A booth dedicated to the old Pearl River Mart (Photo: Nicole Disser)
“Preservationist” has become something of a slur, used to denigrate the old-timers and neo-hippies who’d rather save ratty old tenant buildings and dusty mom-and-pop stores than make way for clean big-box stores with cheap stuff for everyone, and skyscraping mixed-use luxury complexes with their affordable housing pittance. It’s sorta like: C’mon, New York City is, by its nature, dynamic and changing. But the ever-faster pace of development and the lightyear rate of change have made for an urban landscape where transformation takes place exponentially and squeezes out the very people who have made this city vibrant and interesting in the first place.
Over the weekend, a slew of more than 40 local and visiting artists, as well as organizations like the Chinatown Art Brigade (a grassroots effort tackling the divisive issue of gallery-led gentrification in their neighborhood) demonstrated that preservation doesn’t have to be backward-looking.
Henry Chalfant’s subway photographs now on view (Image courtesy of Eric Firestone Gallery)
Since Thursday, the white walls at Eric Firestone Gallery have been wholly devoted to just a small portion of Henry Chalfant’s archive of “subway photographs.” Henry Chalfant: 1980 focuses on a year in which graffiti was still regarded as subversive and dangerous. At the same time, street art was at its most vibrant and anarchic. The work offers not only a trip back to the “golden age of graffiti,” but a thorough “visual anthropology,” as Chalfant describes it– a studied view of street culture back when it actually came from the streets.
The mood was shifting just as I made my way toward House of Yes around 10 pm last night. Commentators on NBC, CNN, and anywhere else were starting to look flustered– especially Wolf Blitzer (a guy who looks like he passed up coffee to stick his fingers into an electrical socket) whose discombobulated outbursts and spastic reportage were only adding to a slowly-building sense of panic. Many battlegroud states were still too close to call, but Trump and Hillary were now neck-and-neck. That menacing meter on the New York Times site, which measured the probability of a Trump victory, was jumping up from its position at “we’re cool” to “we’re so, so fucked.”
Mutual Crush VII: Mzungu, Drunken Sufis, Amar Wednesday November 11, 8 pm at Elvis Guesthouse: free
Ongoing live music series Mutual Crush returns with a show that “focuses heavily on noise/ambient music,” and a reminder that such sounds tend to “evoke a meditative reaction in the listener”– lord knows that’s just the ticket to sliding back into some semblance of normalcy after all this election garbage crap.
This election cycle has been louder than most, with red-faced screaming, epic shout-downs, and showers of insults pummeling over political decorum. The Choice Is Yours, a new art show grown out of the clunky mechanical levers of cumbersome voting machines, feels unusually quiet by comparison, almost to the point of being meditative.
“I thought it would be fun to turn them into these choice machines,” the artist, R. Luke DuBois explained. “Maybe it makes you think twice when you get into an actual voting booth on Tuesday.”
The Prison in Twelve Landscapes Friday November 4, 7 pm and 9:15 pm and through Wednesday November 9 at Anthology Film Archives: $11
This documentary explores the far-reaching consequences of incarceration across the United States, without ever setting foot inside the prison proper. It’s a fascinating take on the impact of the prison system from a different perspective than the one we’re used to, in which the cameras are literally being behind bars. Instead, the subject is approached through absence and invisibility, from the parallel infrastructures that bring food and supplies into penitentiaries to women prisoners fighting forest fires in California.
Attending an art opening usually means agreeing to a trade-off: in exchange for free booze and the company of other humans, you won’t be seeing much, if any of the art work. But at “Slow, Dimwitted Carnage,” the second exhibition from newcomer gallery Coustof Waxman, guests can have their art and, um, drink it too.
As of this morning, the beloved Pavilion is officially no more. Even visiting the Park Slope movie theater’s website early this morning turned up a ghostly message in washed-out grey: “http://www.paviliontheater.com/ has been disabled.”
It’s only appropriate, given that Nitehawk cinemas–the proud new owners of the ratty old Art Deco theater that’s been in decline for several years now– threw a proper New Orleans-style jazz funeral for the place.
Trash Talk, Antwon, Black Noise Tuesday November 1, 8 pm to 11:30 pm at Brooklyn Bazaar: $15
Here’s to hoping you made it to Aviv Monday night for the grand finale. Super sad face. Actually, the last show was more of a bittersweet bye-bye for the DIY venue since the owners have promised a triumphant return ASAP, just as soon as they find a new space. RIP for now BBs, see you on the other side and all that.
Until then, we’re facing seriously slim pickins when it comes to decent venues that don’t require you to check your soul at the door in exchange to watch your favorite bands transform into blands right before your very eyes.
A new art show at the Fortnight Institute is flipping the script on a persistent imbalance in the art world. While men still dominate the major museums, massive retrospectives, and money-makers of the art market, most of the weens found at DICKS (on view now through December 4) are actually nailed to the wall.
All but one of the eight participating artists are women, and each artwork included in the show (paintings, photography, and sculpture) is strikingly phallocentric and jarringly figurative. DICKS is so literal in its approach to the ding-dong (arguably the most hilarious feature associated with the male anatomy) that the show was announced without explanation. The title, and a glimpse of Betty Tompkins’s contribution, Dick Painting #3, said it all.
Gimme Danger Friday October 28 through Thursday November 3 at IFC Center: $14.50
I’m hoping at least a few of you out there, like me, are cursed/blessed by a bizarro Pavlovian response to the words “No Fun”– whenever they’re uttered, even in passing, you immediately drop whatever or whoever you’re doing, wherever you may be, and start thrashing around like a seahorse at the tail end of his week-long soak in a Benzedrine bath.
I’m just as averse to the term “girl band” as the next girl, but for some reason I can’t resist calling Hinds, anindie rock outfit rolling into town this week from Madrid, a babe band. Before anyone gets all riled up and loses their breakfast sandwich over the label, remember that “babe” is a gender-neutral term and, secondly, a person can qualify as a babe for a number of reasons.