Archive for the art Category

DJ Spooky and…I moved

Posted in art, Music with tags , , , , , , on January 16, 2010 by thebrooklynsocialite

Well, friends I’ve been a little busy. I moved to Ft Greene, so it looks like the Brooklyn Socialite just got a little bit more central (and high-class). The transition was crazy, it involved movers and me breaking my little back, oh(!) it was exhausting, it’s taken a while to recover, but I think I’m getting there. I have still been voraciously consuming culture, that has not changed and there is much to be discussed. I really can’t imagine where to begin.

Hmmm, just before my blogging blackout, I saw DJ Spooky’s Terra Nova: Sinfonia Antarctica at BAM (my new neighbor). Ah, it was so good, just my speed, with text and film projections, symphony live mixed-by Mr.Spooky and an interrogation of borders, neutrality and environmental preservation, the event was twisted good. He straight-up went to Antarctica and recorded the sounds of ice in preparation for this event.  I also learned that DJ Spooky aka That subliminal kid Paul D. Miller is a pretty legit working artist, am I the last to know?  I knew I was impressed when I saw him at Southpaw in like 2006 with Don Letts (that’s reggae god to you), he had some crazy projections going and a well-tailored set, but that was nothing compared with the BAM show. Here is a teaser of Spooky’s Antarctica project.

I have so much more to say but one thing at a time…

Afropunk-Halloween-D’est, Freedom Train

Posted in art, film, People of Color, queer, reading with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 31, 2009 by thebrooklynsocialite

Ok, I have been looking for inspiration all week and I must say that I intensely just found it. Right here at home, thanks to the New York Public Library and James Spooner, who have collaboratively brought the film Afropunk into my life. I didn’t realize during all those hours spent moshing in friends basements back in junior high that I was part of a sub-culture. Oh, but I was, I was Afropunk and proud, and now I know it. That’s why I gripped my punk mixtapes, smuggled out of Brooklyn through summer camp channels into my sweaty suburban palms. It explains my yellow sweater and my later interest in Saul Williams. I thought I was alternative or grunge, in fact I was part of an isolated sub-culture of people who didnt then know each other, but who now, I hope, do, thanks in large part to this film, BAM’s Afropunk festival (which I have attended as a unitiated), a cool website and I imagine a lot more.

Did you know that Bad Brains were rastas and members of the Dead Kennedys and Suicidal Tendencies are black? Where have I been? Anyway the point is, I love this film and I can relate to so much of what the interview subjects are talking about, and those punk squatter kids with their black and white patches, who I used to encounter in the east village should take a page out of this film is all I’m saying.

Which brings me to Halloween. Lost in a sea of decision, to dress up or not to dress up, to go out or avoid the madness, a moment of inspiration I found during an audience participation workshop moment at Freedom Train (the black queer theatre that I much love) last week…I was to write around memory, family, ritual – and I came to the ritual of dressing up for Halloween, which for me was a ritual, because I only ever wanted to be one thing. A punk rocker. From the age of about 2-12 this was my stock costume. It involved 80s leg warmers, purple hair, I dressed up as what I was, in fact, without knowing it yet. This year on cabbage night, the inspiration has returned to me, minding my business, watching library dvds, what should I discover-but myself! So this year, tomorrow, I will dress up as the most proud version of my alien finds voice culture. Bring it on. And if you see me, say hi.

Also deserving of a mention in this week’s culture quest in review are Rachael Rakes’ new travelling doc series, Docktruck’s screening of Chantal Akerman’s D’est. Oh, we love Chantal. The film was what you could call silent, or you could call it: in Russian without subtitles + diegetic music, I say potato, you say patato anyway, it was long, in duration, shots on various public and private scenes throughout the eastern bloc shortly after the fall. Read about it in Art Forum and tell them I want to write for them and buy me a zine at Printed Matter and show me your Halloween costume, or maybe you could just see me at Unnameable books, where I also was earlier this week to take in the also much loved by me reading series, Uncalled for Readings, organized by the awesome Ari and friends. I especially enjoyed the second poet, Donna Masini. I purchased her book so more to come on that. A big book review post is one its way, cause as usual I am multi-tasking when it comes to books.

In closing, on the book vein, here is a quote from Eileen Myles’ Not Me:

“The Best Revolutionaries

like to give up

on hot nights in fall.”

Afropunks don’t though.

Still Socialiting- with Legends

Posted in art, Book, film, People of Color, talk with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 22, 2009 by thebrooklynsocialite

Wow, like a lost child I continue to stray from the Brooklyn Socialite path, but never too far my friends. Never too far. All the while as my keyboard fingers have gone limp, my little legs have still run from one cultural event to the next. Indeed, I have much to report.

In adventures in the surreal I have recently found myself in 2 interesting settings. One, a friendly neighborhood book group, with a selection of my peers. We had gathered to discuss A Mercy, by the legendary Toni Morrison. Halfway through some questions arose about characters and the author’s intention, when one of the group said, “Well, I’ll just call her and ask her, hold on a sec.”  “Excuse me?” I stuttered out. “What does she mean she’ll just call her?” “Well Toni Morrison is her grandmother.” Another member offered. Oh, I saw. Morrison was called and I sat dumbfounded. There was so much I wanted to ask her.

To continue on the theme of six degrees of separation, the next day, out of Brooklyn and all the way uptown at the 92 Street Y, I was picking up my ticket to Chinua Achebe from the press representative and he mentioned in passing that all 900 seats of the auditorium were packed. “I haven’t seen the Y this full since Toni Morrison was here.” He said. Of course, Morrison again.

My second brush with legend this past week or so, was a screening that I had the occasion to attend on the rooftop of the Chelsea Hotel. Yes, after seeing Chelsea on the Rocks, Abel Ferrara’s docudrama (it had re-enactments, many) next door at the Chelsea Cinema, I moved considerably closer to that old ghost, new art temple of legend, yes the Hotel in question. I got past the reception who didn’t seem to want to let any of us up to Sam Bassett‘s penthouse apt. We did make it though, the very small crew of myself, 5-6 other journalists, Sam, his girlfriend Erin Featherstone (I was having fashion week flashbacks, I had been to her show, but in person, she was more real life-like and very nice. Bryant Park makes one grand I suppose.) and Stanley Bard himself, with his support team of family and friends. There we sat, with an amazing view of the city, in Basset’s studio/home and watched the work unfold. His documentary, Stanley Bard, was decidedly different from Chelsea on the Rocks, although they were made at similar times, with similar subject matter. The comparison is a whole article in itself, but for now let’s leave it at more, on the gentle, kind and very talented Bassett, to come.

Next stop: Another screening in the series put on by the Royal Flush Festival. This art/music/film festival is a smallish local affair, still they have managed to pack their theaters and involve some amazing contributors. One such element of amazement, was Justin Strawhand’s film, War Against the Weak. Based on the seminal, critical history of  U.S. eugenics by Edwin Black, this film really mines our history in a way that many are not yet ready to own. It tracks how the Rockefeller foundation, along with several other rich American families funded eugenics research in the U.S and Germany from the beginning of the 20th century, all the way up through the Second World War. The startling tenet of the film is that Nazism was directly inspired and to some degree funded by racist American science, and what’s more, many other institutions and policies that remain in place here, to this day, were motivated by eugenics. A sinister origin is revealed for the SAT, the IQ test, and much of the  documentation, which has been kept by government agencies like jails and schools throughout the past century. Again much more can be said on the subject, and in order to verse myself more fully, I purchased, yes with my own limited funds, the last copy of Edwin Black’s book in the Union Square Barnes and Noble. Here once more, I accidentally approached legend, this book happened to be a hardcover, signed by the author.

But let’s take a step back, dedicated readers of this blog may remember that I first met Justin back in the spring at Full Frame. We got into a long discussion about Eugenics outside of a festival party. De ja vu, a couple of weekends back, when I was at the Hamptons Film Festival, lying low as Industry (that means I was on the screening committee, not that I am now an industry bigshot of any kind) who should I find myself hanging out with outside a party again. Yes, of course Justin and here it comes out that I still haven’t seen his film and the plan is made to be at his Royal Flush screening. Wait, what else happened in the Hamptons?

Well, I saw a lot of films and I took a little morning trip to Montauk, my favorite part of that area, where I went to Joni’s my favorite brunch spot in New York state. Oh, it’s charming, has amazing organic food, lots of  which is homemade. I also made a point to go the water everyday and watch the fishermen and walk and relax. Ahh the Brooklyn Socialite will survive Brooklyn only with regular exposure to nature. Yeah, I’m making a rule to get out as much as I can.

OK, but what were the filmic highlights? Let’s see, Shadow Billionaire, was intriguing, The Paper Man was great because of the fact that lots of stuffy audience members walked out in the middle including, one former Mayor Giuliani. Yes, this was my brush with not legend, but ignominy. Oh the shame. I wanted to give him an earful, but I was too polite to interrupt the film, unlike some people. Mira Nair’s collection of shorts was intense, also earned several walkouts, but as Guy Maddin (yes legend is the theme today) once shared with me the fact of the very high walk out rates in his films, I don’t think it is necessarily a bad sign.

To conclude with legends, and to reference my less than clever pun (Still Socialiting) yes I’m not just a boob, this is a reference to the film Still Bill. I saw it this week at Stranger than Fiction. The film is about, yes the legend, Bill Whithers, who after all these years is still Bill. He’s kept his roots and remained down to earth, a family man, who hasn’t released a record in 30 years, after such epic songs as Lean on Me, Ain’t No Sunshine When She’s Gone and Grandma’s Hands. The film is candid and touching and made me really want to find the last autographed copy of the Bill Whiters CD at Barnes and Noble on 14th street.  Maybe my luck will hold.

Toronto International Film Festival, Blackout Film Fest +

Posted in art, film, queer, reading with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 21, 2009 by thebrooklynsocialite

Thom and Raphaela of Stranger than Fiction wonderfulness were kind enough to welcome me to their fair city last weekend with a curated selection of documentary films. They put me on a roster of purely political, thought-provoking, grade-A cinema. This was the line up: How To Fold An American Flag, The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and The Pentagon Papers, (which was really a great film), Collapse (For all you Peak Oil Cassandras and simple living adherents),  Soderberg’s latest starring Matt Damon, The Informant, Colony (about the beekeeping industry), Cleanfix (about Mormons who edit the “obscenities” out of already released Hollywood Films and The Topp Twins (some soulful dyke yodellers out of New Zealand that have been creating AbFab rivaling entertainment, activism and song for over 20 years.

As you can see that is a lot of film to talk about, and by the time I had greyhounded it back to Brooklyn on Monday morning I was pretty much talked out. But not, I admit socialited out. I spent a few days hanging out with a good mate who was in town form Oz and somewhere along the line I managed to check out Fashion Week. The Isaac Mizrahi show was amazing. I know, loving high fashion may seem dorky to some, but the truth is that I do. The looks were pretty page boy meets Victorian lace meets hot. We’re talking rain, steps, quite the affair. Don’t ask me how I got in, apparently the phrase “Brooklyn Socialite” gets you through the door.

I also got to check out the Kandinsky exhibition at the Guggenheim. Ahh, brilliant, colorful Kandinsky, no one can do it better. I have a soft spot for that old Russian, one of his prints used to hang on my simple blue childhood wall. That was the day after an Australian imported exhibition by Papunya Tula artists that I had the chance to see at NYU’s gallery on Washington Sq East.

This artful week was topped off with another reading by Eileen Myles, this time at my friend Ari’s reading series and with Joan Larkin. It was quite the perfect late summer night, under fairy lights. Surrounded by silence and an audience filled with poets, these authors shared their inspiring craft yet again.

Finally on Saturday, I hit the Blackout Film Festival, this event inspired festival centered around the theme, The Great Depression 2009. It was a collection of short film about job loss, wall street pillow fights, love affairs with piggie banks and an interesting new website called ODD JOB Nation. Check it out for fun webisodes and an actual job board, maybe you can join me in the pursuit of Odd Jobs, at last!

And here is the Topp Twins trailer:

MIA and Eileen Myles Reading @ Bluestockings

Posted in art, Book, queer, reading with tags , , , , , , on August 27, 2009 by thebrooklynsocialite

As you may have noticed I have been missing in action over the summer. It started out with Swine Flu, alright alright, it was bronchitis, but whatever. The point is that illness gave way to quietude and multiple trips to the beach, park and ice cream store and now I’m back ready to make comments again! And, what makes this return to the old arrangement even better is that from now on I will expand upon the grime behind the glitter, that’s right it’s time you all know what keeps the Brooklyn Socialite in business, yes the nitty gritty, jobs of all variety that I have to do to get by.

I’m working on a novel, and being a writer is never easy, in fact artistry of all kinds requires a very steel-faced resolve.  And, for me specifically this creative venture is paired with my desire to be about town, drinking in culture and then offering my 2 cents on just about everything.

In other words, if I was more computer-savvy, I would change the small print under the BROOKLYN SOCIALITE line from the green text that you can’t currently read without squinting, to the following words:

I DO ODD JOBS

I’m kind of proud of it, I mostly like it this way, but that doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t prefer to have health insurance when swine flu comes knocking on my door, or the luxury to ever stay in a hotel on vacation (it hasn’t happened yet… I love couchsurfing but there is a time and a place girl.) or you know take a date out to dinner (yes, I would do that if I could.)

So prepare to get a fine selection of ODD JOB posts, peppered in with your Brooklyn Socialite posts, cause we are now going to be real with each other. So continue to bring on the invitations to events, but if you should offer me an odd job, I will most likely not catch pride and take offense.

The truth is that in the dark hours of making this all work I have been known to dogsit, housesit, bake brownies and sell them at parties, assist artists, write grants, write articles, sew bridesmaids dresses from scratch, move boxes, organize offices, care for children, be an extra in art films, be a back up dancer/art in the Whitney Biennial, do research, paint bathrooms, install light fixtures, operate a mail order business, be a remote administrator, fashion blog…yes you can only imagine the odd jobs I do and have done.

Whew! Well now a quick word about Eileen Myles reading last night at Bluestockings, appropriate that this should be my welcome back Brooklyn Socialite post because I was reading her book Chelsea Girls during my bout with Cancer, ok Bronchitis, the point is it was bad and I was bed-ridden.

Any way… these are my notes from last night.

Someone asks for a spare tampon over the loudspeaker and we know this has to be bluestockings. Where else does that sweetly feral brand of feminism rule. The ladies mull around meeting each other, finding their spots on blue plastic chairs and the literary boys pepper the crowd as Myles herself sits in the back row watching it all unfold.

The room is about 95 degrees and packed even in standing room when Myles takes the stage. She is reading from her new book The Importance of Being Iceland, which is a compilation of mainly previously published works. The first piece she reads is one I have already read, which originally appeared in the anthology Live Through This. It’s about flossing and how it’s a metaphor for the self-harming that comes with youth eventually being replaced by self-care. Funny and charming, although subtly so.  The thing I notice most during this piece is her accent, so older Boston. It is so much like the voices you can hear in old films, which I so rarely hear in real life these days. It’s strong and distinct.

She,  then also refers to this growing homogeneity of language in reference to Iceland, sagas and the way that T.V. deafens regional accents. The next piece is about a $25 therapist who she, or the “Eileen Character” as she refers to the protagonists of her fiction (not memoir), saw for a few years during her thirties. This was the 80s, she qualifies, and one day the guy suggested to her that it may be that she is a man, in other words transgendered. Somehow the story renders this a breakthrough, yet not a definite commitment to identity, something just to consider.

The last piece seems to be much more strictly non-fiction, a travel essay, on Iceland. Having spent some time one August hitchhiking around Iceland, I have a pretty loving connection to the place and was listening along from this angle. The essay was academic and experiential, and it seemed to be less rigid, in terms of point of view than some of her other work.

Alright, that’s it for now. Stay tuned for more thoughts and rants.

Robyn

Back in Brooktown

Posted in art, Food with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 9, 2009 by thebrooklynsocialite

Ahh yes! After a too long absence I’m back in Brooktown, broke town-broke down, built up, rockstar, artstar, blogger…whatever you want to call it. My upstate days have come to a close, that means I’m back on the streets rolling from event to event.

I touched down on Friday, off the Amtrak train and onto the rainy streets of New York. Since then I’ve been busy, between the Celebrate Brooklyn opening gala, the Amadou and Miriam concert, Molly Davies dance at BAC, Asclepius at La Mama, restaurant soft openings at Palace Gate and BDGB, not to mention the events I didn’t successfully show up at, including Internet week’s Webutante Ball and the opening of the Brooklyn International Film Festival.

Among the most fun weekend outings was the sailing trip I went on with the Gotham Yacht club. There is nothing quite like turning the back to the city and sailing off up the Hudson. Even Jersey looks stunning from the right vantage point and sunning with charming international types, Gossip Girls in training and a few day traders, who are kind enough to share their boat wealth with the plebs isn’t a bad way to spend a Sunday.

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After that Asclepius at La MaMa was wonderfully funny without necessarily setting out to be. Ellen Stewart, the Genius Award winning director and founder of La MaMa was truly an inspiring sight as she addressed the crowd from her wheelchair to thank us all for attending. She said she hadn’t been outside for 3 months. If you’re looking for a hero, I nominate her. For 45 years she’s been keeping the theater scene real.

In contrast Saturday’s Molly Davies dance was considerably more abstract and inaccessible.  I loved the toe-monster sequence pictured below, but the opening ladder meets Victorian era gesture was a bit out of my reach. The last piece which involved a long story telling session by an Indonesian choreographer was equally far out there, but that’s just my novice opinion. The blog doesn’t hold back, alas, there is no tight ass editor on my back here, shame that.

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As for last night, the Celebrate Brooklyn Green Gala opening was quite lovely in fact. I found myself after an hour or so happily marooned at a table with the young singles! It was me, the daughter of Two Boots, the young workers from somewhere and the owner of Teany. I also met a nice woman from the South African consulate and the director of BRIC arts. The dinner was served eco-fabulously on bamboo plates and quinoa was among the selection. Kimora’s green guru would have been pleased.

Amadou and Miriam was definitely the height of my night though, that blind Malian couple are strictly brilliant. At one point a rapper, who’s identity is yet to be confirmed, joined them on stage and the music went off into this crazy trip hop, David Bowie, Bjork direction, I almost shit myself, it was that fucking good. Thanks to some good PR karma we were in the VIP section and dancing along side of us were the band members families, very cute kids, and fun music enthusiasts. It was a great place to be and it capped off an excellent night.

The Socialiting Continues- Ella at Sonar

Posted in art, ella with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 19, 2009 by thebrooklynsocialite

Sonar Sound at the Baryshnikov Arts Center showed that I’ve probably been in New York too long, because Europeans are starting to look inherently cool to me. I grew up there. I should know better. But where once I’d accurately identify their appearance as nothing but a synthesis of washed-out black clothing from H&M, a lack of vitamins showing on sallow complexions, decades of smoking and greasy-ish hair, I now saw urban sophistication. I even caught myself thinking it was cool to hear people switching between French and Spanish as they waited for over-priced beer.

This is troubling. Some might even call it a disgrace. Obviously, I need to return to the semi-socialist old world soon, in order for me to regain proper disdain for other Euros.

That being said, Sonar was pretty… well…cool. The 16th edition of Barcelona’s International festival of advanced music (which kind of sounds like an exam, but isn’t) and multimedia art was in New York for the Catalan days. I’m usually predisposed to automatically mocking any art happening held in a gritty space (courtesy of a long running joke targeting the London art scene’s predilection for showing sub-standard up-and-coming work in a “charming little dumpster in Hoxton”), but the slightly post-industrial feel of the Baryshnikov Arts center served Sonar well.

(Though, as my friendly co-reviewer pointed out, “There were a lot of stairs”. While it made sense, sound isolation-wise, to separate the shows by a couple of floors, this clearly confused a lot of people, including me. When I envision suffering for art, I mean my art. Or at least watching someone super-creative self-destructing in artistically portrayed ways. Being sweaty and lost and running in stairwells…not convinced.)

The first floor of activities started out on a firm footing, with Spanish musicians Fibla and Arbol’s live, ambient electronica accompaniment of pleasantly weird Taiwanese film Goodbye Dragon Inn. With dialogue kept to a minimum, Goodbye Dragon Inn is a near ideal film to reset a soundtrack to – Fibla and Arbol’s accompaniment chimes well with the recurring motif of a limping office girl making her way around Taipei , adding a balletic dimension to the character’s disability and social isolation.

Unfortunately, the next show that was on in Theatre C, Balago, managed to undo some of my newfound respect for multimedia performances. Projecting a giant screen-saver-like image and playing new agey-whale birthing music – admittedly without the sound of actual birthing whales. Or of the rainforest at dawn. But it’s terrible when your subconscious is triggered to add these sounds and you’re not even being given a massage or some over-priced “healing.” – Does not qualify as art. Ever.

The second floor was dedicated to dancing. I wasn’t entirely convinced by Prefuse 73’s set – though I could have been unfairly biased against him by unfortunate displays of unrepentant hipsterness in the audience. I spotted some fool wearing a t-shirt saying, “I’d rather have one truth than 15 minutes of fame” and realizing that this was definitely a case of freedom of expression working against me, I had to leave before telling the little weasel how his cheaply tinkered together philosophical tenets pained me.

The top floor, showing two interactive installations, quickly became filled up. Luckily, we managed to check out Marcelli Antunez’s piece Metamembrana before the floor was closed. Clearly influenced by Guernica-era Picasso and Surrealism’s affection for combining unlikely images, Metamembrana was a fun piece, which benefited from the second run through, where the audience was coached by Antunez on how to make the screen respond. Antunez’s explanations of the background to the project were helpful in appreciating how the work was rooted in Catalan culture (citing folktales, local produce, fertility myths and history as inspiration. My co-reviewer and I looked at each other, shook our heads and said, “Nah, he just likes boobs and naked art students.” Fair play either way). Plus, his geeky enthusiasm for his gadgets was quite endearing, and did manage to get people involved in the installation. For me, though, the most successful interactive art pieces don’t require instruction – they work because something about them( be it use of material, choice of images, use of sound or smell) compel the audience to breach the boundaries of more traditional gallery spaces, where you participate in art work by looking, rather than touching.

We rounded off the evening with some comedy dancing to d.a.r.y.l’s set. While his use of punctuation might be self-conscious, his music was anything but – a really lively electronic set, incorporating a lot of funk and disco. My companion for the evening, who is unpleasantly tall and good-looking but who dances like Elaine in Seinfeld, wishes for it to be known that she got the party started with some of her signature moves. Good times.