Nate Hill Wears Naked White Women as Scarves
Nate Hill stood in the living room of a twee North Brooklyn apartment on an afternoon in late October with a naked white girl draped around his shoulders. I pulled out my iPhone and snapped a picture. Then he nodded and started to walk slowly around the girl’s furniture. Everything was silent except for the creak of the wood floor. After about a minute, he gently let the girl down. She smiled, said thank you, and showed us to the door.
The peculiar act that I saw was part of the 36-year-old performance artist’s latest project called “Trophy Scarves.” The project involves Nate traveling to the homes of white women, getting them naked, and wearing them as human scarves. As strange as it sounds, it’s not the first time Nate has perpetrated some seriously weird shit in the name of art and social critique. Nate crashed into the art world back in 2008 with taxidermy tours of Chinatown’s garbage. He followed that up with “Death Bear,” a project that involved him wearing a bear suit and meeting up with random people to take away their possessions associated with bad memories. He’s thrown half-eaten cheeseburgers at pedestrians while riding a bike, delivered fake crack to apartments while wearing a dolphin suit, and sent a computer virus to all of his press contacts. Most recently, he’s been focusing on doing race-based pieces, like “White Power Milk,” in which he operates a website where you can order milk gargled by pretty, college-educated white girls.
I followed him around Brooklyn as he transformed a couple white women into naked fashion accessories. I asked him a few questions along the way. Here’s what he had to say.
What’s “Trophy Scarves” about?
Well, there are people who see certain races as status symbols, and someone had to comment on that.
Is this a similar tone to what you were doing with “White Power Milk”?
Yeah. With “White Power Milk,” I just wanted to talk about how people see white women as a status symbol. With “Trophy Scarves,” I wanted to find another way to come at that. I guess it’s the same kind of satirical, tongue-in-cheek approach that I like to take with things. I like to talk about something serious but do it in a lighter, kind of a goofy way.
You’ve heard a lot from us about Sandy Kim. She’s been in our magazine and on our websitetons of times, mostly due to the fact that she’s one of our favorite photographers making work today. She mixes intelligent ideas with tits and dicks and a no-fucks-given attitude, and we love her for it. But can you believe she’s never had a solo show in her home city of New York? We can’t either. That all changes tonight. Our other good photo buddy, Lele Severi, one of the geniuses behind the Newsstand in the Lorimer L stop station, has opened a new space called Muddgutsthat will host workshops, signings, screenings, and art shows. of which Sandy’s is the first. It all happens tonight at 41 Montrose Ave. in Brooklyn, and you should definitely come. We hear there may be special guests!
We went to the restaurant where you’re not allowed to talk. (Yes it’s in Brooklyn.)
Dealer’s Choice: Pawpaw, the Weirdest American Fruit You Never Knew About
Five years ago Ian Purkayastha, then 16, took out his life savings ($100) to buy Burgundy truffles on eBay, only to turn around and sell them at sky high prices to chefs in his home state of Arkansas. One year later he opted out of college to become the US president of the Italian truffle company P.A.Q., importing fresh truffles into the American market.
Now Ian is 21 and living in Brooklyn, where he works as a full-time food salesman, making fat stacks hustling fresh (and expensive) food products through the back doors of Michelin-starred restaurants around NYC. He’s got an impressive client list of over 300 restaurants nationwide that includes well known chefs like Sean Brock, Daniel Boulud and Jean-Georges Vongerichten. On any given day, you can find Ian b-lining straight through the back door of fancy kitchens, toting a chilled down backpack filled with $60,000 worth of white truffles, Moscow millionaire-quality caviar, and nondescript packages stuffed with a gamble of strange items—trout placenta, anyone? He almost always has legal seasonal shrooms on hand, like blue chanterelles and bears tooth, that can be hard to find beyond the floors of his delivery van, unless you’re tight with a mushroom forager in the Pacific Northwest.
Parisians’ Love Affair with Hipster Brooklyn
Before I moved to Paris three years ago, although I’d already been to the city and was lucky enough to call French my second language, I still held more than a few romantic preconceived notions. Every metropolis has a set of stereotypes linked to it, and Paris exists in many people’s minds as a charming, luxurious, timeless hub of style and sophistication—in fact, so many people expect the City of Light to be what they want it to be that the reality has rendered some tourists physically sick with disappointment. But just as Paris is idealized by foreigners, Parisians hold oversimplified version of American cities in their heads as well. While we may look at Paris as a sparkling labyrinth of cigarettes and pastel macarons, Parisians look at us with the same Vaseline on the lens—especially when it comes to New York.
Manhattan has always been an object of desire and intimidation for the French, but more recently Brooklyn has been added to the list of boroughs worth idolizing. While what it “means” to be a young Brooklynite may have been discussed and re-discussed in the States until it has lost all meaning (at this point, if you live in north Brooklyn you’re lucky if the New York Times hasn’t done a trend piece focused on your block) it’s easy to forget that are many places where this kudzu of nebulous social indicators has only just begun to lay its delicate roots.