Even if GIFs are objectively one of the greatest things that’s ever happened to the internet, not everyone gets them. Humorless turds say that these grainy, animated loops are a passing fad, and a medium that’s prone to idiocy. Haters will continue to hate, but one criticism actually feels a bit true: GIFs lack nuance and are far too fleeting to communicate anything of substance. They’re the perfect metaphor for the kids-these-days refrain that our attention spans are shrinking. One recent and oft-repeated study conducted in Canada found that 2,000 participants, on average, measured a mind-bogglingly brief attention span of 8 seconds. Supposedly this means that in a competition between humans and goldfish, we’d lose to the fish.
Art + Culture
It was a tough summer for Brooklyn’s DIY scene. There was the sudden shutdown of Palisades, followed by the closure of DIY-gone-legit venue the Acheron; then we lost Secret Project Robot, and soon enough, we’ll be saying RIP Aviv. The troubling number of ousters makes the latest news all the more welcome: Trans-Pecos, last night, announced that a new “annex” is on the way.
This past weekend, attendees of Bushwick Open Studios had their pick of more than 400 participating art spaces around the Bushwick-Ridgewood area. The weather for the new October iteration of BOS– after years of holding the arts festival during the first weekend in June– was rather dreary, and we heard many attendees say that without the sunshine, the annual art celebration just wasn’t the same. Jan Van Damne, one of the many visitors wandering the private studios at 17-17 Troutman on Sunday, observed that things were “less chaotic” this year, but admitted to us that “springtime was an appropriate date” for the crawl. What was it, the weather? “No, no– it was just bigger before. New York City was waking up, so it was a great time for a creative festival.”
As the story goes, no one guessed that Nirvana’s Nevermind would become one of the defining rock records of the ’90s, let alone top the charts at number one.
Actually, scratch all that. Considering that Nevermind sold more than 30 million copies, it’s one of the top-selling albums of all time (that’s double-platinum 12 times over, aka a “diamond” selling record), which puts Nirvana up there in some pretty stratospheric company: Michael Jackson (Thriller), Pink Floyd (The Dark Side of the Moon), The Beatles (1). That’s not only a good indication that Courtney Love’s drug dealer is rich as shit, but it means that Nevermind has transcended the album and become something much more complicated– shared experience, a universal language, even a kind of philosophy on life (albeit a pretty angsty-teenager one that doesn’t look so great post-college).
But holy crap that’s a lot of heavy baggage to carry around. When was the last time you could listen to Nevermind or anything Nirvana recorded at all without feeling kind of weird about it?
If you’ve seen the 2013 documentary The Punk Singer, you know Kathleen Hanna was stuck out at sea for a long time when she was creatively paralyzed and overwhelmed by the day-to-day challenges of Lyme disease. One of the harshest consequences of her illness was profound fatigue, something that severely limited her capacity to write or perform music. At times, she found it difficult to even speak.
Lucky for us– oh, and for Hanna too– she’s doing much better these days, so much so that even though her band The Julie Ruin, like, just released their new album, Hanna is making an appearance this week at a speaker store in Soho, of all places, called Sonos.
“You know, after a while, wearing that rubber gorilla mask is really hard,” said Donna Kaz. She was describing one of the stranger realities of her double life. For the last 20 years, Kaz has worked as an artist/playwright deftly navigating the New York City theater world– this was the serious, successful woman I met at a coffee shop in Midtown last week. But for the rest of it, she’s donned a gorilla mask, deterred neither by sweat nor fear of suffocation. (Hell, even furries, the most diehard animal-suit lovers, agree that wearing such restrictive headgear can be punishing.)
The disguise has helped hide her identity, but it’s also served as a way for Kaz and an influential group of women artists known as the Guerrilla Girls, a “secret society” of activists, to assume new ones.
Holiday Mountain, Coaches
Wednesday September 28, 8 pm at Berlin: $8 in advance, $10 at the door
Even when they’re jamming an oversized banana down your throat, you might find it sorta hard to swallow Holiday Mountain‘s product. It’s almost as if that great, mushy mass they’re thrusting toward you isn’t edible at all, but something meant to linger in your cheek like a big chunk of chewing tobacco– mmm, actually let’s just go with Big League Chew, coz even though I’ve railed snuff a couple of times in my life, I’m really not sure of the mechanics of actual dip.
Elizabeth Wood may be a young filmmaker, still soaking up directorial lessons and figuring it all out, but she knew exactly what she was doing when she decided to call her first full-length feature, a semi-biographical film set in Ridgewood, White Girl. The label is alluring, gnawing, and sorta yucky all at once. Hilton Als wrote an entire collection of essays, White Girls, devoted to decoding the concept, which he determines is somewhere between an actual state of being and a mirage, both an all-powerful fantasy and the ideal object to be controlled : “Once I lived in a perpetual state of disbelief: How could one be a white girl and hate it? Wasn’t she— whoever she was— everything the world saw and wanted?”
It’s a pejorative, a term commonly attached to catcalls that’s less poetic than, say, “snowflake.” It’s “white girl wasted.” It’s a spoiled, naive little girl. It’s complaining too much. It’s traveling abroad and refusing to eat a stew made with chicken broth. It’s infantilizing, condescending, and rarely a compliment. It’s also a nickname for cocaine.
Friday September 16 to Thursday September 22 at IFC Center: $14
This film follows the illustrious but fraught career of Sergei Polunin, aka the “James Dean of the ballet world,” and his progress from child prodigy to a top-dancer wunderkind. I mean, you couldn’t really call anyone the James Dean of interpretive dance, because that would just be a dumb joke. It actually makes sense with Polunin though, as a figure who’s equally as intense, if not more so, than ballet itself, a sport that demands self-torture of its devotees, legit from the very first step.
About a year ago, Peaches– aka Jessica Hopper, the Canadian electroclash artist best known for her transgressive, hyper-sexual, feminist dance music– broke her six-year silence with a new album, Rub, which Pitchfork declared had “arrived at a moment when the world needs Peaches most.”
That might be an even more appropriate thing to say now, as feminism, women’s rights, and the possibility of Hillary Clinton becoming the first woman President of the United States have taken on a whole new feeling of urgency. Though we’ve come so far in the fight for women’s equality, we’re still knee-deep in a cesspool teeming with indignity, unequal pay, unpaid labor, obstacles to reproductive health, and widespread abuse– sexual, physical, and psychological. And we’re just talking the privileged Western world, baby.
It’s only been about two years since Stuart Solomon, Zack Wheeler, and Olivia Russin first secured a barebones warehouse in Greenpoint’s small sliver of an industrial corridor and turned it into a DIY show space called Aviv, so it’s been something of a shock to hear that the venue will be closing its doors at the end of October. Add the fact that Brooklyn recently lost another one of its heaviest hitters, Palisades, and Aviv’s passing will almost certainly mean that, as far as indie/underground/punk shows are concerned, there’s going to be a period of relative quiet to follow.
Opening Friday September 9 at Disclaimer Gallery (inside the Silent Barn), 6 pm to 9 pm. On view through October 2.
Though artist Megan Tatem often works in illustration, creating works for magazines and doing graphic design over at Hearst Media, this “tongue-in-cheek” exhibition will showcase another side of her work: photography. The show provides commentary on imagery related to racial stereotypes, but wrapped up in a tight layer of sarcasm. This results in lighthearted visual observations on assumptions like “white people can’t dance” and who holds the highest proclivity for fried chicken, but also delves into darker, serious territory, also acknowledging how racial stereotypes like the assumption that people of color are dangerous or prone to crime can (and has) lead to unwarranted violence against them.