NYU Skirball Center for the Performing Arts and other NYU locations
566 La Guardia Pl. between Third & Fourth Sts.
October 17-28, free with advance RSVP
This past May, Karl Marx would have turned two hundred years old. The NYU Skirball Center is celebrating his bicentennial with twelve days of special free programming honoring the man who wrote, “The mode of production of material life conditions the social, political, and intellectual life process in general. It is not the consciousness of men that determines their being, but, on the contrary, their social being that determines their consciousness.” Audiences can also determine if they want to contribute to the performances based on supply and demand and their own consciousness; the events are all free with advance RSVP but donations are welcome. The “Karl Marx Festival: On Your Marx” begins October 17 at 7:30 with London-based Bulgarian performance artist Ivo Dimchev’s one-hour show, P Project, in which people from the audience will get paid by agreeing to do spur-of-the-moment things involving words that begin with the letter “P.” For example, Dimchev will present them with tasks that might involve such words as Piano, Pray, Pussy, Poetry, Poppers, etc. On October 18 at 6:00, NYU professors Erin Gray, Arun Kundnani, Michael Ralph, and Nikhil Singh will discuss “Racial Capitalism” at the Tamiment Library. On October 19 at 9:30, DJs AndrewAndrew will spin Marxist discs along with readings by special guests from Das Kapital and The Communist Manifesto.
On October 19 and 20 at 7:30, Brooklyn-based Uruguayan dancer and choreographer luciana achugar will present the world premiere of Brujx, which explores ideas of labor. On October 22 at 6:30, Slavoj Žižek will deliver the Skirball Talks lecture “The Fate of the Commons: A Trotskyite View.” On October 23 at 5:30, NYU professors Lisa Daily, Dean Saranillio, and Jerome Whitington will discuss “Futurity & Consumption” at the Department of Social & Cultural Analysis. On October 24 at 4:00, author Sarah Rose will talk about her 2017 book, No Right to Be Idle at the eighth floor commons at 239 Greene St. On October 25 at 5:30, luciana achugar, Julie Tolentino, and Amin Husain will join for the conversation “Labor, Aesthetics, Identity” at the Department of Performance Studies. On October 26 at 7:30, Malik Gaines, Miguel Gutierrez, Latasha N. Nevada Diggs, Ryan McNamara, Seung-Min Lee, and Alison Kizu-Blair will stage “Courtesy the Artists: Popular Revolt,” a live-sourced multimedia work directed by Alexandro Segade and Amy Ruhl. The festival concludes October 28 at 5:00 with Ethan Philbrick’s Choral Marx, a singing adaptation of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels’s Manifesto for the Communist Party, performed by Benjamin Bath, Gelsey Bell, Sarah Chihaya, Hai-ting Chinn, Tomás Cruz, Amirtha Kidambi, Brian McQueen, Gizelxanath Rodriguez, and Ryan Tracy.
Now that we’re in October, sunset has moved into the 6:30 range, but “civil” twilight is hovering around 7:00. So it is appropriate that from October 3-8, the High Line will be hosting The Mile-Long Opera, a biography of 7 o’clock, beginning each night at seven. The free presentation consists of one thousand singers from across New York, delivering the world premiere of this site-specific event, as the audience makes their way along the elevated park. The words were written by poets Anne Carson (librettist) and Claudia Rankine (essayist), based on interviews conducted with New Yorkers at Abrons Arts Center and the Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce in Manhattan, ARTs East NY in Brooklyn, Jacob A. Riis Neighborhood Settlement in Queens, the POINTCDC in the Bronx, and Snug Harbor in Staten Island, discussing what seven o’clock means to them. The work was created by composer David Lang and Diller Scofidio + Renfro, the design studio behind the High Line. The Mile-Long Opera is directed by Elizabeth Diller and Lynsey Peisinger, with music direction by Donald Nally, sound by Jody Elff, lighting by John Torres, and costumes by Carlos Soto; wildly inventive, multidisciplinary Icelandic artist Ragnar Kjartansson is the creative adviser. Although advance registration is closed, there will be standby lines beginning at 6:30 each night at Gansevoort & Washington Sts.; since the event is free, you can expect many people who have signed up will not show, so there should be a pretty good chance of getting in. You can also experience the event in 360 degrees via an app that will be available on October 3. So think about it: Just what does 7:00 mean to you?
After delighting audiences with such outstanding indie fare as Blood Simple (1984), Fargo (1996), and O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000), brothers Joel and Ethan Coen hit a midcareer slump with the mediocre The Man Who Wasn’t There (2001), the much-maligned Intolerable Cruelty (2003), and the just plain awful remake of The Ladykillers (2004). It was three years before they released their next film, the Oscar-winning monster hit No Country for Old Men. In 2008 they toned things down again with the slight but entertaining Burn After Reading. John Malkovich is hysterical as Osborne Cox, an angry, bitter, foul-mouthed CIA agent who loses his job and decides to write a tell-all memoir, which bizarrely ends up in the hands of a pair of bumbling idiots, Chad Feldheimer (an extremely funny Brad Pitt) and Linda Litzke (Frances McDormand). Linda really wants to get a whole bunch of plastic surgery done, so she plans on squeezing a lot of money out of old Mr. Cox, who has no patience for anyone other than himself. Throw in a cold-as-ice wife (Tilda Swinton), a philandering G-man (George Clooney), a Russian ambassador named after Severn Darden’s character in The President’s Analyst, a stellar cast that also includes Richard Jenkins, J. K. Simmons, David Rasche, Elizabeth Marvel, and Dermot Mulroney, and some shocking violence and — well, we’ve told you too much already. Burn After Reading might not be grade-A Coen brothers, but it’s still a worthwhile endeavor from two of America’s most ingenious filmmakers. The movie, which asks the question “The Russians? Are you sure?,” is screening at Nitehawk on September 24 as part of the “Booze & Books” series and will be followed by a Q&A with Film Comment contributor and Harpers digital editor Violet Lucca and Adam Nayman, author of the new book The Coen Brothers: This Book Really Ties the Films Together. In addition, Nitehawk will be serving a special cocktail for the event, the Krapotkin.
Who: Barbara Pollack
What: Conversation, gallery talk, book signing in conjunction with publication of Brand New Art from China: A Generation on the Rise (Tauris, $25, September 2018)
Where: James Cohan Gallery, 291 Grand St., and Pace Gallery, 537 West Twenty-Fourth St.
When: Thursday, September 20, 6:00, and Tuesday, September 25, 6:00
Why: In 2010, when twi-ny interviewed art critic, curator, teacher, and writer Barbara Pollack about her book The Wild, Wild East: An American Art Critic’s Adventures in China, she said, “In New York, I am just another person trying to make a living by writing about art. But in China, I get treated like a star critic with a certain degree of power.” Pollack’s well-deserved prominence is evident in her follow-up, Brand New Art from China: A Generation on the Rise, which features a quote on the front from Ai Weiwei, who says, “Frank, honest, and full of passion. . . . a rare and precise insight.” A good friend of twi-ny’s, Pollack herself is certainly frank, honest, and full of passion. (Full disclosure: Pollack’s literary agent is also twi-ny’s business manager.) Pollack is indeed a superstar in China, where artists clamor for her to write about their work. The new book explores such Chinese artists as Cao Fei, Chen Tianzhuo, Chen Zhou, Gao Ling, Guan Xiao, Jin Shan, Li Liao, Liu Wei, Qiu Xiafoei, Zhang Xiaogang, and Xu Zhen, in such chapters as “The Last Chinese Artists,” “The Me Generation,” and “Post-Truth.” Here’s a brief excerpt about Xu:
There are many occasions when Xu Zhen has eschewed references to Chinese culture entirely or mixed up symbols so seamlessly that the only reaction could be total confusion. At one of MadeIn’s first exhibitions, the company produced an entire survey of “art from the Middle East,” combining aesthetic strategies from conceptual art practices with just enough stereotypes of the war-torn, Islamic-dominated region to evoke a Middle Eastern identity. There were mosques made of Styrofoam and Charlie Hebdo political cartoons woven into tapestries. There were sculptures made of barbed wire and a field of broken bricks set on an invisible waterbed, so the ground seemed to move like a silent earthquake. When these works were shown at James Cohan Gallery in New York in 2009—with the title “Lonely Miracle: Art from the Middle East”—most visitors had no choice but to assume these were products of a collective of Arab artists, which was exactly the point. In this globally driven art world, it is easy to fake ethnicity. All it takes is a bit of irony and just enough cultural references to add locality to the mix.
Pollack will be at James Cohan Gallery on September 20 at 6:00, in conversation with Xiaoyu Weng, the Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation associate curator of Chinese art at the Guggenheim, followed by a book signing. On September 25 at 6:00, she will lead the gallery talk “Zhang Xiaogang & the Future of Chinese Art” at Pace in Chelsea, where “Zhang Xiaogang: Recent Works” is on view through October 20. To get a taste of Pollack’s thoughts on Zhang’s earlier work, here’s another excerpt from the book:
So, Zhang Xiaogang’s emphasis on a Chinese identity is not the result of isolation and ignorance of Western art practices but a reaction to his initial embrace of those trends. In Europe, he faced his crisis head-on by seeing the masterpieces of Western art history and feeling as if there was nothing more he could add to that legacy. Back in China, however, he was surrounded by a new cultural experience that could not be captured through Western iconography and symbols. His rejection of the West was not total. Instead, he embraced an approach that allowed for innovation in both Western and Chinese traditions for art.
Who: Nova Ren Suma, Melissa Albert
What: Book launch of A Room Away from the Wolves (Algonquin Young Readers, $18.95) by Nova Ren Suma
Where: McNally Jackson, 52 Prince St., 212-274-1160
When: Tuesday, September 4, free, 7:00
Why: Seven years ago, Nova Ren Suma gave the first public reading of her debut young adult novel, Imaginary Girls, at This Week in New York’s tenth anniversary party on the Lower East Side. Since then, Suma has become a YA superstar, earning numerous accolades and starred reviews for that book as well as 2013’s 17 & Gone and 2015’s The Walls Around Us, developing a reputation for her unique forays deep into the teen psyche, exploring a slightly twisted reality with more than a touch of the supernatural. For the launch of her fourth YA novel, A Room Away from the Wolves, Suma, who was raised primarily in and around the Hudson Valley and now lives in Philadelphia, will be back in Gotham on September 4 to celebrate the launch of the book at McNally Jackson on Prince St. “Living in New York City was my childhood dream and made my heart full for more than twenty years,” Suma, a former colleague, told me. “The last thing I did before I moved away was finish the final revision of this book, the first novel I ever wrote set in the city I love. I had to come home for the very first event — I couldn’t launch the book anywhere else.” The book itself was partly inspired by Suma’s “possible-maybe ghost sighting” at Yaddo and her use of Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes’s writing studio.
Here’s the first paragraph to give you a taste of her immense skill and expert craftsmanship:
When the girl who lived in the room below mine disappeared into the darkness, she gave no warning, she showed no twitch of fear. She had her back to me, but I sensed her eyes were open, the city skyline bristling with attention, five stories above the street. It was how I imagined Catherine de Barra herself once stood at this edge almost a hundred years ago, when the smog was suffocating and the lights much more dim, when only one girl ever slept inside these walls of stacked red brick.
At McNally Jackson, Suma will be joined by BN.com managing editor Melissa Stewart, author of The Hazel Wood (Flatiron, January 2018, $16.99), for a reading, conversation, and signing. “When I read the opening pages of The Hazel Wood, I pretty much swooned,” said Suma, who also leads popular workshops, teaches in the MFA program at the Vermont College of Fine Arts, and recently started the online YA short-story anthology Foreshadow with Emily X. R. Pan. “The book is fantastically imaginative, gorgeously told, and deliciously dark — everything I love. I can’t wait to talk city fairy tales, mother/daughter stories, and embracing all things weird and wild with Melissa Albert.” If you can’t make it to the event, you can order a personalized, signed copy of A Room Away from the Wolves here.
The New York Public Library
Stephen A. Schwartzman Building
D. Samuel and Jeane H. Gottesman Exhibition Hall
Daily through September 1, free
The New York Public Library revisits one of the most turbulent eras of American history in “You Say You Want a Revolution: Remembering the 60s,” which continues at the main Manhattan branch through September 1. Part of Carnegie Hall’s citywide “The ’60s: The Years that Changed America,” the show features photographs, art, letters, documents, video, music, propaganda, and more, divided into “Get My Soul Free: Consciousness,” “Wang Dang Doodle: Sexuality and Gender,” “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall: The New Left,” “Bad Moon on the Rise: War in Vietnam,” “I’m Black and I’m Proud: Civil Rights and Black Power,” and “Back to the Garden: Communal Life,” exploring the counterculture and its legacy. John Updike defends the war in Southeast Asia. Tom Wolfe takes notes for what would become The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test. Film clips celebrate Woodstock and Hair. Buttons declare, “Black Is Beautiful.” The death of the hippie is memorialized in Haight-Ashbury. Psychedelic posters announce happenings. Patty Hearst reinvents herself as Tania. Gloria Steinem has something to say to the New York Times. And Uncle Sam wants out. There are also listening booths where you can act as your own DJ, choosing songs from hundreds of albums arranged politically. Free tours will be held at 12:30 and 3:30 Monday through Saturday and Sunday at 2:00.