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Posted inPerformance

Men Made of Marble

Every now and then, if lucky, you’ll encounter a mode of performance or an artwork that simultaneously requires and supplies a kind of attention that you didn’t even know existed. Sitting in an otherworldly, attentive, stupor, I had that experience watching marble white humans covered in a thin layer of dust on a stage that seemed to be both as empty as nothing at all and, at the same time, as full as a night sky.

As Sankai Juku begins their recent piece, TOBARI, everything melts into darkness and a lone human form materializes — bald, half-naked, monochrome; the dust looks like it’s marble or bone, maybe a thin layer of atomic ash, and it covers the body, which, for a while, is motionless; a quiet, lunar presence in a dark room.

Posted inArt

Felice Varini Is Messing With Your Head

Felice Varini uses nothing but a bit of color, applied to a wall, to shake you from of your routine and, so he hopes, brighten one of memory’s grey spots a little in a moment of world-flattening surreality. In doing so, Varini is not unlike other artists that have sought to place the viewer within the canvas. Like street artist Aakash Nihalani or installation artist Robert Irwinn, Varini is an artist who has moved beyond just using a canvas to orchestrating whole experiences that a viewer can move through.

In a public installation commissioned by New Haven arts nonprofit Site Projects, Varini takes an unremarkable downtown alley in New Haven and stretches an non-intrusive work entitled “Square and Four Circles” (2010) across a few hundred feet of back alley space.

Posted inArt

Locavoracious Minimalism

Locavores. Slowfood. Raw Food. Whole Food. Green food. Sustainable agriculture. Permaculture. Probiotic. Craft Beer. Grass fed. Fair Trade. Grain fed. Shade grown. Free Range. Cageless. Macrobiotic. What does all this look like translated into restaurants?

These are words that hungry Americans everywhere have taken up as a cause. They are the battle cries of a pervasive back-to-the-land preoccupation with food basics, words that give voice to a collective desire to return smaller-scale sanity to food production in the age of monocultures, GMOs, agribusinesses, and food so machined that it tastes as bland as fluorescent lighting.

Posted inArt

Ghosts of Disaster in New Orleans

New Orleans — The captain’s flight-deck announcement that we were now making our final descent towards New Orleans jolted me from a very uneasy sleep. The three-hour flight was my first prolonged opportunity to get prolonged (i.e. 3-hours rest) after a late night train ride, to a later night Long Island Railroad Road ride, to a crack-of-dawn flight departure from the 24-hour nightmare microcity that is New York’s JFK airport.

Confused and groggy I peered out the window as we began our descent. With eyes as bleary as my thoughts, I decided that I was surveying Gulf waters from some 25,000 feet. What are those dark streaks? I thought. Is that oil? Oh my god, that’s oil. There’s still oil everywhere. Holy shit. Oh no. They ruined the Gulf.

Posted inNews

Frank Gehry’s Latest Development Tango: The Joyce Theater’s New Lower Manhattan Home

The Joyce Theater is going to be a lonely Lower Manhattan performance tenant, with vacancies in the building if there are any performing arts organizations hunting for posh new downtown neighbors.

In a statement made earlier this week, New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, alongside Mayor Bloomberg and Governor Patterson, announced a federal funding allocation of $100 million for a much-touted and much-delayed performing arts center at Ground Zero designed by Frank Gehry’s firm.

Silver said that “this $100 million commitment clearly paves the way for this long-promised performing arts center,” and that it “will be a cultural jewel for Lower Manhattan.”

Posted inArt

The Last Boom Palace of the Second Gilded Age: Las Vegas & Libeskind

Daniel Libeskind, until recently, was one of the high-end architect’s of choice for war museums and somber memorials. Jagged, clean-faced metal-clad shapes torn by sharp little windows characterized a style that took trauma and produced memorial. The style was similar to Frank Gehry, but no curves to suggest the wry, playful smile of decadence at work — something I always see just beyond the magnificent and smooth sheet steel smiles of Gehry’s structures. And no 90 degree angles, either; everything is crooked, everything is asymmetrical, everything is torqued into the misshapen fragments that we piece together in turmoil to remember the parts of the past that are not pleasant. A friend who lives in Las Vegas said of the mall Libeskind designed for Las Vegas’s CityCenter: “I can never figure out how to walk around that building.”

Posted inArt

Signs of Protest: One Nation Working Together with Marker + Paper + Political Opinions

Washington, DC — This is a protest post. A post about a protest in the city that is Paris done in the American wide style (not the Las Vegas lights-and-money-style) on the banks of the Potomac; the city of pearly bureaucrats, and neo-cons, and neoclassical columns; all things National, American, U.S.A. This post explores the signs at last Saturday’s progressive protest, One Nation Working Together: Jobs, Justice, and Education for All.

Posted inBooks

One Bag, One Month, Two Books: Michael Cunningham on Art World Angst & Learning from Las Vegas in Vegas

With a month on a plane, I had boredom on the brain and packed what books I could to feed it. The worst decision I have made to date was to bring Michael Cunningham’s latest novel By Nightfall with me and read it over the first few days of jetting … because the book’s protagonist, Peter Harris, is an art dealer suffering from a crippling bout of nihilism and, when you’re setting out from New York City to look for what’s happening elsewhere in the art world, the least helpful thing to bring along is a book busy interrogating everything that underpins the creation, enjoyment, and dissemination of contemporary art. But I read on, attentive to detail in a fit of masochistic idiocy, and because I had room in my backpack for two books and the other one I brought was Learning from Las Vegas, which I wanted to save, of course, for Las Vegas.

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