Nike is awesome, and we talk about them a lot. They’ve collaborated with artists and designers to produce everything from apparel to architecture installations (their global director of design actually majored in architecture). That’s just the tip of the iceberg though. Last year, the company out-awesomed itself when it came out in support of gay and lesbian athletes in a major way, releasing sick-looking, geo-specific shoes and hosting a summit to abolish homophobia in sports that coincided with pride month. And even though that was just last year, so much has changed.
While I think that Valentine’s Day is gross, there are a few things I’ve wanted to share that don’t really fit anywhere else. So today, three love stories: The first isn’t so much a story as a valentine to a city; the second is about a more amorous love in the same city, and the final story is about a relationship between a professional and his profession.
The Valentine, designed by BIG, sits in the middle of Times Square. There’s an LED heart inside the grid of translucent tubes that glows brighter and beats faster with increasing activity, or an increasing number of people touching the heart-shaped sensor in front of the sculpture. You can watch an interview with Bjarke about the sculpture here (you just have to ignore the first minute or so of people talking about “goin’ green” for Valentines.)
The more amorous kind of love is happening, or was happening, under and around the old High Line. Robert Hammond, one of the co-founders of Friends of the High Line (the group that spearheaded the transformation of the abandoned elevated railway into a new typology of public urban park) spoke in an interview about the gay past of the infrastructure-turned-park. The project happens to snake through the areas of Manhattan most closely associated with gay folks. Robert talks about a whole bunch of clubs that used to be there, an unnamed donor who used to leave said clubs and puke on the High Line, and why it is that so many of the early supporters of the project were gay. His answer? “I believe gays have an ability to see beauty in places other people might find repellent or unattractive. It was easier for gays to see potential in the High Line. They were more willing to support a crazy dream.”
Finally, The relationship is between Lebbeus Woods and Architecture. In two posts from his personal blog, the architect talks about how his relationship with architecture began. Recently, the news surrounding architecture has been gloomy, with architects suffering the highest unemployment rates in survey after survey. So it’s nice to see an architectural professional recall a rosier time in his relationship with the profession by talking about why he gravitated toward architecture. Why was architecture so attractive to Mr. Woods? Here’s a hint: it was never about money or job security.
Who are you, where are you and what do you do?
I am Jules Julien. I live and work in Paris, France (soon in Amsterdam). I make illustrations and graphic art shows.
What are you currently working on?
I am between two things right now. I have just finished a design pattern for a series of objects for a Shanghai brand (plates, umbrella, posters, notebooks … ). I also finished a print for a group show at Kemistry Gallery in London about 70′s movies, one movie per artist. I chose Quadrophenia. I have also designed a pack of images for the application Granimator, which will be available for the iPad, should be on the iTunes store soon. I am just back from a week in Amsterdam where I’m moving soon. This week I’m working on CD covers for music compilations edited by a cultural french magazine.
When did you come out and what was the story?
I did not come out early, I was 18 years old. I met guys before but not really lovers. I have waited to be in love with a guy before announcing it to my family. I thought it was easier to say to my family “this is my boyfriend” than “I am gay”, because to be in love is always good news. I am from a little place from the south of France, a farming family where the son works with his father generation after generation. To be gay and not a farmer was the end of this long family story. But my parents, after being a little shocked, were very happy for me, and now they like my actual boyfriend so much, he’s called Julien too. We’ve been in love for 9 years.
How does being queer affect your work, if at all?
I think to be gay gives strength. I think that I am a lucky man to be gay. We live the difference very early in our life. We have to understand and to imagine what is our position in life. We have to live the difference and that is perhaps sometimes hard but very rich and instructive I think. In the same direction our works and style can’t be the same as hetero people because often the creation of a person is little like a mirror of inner side. I have worked a lot for the gay press, and during these times I triedto show a different gay icon. No super muscular men, no gogo dancers or super sexy guys, but something more intimate, sweeter and sometimes with humor too. Because oftentimes, the gay pictures in press are really poorly done, my way was to show another gay reality.
In your mind, what should gay pride be and how would you celebrate it?
To speak about France, what I know, I think a big party in the Parisian streets isn’t the best way to do it. Often gay pride looks more like a praise for sex, discotheque and fashion… and not something really political. It is a little stupid I think, because we already have sex, discotheque and fashion. It was important before to show us because gays were hiding, but not today. There are a lot of problems for gay people here, but I think they are not the same problem than before and we continue to use the same method.
Looking at the Russian gay pride, which finished in blood, or the mentality in some of the new European countries like Poland or in North Africa, I think the situation is very grave. Perhaps gay pride could give a new shape to being more committed?! There is only the ACT UP group here, who puts on a great event each year, very strong. For my part, I don’t know yet what I will do on this day.
A huge thanks to Jules for participating. Be sure to view the rest of his portfolio by clicking here. Check back in the next couple days for another interview with another creative LGBT person.