To explore Asia from Aujin’s perspective, follow @aujinrew on Instagram.
It’s been almost 10 years since Aujin Rew (@aujinrew) overhauled her whole life, leaving behind a stable engineering career in South Korea to pursue photography. Last year, she accomplished another dream by traveling all over Asia, starting in Vietnam and ending in Turkey. “Mostly I traveled by bus or train, but sometimes hitchhiking took me on a more adventurous experience,” she says. “I hitchhiked a vegetable sellers’ car from Sary-Tash, Kyrgyzstan, and helped them sell vegetables on the way to Osh. A three-hour journey became six hours.” Aujin’s current home base is in Singapore, but before heading back on the road, she’s pausing in Seoul to reflect for the #LunarNewYear: “What has been driving me to keep traveling and stay away from home? Maybe even before I find some answers, my itchy feet will lead me to somewhere in Siberia or the border between Myanmar and India. Who knows? Life brings surprises.”
The word “Levant” refers to a geographic region in English. But in its native tongue the translation isn’t as simple. “When you say ‘levante’ in Italian, you could be talking about the wind or the eastern seaboard of the country, or the rising sun (sol levante) … or me!” says Levante (@levanteofficial), a Sicilian pop singer with a sixth sense for catchy hooks (check out her hit single “Alfonso” for proof). Levante grew up idolizing singers like Carmen Consoli, Janis Joplin and Alanis Morissette and has been writing music since she was 9. With her second record, Abbi Cura Di Te, which translates to “Take Care of Myself,” she was looking to capture something a bit more polished sound-wise while still capturing the heartfelt moments of her debut album.
“‘Abbi Cura Di Te’ is a phrase that my former voice teacher would say,” says Levante. “In a chaotic time of my life, that phrase came to me as perhaps the most beautiful and sincere thing someone might say to me.”
Weekend Hashtag Project is a series featuring designated themes and hashtags chosen by Instagram’s Community Team. For a chance to be featured on the Instagram blog, follow @instagram and look for a post every week announcing the latest project.
The goal this weekend is to create brightly colored photos and videos filled with energy. Here’s how to get started:
PROJECT RULES: Please add the #WHPvibrant hashtag only to photos and videos taken over this weekend and only submit your own visuals to the project. Any tagged photo or video taken over the weekend is eligible to be featured next week.
Monthly Hashtag Project is a series featuring designated themes and hashtags chosen by Instagram’s Community Team. For a chance to be featured on the Instagram blog, follow @music on Instagram.
For this month’s hashtag project #MHPoffbeat, we are looking for unusual/bizarre/funky music photos and videos. To help out, we’ve brought in San Francisco-based photographer Misha Vladimirskiy (@mishavladimirskiy), best known for his “My Own Devices” series, which features musicians interacting with themselves.
Here are a few tips from Misha on how to best capture those weird music moments happening in front of you:
PROJECT RULES: Please add the #MHPoffbeat hashtag only to photos and videos taken this month and only submit your own. If you include music in your video submissions, please only use music to which you own the rights. Any tagged visual taken this month is eligible to be featured.
It all started with a handful of Polaroids found on a city street. Now, Zun Lee’s (@zunleephoto) project, Fade Resistance (@faderesistance), has amassed over 3,500 instant photos, chronicling the African-American family experience in the United States. “There was so much love and joy and affection, and these photos were so full of life,” the Toronto-based photographer says. “The question then is: Why are so many of them out there? And what does it say about how they end up on the street?” Zun’s collection largely hails from the Los Angeles area — the majority were taken in the 1980s and early 1990s — capturing life’s milestones, moments and everyday scenes. “When you see pictures that resemble one’s own experience, it’s much easier to empathize and to humanize a community that might not be your own,” Zun explains.
New York City in the 1980s was a creative, crime-ridden cesspool. This was particularly true in Times Square, which was exactly like the Times Square of today just with less Disney characters and more adult theaters. According to local regulations at the time, these XXX establishments were required to show the non-sexy stuff too: everything from grindhouse movies to B-flicks to anything else that didn’t have an excess of flesh. Years later, when video artist and electronic musician Jason Harvey (@vocoded) moved to the city, he decided to put these alternate inventories to good use by hitting up existing porno spots to purchase their non-dirty video collection.
“We ended up with a huge treasure trove of just old VHS tapes of poor quality stuff,” says Jason, who began sifting through each tape, chopping up the more obscure sections, running the clips through visual synthesizers, then adding music in the background (either his own composition, or whatever vintage track he had laying around the house). However Jason, whose current day job consists of developing sound design and video projection for corporate events, wasn’t interested in the “good” parts of the movies he was watching. He was more fascinated by the offbeat moments. “I’d take the weird part at the end or the little commercials in between and make something out of it,” he says. “Sometimes I’ll cut the music up and if the visuals change or something happens in it, I try to make the music change as well. It’s challenging.”
(This interview was conducted in French.)
“Sometimes an illustration is more direct than words,” Lucille Clerc @lucille_clerc says. Since the November Paris attacks, the London-based, French-born illustrator has been working on illustrations of the French values “liberté, égalité and fraternité” (liberty, equality and fraternity). Drawing allows Lucille to stay connected to her native country’s culture: “It helps me a lot to draw these days. These values — liberté, égalité, fraternité — they are not only French. They are universal.”
Check out the #MuseumInstaSwap hashtag on Instagram to learn more about the project.
JiaJia Fei, digital director at the Jewish Museum (@thejewishmuseum) in New York City, has visited the Studio Museum in Harlem (@studiomuseum) many times, but a recent trip was for the #MuseumInstaSwap: 18 museums in New York paired off and spent time with each other’s collections, taking photos with their own communities in mind and posting them throughout the day on February 2. Organized by the Intrepid Museum (@intrepidmuseum) and inspired by the first swap led by the Wellcome Collection (@wellcomecollection), the initiative offers a fresh perspective on each museum as well as a broader audience for all. At the Studio Museum, JiaJia (@vajiajia) took photos of pieces capturing its spirit, such as Glenn Ligon’s iconic work “Give us a Poem,” a light installation blinking the words “me, we.” “Though the mission of both institutions is dedicated to art seen through a specific lens, these are ultimately museums for people of all backgrounds,” says JiaJia. “We were able to connect all of our voices and audiences online, worldwide, for a single day.”
Somehow, Instagram @music has existed for almost a year without mentioning “Down in the DM,” a literal erhm … love letter to direct messaging with the actual lyric “I love the Gram, I love the Gram.” It’s time to fix that. The song is by Memphis rapper Yo Gotti (@yogottikom), it recently hit No. 1 on the Billboard Mainstream Hip-Hop/R&B chart, and it has thrown the veteran emcee’s DMs into overdrive. Good thing the man knows how to handle attention.
Gotti has been hustling ever since he was a red suspender-rocking, gold chain-wearing 8-year-old. (Yep, that’s him in the photo above; even as a kid his style game was on point). This year, he’s throwing all that swagger into the title of his new album, The Art of Hustle, and its cover image. “I have been looking at those pictures all my life,” says Gotti. “We had houses in Vegas. My mom and auntie, any [boxing] fight that was poppin’, they would show up with the mink coats on and get front row seats. And for some reason I was just into that lifestyle, so I always asked to tag along with them. And they let me go.”
Gotti is already calling The Art of Hustle (out on February 19) “his best work yet” — a serious boast for someone who’s dropped almost two dozen mixtapes and eight studio records over the last 20 years. It’s got a hell of a lineup: The inclusion of “DM” along with features from Future, Pusha T and Lil Wayne, plus production from producers Drumma Boy and Timbaland. “I think it’s a classic album,” says Gotti. “It’s got a lot of different components on it, speaking about my past and upbringing, being raised by a family full of hustlers who taught me the game and the rules and the principles of the streets.”
Those rules are what have kept Gotti going for the past two decades. (And he has them for everything, including DMing: “No screenshots,” he says. “It’s kinda like the Stop Snitching campaign. If you screenshotting and want people to DM you messages then you violating the game and the purpose of it.”) In an industry where artists come and go and what’s hot today is trash tomorrow, he is holding strong.
“Man it’s just consistency and always being able to adapt to changes,” Gotti says. “When the industry turns you gotta turn with it. I pay attention, I study. It’s always about keeping up with your hustle.”
For more scenes of life in Georgia, follow @darosulakauri on Instagram.
“Every person you photograph, young or old, you have to bond, you have to connect,” photojournalist Daro Sulakauri (@darosulakauri) says. “I don’t think portraiture has an age to it.” Daro was born in Tbilisi, Georgia, then studied in the United States before returning back to her native country. She grew up surrounded by social change as Georgia regained its independence from the Soviet Union. “Everything happened in front of my house all the time,” she explains. While her early work was photographing her friends and family, now she says she likes to slip into the corners of other homes, too, capturing domestic moments that highlight contemporary life in Georgia: “Like remote villages, for instance, where you will never get a chance to meet those people and see the life that’s going on there — the light, the colors, the people, everything.”
To check out more of her quirky and cute goods, follow @heatherbuchanan on Instagram.
“When you love a movie or an actor, and you meet someone with that same affinity, there’s an instant bond between you,” artist Heather Buchanan (@heatherbuchanan) explains. Heather creates goods like pins, greeting cards and small prints, regularly featuring her favorite pop culture icons. “Attractiveness is boring,” the Canadian artist from Calgary explains. “There’s got to be some madness and some rare depth of hilarity.” Think John Goodman, Patrick Stewart, and yes, Bill Murray. “There is a mythology around [Bill Murray] that stems partially from nostalgia and partially from an excitement about what shenanigans he’ll pull in the future,” Heather says. “If you paint the slightest change in his eyes, then suddenly his whole face says something new.” The best piece of advice she can offer to other small business owners? “Make sure you’re putting as much time into making unique and exciting things as you are into corralling a following.”
Sabrina Carpenter (@sabrinacarpenter) picked up a microphone long before she stood in front of a camera. “Music is me,” she says. “Acting is anybody else in the world that I’m playing.”
The 16-year-old singer, best known as Maya Hart on the Disney Channel’s Girl Meets World, first discovered her now concurrent loves of music and performance while growing up in Pennsylvania, in a town “where there are cows in the middle of the road,” she says. The two careers have since kept her busy. She is currently set to begin her third season on Girl Meets World at the same time she releases her as-yet-titled second album.
After her first record, Eyes Wide Open, dropped in 2015, Sabrina found herself back in the studio with an excess of new experiences under her belt that she was ready to share. The first one, which turned into the single “Smoke and Fire,” was about a breakup with her boyfriend, which had happened five days earlier.
“I hadn’t written for, I want to say, eight months since the first album released, and I just had a lot of stories building up,” she says. “I kind of write wherever I go. So even when I’m not in a professional session, I’m always writing down things in my phone and in my notes on stuff that inspired me and stuff that I see in everyday life.”
For the music video to “Smoke and Fire,” Sabrina wanted to tell a story. But she was surprised when director Jessie Hill presented her with a ballet-related concept. “The song is called ‘Smoke and Fire,’ so I was expecting to be, like, burning stuff up,” she says. However, she soon warmed up to the idea of a less fiery narrative. “We went with this innocent love story almost being told through a memory, and then the reality of where it’s at now. It’s kind of a video that shows you that you’re really not alone. And the song does that same thing.”
Though acting is still a big part of Sabrina’s life, music remains her first passion. It’s a place she can share messages with her audience in different, more personal ways. “I think music is universal. It can relate to everybody, every type of human. And there’s no law [or] books that say what type of music you have to listen to. It’s just whatever you want. And I think that’s why I’ve always been drawn to it, because it’s just been something that can be mine personally, but also everybody else’s at the same time.”
To see more of Jenny’s treats, follow @sweetjennybelle on Instagram.
This #GroundhogDay, Jenny Rodriguez (@sweetjennybelle) is taking bets. Her prediction? Punxsutawney Phil will see his shadow and six more weeks of winter are guaranteed. With that said, she doesn’t have complete confidence in the source. “I imagine groundhogs are a bit sketchy,” Jenny, who owns a baking business in Utah, says. “I could see them fibbing for an extended nap.”
Weekend Hashtag Project is a series featuring designated themes and hashtags. For a chance to be featured, follow @instagram and look for a post every week announcing the latest project.
#WHPnocturnal asked community members to make creative images and videos at night, seeking out surprising sources of light for their visuals. Each week, we feature some of our favorite submissions from the project, but be sure to check out the rest here.
To see more of his murals all over Washington, DC, follow @aniekanreloaded on Instagram. This post is part of Instagram’s #MakeYourMap, a project to capture and celebrate local culture and heritage during #BlackHistoryMonth, which runs throughout February in the United States.
It only took one man, Aniekan Udofia (@aniekanreloaded), to paint this larger-than-life mural of music legend and activist Marvin Gaye, but an entire community came together to make it a lasting image in Washington, DC’s cityscape. The wall Aniekan originally painted his commissioned mural on was torn down, so the people of the Shaw neighborhood in Northwest DC raised money to start fresh.
“I actually like the second one because there was no control in terms of the creativity, the timeline or the style,” says Aniekan, a DC illustrator who paints murals all over his city — no easy feat for a man terrified of heights. “The funny thing is, once I’m up there for a few minutes, I’ll get the swing of it — as long as I’m not looking down.”
Aniekan spent 16 years living in his parents’ native country of Nigeria before moving to the US to study fine art, but didn’t hold a can of spray paint until years after he graduated. “It’s like someone giving you a can of Cheez Wiz to create art,” he jokes. He still holds a special place in his heart for the trusty pencil, using the image as a sort of signature: “The pencil represents persistence. You can use the pencil to the last drop of lead.”
Around the Community
To get a glimpse into her life, follow @torahbright on Instagram.
Everything changed the first day Torah Bright (@torahbright) stepped on a snowboard. “It was challenging, it was a new skill, but it came pretty quickly,” the 29-year-old Olympic gold medalist from Australia says. “A whole new world opened up.” This weekend, she’s at the Winter X Games in Aspen, Colorado, but at this point, it’s not really about the accolades: “I just like to really relish in the environment and all the girls. We have fun and we watch each other and we celebrate. Usually I’m the girl up there dancing, as silly as I can be to stay relaxed.” Torah grew up in a small town an hour from the mountains and an hour and a half from the ocean; she has a special place in her heart for both terrains. “Snowboarding is my life and my career, but whenever I get a chance I’m at the beach.”
To see more of Charles’ adventures in the field, follow him on @charles_post.
Ecologist and storyteller Charles Post’s (@charles_post) introduction to the outdoors came early: his grandmother was an avid birdwatcher and naturalist. “The ebb and flow of the natural world captured my keenest sense of curiosity,” Northern California-based Charles says. “It propelled me on a lifelong pursuit to better understand the natural rhythms of the outdoors.”
He’s traveled extensively, but Charles insists you don’t need to go far to connect with nature. “Take those moments to pause and watch the world around you. Whether you’re in New York City, Banff, Yellowstone or New Orleans, nature exists in one form or another,” he explains. “It takes practice, but in time nature will begin to reveal itself.”
“I am going to ask you yes or no questions.” You’re seated inside a seedy motel room that’s dressed up as an interrogation facility. Thick wires are strapped across your stomach and chest and a blood pressure cuff is wrapped around your left bicep. You begin to answer queries about your sex life, whether you can drive a stick shift, whether you’ve traveled or lived in another state. There’s no actual downside to lying right now, but that sort of defeats the purpose. If you can’t be truthful with yourself, why even exist in the first place?
Because this 21-room exhibit, somewhere in the middle of Los Angeles, is just as much about experiencing the art and influence of the singer Miguel (@miguel) as it is about finding yourself (as Miguel says, “it’s super clichéd, but what the f— else is life all about?”). Made in conjunction with artist Willo Perron (@willoperron), the Wildheart Motel, named after Miguel’s latest album Wildheart, is a place to explore the record’s message and themes in a living, breathing environment.
“I was so in love with the idea and the intention, I wanted to find any way to make it happen,” Miguel tells @music, 30 minutes before the doors open, about his conception behind the exhibit. He’s wearing a customized, unbuttoned Wildheart Motel jean jacket; his clavicle tattoos peek out from underneath his T-shirt. “It’s really a f—ing miracle that we are here.”
That miracle led to the aforementioned polygraph room, a room with a stripper pole and jungle vines, a room for karaoke, a room for sex therapy, a room of minifridges filled with miniature liquor bottles and fake limbs, a room with body part cushions. There was also the live band room, covered in burgundy shag carpet, where Rihanna would perform a surprise set later in the evening alongside Miguel.
“Every room here is intended to give people something to talk about,” he says. “I just wanted to create a space that gave people a moment –– to just forget all of the reality-based walls that we built for ourselves and just have a good time.”
You can check out more photos from Miguel’s Wildheart Motel, which runs through this weekend, here.
To see more of Kasimir’s carpet discoveries, follow (@carpet_sample) on Instagram.
A night club. A business school. A waiting lounge. A government building. These are just some of the places where Kasimir Pilè (@carpet_sample) has found interesting floor coverings. He began documenting his discoveries when he was feeling sad. “I was sitting at the public library and I looked down to see the carpet,” says Kasimir, a delivery driver who lives in Sydney. “I took a picture to remember the warm feeling under my feet.” Now, when Kasimir finds carpet on his delivery route he hasn’t seen before, he must take a photo. “It is so beautiful, soft to lie on and has such lovely patterns,” he says. “It’s different every place I go.”