The results of the election have churned up a tsunami of cultural backlash aimed at the incoming Trump administration’s rhetoric of hatred and intolerance (or, in at least one case, in support of it). There’s a lot of doom and gloom right now– hate crimes are on the rise as our new political era continues to take shape with increasingly horrifying cabinet appointments, from a conspiracy theory-touting Islamophobe as Secretary of Defense to a Department of Energy head who once called for the agency’s abolishment– even so, artists and cultural figures have banded together to express their dismay.
Some, like the Instagram campaign and public protest #DearIvanka, have infused political action with artsy weirdness, while others have just continued making the art they always have, the only difference being that the injustices they’re concerned with– the patriarchy, white supremacy, xenophobia– have seen something of a comeback as some Americans are once again proud to wear their prejudices on their sleeves (or Twitter feeds).
One recent X-Mas, three, maybe four years ago, my then-BF/now very much ex-BF, and I were out gift shopping (aka escaping family time), and making our way through every thrift shop we could find in our hometown. I can’t remember the exact year this all went down, but I can say with certainty that it was long before rumors of a Twin Peaks remake were circulating. I distinctly remember this BF grabbing something off a dusty bookshelf and clutching it close to his chest like he’d come across a $1.99 bowling bag full of hundo stacks. Actually, it was beat-up old cassette tape, though not just any U2 or Bon Jovi piece of trash, but the soundtrack to Twin Peaks.
The Love Witch Thursday December 15, 4:15 pm at Nitehawk: $12
If you can play hooky this afternoon, do. Your first hideout should be Nitehawk’s last screening of The Love Witch, which (witch?) I’m kicking myself for not getting to until now. I blame it all on Anna Biller– the filmmaker has done such a convincing job of making this throwback film look like an actual piece of vintage sexploitation that, for-realsies, even after several once-overs I failed to realize is actually a brand new movie that I should definitely be paying attention to. I mean, even the movie poster (see below) looks exactly like an airbrushed box-office placard advertising some cheap-o, long-forgotten ’70s erotic thriller.
Tackling the topic of feminism is a monumental task for any art exhibition, let alone one that fits inside a downtown art space called White Box–which you already know, or maybe just guessed, is not all that enormous. Even if the curator had the MoMA to herself, a show like this would require some epic planning. And from the viewer’s perspective? Yeah right. Seeing everything in one go would be require an Odyssean attention span which, let’s be real, just doesn’t exist anymore.
So when curator Lara Pan was commissioned by the non-profit art space White Box to put together a show “about women,” she and her co-curator Ruben Natal-San Miguel came up with Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious (on view through January 21), a 27-piece show that fits neatly within a realm of feminism she knows well. She may have felt compelled to whittle down the larger theme, but she managed to keep the feeling of an epic, history-sweeping, time-spanning, half-the-human-race, cross-culturally inclusive narrative. At the same time, the show defies what we’ve come to expect from women’s art exhibitions: those one-note, temporary deviations from the default (i.e. white men) that are plagued by tokenism, tiptoeing, stale themes, and work that’s about as revolutionary as a closet full of pantsuits.
If you’re a dedicated visitor of spots like Shea Stadium and Alphaville, you’ve inevitably seen or heard Sexy Neighbors. Going on seven years of recording together as a psychedelic post-punk do-whatever-we-want garage band, the odds that they’ve caught your attention are on their side, even if they’ve dwelled comfortably underground.
Los Sures Friday December 9, 7 pm to 10 pm at Dobbin Street: $8 to $10
Dobbin St. is a new “luxury event space” that occasionally throws non-luxury events. For Halloween, they hosted a screening of Suspiria and went all out, washing the space in Dario Argento’s signature evil-pink light and amassing a band to do the live score. They even threw in some popcorn, a bar, and prep school-style beds for good measure.
Tucked inside a densely industrial corner of East Williamsburg, there’s a not-so-easy to find new “cultural space” called 99 Scott. With a name like that, not even newbs, or those not yet acquainted with the neighborhood’s winding corridors and sharp triangular street-traps, should have a hard time finding the space. On a dead-end industrial street where garbage trucks and cement mixers outnumber humans, sits a newly renovated, sparkly building occupied by a swarm of new tenants–99 Scott included– who make up one of the most sophisticated and concrete examples of the push toward light-industry happening across Brooklyn.
Queer-themed art shows are having a moment right now, and we can only expect that trend to continue as we enter a time of uncertainty about the future of LGBTQ rights in this country (and those of all marginalized people, really). An ongoing exhibition called Like Smoke(on view through December 4 at the New York Artists Equity Association on the Lower East Side) feels so right-now in that way. The show mines gay history and examines the ways in which oppression, both past and persistent, still creep into the present. Though it examines the queer body, you won’t see any actual bodies on display. Instead there’s a great gaping black hole, phantoms from the past, and a lingering sense of absence.
Videofilia (And Other Viral Syndromes) Friday December 2 through Thursday December 8 at Spectacle, $5
As we’re constantly reminded these days, technological progress is hurdling faster and faster toward the speed of light. These days, we don’t even have to get off our asses and schlep it to the dollar store for toilet paper– we can simply press a button and the butt paper shows up like magic, encased in an obscenely large cardboard box. Then again, there are times when you’re riding the subway and you’re overwhelmed by an apocalyptic dread, having realized that every singlehuman on board is playing Candy Crush. These things serve to remind us that End Times are nigh, and these phone zombies will be the beginning of a very dark, totally uncool end.
Last week, a mysterious Instagram account began posting photos of Ivanka Trump looking her usual perfect self, primped, stilettoed, and precisely preened to sexy-career-girl perfection. If you were scrolling too quickly, you might have mistaken @dear_ivanka for a fan account, with over 7,5oo followers. But it was actually the first satirical social media action of Halt Action Group, a grassroots protest organization that’s appealing to Ivanka as the Trump administration’s “voice of reason.”
The Range, Glass Gang, Sarah Kinlaw, IMAGIST, Kathleen Dycaico Tuesday November 29, 8 pm at Elvis Guest House: $10 minimum donation
Prepare for some straightforward, vaguely uplifting dance musicfrom the The Rangeaka James Hinton, a Brooklyn-based producer/ electronic musician with a penchant for sped-up, Chipmunks-style vocal samples and dreamy soundscapes.Glass Gang sounds like TV on the Radio shed any remaining remnants of rock n’ roll music and fully embraced their electronic pop music side.
Ereptile Destruction, Growler, Shitkill Tuesday November 22, 9 pm at Union Pool: $8
Once in a while, it helps to forget everything that’s happened to metal since nu metal hit, and take a trip back to our roots. Growler, a Brooklyn-based act that describes itself simply as “hard and loud” helps get us there, mainly by defying the trend toward increasingly humorless, doomed and/or blackened what-have-you. Lately, it feels like we’re so chin-deep in sludgy muck that it’s easy to forget where we started. Growler’s throwback sound plops us back in the early ’80s, with their high-pitched, falsetto, bordering on operatic vocals that recall Iron Maiden and Judas Priest.