, compassion and ritual.  (more…)

]]> 0
Alternate Realities: Jimmy Nelson’s ‘Before They Pass Away’ Tue, 10 Dec 2013 09:47:37 +0000

Jimmy Nelson/Before They Pass Away

British Photographer Jimmy Nelson spent three years traveling to some of the most remote places on earth to document unique, endangered tribal cultures with his 4 x 5 view camera. The result is Before They Pass Away, a// 12-pound, 400-page coffee table book as well as a stunning interactive website, where you can see some of his images of tribes from Ethiopa to Papua New Guinea, from Mongolia to Nepal to Namibia. Select where you want to go from the drop-down menu, then click Explore Tribes to see the images come to life. Above, a nomadic Mursi tribesman from Africa’s Great Rift Valley. (more…)

]]> 0
People, Stylish Interiors, Everything…Ages and Changes! Tue, 26 Nov 2013 09:47:42 +0000

Aging, in oneself or one’s surroundings, is nearly impossible to see until, suddenly, it has already happened.

Shiny new paint become dingy and marked; interiors and websites become dated, and as we see from these remarkable gifs, WE ourselves, slowly change…We are all in process.

Aging provides many gifts. Perhaps the most valuable one is simple endurance and a honed, subtle kind of presence. Guatemalan poet Humberto Ak’abal expresses this movingly in Poems I Brought Down from the Mountain/. GRANDFATHER The street silent, the wind fresh. The ninety-year-old man leaning on the bannister of the stone bridge looking at the (more...)]]> 0
6 liberating truths about our bodies, from a massage therapist Mon, 18 Nov 2013 09:48:53 +0000

Love Magazine

Who among us doesn’t secretly feel ashamed and less-than-ok about our bodies? Count me among that multitude. Judging our bodies in the U.S. is a national pastime and obsession. Too big, too small. Too much, too little (except maybe the fab Beth Ditto, above, though her nipples appear to have been airbrushed out).

We catch a glimpse of ourselves sideways in the glass doors of our local supermarket and wonder:  Are we okay? Is our enough really ENOUGH?


Our rush to judge ourselves can be harsh and unforgiving.


]]> 3
How to Create Something Bigger Than Yourself Wed, 30 Oct 2013 08:51:04 +0000

We love this comic by Grant Snider, “Creator of Incidental Comics by night and Mover of teeth by day,” explaining the Art of the Self-Portrait. Whether or not we think of ourselves as visual artists, it’s likely we can all relate to the daily process of evaluating ourselves in the mirror and figuring out how to represent what we feel inside to the outside world. Grant Snider’s advice? Get creative. And don’t over-think it.




]]> 0