Archive for art

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.

IMG_0654

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.

IMG_0646

IMG_0640

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.

Andy L’s Proletariat Yelp page just saved my life.

Posted in art, Food, Guide to What's Good with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 26, 2009 by thebrooklynsocialite

Just when I thought that I would drown in the post-bullshit of NYC, after a weekend of overpriced and over SALTED dinner at Blue Hill restaurant (which by the way claims to be awesome, and local and multiple-star, but actually is just a salt paddy with really snobby people inside of it), artstar self-importance, tonight at a DEITCH opening, which required a trek to LIC and seemed to be more about the scene than the medium, errant roommates that don’t pay their bills and even fake-farmers-market-hippies who sell milk at the farmers market and are obviously fake hippies, because they’re not even nice! After all of this, I discovered Andy L, on a trackback mission from here, my blog spot, to Bed-Stuy Banana, then finally to Andy L. Every so often, I make a virtual friend, who doesn’t know me yet, and Andy is one such friend.

Not only is he subverting the culture sufficiently by using yelp as his blog, like that poet who Amazon reviews like it’s her job, but he, like me, has a crush on that Hasidic Bartender who works at Sputnik. Yes Andy, I agree:

“Dear Hasidic Waiter at Sputnik,

You’re a darling of a man. You’ve changed the way I think about Sputnik. I used to hate Sputnik…..I’m not sure where to go from here. I don’t want to come on too strong and seem like a creep, although I pretty much am a creep. For now, I guess I’ll do what I always do with a crush; stare at them awkwardly, possibly mumble something incoherent, and run away. Maybe it’s for the best.

As for Sputnik Bar itself, I don’t really like it there. Like I mentioned earlier, I hate Pratt and the Taaffe Lofts.” read more

But don’t stop there that is just the tip of the iceberg, he reviews every single place in the neighborhood from Tip Top Bar, which he loves to Home Depot, which he hates, not forgeting to discuss schools, fried chicken joints, dry cleaners and all manner of place in between. That’s art Dietch.

Busy–Al Franken: God Spoke

Posted in art, film with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 15, 2009 by thebrooklynsocialite

The past couple of weeks have been really busy. As soon as I got back from Full Frame I was back into the thick of New York. I went to hear the COO of facebook, Sheryl Sanberg talk about selective sharing and the way that social networking is monetized. Then the Gen Art closing with Ella, Chin Chih Yang’s opening at the Chelsea museum and then it was already time for Passover and Bedstuy wildflower planting. Chin Chih’s show was great. Awesome to see my writing in action as the wall text and in the catalog. Then Passover offered the traditional family version and our liberation in times of war version. I enjoyed revamping the Haggadah and leading my first Seder.

This week, the festivities continued as we brought our second installment of Sal P’s punkfunk supper club to Brooklyn. Our curated version in the Chocolate Factory apartments, featured Sal’s incredible dosas and mango chutney + beet and eggplant salads and pure vegan soup. + Wine + in depth late night conversations covering all manner of topic from radical pedagogy to Queens bath castles.

Last night also ended in fascinating chats as Ella and I found ourselves perched on stools next to filmmakers, authors and legends! D.A. Pennebaker (the legend in question) was in the house. He produced Al Franken: God Spoke, which his wife, Chris Hegedus, co-directed with Nick Doob. The screening was, of course, another STF great and the film focused on Al Franken’s journey from actor to Senatorial hopeful. It ends before he is elected as the Minnesota Senator, but details his comedy speaking tours, turned political rallies for his friend, then Senator, Paul Wellstone. Franken ultimately decides to pick up the campaign mantle after Wellstone’s mysterious death in a plane crash.

Franken, who you may remember from his Saturday Night Live alteregos, Jack Handy, Stuart Smalley and Pat, comes off as a pretty nice guy. What you may not know about him is that he is a Harvard grad, a published writer and rumored to by quite prickly in person…so I hear. After the film I met another non-fiction writer, Russ Baker, who’s book Family of Secrets, sheds a lot of doubt on the already highly adored Bush family. After talking to him for quite sometime, Ella and I taxi-ed it back to Brooklyn considerably more paranoid then we were when we started the evening.

On a brighter note, I spent a great day upstate at the Dia-Beacon today. If you haven’t gone there, just go. $27 on metro-north gets you a return ticket, entrance to the museum and a chance to walk around the lovely town of Beacon, where you will meet friendly glass-blowers, eat local ice cream, and if you’re anything like me, get shockingly hit on by a 12 year-old boy, who thinks your 16!

Brianwave @ RMA with Miranda July & George Bonanno

Posted in art with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 11, 2009 by thebrooklynsocialite

After the Fountain art Fair, which this is one of my fav photos from:

img_0425

I started wondering along the piers down to 17th street for Miranda July at the Rubin, when I saw this lovely couple. There is nothing quite like artstar hipsters in Love, except of course, me in love.

img_0435

With this in mind I continued on and found my press seat, in front of a couple of my other press/real-life buds. They left early and when I asked them why after, they said the talk was pretty terrible. I couldn’t have agreed less, so I just said, “oh.”

This is what I thought about it:

As part of the Brainwave festival , which according to the Rubin, “explores how art, music and meditation affect the human mind,” Miranda July was paired up with a neuropsychologist called George Bonanno. He started by giving a quick powerpoint presentation about how people cope with trauma. Using 9/11 at the main analogy, he graphed the way in which most people actually cope really well with extreme stress.

July was impressed, she said, “I hardly ever see graphs that aren’t ‘Art’. It was kind of exciting that you would put that much effort in.”

He laughed, and we the audience (or some of us) joined into this perfect moment of disconnect. The brainy doctor kind of wanted the artstar to like him and vice-versa. She told him about how she sometimes cries everyday, uncontrollably, and asked if he had any cures in mind for this. He said that no, unfortunately crying was one of things that had hardly been studied. He did know a lot about smiling though. His slides revealed the difference between a fake smile and a real Duchenne smile, the kind that makes your eyes wrinkle. Miranda knew about this, and shared that her shrink had once told her to put a pencil in her mouth and force a huge smile, this would trigger something and make her actually feel happy. Apparently it works sometimes.

George asked Miranda how she was able to create such crazy characters, she reported that in fact she actually knew people like the ones she depicts and that sometimes, they are facets of her. She showed a video called the Hallway of an art work that she did in a museum in Japan. I thought it was quite fabulous and it made me feel slightly better about my own morose works of art! I wish I could show you the Hallway, but YouTube is being unyielding so here is a clip of her at the Kitchen instead:

Girls Like Us-STF-Examined Life-Twitter-Zoe Leonard

Posted in art, film, People of Color, queer with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 5, 2009 by thebrooklynsocialite

The pace of my life is accelerating all too quickly and its hard for me to keep up with myself, aghhh, that sentence doesn’t make sense, edit, delete comma, insert quote marks, no parenthesis stop, no, just talk! So yes, rather than get the editor’s blues I’m going to speak freely, in an at times sloppy state of mild dishevelment. Let’s go:

So I was in the sauna at the gym on Sunday when I overheard some girls talking about kicking winter’s ass, and facing the last snow storm and just hitting march right out of the ballpark, whoa! I was inspired, I realized I must apply this go-get-em attitude to all things in life. I’ll let you know how that goes, so far not perfectly.

Next topic: Today I joined Twitter and people are starting to follow me, you can too, my user name is BSrobyn. That stands for Brooklyn Socialite Robyn, not that card game Robyn, or ok, out with it, Bull Shit Robyn. Def. not that.

Topic 3: Girls Like Us. This is a great film from the late 90’s that I saw at Stranger than Fiction last night. Oh, how I love STF, I finally found a club that would have me as its member (this is a Marx Brothers reference, if you don’t get it, you can’t join the club!). The documentary made by a lovely lady couple, tracks 4 teenagers from the time they are 13-14 until they are 17-18. The girls, who all live in South Philly, speak candidly about sex, childbirth, their relationships with their family and friends and their goals in life. This film won Sundance back in the day and it’s easy to understand why. Like Trouble the Water it sort of magically captures those tragedies and joys of life, which are often rendered mundane, as people avert their eyes to experiences of “othered” social groups.  The 4 girls, 2 white, 1 black and one South Asian all seemed to struggle to define themselves independently of their relationships with men. While, their parents and guardians strove to keep them on a track towards college and career. 3 of the women, now pushing 30, joined us at the IFC center after for a Q & A. They all seem to have turned out quite well and consider their experience being in the film to have been enriching and not exploitative.

On the way out of the theatre I saw Astra Taylor the director of Examined Life, which is an excellent film that I saw last week in preview. I feel somewhat ill-equipped to review it properly as I missed the first 20 minutes, but I will just say that Cornel West, who was one of the philosophers that Taylor interviewed, was completely amazing. He spoke fully and freely about every subject from Jazz to Nihilism. See it now at the IFC center! West and Taylor will be there in person for a Q&A after tomorrow’s show.

Finally, Zoe Leonard. I somehow faced the dreaded subway for a really long haul as I hot tailed it up to 155th to check out Zoe Leonard’s show at the Hispanic Society. Yesterday I met a cartographer. Cartographer, if you’re reading this, hello. I met a cartographer and I saw this collection of old maps, which Leonard curated at the Dia at the Hispanic Society. There is something Mystical about maps, quietly stunning, reminds me of The Phantom Tollbooth, which by the way is one of my favorite books (if you have read this and love it, you can be in the club). Leonard also had an exhibition of her photographs, which captured the East Village as it was changing, through the mapping of storefronts and charting of the journey that the products in those stores might take on as they enter a third world market. Reverse globalization, recycling consumerism. Interesting ideas. Yesterday I met a cartographer. The filmmaker Gregg Bordowitz spoke about Leonard’s exhibition on Saturday, his films sound like something that I would be fascinated by, but I haven’t seen them yet, so hold on. Hold on.

Culture Clash: Our City Dreams, Beirut, the Third Mind

Posted in art, film, Music with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 12, 2009 by thebrooklynsocialite

I have been overwhelmingly silent lately on the blog front. It’s not that I haven’t been going out, I have. It is just that I have been overwhelmed by stimuli, potential topics, definite un-topics and when I’ve tried to sit down and review I found that the reasons were wrong.

So how about a fresh start in this fresh weather. Digest style: I want to give some shout outs to the culture I’ve been sampling lately.  I saw a great film, truly beautiful, at the Film Forum, called Our City Dreams. It tracks 5 female artists, through a year or so in their lives , recording each artists relationship with the city. The director, Chiara Clemente, profiles Kiki Smith, Swoon, Ghada Amer, Nancy Spero and Marina Abramovic. A jazz soundtrack supports the film and the cinematography is infectious, it reminded me of super 8, rainy, home video.  Although each artist is in a different stage of their life and career, all seem to be at a stage where they are receiving lots of props.  Swoon goes from street art to a show at Deitch to having work at MOMA, while Marina Abramovic has a major retrospective at the Guggenheim. Ghada Amer is probably the most interesting character to watch. As she hand stitches and weaves large canvases, she tells us that she was very depressed before she became an artist. It saved her life. Kiki Smith, the daughter of a successful artist also recalls that she started to work only in her late 20s after her father died. She couldn’t take herself seriously as an artist until then. Abramovic  details her fascinating performance art-making practices. They involve starvation, cold and self-injury.

A few days after the film,  I found myself at the Guggenheim myself for the opening of The Third Mind: American Artists Contemplate Asia. Go see it and tell me what you think! I am not so sure myself. I enjoyed seeing an annotated manuscript page from The Waste Land and some of Ginsberg’s old photos, not to mention a few beautiful Asia inspired paintings by American Artists. My friend however, thought that discussion around cultural appropriation was dangerously absent from the exhibition.

Well, speaking of un-apologetic cultural appropriation, it’s on to Beirut. I have to say that the concert at BAM on Friday night was not only beautiful, but it was also lovely, harmonic, poetic, inspiring. If I could have removed most of the shouting hipster audience from the scene it would have been even better, but hey the band themselves are hipster-esqe so not all Williamsburg-dwellers are bad. The crew of young guys, headed by a 22 year old Angel in plaid, are a band that sounds consistently like gypsy music to me, yet def. delves into brit-pop, french chanteuse  and Indigenous sounds that span multiple continents. I’m not a hater, and I won’t bag them for sounding like pretty Americans, who’ve spent some time camping in Bulgaria.  I love their music and have to take the culture clashing for what it is.

-Robyn. Brooklyn Socialite in residence again.