This week, check out two film festivals — one devoted to contemporary African movies, the other to experimental, found-footage films — or consider art in unusual places — like Green-Wood Cemetery, the storefronts of Bay Ridge, and a patch of land off the BQE.
Festival of (In)appropriation
When: Thursday, May 12, 7:30–10pm ($5)
Where: Spectacle Theater (124 S 3rd Street, Williamsburg, Brooklyn)
I’m skeptical of the “inappropriate” part of the description for this festival, but the chosen films, all made using found and appropriated footage, look wonderfully obscure and experimental. There’s a short that “considers the impact of German electronic music on Afrofuturist sonic culture,” another that hypnotically strings together Creative Commons photos of Japan’s Fushimi Inari Shrine, and yet another that consists of a son’s attempt to imagine how his father might have responded, later in life, to the Polish city where he lost his family. This isn’t mainstream borrowing or reuse; it’s appropriation with an eye toward entirely different, artful ends.
Excerpt from Remi Vaughan-Richards’s “Faaji Agba”
African Film Festival
When: Friday, May 13–Sunday, May 15
Where: Maysles Cinema (343 Lenox Avenue, Harlem, Manhattan)
After the first part of its run, at Lincoln Center, this year’s edition of New York’s African Film Festival (NYAFF) continues this weekend with screenings at Maysles Cinema. Your options are incredibly varied, both geographically and topically: Xoliswa Sithole’s “Child of the Revolution,” for instance, recounts the director’s escape from Apartheid South Africa and experience with freedom fighters in Zimbabwe. From Nigeria comes “Faaji Agba,” a documentary of old Yoruba musicians who perform far from home; from Brazil, the stories of students of African descent living on, as per the film’s title, “The Other Side of the Atlantic.” Following its weekend in Harlem, NYAFF will continue at BAM Rose Cinemas May 26–30. —CV
Upsetting Still Life
When: Opens Friday, May 13, 6–8pm
Where: Jeffrey Leder Gallery (2137 45th Road, Long Island City, Queens)
The still life is a centuries-old genre of representational painting, but what does it look like today? Hyperallergic contributor Patrick Neal has curated Beautiful Object: Upsetting Still Life, a group show of contemporary still lifes that considers “the question of what actually constitutes a still life, and the myriad forms it can take.” Here, it’s alternately mashed up with other forms of painting, or sculptural, or digital, or even semi-abstract.
Strange and Surreal Cells
When: Opens Friday, May 13
Where: Whitney Museum of American Art (99 Gansevoort Street, Meatpacking District, Manhattan)
The artists Liz Craft, Rochelle Goldberg, Elizabeth Jaeger, Maggie Lee, and Win McCarthy will collaborate to create an enveloping and surreal environment that — judging by their respective interests in sculpture, installation, and video — promises to make the Whitney’s eighth floor into a strange mindscape full of rich textural details. Between Craft and Jaeger’s twisted, life-size figures, McCarthy’s Dalí-esque interventions, and Goldberg’s enigmatic and oozing installations, there should be plenty here to please your eyes (and haunt your dreams). —BS
Art on the Streets of Bay Ridge
When: Saturday, May 14
Where: Various (Bay Ridge, Brooklyn)
Now in its seventh year, the Bay Ridge Storefront Art Walk (SAW) fills the neighborhood’s storefronts with art. Spanning 16 blocks, the project features work by 15 local artists who respond to their specific sites, including a wine store, hair salon, laundromat, real estate headquarters, and the Arab American Association of NY. Norte Maar is organizing a daytime bus trip to Bay Ridge on Saturday that will include brunch and a private tour with the artists. —EWA
Pass or Fail Your Art?
When: Saturday, May 14, 4–6pm
Where: Ortega y Gasset Projects (363 3rd Avenue, Gowanus, Brooklyn)
The process of art making is, for many, a delicate balance of creating something that risks failure, but ends up passing. The works in Ortega y Gasset’s current group show, Pass / Fail, curated by Will Hutnick, shed light on (and often make light of) this process, documenting or in some way incorporating their own unravelling. Four of the participating artists — Adam Ekberg, Erin O’Keefe, Dorian Rolston, and Gabrielle Roth — will be on hand this evening to discuss their work in the show, with artist Vince Contarino serving as moderator. —BS
Artist Graves in Green-Wood Cemetery
When: Sunday, May 15, 1–3pm ($30)
Where: Green-Wood Cemetery (500 25th Street, Greenwood Heights, Brooklyn)
This Sunday, Hyperallergic is resurrecting some of the famed and forgotten stories of artists who are now eternal residents of Brooklyn’s Green-Wood Cemetery. Having led tours in the cemetery’s 478 acres since 2011, I’m looking forward to exploring the art afterlives of the Victorian burial ground, from Jean Michel-Basquiat to lesser-knowns like Violet Oakley, the first woman to get a public mural commission. And for attendees, there will be a special tomb access opportunity not ordinarily available to the public. —AM
Beautifying a Leftover Piece of Land
When: Sunday, May 15, 4–7pm
Where: Intersection of Flushing and Classon Aves (Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn)
For her ongoing project BEAUTIFICATION THIS SITE, artist Katarina Jerinic acquired a small piece of land through NYC’s Department of Transportation’s Adopt-A-Highway Program. Wedged between a BQE exit ramp and a busy Brooklyn street, the site represents one of those leftover, forgotten, or otherwise bypassed patches of greenery amid the urban landscape. Jerinic has taken to tending it as her own, in what she calls a “part earthwork, part self-assigned residency.” Sunday is the last day to visit her show of work about the site, on view at Songs for Presidents, and when the gallery closes at 4pm, you can head over to the site itself to plant, grill, and consider what an earthwork might look like in the 21st-century city.
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With contributions by Elisa Wouk Almino, Allison Meier, Benjamin Sutton, and Claire Voon