Call me a hyper-sensitive freak, but when I first heard the buzzing sound of a drone hovering above the smooth concrete floor at Knockdown Center, I got the chills. There’s something deeply ominous about drones, not least of all because they’ve become synonymous with a futuristic, one-sided (for now anyway) kind of warfare that’s shrouded in secrecy. Somewhat evil undeniably, but drones are also fascinating. “I have a drone newsfeed and stuff pops up like every day, probably 10 or 15 different stories ranging from ‘Three People Killed in Pakistan’ to ‘Drone Captures Surfing Dolphin’ or ‘Perverts are Spying on People,’” said Michael Merck, the creative director at Knockdown Center. It’s no wonder, then, that the Queens-based art center has chosen drones as the centerpiece of its summer exhibition.
Walking into the Company Gallery on the Lower East Side feels like stepping inside a Tumblr. Photographs of painted people, tinted by sunlight flooding in through colorful tissue paper, are interspersed with delicate ferns and towering bamboo sticks. A lithium drone within the gallery’s white walls is broken up by Night Soil – Fake Paradise, an experimental documentary film by Melanie Bonajo in which women from Brooklyn candidly discussion their deeply personal experiences with ayahuasca. Some of the revelations are blissful and mystic while others turn completely horrifying, melting the psyche down into utterly submissive goo — Bonajo’s way of reminding us of the immeasurable power of psychedelic substances.
Dina Gadia’s pulpy, graphic collages, now on view at Greenpoint’s Owen James Gallery, bring to mind a ’50s wholesomeness and tropical kitsch while at the same time challenging it. Her collages are at once subtle and unabashedly clear, familiar and obscure, paradoxes that hold fast because Gadia, a Filipino artist living and working in Manila, is working in two, if not three registers by exploring the impact of Spanish but especially American influence on Filipino culture.
For once count yourself lucky if you missed an art opening. Synaesthetics, a new exhibition at Reverse Gallery in Williamsburg opened last Friday; sure, there was free booze and great people watching, but the two interactive installations that are featured and the trans-sensory trips they inspire are best experienced in isolation or maybe at most with one other partner. Both Eunoia II, by Lisa Park, and Format No. 1, by Louise Foo and Martha Skou, strangely mimic our increasingly digital experience of the world, which is itself a lonesome, disconnected way of engaging with people more and more through social media.
Gentrification is inevitable, the folks at Chinatown Soup know that. But Michelle Esteva, Jordan Hill, and Max Waldman are ready. Sleeves rolled up and muscles flexed, they’re eager to preserve the cultural heritage of Chinatown — downtown Manhattan’s final frontier — one art exhibition at a time.
Tis the season to celebrate the Lower East Side, so get thee to “Punks, Losers, Screw-ups and Goofballs,” a new exhibit at the recently opened 174 Rivington Street Bar and Gallery that celebrates the art of Cliff Mott.
Alt Citizen has been doing their thing since 2012– the music blog’s bread-and-butter is album reviews (past and present), essays, show recommendations (mostly local Brooklyn stuff), and interviews with bands from all over. Last year, they expanded to a pocket-sized zine, of which three issues have dropped. “When you do a blog for years you start to go crazy not having a tangible thing to show people in terms of what you’re working on, so the zine naturally came out of that,” editor-in-chief and founder Nasa Hadizadeh admitted. The same impetus was behind Alt Space, a brand new storefront and gallery Alt Citizen is opening in Bushwick next week.
Having been around for over 100 years, the subway system in New York is replete with ghost stations, abandoned platforms, and tunnels to nowhere. There’s so much of it that the MTA’s neglected property has become something of a fascination, and while projects like the Lowline seek to transform abandoned platforms into pleasant public spaces, mostly these unused areas become depressing garbage pits. But artist Andrew Diemer, a graphic design student at Pratt, has transformed one of these phantom spots with a simple installation.
Jenni Hensler is convinced most people have no idea who she is, but if you’ve been paying attention to popular music in the last few years, you’ve definitely seen her work. The stylist and art director’s hand is immediately recognizable in the witchy, borderline-spiritual looks of Zola Jesus and Chelsea Wolfe that seem to draw inspiration from the occult, fetish wear, and fantasy. But a new project could bring her out into the light as an artist in her own right.
On Wednesday night the Living Gallery in Bushwick was abuzz with punk kids and curious passersby who had stepped inside to soak up the atmosphere of Collective Delusion / Mass Hysteria, a new all-female art exhibition. “Pretty much everyone is involved in the punk or noise scene in some way,” Jennifer Calandra, who curated the event, explained of the participating artists. “They’re mostly ladies I know from the scene here and from going to shows in different states.” The exhibition arrived just in time for the annual punk fest, New York’s Alright, which kicked off last night with shows at the Acheron and Tender Trap and continues throughout the weekend.
Time again for our weekly roundup of what’s new on the art scene.
Buccaneer, Masquerade, Suspence, Abundance, Thorn, Champion. Recent works by Brice Brown
April 17 (opening reception 7-9pm) to May 23 at Air Circulation, 160 Randolph St., Bushwick.
Kentucky-born artist Brice Brown created a multi-part installation meant to present a fragmented experienece of the still life genre as a way to explore “the dichotomous impulses inherent in the act of domestication: containment and freedom; restraint and release; a need for chaos and a need for order,” per the artist’s statement. The installation, largely consisting of archival pigment prints, wallpaper design and soft sculpture, draws from The Batsford Colour Book of Roses (1962) and pages from an early 20th century fruit and seed catalog. References to the letterhead design of constructivist-influenced masters such as Piet Zwart are embedded in the pieces.
Yesterday we stopped by D & F Contemporary, a new gallery located in a former discount lingerie store at the corner of Delancey and Orchard, to chat with Don Devore of New York hardcore band Sick Feeling. He’d been at the gallery for the past 30 hours, creating an immersive, one-night-only installation to coincide with the release of “Metaphysical Cops,” the new single and music video by his electro project Collapsing Scenery.