The late British cosmologist Stephen Hawking argued in a 2016 documentary that humanity’s time on Earth was drawing to a close. His proposal for a second planetary home leads us to Proxima Centauri b, an Earth-sized exoplanet named Proxima Centauri in the so-called Goldilocks Belt – a theoretically habitable region near one of the closest stars to our own. “Near” and “Closest” are relative terms here. Proxima b is 25 million million miles from Earth.
The transition to “Proxima b” is one subject in a new fashion book by stylist Nicole Walker and Anders Haal, founder of Stockholm-based fashion label HAAL. Borders takes otherness, separation, and power, as primary themes, and launched during Paris Fashion Week 2018. 032c spoke to Walker and Haal, and preview the book’s opening chapter below, with a poem by Nathaniel Marcus and a visual essay in which the inhabitants of Earth and Proxima b consider the deeper possibilities for transformation that emerge after migrating 4.2 light years into space.
032c: How did the Borders project come about – how was the team assembled, and how did you decide upon its central themes?
Nicole Walker: I have been wanting to make this book for a long time – a book with a strong, clear message, questioning the ideas of borders, but presented in a rather poetic way. So I approached Anders, a close friend of mine, to do this book with me. Together we assembled a team of photographers and contributors to translate our ideas into photographs and words. It turned out beautifully.
Anders Haal: Borders define today’s media landscape. We wanted to question the otherness, separation and power hierarchies that contextualise fashion and art at their core: which limitations separate, which spaces unite.
“Proxima B / Temporary Planets” is the first chapter in the book. Could you give us a brief summary of the story it tells?
Anders Haal: It was shot by Alex de Brabant in Berlin. It presents parts of the HAAL SS19 collection, as well as the HAAL Duplex Lens, depicting the battle of Earth versus Proxima B, the planet Stephen Hawking predicted would be our second home – our second chance after the ultimate fuck up!
The imagery is heavily symbolic – there are families that include animals as equals, human irises are as complex as a planet seen from space, and there are utopian scenes in a desert landscape – and the overall effect is quite unreal. What does the turtle, featured on the book cover, mean to you? And how did you get to work with one?
Nicole Walker: We looked at perception and the line of division between animals and humans. The everyday relationship we have with animals – where they become our daily meals, the pets we cherish, or the animals we trap and keep behind glass – has to do with our connection to nature, and how our connection to nature is our core as a part of this ever moving planet. Dejan Stojanovic puts it well: “Senses empower limitations, senses expand vision within borders, senses promote understanding through pleasure.”
Anders Haal: The tortoise, who’s name is Einstein, is 34-year-old, 50kg, calm individual, who came to visit a flat in Berlin. He sat in Karl Kolbitz’s lap for a good 30 mins during which time they embraced one another. Afterwards, Einstein went back to the farm in Brandenburg where he lives.
What can we expect to see in the rest of the book?
Anders Haal: In the second chapter “Walls” by J Ari King and Henrik Alm, we see how borders are carved into the idea of landscape, from different places around the globe. In this photo series we inserted 3D illustrations of different sort of borders and walls, the melting icebergs, Ancient Greek columns, concrete walls, and gated community fences. We also portrayed performer Josh Johnson by the remains of the Berlin wall, as history threatens to repeat itself.
Nicole Walker: In the third chapter, Chris Maggios’s street photography aims to show the reality of human everyday life in todays America. In chapter four, Valter Törsleff shoots what do we all do, most days of our lives. We sleep, fuck, eat, drink water, cry, smell, and take a shit. Valter shoots his friend Sasha Melnychuk and their trip on the French Riviera. There is only we, no them.
Poem by Nathaniel Marcus
The deity under question was like attend
to refractive visions
and inhabitability: too many moons here.
Mirror like fogged-up so all-seeing
orbs: water churners: blood letters.
She said learn things by night.
What do you see in the evening plot
of my pupil?
Adidas weed-leaf remix T-shirt.
Nationalist armband icon or bar,
orb, slit, hexes, ageist, fever, fame.
There are countless dark arts, apparently.
This shifting shapes
itself up to be the only blind spot
and central. Soul scooped out of them:
retail outlet security cam:
routine traffic stop police officer body cam:
Lesvos riptide flowchart:
a Reuters photo
of a white rhino kneeling.
Are you familiar?
Are you an animal with which roulettes get predicted,
speak, eye snakes, snake eyes. When does the frame
of the scraped plate
of the zoo-glass crack? –
She also said fissure is a soft-focus optics.
A python spirals as afternoons do.
A gaze can too: tail of a comet
that could be a telecom satellite
draws a hem down the blue hour.
Borders is available to purchase at the HAAL online store.
- PhotographerAlex De Brabant
- Art DirectionNicole Walker and HAAL
- Styling and CastingNicole Walker
- CastAnna Uddenberg, Joana Krawczyk, Karl Kolbitz, Natasha Hertweck, Nicole Walker, Sindy Novak, Stiven Novak, Asher, D. Parton, Einstein, Madeleine, Meine Liebe, Mordor, Phoebe, Rocky, Älvstjärna
- FashionHAAL, HAAL Optical Lenses
- LocationBerlin and Black Rock City
- Photography (Burning Man)Fiona Jane
- Photography AssistantRonald Rose
- Styling assistantAnne Kristin Winzer
- Book Supported BySwedish Fashion Council