Biking down the boardwalk in the Rockaways, Queens, I glanced behind me at the storm clouds approaching fast. Thunder ripped loudly, and lightning began to flash with increasing regularity. My friend and I had been riding for 15 miles already. We were on our way to Boggsville Boatel and Boat-In Theater, part of art collective Flux Factory’s summer-long extravaganza, Sea Worthy. The show features artists making work “about, around and on the waterways of New York City,” and includes water excursions, processions and boat-building workshops.
Andy Warhol’s artwork tends to elicit strong reactions, whether it’s love in the form of poster-buying, hate in the form of getting angry at gallery installations or boredom, displayed by just not going to Warhol exhibitions at all. I happen to like Warhol’s art, although until recently, I had only ever seen his prints and paintings. A new exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, called Andy Warhol: Motion Pictures shows a new side to an artist who often gets pigeonholed as a screenprinter of soup cans.
On November 30, 1994, choreographer Bill T. Jones’s experimental dance piece “Still/Here” opened at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. The work featured live dancers performing in front of video footage of terminally ill people discussing their sicknesses. Nearly a month later, dance critic Arlene Croce blasted the piece in a now-infamous essay in the New Yorker. Announcing that she had never seen “Still/Here” and had no intention of doing so, Croce wrote, “By working dying people into his act, Jones is putting himself beyond the reach of criticism. I think of him as literally undiscussable.” She went on to classify that category of undiscussability as “those dancers I’m forced to feel sorry for because of the way they present themselves: as dissed blacks, abused women, or disenfranchised homosexuals—as performers, in short, who make out of victimhood victim art.” In many ways, the National Portrait Gallery’s current, controversial, and excellent special exhibition Hide/Seek feels like a resounding rebuttal of Croce’s thesis.