Amy With Cigarette, 1993 photo by Richard Kern (Courtesy of the Artist and Marlborough Broome Street, NY)
To honor the 20th anniversary of New York Girls and the re-release of Richard Kern‘s first book, the East Village photographer and Cinema of Transgression filmmaker is running two concurrent gallery shows– one is in Chelsea and the second opens tonight at Marlborough Broome on the Lower East Side. I stopped by the gallery yesterday to check out the photos and speak with Kern.
“It was so long ago, almost seems like somebody else did it,” he laughed. “It was definitely a different time period.” When I arrived, I found Kern sitting quietly at the front desk. I was late but, as he explained later, I’d given him a chance to catch up on Instagram.
Argos Books Five Year Anniversary Celebration Friday Nov. 20th, 7 pm at Wendy’s Subway, 722 Metropolitan Avenue in Williamsburg
Yassss to readings with a cause for celebration. And, like, the word “celebration” is even right there in the title, so it’s gotta be good. You know for sure there’s gonna be drinks and it’s gonna get loose. Hell, there’s even a lineup of three DJs for dance inspiration. You might even consider leaving your flask at home for this one. Maybe. But for real, Argos Books, the lil Brooklyn-based indie press that could, deserves a congrats-grad affair in proving that it’s not small presses that we have to worry about, it’s the mega-publishing houses that are floundering.
Wow guys, big week for the DIY scene: Aviv turns a whole one year old. And actually, that’s kinda getting up there in DIY years. Though, of course, we wish them many more. The Greenpoint venue has wasted no time in becoming pretty much the (true)DIYspot in North Brooklyn. To celebrate, Aviv is hosting a b-day party on Saturday featuring Bambara, Parlor Walls, and word on the street (er, on Facebook) is that an appearance is inevitable by one Ronnie Stone— quite possibly Brooklyn’s only leather-licking, “Moldovan” ’80s-fetish band fronted by a keytar-wielding, struttin’ mustache. Definitely don’t miss this banger. Details on that show and more to preoccupy you in all that might-as-well-be-dead time from now till then.
Next week Kharis Kennedy will unveil a series of new paintings as part of her solo exhibition, Comfort Animals, at The Greenpoint Gallery. Though Kennedy has been living in St. Croix for the last five years, her work is still imbued with trappings of high-society life and obsessive consumerism she picked up on while living in New York City. But a midnight-hued vision of her new home in the tropics is slowly beginning to take over.
(Film still via “Alone at Last”, Pat Ivers and Emily Armstrong)
“At that time in New York things were really wild,” Emily Armstrong recalled of the ’70s punk scene. She and her partner, Pat Ivers, are old school East Village types– they truly lived the Downtown era, and lucky for us they documented over 100 shows at CBGBs, filming bands like DNA and unbelievable moments like Iggy Pop covering Frank Sinatra for their weekly TV show, Nightclubbing. After NYU’s Fales Library acquired their archive for the Downtown Collection, thousands of the duo’s film reels were digitized and, for a time, were part of a weekly column at B+B.
Alone at Last emerged out of that archival effort and now, after more than 30 years since the artists last saw them, the 1981 black-and-white vignettes featuring 52 people who were prompted to seduce the viewer, will be shown at Howl! Happening. The video series captures the last breath of the freewheeling ’70s Downtown scene right before AIDS hit. “People who have seen it feel that it’s a very interesting depiction of that culture, that moment, because it was truly a moment. Soon after it was shot, people realized what AIDS was. So having a lot of sex for pleasure was completely redefined: having a lot of open sex was suicide. Things really changed, really fast.”
“You have to see this,” my friend texted me a couple weeks back. “This girl I met on Tinder, she has her own reality show.”
When I got around to watchingThe BedfordStop, I found myself glued to my laptop screen unable to tear my eyes away from this group of young women who simply had to be joking. Not only did they fallaciously declare that they moved to Williamsburg “to pursue their dreams” and to “avoid reality,” but the YouTube show seems to perfectly capture post-gentrification New Williamsburg: the overwhelming whiteness of it all, omnipresent Ikea furniture, blasé consumerism, vocal fry, and above all, brunch.
Olek is the prolific crochet artist known best for disrupting public spaces by swathing dull stone, concrete, and brick with enormous, sometimes intricate yarn hoods. While she’s spent the last 15 years living in Brooklyn, her reach as an international artist seems to be expanding ever outward from the city where she started her art career.
I’m not gonna lie, when I heard Wild Torus— the aggressively psychedelic Bushwick performance art duo– would be hosting their “most ambitious event yet” this weekend, I imagined a sweaty, gyrating orgy of disembodied tentacles coated in globs of indecipherable goo, or “Torus Juice” as it’s known (it’s actually corn syrup). Not exactly gallery material. When I first encountered Wild Torus’ cult-like “digital spirituality” rituals at their Bushwick home base, Torus Portus, I had never seen anything like it– and I haven’t seen anything to match it since.
This week, cash in your change jar because you’re gonna need it for the screening of this lost Riot Grrrl film starring Kathleen Hanna. Also, pick from a bazillion or so documentaries this year at Doc NYC 2015, and more. Read on, friends.
“Untitled” (from the series In The Vale of Cashmere), Thomas Roma 2011
Like many Brooklynites, Prospect Park is my go-to, but the awesomely named Vale of Cashmere– a relatively isolated area on the east side of the park and the subject of photographer Thomas Roma’s new book– didn’t sound familiar at all. To outsider eyes like mine, the Vale (depending on your taste) is either a beautifully wild or pitifully neglected patch of land, overgrown with disobedient trees and untamed plants, at the center of which there’s a once-elegant fountain clogged with weeds and fetid puddles from years of neglect. Park staff have planted shrubs and flowers there too, lending the area a rotting romanticism.
But the Vale has another history: it’s long been a cruising spot for gay men, but especially gay men of color. Until recently it was considered an open secret, and one that many park powerfuls have decided not to engage, despite demands from elsewhere that they do so (in various ways). While Roma’s series is ultimately a personal exploration of friendship and loss, it’s nearly impossible to unravel his images from questions about what kind of impact a looming project will have on the community that has made this space its own.