Rounding out our Sundance coverage, here’s a look at some of the most exciting visual arts-focused films that debuted at the festival.
The Pleasure Principle at Maccarone wavers between issues of women’s representation and those of pornography and art, without fully committing to either.
Open studios events allow a type of intimacy with an artist’s work that is rare.
From dance and stand-up comedy to rap and performance art, Movement Research’s spring festival — titled “surprise! surprise(!) surprise/! surprise” — offers a bit of everything from an impressive range of performers.
Today’s New York art world is painfully nostalgic for the 1980s — a time when rent in the East Village could be paid on tips, syringes littered the streets, and social forces challenged artists to create astounding works. Creativity crackled in the air, as did the impending trauma and transformation of the near future. Social spaces existed before social media supplanted them. It was a time — “post-disco, pre-house,” according to performance artist Jack Waters — when you could both dance and talk in clubs, and those clubs weren’t just filled with $12 cocktails and bridge-and-tunnel riffraff, but exciting creators building a community.
One of my favorite quotes on art comes from filmmaker and sometimes visual artist John Waters, who declares in one of his photographic pieces, “Contemporary art hates you,” which may be the perfect description of Brooklyn-based performance artist Narcissister’s first solo exhibition Narcissister Is You at Envoy Enterprises.
A small coconut tree grows in the corner of Nurture Art. Simply titled “Coconut” (2009), and created by artist Gudmundur Thoroddsen, the leaves seem to reach towards the skylight. A certain twist makes it art — a few of the leaves are painted pink. It resembles one of Matisse’s colorful trees come to life. A plain tree might boast a simple elegant beauty, but Thoroddsen’s concoction proves that an injection of pink can be such a guilty visual pleasure.
Like this tree, many works in this show, titled Duck and Decorated Shed, start with a bland surface and cover it with visual pepper. Theresa Himmer’s set of videos from 2009, The Mountain Series, zoom in on these humongous sequins that are adhered to the sides of unremarkable buildings in Reykjavik. They glisten with a strange glow. Himmer also pulls some basic film tricks that involve playing with the speed of the film. The end result is that this footage resembles clay-mation. Once again, nature looks cooler when it’s tweaked.