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Posts Tagged ‘Whitney Biennial’

Staff Picks: Biennial Cataloguing, Southern Gothic Horror

March 30, 2012 | by

For the first time in its eighty-year history, the Whitney Biennial gives substantial space—an entire floor of the museum, in fact—to dance and performance. The catalogue, typically a by-the-book affair (no pun intended), has matched the show’s experiential adventure, allotting each of the roughy fifty artists six pages for original contributions that extend, rather than merely reflect, the work in the museum. Among others entries, I love Vincent Fecteau’s use of a quote from Dennis Cooper to accompany his sculptures, while Cooper’s Last Spring project appears a few pages back; and Nick Mauss’s description of room he built in a dream: “just like that Claus Oldenburg installation with the plush and the zebra, except that the bed is covered in a grid of baguettes standing en point beneath a poster of the cover of Triste Tropiques.” —Nicole Rudick

It feels redundant to recommend something as canonical as Shoah, but until this past weekend, when I devoted a day to it at BAM, I’d never actually seen Claude Lanzmann’s landmark documentary all the way through. I must admit, I entered into the nine-hour experience with something of a sense of obligation. But it’s okay. Entertaining is the wrong word—wholly engrossing. I’ll leave it to others to discuss its cinematic and historical import; all I know is that it stays with you. —Sadie Stein

This week New Orleans held its annual Tennessee Williams Festival, featuring copious mint juleps and a Stella shouting contest. I celebrated the occasion with Sweet Bird of Youth, the 1962 film adaptation of Williams’s play. When tweaking and fame-hungry Chance Wayne (Paul Newman) returns to his Florida hometown to win back his sweetheart with big Hollywood promises, as always with dear Tennessee, heartbreak and histrionics ensue. Geraldine Page as Alexandra del Lago, a boozy, washed-up film star, steals the show. —Allison Bulger

Gothic thrillers are my guilty pleasure, but it’s hard to find a really good one. John Harwood’s The Séance is one of the best I’ve come across lately, a creepy page-turner that manager to capture the flavor of nineteenth-century horror conventions without feeling mannered. —S.S.

William K. Everson was the head of the Theodore Huff Memorial Film Society, which put on weekly retrospective film series in New York City from the fifties into the eighties. These screenings were attended by such luminaries as Stanley Kubrick and Susan Sontag. Everson wrote extensive notes for each show, and these legendary writings—idiosyncratic as they are erudite—are now available online through NYU. —Josh Anderson

Cultural narratives often contain the most distilled and revealing identifiers of a people and their imagination. The Met exhibition “Storytelling in Japanese Art” is a beautiful instance of narrative revelation, a window into the world of Japanese storytelling from the twelfth to the nineteenth century. This collection of various media—hand scrolls, folding screens, playing cards, textiles—pairs narrative text and intricate illustration to showcase the rich and fascinating history of Japanese people, their spirt and their stories. —Elizabeth Nelson

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Staff Picks: Cecil Beaton in the City, ‘Threats’

March 9, 2012 | by

Andrea del Castagno, Portrait of a Man, ca. 1450–57, tempera on panel. Courtesy the National Gallery of Art, Washington DC.

If you get the chance, check out “Cecil Beaton: The New York Years,” which has extended its run at the Museum of the City of New York. It’s a record of the artist, designer, photographer, and general man-about-town’s relationship with the city in pictures and words, and both the duration of Beaton’s career and the scope of his creativity are something to behold. —Sadie Stein

On the recommendation of our art editor, Charlotte Strick, I’ve started reading Amelia Gray’s debut novel, Threatsthe nifty cover of which Charlotte designed, so perhaps she’s biased. But so far, it’s with good cause: the narrative is subversive and impressionistic, evidentiary and eccentric. It reminds me occasionally of Grace Krilanovich’s The Orange Eats Creeps, another deeply imaginative book and one that, in the spirit of this post, I'd wholly recommend. —Nicole Rudick

It is, as Andrew Butterfield says in The New York Review of Books, a show “of staggering beauty and revelatory importance” and “a landmark exhibition,” and it is also your last chance to see it this week. I spent last Sunday strolling through the “The Renaissance Portrait from Donatello to Bellini” at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and I can’t imagine a more colorful or vibrant way to spend the weekend. —Deirdre Foley-Mendelssohn

I recently discovered Literature Map, an addicting bit of artificial intelligence that plots writers by similarity. Watch your favorite authors drift about in a blue void like awkward, disembodied party-goers! A Marauder's Map for the literary. (Also good for finding new reads.) —Allison Bulger

I visited the Whitney Biennial last week and caught Sarah Michelson’s disciplined performance of Devotion Study #1—The American Dancer,” a piece about movement, repetition, and the relationships formed in dance. Michelson's residency ends March 11 and it’s a spectacle not to be missed. —Elizabeth Nelson

A screener of Lena Dunham’s Girls made its way around the office a few weeks ago. It contained only three episodes, but I couldn’t get enough. —D.F.M.

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Lizzi Bougatsos on Gang Gang Dance

November 8, 2011 | by

Lizzi Bougatsos. Photo by Brian De Ran.

Gang Gang Dance was founded in Brooklyn in 2001 by Lizzi Bougatsos, Brian Degraw, Tim DeWit, Josh Diamond, and Nathan Maddox. Informed by hip-hop, eighties pop and goth, and a wealth of international traditional musical styles, the band blends disparate sounds into a global amalgam. This collage approach has garnered attention from the art world; the band’s mixed-media work was included, for instance, in the 2008 Whitney Biennial, and Bougatsos’s installations and collages have been shown at James Fuentes gallery in New York. Last May, Gang Gang Dance released their sixth album, Eye Contact, a tribute to the many loved ones the band has lost—including Maddox, who died in 2002 when he was struck by lightning on a Chinatown rooftop—and a fusion of large, swaggering beats, polyrhythmic sampling, and Bougatsos’s raw, personal lyrics.

“Glass Jar,” on the new album, opens with a sample of a couple phrases that are clearly audible, and then goes through a movement that sounds like it’s contained in glass. The song feels as if it’s hermetically sealed.

It is its own ecosystem, a geo-dome. You can create your own world with your surroundings.

Does music produce common experiences with others?

Music is universal, and extending your music to somebody is about sharing it. But it is also about how they receive it and how a message travels back to you. The best way to receive information about your music is when people talk about it through experience. We have a spiritual adviser named Babylove who travels with the band. And Tony Cox has been documenting our performances for a long time now. When he photographs us, he calls the experience a sphere.

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