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.
Williamsburg’s Honey Gifts will be displaying more than just the usual lingerie and sex toys this Friday night. Brooklyn artist Tal Shpantzer has adorned the shop’s windows with images of women holding flowers and petals in their mouths. The photographs from Shpantzer’s Petal Series are inspired by Dadaism and, specifically, Hannah Höch’s collages. They’re striking, intense, and beautiful–some of the women look a little sad, others almost feral.
When I first heard about a one-off art show and serial online publication called Young, Colored & Angry, the name really stuck with me. There really couldn’t be a better moment to discuss such a fraught label. The term might not be instantly recognizable, but the implications are all too familiar particularly in the label’s application to protestors in various cities as of late. It can be used as a way to dismiss, delegitimize, and patronize grievances related to race relations in the U.S., particularly those between people of color and the police. But Young, Colored & Angry the publication–which, by the way, is run by two self-proclaimed young, colored, and angry individuals, 22-year-old Ashley Rahimi Syed and 21-year-old Elliott Brown, Jr.– is less explicitly about the now-politics of race and the police and more about the artistic expression that is inevitably steeped in similar experiences and other instances of discrimination.
If there’s anything to say about Frieze that speaks to the massive annual art fair as a whole is that it’s wholly impossible to see everything. Last year, there were 190 participating art dealers from all over the globe. And that’s just at Frieze alone. What’s more the art fair brings so many art people into the city and out of their studios in “far-flung” neighborhoods to Manhattan, that several satellite festivities coincide with the event in places other than the Frieze tent. So take your pick and get ready for two parts shmoozing and feigning interest and one part legitimate enthrallment!
Thanks to a generous donation from the New Jersey Institute of Technology and a super cool landlord in Gowanus who’s trying to keep the neighborhood arty, the Gowanus Darkroom went from being a distant dream to a reality for Rachel Jun and Jonathan Rodgers. “We just went for it,” Rachel said of the darkroom that opened up in February. And they’re lucky they nabbed this particular place. Darkrooms and photo studios are generally in basements, closets, warehouses, anywhere dark and dank, really. But forget all that when it comes to Gowanus Darkroom. The place is located at the top floor of an industrial building with a massive, wide-open floor plan and impressive natural light flooding in from skylights.
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.
A couple weeks back I was lucky enough to have lunch with Lydia Lunch, a legendary figure in the New York no wave scene and the hurricane-like force behind Teenage Jesus and the Jerks, queen of spoken word, and now a multi-faceted visual artist who remains inextricably tied to the downtown scene of the late 1970s and ’80s despite having left New York City in the dust a long time ago. Understandably, Lunch’s feelings about the city have changed somewhat over the years. “I hate fuckin’ New York,” she told me. “It’s dirty and you’re paying five times too much for every fuckin’ thing. I don’t understand how it can be so expensive and still suck in so many ways. The quality of the food, the subways– I’d rather walk. Rats, disgusting.”
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.
Time is running out to save a mural painted by literary trailblazer Barney Rosset on the living room wall of his East Village apartment. Best known as the provocative publisher of Grove Press who introduced U.S. readers to authors like Samuel Beckett and waged court battles to release books by D.H. Lawrence, Henry Miller and William Burroughs, Rosset lived on Fourth Avenue, between 9th and 10th Streets, with his wife Astrid Meyers Rosset for nearly 30 years. Now the building has been sold and his widow, along with a team of supporters, has until June 30 to raise funds to extract the living room wall. Once the mural, which is the subject of a forthcoming documentary, is removed, it will need to find a home.
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.
It’s finally almost here, New York’s Alright 2015! Get excited for this year’s all things punk fest where tons of related official and unofficial happenings are being held in and around Bushwick, Greenpoint, East Williamsburg, and the Lower East Side. And you can stop screaming now, this isn’t a festival in any traditional / horrendous sense of the word, meaning you can put all your eggs in a basket marked “no” as in no you aren’t going to find anyone looking “Coachella as fuck” at this event. Or maybe you will. I haven’t turned on any TVs in a while so there’s a distinct possibility I’ve just been asleep at the wheel and Coachella hats are the new normcore. Well, normcore be damned — it’s time to break out your spikes, boys and girls (but only if you like saxophones).
Do you sneer at the Iron Man franchise? Do Twilight and 50 Shades of Grey provide you with positively no ironic pleasure? Did you feel that Boyhood was just another celebration of the magic of white male experience? Well, perhaps underground film is more your thing then. And if there’s one thing we can never get enough of it’s avant-garde art and experimental work because, like, isn’t that what living in New York City is all about? Well, maybe it used to be. But let’s make it that way again.