Vaginal Davis is undeniably one of the most prolific artists to come out of the ’70s punk scene. The black, inter-sex born, self-declared outsider artist is nothing short of a queer icon. And even though she’s from Los Angeles (South Central, to be precise), she has a special place in New York City, where she’s had a serious impact on contemporary underground culture– the Bushwick drag scene is particularly indebted to her, as Davis is one of the founding mothers of “terrorist drag.”
Kharis Kennedy will unveil a series of new paintings as part of her solo exhibition, Comfort Animals, at The Greenpoint Gallery. Though Kennedy has been living in St. Croix for the last five years, her work is still imbued with trappings of high-society life and obsessive consumerism she picked up on while living in New York City. But a midnight-hued vision of her new home in the tropics is slowly beginning to take over.
Read more here.
To honor the 20th anniversary of New York Girls and the re-release of Richard Kern‘s first book, the East Village photographer and Cinema of Transgression filmmaker is running two concurrent gallery shows– one is in Chelsea and the second opens tonight at Marlborough Broome on the Lower East Side. I stopped by the gallery yesterday to check out the photos and speak with Kern.
“It was so long ago, almost seems like somebody else did it,” he laughed. “It was definitely a different time period.” When I arrived, I found Kern sitting quietly at the front desk. I was late but, as he explained later, I’d given him a chance to catch up on Instagram.
Legendary downtown photographer Richard Kern takes us back to 1995, the year he released his first, New York Girls. Back then, the East Village was still a place where getting mugged wasn’t unusual (it happened to Kern five times over the years) and Williamsburg, he recalled was still “rough.” Both neighborhoods provided the backdrop for his nude portraits of gun-toting, cigarette-smoking tattooed babes– the quintessential fantasy of New York York tough girls. “At the time, someone said in a review, ‘New York girls are tattooed and rough-looking and LA girls are blonde and enhanced,'” Kern recalled. The show features unreleased photographs spanning the ’80s through the mid-’90s, with the added bonus of never-before-screened Super 8 footage from the photo shoots.
We had the pleasure of speaking with Kern about what happened to the women in his photographs, how Instagram has changed his career, and the why he went from making edgy, “drug-infused” films to shooting mostly nude still portraits. Read more here.
Next week Kharis Kennedy will unveil a series of new paintings as part of her solo exhibition, Comfort Animals, at The Greenpoint Gallery. Though Kennedy has been living in St. Croix for the last five years, her work is still imbued with trappings of high-society life and obsessive consumerism she picked up on while living in New York City. But a midnight-hued vision of her new home in the tropics is slowly beginning to take over.
Agathe Snow, whose work often blends performance with immersive multimedia installations, is opening a new show, Continuum, tonight. This is the Corsican-born artist’s first solo exhibition at Journal Gallery in Williamsburg. Snow is the ex-wife of the late Dash Snow (they married when he was just 18 years old) whose pal Ryan McGinley has some new photos up, incidentally, in a show called Winter at Team Gallery.
“At that time in New York things were really wild,” Emily Armstrong recalled of the ’70s punk scene. She and her partner, Pat Ivers, are old school East Village types– they truly lived the Downtown era, and lucky for us they documented over 100 shows at CBGBs, filming bands like DNA and unbelievable moments like Iggy Pop covering Frank Sinatra for their weekly TV show, Nightclubbing. After NYU’s Fales Library acquired their archive for the Downtown Collection, thousands of the duo’s film reels were digitized and, for a time, were part of a weekly column at B+B.
Alone at Last emerged out of that archival effort and now, after more than 30 years since the artists last saw them, the 1981 black-and-white vignettes featuring 52 people who were prompted to seduce the viewer, will be shown at Howl! Happening. The video series captures the last breath of the freewheeling ’70s Downtown scene right before AIDS hit. “People who have seen it feel that it’s a very interesting depiction of that culture, that moment, because it was truly a moment. Soon after it was shot, people realized what AIDS was. So having a lot of sex for pleasure was completely redefined: having a lot of open sex was suicide. Things really changed, really fast.”
Olek is the prolific crochet artist known best for disrupting public spaces by swathing dull stone, concrete, and brick with enormous, sometimes intricate yarn hoods. While she’s spent the last 15 years living in Brooklyn, her reach as an international artist seems to be expanding ever outward from the city where she started her art career.
Last night the mask-wielding artists of the Bruce High Quality Foundation opened up the doors of their epic new studio space in Sunset Park. The excuses were a party and an exhibition featuring work inspired by French Baroque painter Nicholas Poussin’s landscapes, while the reason was fundraising for the Bruce High Quality Foundation University (BHFQU), an experimental, non-profit art school that offers free classes and an alternative to the MFA by separating art from careerism. Come January, BHQFU, which has had a home base in the East Village since 2013, will move its operations here to Sunset Park.
I’m not gonna lie, when I heard Wild Torus— the aggressively psychedelic Bushwick performance art duo– would be hosting their “most ambitious event yet” this weekend, I imagined a sweaty, gyrating orgy of disembodied tentacles coated in globs of indecipherable goo, or “Torus Juice” as it’s known (it’s actually corn syrup). Not exactly gallery material. When I first encountered Wild Torus’ cult-like “digital spirituality” rituals at their Bushwick home base, Torus Portus, I had never seen anything like it– and I haven’t seen anything to match it since.
Downtown-style performance art saunters uptown a bit for the 12th annual Prelude Festival at the CUNY Graduate Center’s Martin E. Segal Theatre Center. Spanning three days, Prelude celebrates many of the exciting and zany performance and multidisciplinary artists who are making work today. Come get immersed in the world of the theatrical with installations, panel discussions, and performances from notable artists like high-belting queerdo Erin Markey, site-specific pioneers En Garde Arts, and Obie-winning experimental playwright Mac Wellman. Attendees will be transported via party buses to the closing party Friday night at PioneerWorks in Red Hook. Best of all, it’s free. Performance times vary. Full schedule available here.
Christopher Stout, founder of Bushwick Art Crit Group, has just opened his gallery in the disputed territory of East Williamsburg, the realization of plans we first heard about in early September. I had a chance to check the place out on Friday, and found that Stout is already keeping good on his pledge to show “subversive art.” The centerpiece of the gallery’s inaugural show, Shepard by Phoenix Lindsey-Hall, is a massive, meticulously crafted porcelain replica of the iconic fence Matthew Shepard (the victim of a notorious hate crime) was bound to before he was tortured and left for dead back in 1998. Not easy-to-swallow material, to say the least.
Read more about the gallery and the exhibition here.