Earlier this year, when the East Village’s beloved Stage Restaurant closed in the wake of a dispute with its landlord Icon Realty Management, Brooklyn-based artist Gilf! plastered the diner’s former home with caution tape reading “Gentrification in Progress.” It wasn’t the first time one of the company’s properties was the site of artistic protest: Karen Platt, a resident of an Icon-owned building on East 5th Street, has been known to chalk up the sidewalk with messages like “Enough Is Enough,” and over July 4th weekend, someone spray-painted a message on the sidewalk in front of the now for-rent Stage space that advised, “DO NOT RENT HERE. DO NOT BUY HERE. BOYCOTT IN EFFECT.”
There’s been many a Bushwick disappearance lately. Punk venue The Acheron recently said their goodbyes, acclaimed restaurant Northeast Kingdom put away their plates for good, and Palisades is closed until at least August. In nearby Williamsburg, the Experiment Comedy Gallery, DIY space for funnies, just had to relocate to a new spot that’s quite literally underground.
It was an unusually quiet day on a recent visit to PS1– so deserted that, weirdly, I felt like I could get better acquainted with the 19th-century elementary school portion of the building than ever before. Call me cray, but the artwork at MoMA’s edgier little sister began to feel straight-up rebellious against the throwback schoolish confines which, in turn, started to feel even more institutional. Now that I was alone, and making actual contact with doors and hallways instead of awkwardly rubbing all over my fellow museum-goers, I realized everything was just slightly undersized. And that obligatory museum hush was starting to feel so intense that I felt compelled to swallow my gum and adjust my bad posture (everyone knows a well-trained ear can actually hear you resting on your laurels).
As we’ve mentioned recently, DIY art and game space Babycastles has been working hard to offer alternatives to the often exclusionary world of video games, showcasing work by indie game designers and artists who reveal that yes, there can be more to video games than mindless shooting and the Mountain Dew-guzzling men who often play them.
The previous exhibit on view was Toronto-based Kara Stone’s The Mystical Digital, offering a witchy and introspective take on games, with selections like Techno Tarot, where a robot gives you a detailed tarot reading, and Cyclothymia, a narrative exploring connections between emotions and astrology.
Another Canada-based game designer and programmer, Mx. Dietrich “Squinky” Squinkifier, has similar wishes to disrupt the tired norms in video games and video game culture. Rather than appealing to one’s inner mystic or the Bushwick dwellers who frequent places like Catland, Squinky’s games are more familiar to those who might stay in on a Friday night, presenting playable stories of awkward social interactions and small Claymation creatures of indistinct gender.
The Montreal-based artist’s second solo exhibition, Squinky Hates Video Games, is a compilation of work from the past three years in the form of ten different games, some of which were created during a stint at UC Santa Cruz’s Digital Arts and New Media MFA program. Squinky completed the program in 2015, and was recognized by Forbes that year as one of 30 Under 30 in Games.
Tonight, loft apartment turned art gallery Club 157 will be transformed into a tribute to the life of Mary of Cain.
Who’s that lady?, you ask.
Well, she’s the creation of multidisciplinary artist and model Jane Cogger, who birthed the character four years ago when she wanted to write more from a place of fiction, rather than autobiography.
The name says it all– at Rainbow Hugs and Kisses: a Doomsday Celebration, Secret Project Robot will start saying their goodbyes to the neighborhood they’ve called home for the last five years. On Wednesday, July 13 (7 pm to 10 pm) the DIY venue will open the final art show at its current location with festivities and hopefully some booty-shaking to coronate what the SPR community’s calling a “magical realm.”
It all sounds pretty grand, especially as a follow-up to Glasslands, which closed just as 2015 began, and in the course of its existence traded in and out some classic DIY features: homemade art installations (those clouds, tho), labyrinthine lofting, and swinging saloon doors between your bathroom break and the impatient line waiting behind you.
The term “gamer” usually conjures up a torrent of awful connotations– an exclusively white-male circle jerk where the only manifestation of “diversity” is between the Cheetos-stained 4chan nerds with a sunlight problem and fedora-wearing MRM creeps who fancy themselves activists. You can catch all of them gushing over first-person shooters and probably trading furry porn at a LAN party, a place where anybody else wouldn’t be caught dead.
As a work-resident of Greenpoint, I feel lucky that I can reap the benefits of the neighborhood without having to pay the increasingly steep average rent. My existence up here is dependent on a fair amount of lying to myself– that I can afford to eat at the nice restaurants here (false), that the nice people who work in the hip boutiques actually believe I’m going to buy something this time around (so false). But what really charms me about the neighborhood are its eccentricities– the picture window on Franklin decorated neatly with dozens of bobble heads gyrating in unison, the Polish bars where you can bet there’s a strange scene going down or at the very least some $1 Jell-o shots to pick at, and of course the ancient bag lady who shuffles along Manhattan Avenue screeching in a mix of gibberish and maybe Old Church Slavonic, sometimes disappearing down into the subway or inside an apartment, knowing that she can safely leave her bags and carts anywhere she pleases.
In a booth at a coffee shop on Bowery, artist Tim Platt hunches over a small piece of cardstock and tries to figure out how to turn a collection of near-random shapes and lines he’s made into a finished drawing.
“Oh, I’m going to destroy this one,” he finally decides. Platt, 28, dashes a thick red line over the drawing and, in the corner, writes You’ve failed me by agreeing to look at this. “Yup, I’d give this one a C minus at best.”
The Minds Behind Superjail! and Wonder Showzen Are Making Their Dream / Nightmare Feature, Adventures of Drunky
When it comes to feature-length films, much of the time fans of adult cartoons are SOL. Thanks to party-pooping producers and geezer film execs, the art form has essentially been ghettoized, forced into late-night TV slots, chopped up into web series, and largely excluded from the big screen. Instead, animated children’s movies have all the fun, with production companies popping out spin-offs and trilogies like there’s no tomorrow, while their aggressive marketing campaigns and box office dominance succeed in driving many of us close to insanity. You didn’t have to be anywhere near a movie theater to be completely, utterly inundated with shrapnel from the $593 million Minions propaganda blitz. (This writer isn’t kidding at all when she recalls, with horror, having run into a guy selling Minion dolls in the Andes. Shudder.)
“I need to get into a women’s prison. I need to get into another men’s prison. Maybe I can get into two women’s prisons, or three more men’s prisons,” Fury Young said, punching his open hand with his fist emphatically. “I don’t know, but I want to try and at least get into one more of each.”
I realized the Bushwick-based prison reform activist wasn’t really directing this statement toward me– instead he was drilling himself about what remains left of his enormously ambitious passion project. For years, Young has been at work on Die Jim Crow– an effort that, so far, has taken him to a State Prison in Ohio and to neighborhoods in New York City and Philadelphia with particularly high incarceration rates. Along the way, he has recorded and collaborated with musicians who, at one time or another, have spent time behind bars or are currently locked up. “It’s the first anti-prison album recorded in prison,” he explained.