The Nine Lives of… Part I

Kathy Lo
Words & Casting:
Alex Hawgood
Krystle DeMauro

Worn-torn bodega cats and nomadic strays tucked away in back alleys are not the only New Yorkers who possess nine lives. The five boroughs of New York City are teeming with ambitious individuals stumbling through their personal and professional second, third – all the way up to ninth, but who’s counting – acts. You could make a case that a reverence for creative reincarnation (or rehabilitation) is the defining trait of most people who call the City home. Straddling past lives and future selves, the weird and wonderful New York characters on the following pages always find a way to land on their feet.

Fabiola Alondra

As an art-book dealer and gallerist, Fabiola Alondra is an archivist of oft-overlooked creative minds. To wit: her East Village gallery Fortnight Institute has recently exhibited the radical feminist artist Penny Slinger’s works from the late 1960s – 1970s, a presentation of late 20th century print artefacts from the rare book dealer Arthur Fournier’s personal collection and the cartoonish oeuvre of the Berlin based multimedia artist Stu Mead. Then there is her personal home library inside her duplex apartment in Brooklyn Heights, which is divided into sections from science to the occult, complete with built-in rolling ladder. “I love the idea of the many lives lived contained in books, and all on a bookshelf or in a library,” says Alondra, who is 34. “Libraries are like ossuaries: Instead of bones, the books are what remains.” She is currently shelf-obsessed with Mary MacLane’s first book, I Await the Devil’s Coming, which was published in 1902 when the author was just 19. “She wrote a confessional memoir when it was uncommon – a writing style that only later became ubiquitous,” she says. One of her favourite passages from MacLane could very well describe Alondra herself: “I have in me a quite unusual intensity of life. I can feel. I have a marvellous capacity for misery and for happiness. I am broad-minded. I am a genius. I am a philosopher of my own good peripatetic school”.

Jack Greer

Filmmaker, collage painter, clothing designer: the downtown polymath Jack Greer wears many hats, including ones from his own street-inspired clothing label, Iggy. (The brand is named after his miniature husky dog). “Everything I make seems to have a tough time falling into any single category because the clothes, the videos and the paintings are all produced entirely out of a desire to create without any necessity to fit comfortably within an industry,” says Greer, who is 32 and an original member of the Still House Group art collective. “The main difference between Iggy and my personal artwork is the resulting platform for which they exist.”Greer is currently working on a collaboration with the skateboard brand Polar that is slated for the end of summer. There is also a new documentary short he directed on the East Village artist Jim Power, a.k.a. Mosaic Man, due out soon. “The way the public absorbs this content is usually defined by the perceived value of the resulting piece – a drawing on canvas is more important than a drawing that ends up rendered into a textile or a t-shirt,” he says. “However, it comes from the same brain and ultimately the time spent on creating the works is usually not that different. It’s kind of funny to me how value systems exist when for me it’s all part of the same soup.”

Ziwe Fumudoh

One is simply not enough of the comedian and writer Ziwe Fumudoh, 27, to go around. “I juggle multiple lives,” Fumudoh says. “A lesson I’ve learned is that if you say yes to everything, things will work themselves out.” Whether she is performing as her stage persona Ziwé at Union Hall in Brooklyn, writing jokes for the Showtime series Desus and Mero or being cited by The New Yorker for jokingly pointing out that “an improv class costs as much as an abortion,” she has a supernatural ability to craft dark punchlines out of modern identity politics. For her cult YouTube series Baited With Ziwe, she hilariously unearths racist slips of the tongue from her comedian pals. Make It Clap For Democracy, her minimalist party jam, explores the last gasps of the American political experiment over a percussive groove. (“They’ll disenfranchise everyone of you hoes,” she raps.) No matter the medium, Fumudoh speaks truth to the power structures behind modern city life with a sly wink and a knowing grin. “I find fulfillment in being really busy,” she says. “I wouldn’t have got to where I am in my career if I kept saying no.”
Get your copy of issue 9 here

Photography: Kathy Lo
Words & Casting: Alex Hawgood
Styling: Krystle DeMauro