This Week in New York Insider's Guide to Arts & Culture in New York City Since 2001

RATED X

Ralph Bakshis animatedFritz the Cat is part of Quad tribute to X-rated cinema

Ralph Bakshi’s animated Fritz the Cat is part of Quad tribute to X-rated cinema

Quad Cinema
34 West 13th St. between Fifth & Sixth Aves.
Series runs December 14 - January 10
212-255-2243
quadcinema.com

In 1974, the promotional tag line for the porn sequel Emmanuelle II was “X was never like this.” While that film flaunted it, more mainstream movies treat the rating as a plague that could kill distribution and box office. The Quad is paying tribute to the controversial grade with “Rated X,” consisting of thirty-four films screening December 14 to January 10 that were either X-rated or had to make a few nips and tucks in order to avoid that tag. The films range from Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange and John Schlesinger’s Midnight Cowboy to George A. Romero’s Dawn of the Dead and Tobe Hooper’s The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, from Marco Bellocchio’s Devil in the Flesh and Pedro Almodóvar’s Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! to Vilgot Sjöman’s I Am Curious (Yellow) and Nagisa Oshima’s In the Realm of the Senses. Keep watching this space for additional reviews of this, um, titillating film fest.

LAST TANGO IN PARIS

Marlon Brando and Maria Schneider star in Bernardo Bertolucci’s controversial Last Tango in Paris

LAST TANGO IN PARIS (ULTIMO TANGO A PARIGI) (Bernardo Bertolucci, 1972)
Saturday, December 15, 7.40
Sunday, December 16, 7:20
Friday, December 28, 8:35
Saturday, January 5, 8:55
www.fiaf.org

One of the most artistic films ever made about seduction, Bernardo Bertolucci’s controversial X-rated Last Tango in Paris is part of the Quad’s “Paris Stripped Bare” and “Pictures from the Revolution: Bertolucci’s Italian Period” series in addition to “Rated X.” Written by Bertolucci (The Conformist, The Spider’s Stratagem), who passed away in Rome in November at the age of seventy-seven, with regular collaborator and editor Franco Arcalli and with French dialogue by Agnès Varda (Le Bonheur, Vagabond), the film opens with credits featuring jazzy romantic music by Argentine saxophonist Gato Barbieri and two colorful and dramatic paintings by Francis Bacon, “Double Portrait of Lucian Freud and Frank Auerbach” and “Study for a Portrait,” that set the stage for what is to follow. (Bacon was a major influence on the look and feel of the film, photographed by Vittorio Storaro.) Bertolucci then cuts to a haggard man (Marlon Brando) standing under the Pont de Bir-Hakeim in Paris, screaming out, “Fucking God!” His hair disheveled, he is wearing a long brown jacket and seems to be holding back tears. An adorable young woman (Maria Schneider) in a fashionable fluffy white coat and black hat with flowers passes by, stops and looks at him, then moves on. They meet again inside a large, sparsely furnished apartment at the end of Rue Jules Verne that they are each interested in renting. Both looking for something else in life, they quickly have sex and roll over on the floor, exhausted. For the next three days, they meet in the apartment for heated passion that the man, Paul, insists include nothing of the outside world — no references to names or places, no past, no present, no future; the young woman, Jeanne, agrees. Their sex goes from gentle and touching to brutal and animalistic; in fact, after one session, Bertolucci cuts to actual animals. The film is nothing if not subtle.

LAST TANGO IN PARIS

Jeanne (Maria Schneider) and Paul (Marlon Brando) share a private, sexual relationship in Last Tango in Paris

The lovers’ real lives are revealed in bits and pieces, as Paul tries to recover from his wife’s suicide and Jeanne deals with a fiancée, Thomas (Jean-Pierre Léaud), who has suddenly decided to make a film about them, without her permission, asking precisely the kind of questions that Paul never wants to talk about. When away from the apartment, Jeanne is shown primarily in the bright outdoors, flitting about fancifully and giving Thomas a hard time; in one of the only scenes in which she’s inside, Thomas makes a point of opening up several doors, preventing her from ever feeling trapped. Meanwhile, Paul is seen mostly in tight, dark spaces, especially right after having a fight with his dead wife’s mother. He walks into his hotel’s dark hallway, the only light coming from two of his neighbors as they open their doors just a bit to spy on him. Not saying anything, he pulls their doors shut as the screen goes from light to dark to light to dark again, and then Bertolucci cuts to Paul and Jeanne’s apartment door as she opens it, ushering in the brightness that always surrounds her. It’s a powerful moment that heightens the difference between the older, less hopeful man and the younger, eager woman. Inevitably, however, the safety of their private, primal relationship is threatened, and tragedy awaits.

Jeanne and Paul develop a complicated sexual relationship in LAST TANGO

Jeanne and Paul develop a complicated sexual relationship in Last Tango

“I’ve tried to describe the impact of a film that has made the strongest impression on me in almost twenty years of reviewing. This is a movie people will be arguing about, I think, for as long as there are movies,” Pauline Kael wrote in the New Yorker on October 28, 1972, shortly before Last Tango closed the tenth New York Film Festival. “It is a movie you can’t get out of your system, and I think it will make some people very angry and disgust others. I don’t believe that there’s anyone whose feelings can be totally resolved about the sex scenes and the social attitudes in this film.” More than forty years later, the fetishistic Last Tango in Paris still has the ability to evoke those strong emotions. The sex scenes range from tender, as when Jeanne tells Paul they should try to climax without touching, to when Paul uses butter in an attack that was not scripted and about which Schneider told the Daily Mail in 2007, “I felt humiliated and to be honest, I felt a little raped, both by Marlon and by Bertolucci. After the scene, Marlon didn’t console me or apologise. Thankfully, there was just one take.” At the time of the shooting, Brando was forty-eight and Schneider nineteen; Last Tango was released between The Godfather and Missouri Breaks, in which Brando starred with Jack Nicholson, while Schneider would go on to make Michelangelo Antonioni’s The Passenger with Nicholson in 1975. Brando died in 2004 at the age of eighty, leaving behind a legacy of more than forty films. Schneider died in 2011 at the age of fifty-eight; she also appeared in more than forty films, but she was never able to escape the associations that followed her after her breakthrough performance in Last Tango, which featured extensive nudity, something she refused to do ever again. Even in 2018, Last Tango in Paris is both sexy and shocking, passionate and provocative, alluring and disturbing, all at the same time, a movie that, as Kael said, viewers won’t easily be able to get out of their system.

DESPERATE LIVING

Peggy Gravel’s quaint suburban life is about to go to hell in John Waters’s Desperate Living

DESPERATE LIVING (John Waters, 1977)
Friday, December 21, 8:35
Wednesday, December 26, 8:35
Wednesday, January 2, 8:35
quadcinema.com

A turning point in his career, John Waters’s Desperate Living is an off-the-charts bizarre, fetishistic fairy tale, the ultimate suburban nightmare. Mink Stole stars as Peggy Gravel, a wealthy housewife suffering yet another of her mental breakdowns. In the heat of the moment, she and the family maid, four-hundred-pound Grizelda Brown (Jean Hill), kill Peggy’s mild-mannered husband, Bosley (George Stover), and the two women end up finding refuge in one of the weirdest towns ever put on celluloid, Mortville, where MGM’s The Wizard of Oz and Babes in Toyland meet Russ Meyer’s Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! (with some Kenneth Anger, Jack Smith, and Douglas Sirk thrown into the mix as well). “I ain’t your maid anymore, bitch! I’m your sister in crime!” Grizelda declares. Peggy and Grizelda move into the “guest house” of manly Mole McHenry (Susan Lowe) and her blonde bombshell lover, Muffy St. Jacques (Liz Renay). Mortville is run as a kind of fascist state by the cruel and unusual despot Queen Carlotta (Edith Massey), an evil shrew who enjoys being serviced by her men-in-leather attendants, issues psychotic proclamations, and is determined that her daughter, Princess Coo-Coo (Mary Vivian Pearce), stop dating her garbage-man boyfriend, Herbert (George Figgs). (Wait, Mortville has a sanitation department?) Camp and trash combine like nuclear fission as things get only crazier from there, devolving into gorgeous low-budget madness and completely over-the-top ridiculousness, a mélange of sex, violence, and impossible-to-describe lunacy that Waters himself claimed was a movie “for fucked-up children.”

DESPERATE LIVING

John Waters’s Desperate Living is a celebration of camp and trash, an extremely adult and bizarre fairy tale

The opening scenes of Peggy’s meltdown are utterly hysterical. When a neighbor hits a baseball through her bedroom window and offers to pay for it with his allowance, she screams, “How about my life? Do you get enough allowance to pay for that? I know you were trying to kill me! What’s the matter with the courts? Do they allow this lawlessness and malicious destruction of property to run rampant? I hate the Supreme Court! Oh, God. God. God. Go home to your mother! Doesn’t she ever watch you? Tell her this isn’t some communist day-care center! Tell your mother I hate her! Tell your mother I hate you!” The sets and costumes are deranged — and perhaps influenced Pee-wee’s Playhouse — the relatively spare score is fun, and the acting is, well, appropriate. The first half of the film is better than the second half, but it’s still a delight to watch Waters, who wrote, directed, and produced the film, which was shot in a kind of lurid Technicolor by Charles Ruggero, take on authority figures (beware of Sheriff Shitface), gender identity, class structure, hero worship, beauty, race, crime, nudity, and, of course, at its very heart, love and romance.

MIchael Rooker stars as a troubled murderer in HENRY: PORTRAIT OF A SERIAL KILLER

Michael Rooker stars as a troubled murderer in Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer

HENRY: PORTRAIT OF A SERIAL KILLER (John McNaughton, 1986)
Thursday, December 27, 6:45
Saturday, January 5, 1.00
quadcinema.com

More than thirty years ago, when director John McNaughton (Mad Dog and Glory, Wild Things) was asked by executive producers Malik B. and Waleed B. Ali to make a low-budget horror film, he and cowriter Richard Fire decided to base their tale on the exploits of serial killer Henry Lee Lucas, whose story McNaughton had just seen on 20/20. The result was this creepy, dark, well-paced effort starring Michael Rooker as Henry, a brooding, casual serial killer who can’t quite remember how he murdered his mother. Henry lives in suburban Chicago with ex-con Otis (Tom Towles), whose sexy young sister, Becky (Tracy Arnold), comes to stay with them to get away from her abusive husband. As the relationship among the three of them grows more and more complicated, Henry continues to kill people — and get away with it. The opening tableau of some of Henry’s murder victims — the actual killings aren’t shown in the beginning — is beautifully done, although it also fetishizes violence against women, which is extremely disturbing. (Several of the victims are played by the same woman, Mary Demas, in different wigs.) Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, which was not released until 1989 because of its graphic content, was nominated for six Independent Spirit Awards in 1990, and Rooker was named Best Actor at the Seattle International Film Festival.

Michel Piccoli prepares to make a pig of himself in La Grande Bouffe

Michel Piccoli prepares to make a pig of himself in La Grande Bouffe

LA GRANDE BOUFFE (THE BIG FEAST) (BLOW-OUT) (Marco Ferreri, 1973)
Tuesday, January 1, 5:30
Friday, January 4, 9:15
quadcinema.com

Fed up with their lives, four old friends decide to literally eat themselves to death in one last grand blow-out. Cowritten and directed by Marco Ferreri (Chiedo asilo, La casa del sorriso), La Grande Bouffe features a cast that is an assured recipe for success, bringing together a quartet of legendary actors, all playing characters with their real first names: Marcello Mastroianni as sex-crazed airplane pilot Marcello, Philippe Noiret as mama’s boy and judge Philippe, Michel Piccoli as effete television host Michel, and Ugo Tognazzi as master gourmet chef Ugo. They move into Philippe’s hidden-away family villa, where they plan to eat and screw themselves to death, with the help of a group of prostitutes led by Andréa (Andréa Ferréol). Gluttons for punishment, the four men start out having a gas, but as the feeding frenzy continues, so does the flatulence level, and the men start dropping one by one. While the film, which won the FIPRESCI Prize at the 1973 Cannes Film Festival, might not be quite the grand feast it sets out to be, it still is one very tasty meal. Just be thankful that it’s not shown in Odoroma. Bon appetit!

DOWNSTAIRS

(photo by James Leynse)

Siblings Tim and Tyne Daly play siblings in first-ever appearance together on a New York City stage (photo by James Leynse)

Cherry Lane Mainstage Theatre
38 Commerce St.
Tuesday - Sunday through December 22, $82-$152
212-989-2020
primarystages.org
www.cherrylanetheatre.org

When I was a kid, one of my favorite things to do was rush home from school to catch the 4:30 movie on channel 7, the local ABC affiliate. One week would be devoted to the Planet of the Apes films, one to QB VII, and another to monster movies, but my favorite was the week that showed crazy flicks about unsettling children in unusual circumstances. Two of the most memorable were Bad Ronald, with Scott Jacoby as a boy living in a hidden room, and The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane, with Jodie Foster as a girl with a secret in the basement. Theresa Rebeck’s Downstairs, a Primary Stages production continuing at the Cherry Lane through December 22, is like a grown-up version of those oddball films that left such an imprint on me and many of my generation. Real-life brother and sister Tim and Tyne Daly, in their first New York City stage appearance together, star as fictional siblings Teddy and Irene, respectively, both of whom are at least a little bit off. Teddy is experiencing some financial difficulties, so he has moved into the basement of the home Irene shares with her husband, Gerry (John Procaccino), who is none-too-happy having Teddy around. Of course, nothing good ever happens in a basement. “This is my apartment,” Teddy says to Irene, who replies, “This isn’t your apartment. This is my basement.” While Irene has been able to make a comfortable life with Gerry, Teddy seems to have nothing, and he more than hints that Irene owes him.

Teddy might have trouble concentrating (his morning routine is a riot) and his wild conspiracy theories are eyebrow-raising to say the least, but he also occasionally produces surprisingly vivid and insightful statements. “Whether or not I say it doesn’t make it true or untrue. Because sometimes it is true,” he tells Irene. Later he says to her, “First of all that is a totally solipsistic argument and second you don’t know what the fuck you are talking about.” He also spends a lot of time at an ancient computer, although Irene insists it doesn’t work. About halfway through the ninety-minute play, Gerry makes his initial appearance, to tell Teddy to leave, but Teddy is not about to walk out, and he lets Gerry know it, setting up a rather unexpected conclusion.

(photo by James Leynse)

Gerry (John Procaccino) has a point to make in Theresa Rebeck’s Downstairs (photo by James Leynse)

Downstairs unfolds in a series of primarily two-person scenes beautifully orchestrated by director Adrienne Campbell-Holt (Hatef*ck, What We’re Up Against); the audience sees the three characters in this dysfunctional family together only once. Emmy nominee Tim (Coastal Disturbances, The Caine Mutiny Court Martial) and Tony and Emmy winner Tyne (Gypsy, Mothers and Sons) have the chemistry of, well, a brother and sister who love and care about each other, playing the same; they deliver Rebeck’s (Seminar, Bernhardt/Hamlet) sharply unpredictable dialogue with a natural, rhythmic flow, while character actor extraordinaire Procaccino (Art, Nikolai and the Others) is terrific as the angry foil who forces himself between them. (Tyne actually made her professional stage debut at the Cherry Lane in 1966 in George S. Kaufman’s The Butter and Egg Man.) Narelle Sissons’s set design is as dusty and creepy as the characters, filled with items that could become dangerous at the flick of a switch. Another touchstone of my generation, Bugs Bunny, famously told Elmer Fudd in The Wabbit Who Came to Dinner, “Don’t go down there; it’s dark!” But Downstairs is one basement that is well worth visiting for 105 eerily enticing minutes.

THAT WAY MADNESS LIES…

That Way Madness Lies...

A man’s descent into mental illness is documented by his sister in That Way Madness Lies...

THAT WAY MADNESS LIES... (Sandra Luckow, 2018)
Cinema Village
22 East 12th St. between University Pl. & Fifth Ave.
Opens Friday, December 14
212-529-6799
www.madnessthemovie.com
www.cinemavillage.com

Filmmaker Sandra Luckow documents her brother’s battle with mental illness in the very personal That Way Madness Lies... “What happened to Duanne? And why didn’t we see this coming?” she asks. Luckow, who for her Yale thesis in 1986 made Sharp Edges, about unknown fifteen-year-old figure skater Tonya Harding, follows the sad tale of her brother, Duanne, as he spirals out of control, trapped in a system that is not built to help him. “Our eccentricity defined who we were, but where was the line between creativity and crazy?” Sandra says about Duanne, who had his own very successful business as a car restorer — he was considered a magician at it — before his troubled mind destroys his ability to function. He experiences manic episodes, falls for conspiracy theories, and believes he is destined to marry an internet self-help guru. Duanne was also an amateur filmmaker himself, and Sandra includes footage from short movies Duanne made when he was a kid, as well as his recordings from his stays in Oregon State Hospital, where One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest was filmed. Sandra and Duanne’s elderly parents, the mother a dollhouse builder, the father also an auto specialist, are at a loss as to what to do as Sandra shares information about Duanne’s exploits, which grow ever more confounding and threatening, particularly as he sides with scam artists instead of his family. “My big mistake has been trying to circumvent the suffering,” Sandra tells a lawyer of her attempts to help her brother.

Duanne and Sandra Luckow are seen in happier times in That Way Madness Lies...

Duanne and Sandra Luckow are seen in happier times in That Way Madness Lies...

Nominated for the Women Film Critics Circle’s Courage in Filmmaking award, That Way Madness Lies... is indeed a brave work by Luckow, who did not intend to spend so much time in front of the camera herself. She fights a broken system, thwarted again and again by government agencies and the courts. But she sees the film as a tool for change. “The last thing I ever wanted to do was to turn the camera on my own family and expose the vulnerability, suffering, and loss that took place,” she has said. “However, I believe lives depend on this film having been made and seen. People will be able to understand why it is almost impossible to help the most vulnerable in our society.” She was inspired to make the documentary after asking Duanne to record his experiences in Oregon State Hospital and seeing the footage, which devastated her personally but also made her realize that the story was bigger than just her family. It’s a heart-wrenching tale, one that exposes a deep crack in America’s treatment of the mentally ill.

PAUL WINTER’S 39TH ANNUAL WINTER SOLSTICE CELEBRATION

The Paul Winter Consort and friends will celebrate its fiftieth anniversary at the solstice at St. John the Divine

The Paul Winter Consort will celebrate its fiftieth anniversary at annual solstice concert at St. John the Divine

Cathedral of St. John the Divine
1047 Amsterdam Ave. at 112th St.
December 20-22, $58-$148
www.stjohndivine.org
www.solsticeconcert.com

The Paul Winter Consort will once again pay tribute to the shortest day of the year at the thirty-ninth annual Winter Solstice concert at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine for four shows December 20-22, as part of the group’s fiftieth anniversary celebration. The seven-time Grammy-winning soprano saxophonist will be joined by Paul McCandless on English horn and bass clarinet, Jeff Holmes on keyboards (replacing the retiring Paul Sullivan), Eugene Friesen on cello, Eliot Wadopian on bass, Jamey Haddad on percussion, Scott Sloan on sun gong, Tim Brumfield on St. John’s pipe organ, gospel singer Theresa Thomason (for her twenty-fifth solstice concert), and the Forces of Nature Dance Theatre. Winter will be focusing on sounds from what he calls “the greater family of life,” including the indri of Madagascar, the pied butcher-bird of Australia, the Caspian snowcock of Turkey, the forest elephant of the Congo Basin/West Africa, the uirapuru of the Amazon, the loon and the woodthrush of New England, and the humpback whale and dolphin of the oceans, along with the traditional North American timber wolf. “For me,” Winter has said, “this solstice celebration is an ever-renewing thrill — whether watching the sun gong ascend twelve stories with its player to the vault of the cathedral or hearing the ‘tree of sounds’ as it slowly turns, reflecting a myriad of lights from its hundreds of bells, gongs, and chimes.” He has also noted, “Of all the places I’ve played in the world, only two could host an event on this scale: the cathedral and the Grand Canyon.” You can get a free download of last year’s performance, which featured such songs as “Tomorrow Is My Dancing Day,” “Song for the World,” and “The Rain Is Over and Gone,” here.

NASSIM

Nassim (photo by Joan Marcus)

Iranian playwright Nassim Soleimanpour says hello to guest actor Kate Arrington in autobiographical play at City Center (photo by Joan Marcus)

New York City Center, Stage II
130 West 56th St. between Sixth & Seventh Aves.
Tuesday - Sunday through April 20, $69-$90
212-581-1212
www.barrowstreettheatre.com
www.nycitycenter.org

Iranian playwright Nassim Soleimanpour has followed up his international hit, White Rabbit Red Rabbit, in which each show was performed by a different actor reading a script that they hadn’t rehearsed or seen before, with another twist on the standard theatrical experience. Nassim, which opened tonight at City Center’s intimate Stage II, is a delightful and moving autobiographical work about language, heritage, and the deep need for artists to tell stories. And, as with White Rabbit Red Rabbit, the less you know about it going in, the more wonderful the surprises are. Soleimanpour, who was born and raised in Iran and now lives in Berlin, arrived in the United States on a working artist visa on December 4; the play, presented by Barrow Street Theatricals, began the next night and is scheduled to run through April 20. Rhys Jarman’s set is quite simple, consisting of a microphone stand on one side, a chair and a desk on the other, and a white screen at the back. A box on the desk contains information for the guest actor, whose name is not revealed until you enter the theater; among those who either have already performed or are scheduled to are Kate Arrington, Reed Birney, Michael Chernus, Cush Jumbo, Tracy Letts, Jennifer Lim, Tedra Millan, Brad Oscar, Annie Parisse, Michael Shannon, and Michael Urie. I saw three-time Tony nominee and Obie winner Linda Emond (Homebody/Kabul, Cabaret), who was fabulously warm and engaging, throwing herself fully into the show, which is cheerfully directed by Omar Elerian (The Mill — City of Dreams, Misty).

Nassim (photo by Joan Marcus)

A guest actor and the playwright take a look at themselves and each other in Nassim (photo by Joan Marcus)

For seventy-five minutes, Emond does what she is told with wit and verve, getting so deeply involved in the proceedings that she was wiping away tears near the end. She doesn’t actually have the script in hand; instead, it is projected onto the screen, a pair of hairy hands turning the pages live. Although she is not supposed to go off-script, she did so a few times, which even Soleimanpour got a kick out of. The central focus is that Soleimanpour has never been able to stage one of his plays in Iran in his native Farsi, a language he has lost contact with; thus, his mother has never seen one of his works. “I’ve become a foreigner in my own mother tongue,” he writes. But by putting this play on in the States, he learns some English while reconnecting with Farsi.

(photo by David Monteith-Hodge)

Nassim holds myriad surprises for both the audience and a guest actor (photo by David Monteith-Hodge)

Soleimanpour has mastered this format, incorporating Q&As, photos, and audience interaction, quickly improvising while also cleverly anticipating many reactions. Originally presented at London’s Bush Theatre in July 2017, Nassim feels right at home at City Center; even the producer, the stage manager, and an usher get involved. While a significant part of the fun is watching how the guest actor deals with being put on the spot time and time again — Emond was such a joy, clearly relishing this unusual opportunity — Soleimanpour, whose father was a novelist and his mother a painter, is also sharing an intimate story that we can all relate to, tackling such ideas as human communication, family connection, and the international power of theater. It very much reminded me of Iranian auteur Jafar Panahi’s This Is Not a Film, in which the writer, director, editor, and actor defied a government edict putting him under house arrest and banning him from producing any further movies for twenty years by making a documentary with Mojtaba Mirtahmasb and having colleagues smuggle it out of the country on a USB thumb drive. (Panahi has made several other remarkable films since.) Although Soleimanpour is not under that kind of political scrutiny, his zeal for writing a play in Farsi is inspiring. Ultimately, you’ll leave City Center knowing a little more about the guest actor, a lot more about Soleimanpour, and even a few things about yourself, along with a hunger for tomatoes. Oh, and you’ll also immediately want to call your mother.

BODYS ISEK KINGELEZ: CITY DREAMS

Bodys Isek Kingelez, Ville Fantôme, paper, paperboard, plastic, and other various materials, 1996 (CAAC - The Pigozzi Collection, Geneva / photo by twi-ny/mdr)

Bodys Isek Kingelez, “Ville Fantôme,” paper, paperboard, plastic, and other various materials, 1996 (CAAC — The Pigozzi Collection, Geneva / photo by twi-ny/mdr)

Museum of Modern Art
11 West 53rd St. between Fifth & Sixth Aves.
Through January 1, $25
212-708-9400
www.moma.org

“If you succeed in building a model, you visualize what is living inside you so that the outside world can adapt it, study it, discover it, see it,” Congolese artist Bodys Isek Kingelez says in a promotional video for the dazzling exhibition “Bodys Isek Kingelez: City Dreams,” continuing at MoMA through January 1. The deservedly popular show consists of buildings, plazas, and urban areas that sprung from Kingelez’s vast imagination, using paper, paperboard, plastic, and such found materials as soda cans and bottlecaps, that practically beg visitors to study them, discover them, see them. And as playful and colorful as they are, with an infectious, childlike quality, they also comment on economic inequality, the importance of community, and a government’s responsibility to its citizenry. Kingelez, who was born in Kinshasa in 1948 and passed away in 2015, built an urban utopia that included such fantastical architectural structures as “Kinshasa la Belle,” “U.N.” “Miss Hotel Brussels,” “The Scientific Center of Hospitalisation the SIDA,” and “Palais d’Hirochima,” reimagining urban renewal and the social contract while referencing the AIDS crisis, international diplomacy, tourism, and nuclear war. Most impressive are several large areas that resemble gigantic game boards, such as “Ville Fantôme,” “Ville de Sète 3009,” and “Kimbembele Ihunga,” but they are more than just massive toys or maquettes for the future. “Without a model, you are nowhere. A nation that can’t make models is a nation that doesn’t understand things, a nation that doesn’t live,” Kingelez said.

Bodys Isek Kingelez, Ville de Sète 3009, paper, paperboard, plastic, and other various materials, 2000 (Collection Musée International des Arts Modestes (MIAM), Sète,  France / photo by twi-ny/mdr)

Bodys Isek Kingelez, “Ville de Sète 3009,” paper, paperboard, plastic, and other various materials, 2000 (Collection Musée International des Arts Modestes (MIAM), Sète, France / photo by twi-ny/mdr)

Curators Sarah Suzuki and Hillary Reder organize the show with plenty of room to wander around the installations, as well as adding ceiling mirrors to better experience the remarkable details on several of the bigger works. In a back room, “Ville Fantôme” comes alive in a large-scale, sophisticated virtual reality experience that allows the viewer to navigate through one of Kingelez’s creations as if life-size. The exhibition, the first American retrospective of his work, also features a soundtrack selected by Carsten Höller and Kristian Sjöblom, with songs by Franco & Le T.P.O.K. Jazz, Docteur Nico & l’African Fiesta Sukisa, Pepe Ndombe & L’Orchestre Afrizam, M’Pongo Love, and Ndombe Opetum, Pepe Ndombe & Zing Zong Personnel, among others, bringing music into these inviting spaces. In search of a “better, more peaceful world,” Kingelez described himself as “a designer, an architect, a sculptor, engineer, artist.” He might have saved “artist” for last, but he is finally being recognized for his bold, imaginative artistic expression. On December 10, MoMA will host “An Evening with Bogosi Sekhukhuni,” with the South African artist presenting video works dealing with technology and the diaspora, followed by a conversation with Sekhukhuni, poet manuel arturo abreu and MoMA curatorial fellow Hanna Girma. On December 5 (11:30), 12 (1:30), and 19 (11:30), Angela Garcia will lead the Gallery Sessions tour “Bodys Isek Kingelez’s Extreme Maquettes”; on December 15 and 31 (1:30), Maya Jeffereis will lead “Drawing in Bodys Isek Kingelez”; and on December 22 (11:30) and 27 (1:30), Petra Pankow will lead “Bodys Isek Kingelez’s Urban Dreamscapes.”

TICKET GIVEAWAY: PBR UNLEASH THE BEAST AT MADISON SQUARE GARDEN

Austin Meier on Robinson's Mac-Nett's El Presidente at NYC Times Square final five showdown PBR. Photo by Andy Watson.

The Professional Bull Riders will Unleash the Beast in New York City for annual season kickoff at the Garden (photo by Andy Watson/BullStock Media)

PROFESSIONAL BULL RIDERS MONSTER ENERGY BUCK OFF AT THE GARDEN
Madison Square Garden
31st - 33rd Sts. between Seventh & Eighth Aves.
January 4-6, $28-$226 ($551 for PBR Elite Seats)
www.pbr.com
www.msg.com

There are a lot of traditions in New York City tied to the New Year, and one of the most exciting is the Professional Bull Riders opening its season at the World’s Most Famous Arena the first weekend of January. The sport’s twenty-sixth season, dubbed Unleash the Beast, gets under way January 4-6 with the Monster Energy Buck Off at the Garden, as thirty-five riders attempt to hold on to hard-battling bulls for eight damn-tough seconds. Among the anticipated competitors are PBR legend and two-time world champion J. B. Mauney, a three-time MSG winner and all-around badass cowboy; 2016 world champ Cooper Davis, who we introduced you to three years ago; and 2017 Garden victor and world champion Jess Lockwood. Due to injuries — bull riding is one of the most dangerous sports on the planet — 2018 world champion Kaique Pacheco and 2018 MSG winner Gage Gay will have to sit out the contest.

PBR riders and bulls first invaded New York City in 2007, and the event keeps getting bigger and better, with pyrotechnics, cowboy hats worn the wrong way by Brooklyn hipsters, and a barrel of laughs from PBR “Exclusive Entertainer” Flint Rasumussen, who we interviewed in 2017. In addition to the competition, PBR will be hosting a Cowboy Brunch on January 5 at the Renaissance Hotel ($75, 10:00 am), with Rasmussen, such riders as Stetson Lawrence, and other special guests; you can also join PBR and Boot Barn as it rings the morning bell at the New York Stock Exchange on January 4 at 8:00 ($225), including a continental breakfast and photo ops with PBR CEO Sean Gleason and Canadian superstar Tanner Byrne, who we profiled with his brother Jesse two years ago. (Yes, we kind of have a thing for this crazy event at the home of the Knicks and Rangers.)

Fire and Pyro in the opening during the first round of the New York City Built Ford Tough series PBR. Photo by Andy Watson

Professional Bull Riders are all fired up for the Monster Energy Buck Off at the Garden January 4-6 (photo by Andy Watson/BullStock Media)

TICKET GIVEAWAY: PBR Unleash the Beast bursts through the gates of Madison Square Garden January 4-6, with such participants as Ryan Dirteater, Chase Outlaw, Dakota Buttar, Stetson Lawrence, and Keyshawn Whitehorse, which are their real, given names, and twi-ny has a pair of tickets to give away for free for Sunday afternoon’s finale. Just send your name and what your cowboy alias would be if you were insane enough to get on a one-ton bucking bull to contest@twi-ny.com by Monday, December 17, at 3:00 pm to be eligible. All entrants must be twenty-one years of age or older; one winner will be selected at random.

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