Socrates Sculpture Park
32-01 Vernon Blvd.
Daily through August 3, free
Socially conscious Polish artist Paweł Althamer has followed up his wide-ranging, vastly entertaining one-man New Museum survey, “The Neighbors,” with the engaging “Queen Mother of Reality,” on view at Socrates Sculpture Park through August 3. Originally commissioned by Performa 13 and seen in Williamsburg last fall, the interactive work, of a large-scale reclining woman that people are invited to walk inside of, lies luxuriously in the shade in the south side of the Long Island City park. The fifty-foot-high, eighteen-foot-long piece is named for Queen Mother Dr. Delois Blakely, the founder and president of the New Future Foundation, a nonprofit whose mission is to “facilitate international and domestic economic social development, community outreach, education, and health”; in 1995, Dr. Blakely became the first woman Community Mayor of Harlem, and she is also the UN Ambassador of Goodwill to Africa. Constructed of all kinds of found materials and scraps with the help of such volunteers as artists Noah Fischer, Roman Stańczak, Rafal Zwirek, and Eric Gottshall as well as Althamer’s sons Bruno and Szymon — using some rather inventive objects for various body parts — “Queen Mother” is a symbolic public gesture “to protect mothers against eviction,” offering people the opportunity to go inside, take a seat, write down a wish, and contemplate their own living situation as well as that of the many displaced and homeless people in New York and throughout the world. The interior includes a chair-throne, Chinese lanterns, flowers, fencing, and plates honoring such women as suffragist Susan B. Anthony, first lady Michelle Obama, civil rights leader Queen Mother Moore, artist Frida Kahlo, and Occupy activist Cecily McMillan. Socrates has hosted a slew of events involving “Queen Mother”; the closing ceremony is set for August 2, when Althamer will lead visitors in “A Draftsmen’s Congress,” a collaborative gathering in which anyone and everyone can come and create their own paintings, drawings, and collages in, on, and around the impressive structure.
Žilvinas Kempinas, whose “Double O” was a highlight of MoMA’s recent “On Line: Drawing through the Twentieth Century,” regularly uses fans in his immersive, often kinetic sculptures. For the 250-foot-long, 13-foot-high site-specific “Scarecrow,” the largest installation in Socrates’s history, the Lithuanian-born, New York-based artist relies on the natural environment to bring the work to life. With minimal materials—two parallel rows of slender stainless-steel mirrored poles joined by an open “roof” of fluttering Mylar strips overhead, “Scarecrow” physically and energetically reflects the surrounding river and sky, seamlessly amplifying and responding to the movement of water and air. The near weightlessness of the Mylar allows it to twist in the wind and wink in the sun continuously, depending only on natural power. Without engines or electricity, the installation nevertheless is in constant motion, even more so as you move through it, making your way across the green grass. Without solid walls and a ceiling, it nonetheless encloses you, shaping and accentuating their experience of the surrounding park space, especially as a woman passes by pushing a stroller, two people stop and chat as their dogs sniff each other, and a shirtless man practices martial arts at the far end. Using the bare essentials, Kempinas has created a truly monumental work. (Also at the park through August 3 is Meschac Gaba’s psychedelic “Broadway Billboard: Citoyen du Monde” and Austin+Mergold’s “Folly: SuralArk.”
U.S. Grant National Memorial Park
West 122nd St. at Riverside Dr.
Sunday, July 27, free, 12 noon - 8:30 pm
Harlem Week continues in multiple locations through August 24
On Sunday, July 27, “A Great Day in Harlem” kicks off the annual Harlem Week festivities, a month of free events including live music, film screenings, community fairs, a college expo, and more. This year’s theme is “Forever Harlem: Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow,” honoring the past, present, and future of this historic part of Manhattan. The event, inspired by Art Kane’s legendary 1958 photo of fifty-seven jazz musicians, takes place in U.S. Grant National Memorial Park, featuring a cultural showcase with music and dance at 1:00, a gospel caravan with Bishop Hezekiah Walker and others at 3:00, and a fashion fusion showcase at 4:30, followed by “A Concert under the Stars,” which this year salutes Motown and the Philly sound, with appearances by members of the cast of Motown: The Musical, Harold Melvin’s Blue Notes, and special guests. Harlem Week continues through August 24 with such other events as the Dance Theatre of Harlem Street Festival on August 9; the Tri-State Jr. Tennis Classic August 14-17; “Summer in the City” on August 16 with the NYC Children’s Festival, Harlem Honey & Bears, the Historic Black College Fair & Expo, Dancing in the Street, the Fashion Flava Show, the Uptown Saturday Nite party, and ImageNation’s Outdoor Film Festival; “Harlem Day” on August 17 with the Upper Manhattan Auto Show, the NY City Health Village, the Upper Manhattan Small Business Expo & Fair, day two of the NYC Children’s Festival, and three stages of music, dance, spoken word, fashion, and more; the Percy Sutton Harlem 5K Run/NYC Health Walk-a-Thon for Peace in Our Communities on August 23; Golden Hoops in Rucker Park on August 23; and the Charlie Parker Jazz Festival on August 23-24.
For more than fifty years, iconoclastic German auteur Werner Herzog has traveled to the far corners of the Earth and beyond to make some of the most fascinating fiction and nonfiction films the medium has ever seen. On September 4, the eve of his seventy-second birthday, the Munich-born director will venture into the borough of Brooklyn for what promises to be an intimate and entertaining conversation with the New York Public Library’s Paul Holdengräber. Herzog’s vast credits range from Aguirre, the Wrath of God and The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser: Every Man for Himself and God against All to Nosferatu and Woyzeck, from Fitzcarraldo and Grizzly Man to The Wild Blue Yonder and Cave of Forgotten Dreams. And at the center of it all is Herzog’s voice — not just his artistic voice but often his actual voice, the hypnotic spoken words that come out of his mouth as narrator of many of his documentaries, his thickly accented speech that has even made its way onto such animated series as The Simpsons, Metalocalypse, and The Boondocks. “Perhaps I seek certain utopian things, space for human honor and respect, landscapes not yet offended, planets that do not exist yet, dreamed landscapes,” Herzog has said. “Very few people seek these images today.” Herzog has a unique view of cinema and the world itself, things that are sure to be explored in this highly recommended BAM discussion.
LUCY (Luc Besson, 2014)
Opens Friday, July 25
First there was Anne Parillaud in La Femme Nikita, followed by Milla Jovovich in The Fifth Element and The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc and Rie Rasmussen in Angel-A, and now there’s Scarlett Johansson playing the latest different kind of female superhero in a visually striking film by French writer-director Luc Besson. Johansson stars as the title character in Lucy, a student in Taipei who gets suckered into a drug deal that goes very wrong. She is turned into a mule carrying a bag of a new synthetic drug, CPH4, for evil kingpin Mr. Jang (Oldboy’s Choi Min-sik in his first international film) that has been surgically implanted into her intestines. But the bag opens inside her and releases the substance into her system, with neurons firing everywhere as she quickly realizes that her brainpower is reaching unheard-of levels. While seeking advice from Professor Samuel Norman (Morgan Freeman) at the Sorbonne, she also enlists French police captain Pierre Del Rio (Syriana’s Amr Waked) to help her track down three other bags of CPH4, primarily to feed her brain, which is using 20, 30, then 40% and more of its capacity. Her physical and mental abilities continue to increase at an alarming rate, giving her superhuman strength and confidence but also costing her a piece of her humanity as she transforms into a robotlike woman on a mission. Also increasing is the size of various plot holes and the overall level of absurdity, but Johansson is so mesmerizing that it’s easy to forgive Besson for getting way too excited about the myriad possibilities green screens and advanced computer technology gave him. As with the somewhat similar but ultimately disappointing Transcendence, Lucy directly and indirectly references a slew of sci-fi flicks, from 2001: A Space Odyssey and Demon Seed to Altered States and The Terminator as well as the noir classic DOA. It’s also a natural extension of Johansson’s alluring performance as the voice of Samantha the operating system in Spike Jonze’s wonderful her. Yes, for a movie about a crazy-smart woman, Lucy can get pretty stupid, but Johansson overcomes that drawback with her superb acting chops and, well, graceful intelligence.
Musician, conductor, composer, and educator Jon Faddis couldn’t have picked a more perfect place to celebrate his “reverse-sweet-sixteen” birthday than Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola, a beautiful, intimate venue named for Faddis’s mentor, Dizzy Gillespie, who once said about his protégé, “He’s the best ever, including me!” Trumpeter Faddis, joined by David Hazeltine on piano, Todd Coolman on bass, and Dion Parson on drums, paid tribute to his past during a dazzling early show on opening night, July 24, his actual birthday. As the sun slowly set on Central Park, the soft-spoken California native recalled such fellow jazzmen as Clark Terry, Michael Brecker, Roy Eldridge, Thad Jones, Lionel Hampton, and others as he played “Waltz for My Fathers & Brothers,” entered the Faddisphere on a gorgeous rendition of Lalo Schifrin’s five-movement “Gillespiana,” and even sang lead on Louis Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World.” He joked with the audience and a table of Russians, traded trivia with host Phil Schaap, and smiled at Hazeltine’s feet as one of the piano pedals made a surprise musical squeak, which actually melded well with Faddis’s horn, in fine form all evening as Faddis effortlessly reached ridiculously high notes and crafted mesmerizing melodies. After Schaap led the crowd through “Happy Birthday,” Faddis was presented with a cake, receiving help from his three-year-old son in blowing out the candles. Not quite done yet, Faddis encored with part of “Teranga” before leaving the stage, only to come back out and hang for a bit with his adoring fans for handshakes, photos, and fist bumps. The Jon Faddis Quartet continues its celebratory run at Dizzy’s at 7:30 and 9:30 through July 27.
THE KILL TEAM (Dan Krauss, 2013)
Film Society of Lincoln Center, Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center
144 West 65th St. between Broadway & Amsterdam Ave.
Ten years ago, Dan Krauss made the Oscar-nominated short The Death of Kevin Carter: Casualty of the Bang Bang Club, telling the harrowing story of a South African war photographer struggling with his decision to take a photo of a starving Sudanese girl being stalked by a vulture rather than trying to help her. In his feature debut, Krauss documents the emotional tale of another man at a crossroads in The Kill Team. Intrigued by the April 2011 New York Times Magazine article “A Beast in the Heart of Every Fighting Man” about a homicidal military platoon in Afghanistan, Krauss follows Specialist Adam Winfield as he faces one count of premeditated murder. After discovering that several of his fellow soldiers had purposely gone out looking to kill an innocent man, then drop a weapon to make it appear that the victim was a terrorist, Winfield sent an agonizing message to his father, a former Marine: “I want to do something about it. The only problem is I don’t feel safe here telling anyone.” Winfield went along on one of the kill missions, which were led by Staff Sergeant Calvin Gibbs, and eventually blew the whistle on Gibbs and the others, but his nightmare continued.
Krauss first became part of the defense team, shooting video pro bono for lawyer Eric Montalvo and filming his meetings with Winfield, his father, and his mother, Emma. Krauss also speaks with other members of the company, Corporal Jeremy Morlock, Private First Class Andrew Holmes, and another whistleblower, Private First Class Justin Stoner, all of whom were facing serious charges as well. Krauss shifts between Winfield’s trial preparation and the soldiers’ reconstruction of their wartime experience while also taking a look back at Winfield’s childhood. By refusing to participate in the film, Gibbs becomes a sort of mythic master villain, part William Calley Jr., part Colonel Kurtz. The Kill Team, which won the Grand Jury Prize at the 2013 Tribeca Film Festival, does an excellent job of making viewers wonder what they would do not only in Winfield’s position but in any situation that sets moral priorities against physical safety. However, Krauss is too manipulative of reality in favor of his desired narrative. When he interviews Morlock, Holmes, and Stoner, the outcome of their trials are already known, but he saves the details for the end, and he deleted a very different closing scene because it didn’t fit with the points he wanted to make, about the military justice system and moral injury. Still, The Kill Team is an important story about war, sacrifice, family, and the evil that men do. The seventy-nine-minute documentary is having an exclusive one-week theatrical run at the Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center, with Krauss on hand for Q&As with journalist and Oscar-winning screenwriter Mark Boal (The Hurt Locker, Zero Dark Thirty) after the 7:15 screenings on July 25 and 26.
Multiple locations in Chelsea
Thursday, July 24, free, 5:00 - 8:00
More than one hundred galleries from Sixteenth to Thirtieth Sts. between Ninth and Eleventh Aves. will keep their doors open until 8:00 tonight for the fifth annual Chelsea Art Walk. The evening includes open studios, artist talks, panel discussions, book signings, receptions, photo shoots, and other events. Below are some of our recommended highlights.
Wearable Art Photo Shoot: Everyone is invited to show up wearing some kind of self-made art (clothing, makeup, hair, nails), 530 West 25th St., 6:30 – 7:30
Bertrand Delacroix Gallery
Sneak peek at Federico Infante’s fall exhibition, “The Space Between,” including raffle of original Infante drawing, 535 West 25th St., 5:00 – 8:00
Churner and Churner
Performance and reception for opening of Ander Mikalson’s “Three’s Company for Eight Performers,” 205 Tenth Ave., three performances, 5:00 – 8:00
Dean Borghi — NBR Contemporary
Book reading, White Collar Slavery: Based on a Bit of Truth and a Few White Lies by Laurance Rassin and Tracy Memoil, 5:00; live music by Clusterfunk and short film Art Sharks, 6:00 - 8:00, 547 West 27th St.
Hauser & Wirth
Sterling Ruby “Sunrise Sunset” panel discussion with Michael Darling, Jeremy Strick, and Huma Bhabha, 511 West 18th St., 6:30
Opening reception for group show “Summer Garden” featuring works by Osamu Kobayashi, Shinji Murakami, and Gail Stoicheff, with free special Mizu Shochu cocktails and live performance by Zander Padget at 7:00, 521 West 26th St.
“The Art of Painting Portraits,” lecture by artist Alphonse van Woerkom, 115 West 30th St., 5:15
Yossi Milo Gallery
Book signing, Horizons by Sze Tsung Leong, 245 Tenth Ave., 6:00 – 8:00