Ariel Pink Takes Over

Ariel Pink with pink hair

Like many people, I first discovered Ariel Pink when he was self-producing albums from his bedroom in Los Angeles reminiscent of the great lo-fi king R. Stevie Moore. I never would have imagined that a few years later, his infectious sound- a mix of pop music and drum sounds made with his mouth- would be a household thing. These days, Ariel is busy touring with a band and modeling for the new Saint Laurent Paris campaign as well as making movies with Elijiah Wood. Currently, his hair is a shocking shade of pink and his look seems to be inspiring fashion houses on the runway as he mixes thrift-store finds with goth aesthetic and punk seamlessly. Here, I sat down to chat with him about his musical influences and his plans for the summer. We also did a fashion shoot, shot on location in the famous freewheeling Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco with looks inspired by Ariel Pink himself.

Lauren Goodman: Will you tell us a little bit about the evolution of your music from making it alone and very DYI, to now? How has that process changed and what does it mean for your work?

Ariel Pink: Well, it’s a very natural progression as far as I am concerned. You start off alone with an idea in your bedroom and eventually you need others. You try to turn them on to what you are doing and work with them. It’s been a slow gradual process for me. I mean, I am 35 and I started making music when I was a teenager, so I’ve had to quite a few years to work out the kinks and all that kind of stuff. I mean, the music itself is the secondary. It’s all about relationships and communication and about negotiating. Negotiating terms and relationships. So, I would say, hopefully I have gotten better at that. At the same time, you wouldn’t know necessarily because I have limited my involvement to the people that I am committed to. In the past, I was more promiscuous, so to speak, in terms of whom I played with and under what circumstances. I am pretty devoted to my band and the chemistry that we have developed. It would be counter intuitive if I started with a band and went solo. It should be the other way around. Read More »

Juliet Knuth in Conversation

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This past winter, Pratt Institute’s senior painting students suffered an immeasurable loss of their work when an electrical fire burned down their studio space. At the time, these artists were working on their thesis shows, many of which were destroyed. This unimaginable scenario initially seemed devastating and yet it proved to be a surprising catalyst for developing new work. The fire received wide coverage which lead to many compassionate donations and encouragements. Since then, this group of artists have had two group shows, both entitled Flameproof, the first of which was sponsored by Gagosian. Juliet Knuth, one of the artists who had lost her entire studio and months worth of artwork, took it upon herself to start up an Indie Go Go Fund, a public donation campaign to benefit the artists directly.

The group show entitled Effigy, which was directly funded by this donation campaign and produced by Juliet Knuth, is having its opening reception Thursday, August 1, at the Painting Center.

I spoke with artist Juliet Knuth specifically about the events preceding this show, and how it all came together.

Kat Slootsky: This is the third and final installment of the series of senior painting shows that came out of the events of the fire. Can you talk about why you decided to start this GoFund campaign for the final installment?

Juliet Knuth:  I started the online campaign immediately after the fire without knowing exactly how we would eventually spend the money. All I knew was that there were lots of people who wanted to help us out, who wanted to support the artists, and the only real option they had for helping was by donating directly to Pratt. We received an immense amount of donations through Pratt that were hugely helpful to us; however, we only had so much control over how the money was spent. There were also limitations on how Pratt as an institution could spend those donated funds as well; for example, they weren’t allowed to fund anything for us this late in the summer, since we’d already be graduated. This also meant that all the funds donated needed to be spent immediately. So luckily, when the Painting Center and Mona Brody approached Pratt about having this show for us in August, we had separately raised enough funds to still make it happen. I knew I wanted to sponsor a group show that celebrated our new work, and the Painting Center posed this opportunity, and everything worked out. Actually, it was my roommate Madeline Mikolon who brought up the idea to another professor, Chris Wright, who got me connected and allowed for everything to happen. And thankfully, since al the money was raised online, I was able to have access to the funds almost immediately. In fact, some of the money contributed not just to this show, but to the art handling and opening reception of our last show group show as well.

Kat: Is this final show indented to be purposefully different from the preceding two? If so can you talk about how and why?

Juliet: For this show we wanted to get away from the specific tragedy of the fire, and start thinking about respecting the past and embracing the future in a more universal way. Flameproof was a title chosen by a few people that wound up being carried on to not just one, but several of our group shows. The studio fire has certainly brought us together, and it is absolutely the reason that my campaign, and consequently this show, has happened. But as artists we are not merely synonymous with this fire. We thought the title Effigy was both curious and provocative; it can be interpreted in both a positive and negative way and has some pretty broad connotations in respect to the event that happened and to art.

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Kat: The previous shows, entitled Flameproof, meant to identify the events of the fire as a unifying factor. What is the meaning behind changing the title for this last show to Effigy?

Juliet: Making this show happen involved a very different process from our original Flameproof show, in which who was doing what and when was entirely out of our control. All the artists could do was wait for emails from people higher up that would explain to us what was happening. In the case of our original Flameproof, many students never even met or saw the curator or any of the sponsors for the show. But Effigy is entirely community funded and driven. All we did was ask for some help, and together we were able to make the show happen on our own, with far more freedom than we had previously been granted. We specifically chose a new title because we wanted the show to be a symbol of this new independence and growth. We wanted to shed off our graduation caps and the looming tragedy of this fire and move on. I think this step in our careers has helped us develop and mature, and will be visible in both the curation of the show and the quality of the art. Not to mention, it has opened our eyes to the possibility of making stuff happen, simply by asking the right people for support.

Kat: Can you speak more about the experience of producing your very first group show in a Chelsea gallery…And does the fact that this show was funded via cyber public funding influence or affect its intent and meaning?

Juliet: Everything about this show is happening so quickly, and a great deal of the mechanics of it occurred almost entirely online. Before the fire, I was already somewhat aware of the impact social media can have on our lives. If used the right way, it’s an enormously powerful tool for change. And taking advantage of it wasn’t as hard work as one might think: all I did was ask the right people for help. I found an amazing person to film my online video (Hope Fitton), sent a bunch of emails and texts asking for people to come get interviewed and to send their own footage, came up with some questions, and then found yet another fantastic person to edit the video (Peter Brensinger). Then I stuck it all online and asked friends and family to donate. The Painting Center and our curator Mona Brody volunteered their services to make this show happen not long after I had raised the funds, and Chris Wright got me in connection with them. The students met on their own to discuss logistics. And together with Mona, I wrote up a press release, and another friend (Mark Feggins) helped me design the image for the cards

Kat: Is this truly the last group show for this collection of artists, or do you think that the bond formed after the fire will provide for future collaborative opportunities?

Juliet: It’s possible that all of us as a group will never show together again. Several students have already left New York City. Some are headed to grad school, others are headed abroad. However, there are definitely some strong connections that I’m positive will continue to foster creative collaborations. Simply the act of working together to make these post-graduate shows happen has given several of the artists opportunities to demonstrate their ability to lead and work together. A few artists have already moved into the same studio space. Some of the artists even live together. Right now, many of us need some time off to build portfolios worthy of showing again, but you can rest assured this won’t be the last of us.

Julia Leach In Conversation

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One of my primary interests when profiling people for Dossier has always been those who do multiple things and somehow manage to do them well. A few months ago I met Julia Leach at Wieden and Kennedy, where she works as a creative director. I knew that she had come there from Kate Spade, where she worked for 11 years as EVP/Creative Director developing the brand’s eminently recognizable aesthetic. During our meeting, I also learned that she has her own clothing and accessories line, Chance, which she works on nights and weekends. Chance is a line bulit around well-made, beachy essentials – the perfect striped shirt, elegant beach towels, a leather bag you really want to carry everything in. Along with asking her some questions about how her multi-faceted career has come to pass, I asked Julia to share some of her inspiration boards for the current Chance collection, built around Greece, as well as a video shot there for the brand.

Skye Parrott: Can you tell me about your background? How and where did you grow up, what was your family like?

Julia Leach: My parents (Mom, mostly Danish; Dad, mostly English) raised me and my brother in a wonderfully bohemian setting on an old farm in the Minnesota countryside. They’re both creative  - Mom, a writer and art teacher, who was always drawing vegetables from our garden, Dad a potter, who originally set out to be an architect – and I’m grateful for their influence on me. There was a sense of understatement in our home, yet also a passion for clean design, thoughtful craftsmanship, organic food, and great music – all things I value to this day. They both had an effortless sense of style, but we never discussed fashion – though my mother often bought Paris Vogue and Elle, along with Gourmet, when we made trips to Minneapolis for my father’s pottery sales. My grandparents, especially on my father’s side, were very polished in a Brooks Brothers sort of way, so I was aware of quality and formal elegance from a young age. My own sense of style continues to reflect this collision of easy artfulness and classicism, thanks to my parents and grandparents. When my parents split up, my mother moved to Finland, where she met a wonderful French man. They got married and moved to a tiny village in the Dordogne region of France, where she’s been living for nearly twenty-five years. I appreciate that through my mother and Michel, I was exposed to a European way of life as well. My primary residence, though, continued to be with my father, where my horse was the main focus of my teenage years, along with school and my jobs.

Skye: Tell me about your early work life. What was your first job? Did you learn anything there that you still use today?

Julia: My very first job, at age nine, was organizing the desk drawers of a friend of my mother’s. My second (more official) job was as a horse groom on an Arabian farm. I absolutely loved it. I’d been crazy about horses since the age of five, so to be 11 years old and brushing, lunging, and working around these beautiful creatures all day long in the summertime was heaven for me. I was a groom until I was 15. Initially, my parents were a little nervous when I’d go to horse shows around the Midwest for a long weekend, but I’d shown a sense of responsibility, and they trusted me. I look back on this chapter and see the development of my independent instincts. Then in high school I worked in the only clothing shop in my small Minnesota town. I loved that job, too, as I’d started to enjoy expressing my creativity through personal style. The things I learned in each of these roles still come through in my professional life – a strong work ethic and high standards, a sense of order, creative expression, and independent thinking.

dossier_chance_greece_inspiration_urn_anthony quinn_anna Karina Read More »

Made in Berlin

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MADE is one of those improbable places that actually exist, and I’m glad it does. An art-funding project geared towards collaboration, MADE provides artists with what it modestly describes as its “toolbox”: a 4500-square-foot space in Berlin designed by the architect Alexis Dornier, with an adaptable layout and customized lighting system, in which to do something unexpected.

Underwritten by Absolut Vodka (which worked with Warhol’s Factory in the 80s), MADE invites artists to collaborate on a project, ideally to come up with a new approach to each of their practices. Founded in 2010 by artist Tadi Rock and her partner Nico Zeh, the team spent one year researching the ideal studio space with artists from various disciplines. The result is an artist’s fever dream that offers the studio space and funds to realize projects deemed too wayward for other venues. Zeh summarizes it as, “this is the best we could think of. We hope you (the artists) feel inspired and do something great here.”

The only provision is that each artist needs to go out of his or her comfort zone. “We want to do something that hasn’t been done before. We don’t have any final concepts when we start a project; it’s all about the idea. I just want to dive into this direction and whatever comes out is the right result,” Zeh says. “If the idea is powerful, and we’re able to add certain partners that also share this same passion for this idea, no one really knows where it’s going to take us. You don’t have to worry about the result. It’ll be beautiful anyway.”

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Past projects include performances of a robot programmed to sculpt objects, the shape determined by the notes played on an accompanying violin; a choreographed work by the poet Ebon Heath, presented with Talib Kweli; and a visual dialogue with Yohji Yamamoto (the exhibit stated, “This installation is not about fashion”). For Zeh, “The main purpose of us doing this is to be a place for inspiration.” Their most recent project is with the Icelandic composer Ólafur Arnalds and the German media artist Joachim Sauter. Both artists have a history of interdisciplinary collaboration.

Joachim Sauter is a media artist and designer. In 1988, he co-founded ART+COM to research digital technologies within the context of art and design. His work has been shown in the Centre Pompidou in Paris, the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, and the Venice Biennale. Ólafur Arnalds began studying piano as a child and, as a teenager was a drummer for metal bands. He later turned to classical compositions and has toured with Sigur Rós. Arnalds’ most recent album, For Now I Am Winter, debuted at No. 1 on the American classical charts. I joined them at the MADE space to talk about their installation Symphonie Cinétique, in which five of Sauter’s kinetic sculptures are choreographed to Arnalds’ compositions. Read More »

Shoplifter

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Hrafnildur Arnardottir, socially known by her unusually misguided nickname, Shoplifter, is a mixed media artist. Originally from Iceland, Shoplifter is now actively beautifying the New York art scene with her multi-facetted interdisciplinary art practice. This past week I attended the unveiling of Shoplifter’s most recent installation piece, displayed at the Summer Solstice Reyka event on the roof top of King & Grove in Williamsburg. Shoppy, as her friends call her, glowed adjacent to her sun sculpture, which was the pivotal marker celebrating the night of Iceland’s Midnight Sun.

Kat Slootsky: I have read about how your nickname, Shoplifter, originally came to be through a misunderstood introduction. Since then, what have been some of the exceptional reactions you’ve received from introducing yourself that way?

Shoplifter: People usually look at me in sheer disbelief, then crack up… It’s not the name they expected of a gray haired lady, but then I explain, it’s a good icebreaker.

Kat: Has this pseudonym formed a pseudo-personailty for itself as well?

Shoplifter: You can say that it has helped me to allow myself to work on a more humorous level, it’s hard to take yourself too seriously with a name like that.

Kat: In the past you’ve worked with self-created textiles using a wide array of mediums and materials, specifically hair, to speak to cultural themes of beauty and vanity. How does your newest instillation piece, which you will be unveiling at the June 21st Summer Solstice Reyka event, relate to these ubiquitous themes in your work?

Shoplifter: In the past few years I’ve been working on a series of wall pieces that are planets, stars, and comets; the word comet comes from Greek and means “longhaired star.” The sun sculpture is a continuation of this galaxy exploration – now in a large and three dimensional scale.

Kat: The day of 24-hour sunlight, the summer solstice, is an important aspect of Icelandic culture. Can you speak more about your inspiration and interests in Iceland’s geographical elements and how they have presently been muse to your current installation?

Shoplifter:I grew up celebrating the longest day of the year on summer solstice, we would go out party into the bright night, get naked and roll in the morning dew for good luck. When creating this piece of art for Reyka, I wanted to create something that would not only bring to life the 24 hours of Icelandic solstice, but that would also do justice to the inventive spirit in which Reyka was created.

Everything about Icelandic nature is inspiring from the dark and rainy to the bright and colorful, and it continues to filter through in my work on both a conscious and unconscious level. It’s tricky to address it without it becoming too kitschy, but a little kitsch is fine with me. I like referencing pop culture and there is a strong influence from cartoons and other playful elements in our culture.

Kat: For me, you work translates as culturally relatable and present in todays global social dialogue. Does this summer solstice installation similarly unite such global concepts, or does it have a more specific relevance to Icelandic culture?

Shoplifter: Now that I have lived in New York nearly half of my life I think that the two worlds have collided into one personal concept. That of opposites, extremes and exploration of the influences of such different places. I continue to be inspired by the culture and country I grew up in as well as the life in New York. I have found a comfort zone where I have developed artistic language to speak of these inspirations and they seem to be understood on a global level. I feel very lucky to have these worlds in the palm of my hand.

Installation

Ladies Night

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The gender disparity of DJ culture is nothing new. What is new is that consistently more and more women are joining the ranks of the top elite DJs. Enter Liaison Femme, a creative collective compromised exclusively of female DJs such as Venus X, Mia Moretti, Sam Ronson, Creep, Gina Turner, Louisahhh, DJ Kiss, Jasmine Solano, Justine D., Kitty Ca$h, and many more. The group was founded by Grace Lee, who performs under the moniker G*LEE, has been DJing professionally since she was 14.

Through her early initiation into the nightlife culture, Lee (who would skip school to visit the famed Hip-Hop store, Fat Beats) was able to experience first hand the discrepancy when it came to the DJ community: “It was always a Boys Club– It’s this male driven industry, there wasn’t any females. I was frustrated because I knew that I could [DJ] and I knew what I was capable of,” Lee said recently over a phone call.

Lee started out at a young age, DJing while participating in Julliard Music Composition and simultaneously going to high school, she began attending the prestigious Clive Davis Music program at NYU eventually transferring to the Eugene Lang New School to study her “core passion in life,” philosophy. This time period would be informative as to how the then 21-year-old would come to view the landscape of DJ culture. “It definitely started at an early age because I was observing. It was like an observation desk for me, the [early] years I was in the industry and hanging with all my mentors–who were all male. A little longer into my career I [started to come] across female DJs and I felt like it was a manifesto, giving me a sign that it was time.”

A few years ago she started to quietly establish Liaison Femme, whose initial mission was simply to get some attention for the ladies. “Obviously it’s a market and if we debuted and said ‘Hey look at us- we are all females and we are going to start doing all female parties now’ that’s a niche, that’s not a vision. That comes from an impatient virtue and obviously not what we want,” she admits. So the collective remained incognito for two years, making its official debut last year. Triggered by a comment Maluca made after a performance, Lee recalls, “She was just saying how great it was to see this come together and watch the beginning of this movement. That’s when it clicked–this is a movement.” Lee and the others quickly realized they were surpassing their initial intent as a pedestal for female DJs and decided to expand their mission to include female artists outside of DJ culture and nurture a collaborative atmosphere with other like-minded projects.

Recently, Liaison Femme has been working on their first partnership with the downtown retail shop Oak, producing two videos starring members of the group. Filmed by director Awol Erizku who has shot for A$AP Rocky, the DJs were separated into two sections: The Alphas and The Omegas.

Part I “Alpha” features DJs Jasmine Solano and Kitty Cash

Part II “Omega” features DJs G*LEELauren Flax (Creep), Jubilee (Mixpak), and Kristen Oshiro.

Click for portraits of Liaison Femme Read More »

Summer Mixtape No.1

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This summer NEW/AGE is curating a kaleidoscopic summertime mix series to be exclusively released with Dossier. It features diverse genre-benders such as Hannah Hunt (Christopher Owens), Kilo Kish, MAS YSA, Smash Simmons, Elvis Perkins/Cornelia Livingston and others. First in the series is Brooklyn-based DJ Kitty-Ca$h (née Cachee Livingston).

It was a serendipitous beginning for Kitty-Ca$h, who lists Trap, Hip-Hop, R’n’B, Pop, House and Reggae as some of her favorite genres to spin, the FIT alum was working as a publicist when her best friend, rapper Kilo Kish, offered Kitty the opportunity to be her tour DJ; with the one caveat–she had to learn how to DJ first. “We would hop around from different bars trying to find a DJ for her tour and one night, Kish was like ‘Why don’t you just be my official DJ’ and I was just like ‘Yeah, but I don’t know how to DJ’. First, I learned the basics from her manager, J-Scott, and then I took a class at Scratch Academy, and then I just fell in love and now I practice everyday.”

Now, a year later the Brooklyn native has been honing her skills and has released her first ever mix exclusive to Dossier, using trap as a foundation while seamlessly layering down-tempo electro, pop and R and B. “I created Could It Be You while reflecting on a few conversations I had with close friends about finding love in the summer time. When selecting, I wanted songs that evoked an array of emotions like lust, passion, happiness, romance, anger, love and infatuation; resulting in a care-free yet sultry summer vibe for the mix. Every scenario gave me inspiration for a different song, which in the end tells the ultimate summer love story… leaving you questioning every encounter with four words… Could It Be You?!”

–Shannekia McIntosh

Read More »

Maryam Nassir Zadeh In Conversation

Maryam Nassir Zadeh

Skye Parrott: Can you tell me a little about your background? How did you grow up, what were your parents like?

Maryam Nassir Zadeh: My parents grew up in London and met in the ’60s; they fell in love in their early twenties while on a blind date. They wanted to raise a family of their own in Tehran, Iran, where they were both born. They moved there but it was only a few years later that suddenly the Revolution began, so they quickly moved to the U.S. for an independent and liberal life. I was only three months old when they immigrated to San Diego, California. They spent their entire savings on opening a restaurant with my dad’s sister and her husband, who had also immigrated. By the time I was three, we moved to L.A. I grew up in the San Fernando Valley, in a rural area near the beach, surrounded by rolling hills and rocky canyons. It was beautiful, natural and suburban. My parents both worked in real estate. My mom sold houses and my dad had his own firm as a mortgage broker giving loans for houses. At that time, in the late ’80s through early ’90s, the real estate market was hot.

Skye: What are your earliest fashion memories? As a child, did you care about clothes and the space around you, or did it come to be important to you later?

Maryam: My earliest fashion memory dates back to the Esprit de Corp days in the ’80s. I remember opening my closet at age seven and being mesmerized by the beauty of plaid and staring at the pattern. Years later I remember begging my parents to take me shopping at the Esprit outlet in San Francisco. It was the most exciting experience – I can easily compare it to the joy of visiting the Prada outlet in Tuscany in my early twenties! My eyes were always attracted to color and pattern and I felt an immediate connection and appreciation for textiles.

maryam nassir zadeh collection Read More »

Work it Out

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This is Brooklyn-based band Workout‘s newest video from their album Life is a Nightmare. Directed by Dossier contributor Josh Slater, the video sees the band on a cosmic journey from the beginning of time to the end of days. I particularly love the NASA footage from the 80′s.

Louis W. for A.P.C.

Louis W Portrait

For his second collaboration with A.P.C., designer Louis Wong is out to re-invent the classic American leather jacket. With references such as the iconic jacket worn by Tom Cruise in Top Gun, (or even the jacket Matthew Broderick wore in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off) Louis aims to de-throne the now ubiquitous rock-n-roll black leather jacket with heavy metallic hardwire. For his third collection, coming out this fall, Louis looks instead to classic references such as the Wright brothers and even Shearlings worn by those featured in Jamel Shabazz’s “Back in The Days.” Think more hip hop meets Easy Rider: a real big, tough man in a leather jacket, not necessarily a skinny, under-fed one.

So, what happens when you take your dad’s jacket from the 1970′s and re-make it in luxurious ecru and dark brown dip-dyed lambskin or hazelnut-brown suede split calfskin? Well, I can tell you I will be on the waiting list when they release these jackets for women. They might be the nicest leather jackets I have ever seen. I have that feeling that now that I tried one on, I will never be happy without one. These jackets almost made me wish I was a guy. Or a bigger woman. I’m being completely serious. Louis has managed to take something beautiful and forgotten and revitalize it by using better materials than the originals were made in. Leave it to the French to take American classics and improve upon them. But of course.

I got to sit down with Louis and ask him a little bit about his diverse background, his various references and when he will start producing these for women already. Louis was also nice enough to share some of his image references for the collection, featured below here.

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Photograph by Jamel Shabazz

Katherine Krause: Where are you from? How did you get started designing?

Louis Wong: My history? (laughs) I’m born in Malyasia but I grew up mostly in France, in Paris. Basically, I’m really Parisian even though I was born in Asia. I knew I wanted to work in fashion so I did an internship at Louis Vuitton and became the junior menswear designer there. Then I met Jean Touitou and I started to work for him at A.P.C.

Katherine: You said you are very Parisian. Do you think that influences your designs?

Louis: When I studied in Paris, I studied the history of art near the center of Paris in the sixth arrondissement which is the iconic area of traditional cultural Paris. I lived there and then A.P.C. is there and Jean Touitou comes from there. Like me, he came from somewhere else- he arrived from Tunisia and grew up in Paris. So I relate to that [Parisian influence] and he relates to that.

Katherine: Was it interesting to watch the brand grow from a small parisian brand to soemthing global?

Louis: Well it was still quite big when I arrived. Like Margiela or a lot of brands, it was first very big in Japan. When I arrived it was at a weird time when Japanese fashion had changed alot and had lost interest in western brands and was focused on thier own brands and it was strange because A.P.C related more to America somehow and focused in on [the Japanese's] true western spirit. So now I guess, yes, I think now A.P.C seems more famous on a worldwide scale but it was definitely already on its way. Read More »