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

NYFF55 SPOTLIGHT ON DOCUMENTARY: VOYEUR

Voyeur

Gerald Foos and Gay Talese discuss voyeurism and journalistic ethics in eye-opening documentary

VOYEUR (Myles Kane & Josh Koury, 2017)
New York Film Festival, Film Society of Lincoln Center
Sunday, October 15, Francesca Beale Theater, $15, 9:00
Festival runs September 28 - October 15
212-875-5601
www.filmlinc.org
www.netflix.com

“I’m a natural person to write about a voyeur because I’m a voyeur myself,” award-winning, bestselling journalist Gay Talese says in Myles Kane and Josh Koury’s Voyeur, which is getting a bonus screening at the New York Film Festival on October 15 prior to debuting on Netflix on December 1. The documentary makes a voyeur of the viewer as well as it follows the thirty-five-year journalistic relationship and offbeat friendship between Talese, longtime New York Times and Esquire writer and author of such books as Honor Thy Father and Thy Neighbor’s Wife, and Gerald Foos, the owner of a Colorado motel who claims he spent decades spying on people from a special crawl space he built above the rooms. In January 1980, Foos, owner of the Manor House Motel, wrote a letter to Talese, offering him a story about what he was doing; Foos considered himself a researcher, not a pervert or a peeping Tom. Using archival footage, news reports, and new interviews, Kane and Koury follow Foos, his second wife, Anita, and Talese as the journalist prepares to write a major piece for the New Yorker in advance of the release of his latest book, The Voyeur’s Motel. New Yorker articles editor Susan Morrison considers Foos a disturbed sociopath in need of attention, while Grove/Atlantic senior editor Jamison Stoltz and publisher Morgan Entrekin have their doubts about the veracity of Foos’s eerily specific tale. So as questions arise about key facts and Talese’s professional ethics, Foos wonders if he should have remained silent — “I’m used to private spaces, places that nobody could see me and I could see them,” he explains — and an angry Talese faces a potentially tarnished legacy.

Voyeur

Gerald Foos turned the Manor House Motel in Colorado into a research facility where he spied on couples having sex

Kane and Koury, who previously collaborated on such documentaries as Journey to Planet X, We Are Wizards, and We Will Live Again, often use a model of the Manor House to depict certain events while also re-creating scenes of Foos watching couples having sex — including one time when Talese joins him in the snooping and experiences a wardrobe malfunction. (Kane and Koury also let the camera lovingly follow Talese as he impeccably dresses himself, every detail crucial to his overall appearance, much like a journalist getting every single fact right.) Over the years, Talese and the Fooses developed a unique kind of bond that is unusual for a writer and his subject, but the erudite Talese, now eighty-five, defends his actions. “My life has pretty much been living through other people’s experiences and to be a very accurate chronicle, an observer, watching other people, listening,” he says. “I take my time, and I am genuinely interested in the people I am writing about because there’s something about them that I feel I can identify with.” It is fascinating to watch the reactions of Foos and Talese as the article comes out, the book is published, and all hell breaks loose. Voyeur raises significant issues about truth in journalism, the writer’s ethical responsibilities, and the lure of salaciousness. Early on, Talese, in his writing bunker filled with decades and decades of carefully organized files — in a way similar to the collections of baseball cards and other objects Foos keeps in his basement — says, “The story never ends. Stories never die. A lot of reporters think when they leave a story, it’s all over. Sometimes it’s just beginning.” Kane and Koury stick with the story and end up with quite a tale, something that is not about to die anytime soon.

INSPIRING WONDERSTRUCK: THE WIND

Lillian Gish in The Wind

Letty Mason (Lillian Gish) is being driven crazy by internal and external sources in The Wind

THE WIND (Victor Sjöström, 1928)
Museum of the Moving Image, Redstone Theater
35th Ave. at 36th St., Astoria
Sunday, October 15, $15, 2:00
Series runs October 13-22
718-777-6888
www.movingimage.us

Author Brian Selznick’s 2007 book The Invention of Hugo Cabret proved to be movie magic; it was turned into the film Hugo by Martin Scorsese, which garnered eleven Oscar nominations and won four. In conjunction with the theatrical release of the latest movie based on a Selznick book, Todd Haynes’s adaptation of Selznick’s 2011Wonderstruck, the Museum of the Moving Image is hosting the series “Inspiring Wonderstruck,” consisting of nine films that influenced and inspired the author. One of the most direct influences was Victor Sjöström’s 1928 now-classic silent film The Wind, starring Lillian Gish as Letty Mason, a young woman traveling from Virginia to Texas to live with her cousin Beverly (Edward Earle). Traveling from the cultured, civilized East to what was still the wild West, the uncertain Letty must confront the fierceness of nature head-on — both human nature and the harsh natural environment. On the train, she is wooed by cattleman Wirt Roddy (Montagu Love), but her fears grow as she first sees the vicious wind howling outside the train window the closer she gets to her destination. Once in Sweetwater, she is picked up by her cousin’s neighbors, the handsome Lige Hightower (Lars Hanson) and his goofy sidekick, Sourdough (William Orlamond). Both men take a quick liking to Letty, who seems most attracted to Wirt. Soon Beverly’s wife, Cora (Dorothy Cumming, in her next-to-last film before retiring), becomes jealous of Letty’s closeness with her husband and kids and kicks her out, leaving a desperate Letty to make choices she might not be ready for as the wind outside becomes fiercer and ever-more dangerous. The Wind is a tour de force for Gish in her last silent movie, not only because of her emotionally gripping portrayal of Letty but because she put the entire production together, obtaining the rights to the novel by Dorothy Scarborough, hiring the Swedish director and star Hanson, and arguing over the ending with the producers and Irving Thalberg. (Unfortunately, she lost on that account, just about the only thing that did not go the way she wanted.)

The Wind

Letty Mason (Lillian Gish) and Lige Hightower (Lars Hanson) have some tough decisions to make in Victor Sjöström’s silent classic

Sjöström (The Phantom Carriage, The Divine Woman), who played Professor Isak Borg in Ingmar Bergman’s Wild Strawberries, and cinematographer John Arnold create some dazzling effects as a twister threatens and Letty battles both inside and outside; she is regularly shot from the side, at the door of the shack where she lives, not knowing if she’d be safer inside or outside as the wind and sand blast over her. The film, an early look at climate change, was shot in the Mojave Desert in difficult circumstances; to get the wind to swirl, the crew used propellers from eight airplanes. Dialogue is sparse, and the story is told primarily in taut visuals. “Lillian Gish [is] at the height of her powers, fighting the wind and insanity nonstop for the entire movie,” Selznick says of The Wind. “A silent film made just after the silent era ended, the film is now recognized as one of Gish’s greats. The character of Lillian Mayhew, played by Julianne Moore in Wonderstruck, is directly inspired by Gish, and the fictional movie within a movie, Daughter of the Wind, is exactly that, an offspring of this very movie.” A restored 35mm print of The Wind with the original music and effects soundtrack is screening October 15 at 2:00 at the Museum of the Moving Image. “Inspiring Wonderstruck” runs October 13-22 and also includes, among others, Francis Ford Coppola’s The Conversation, Haynes’s I’m Not There and Poison, Diane Garey and Lawrence Hott’s Through Deaf Eyes, Robert Mulligan’s To Kill a Mockingbird, and Hal Ashby’s Being There as well as a preview screening of Wonderstruck, followed by a Q&A with Selznick, production designer Mark Friedberg, and costume designer Sandy Powell and a book signing with Selznick.

PERFORMA 17 BIENNIAL

performa 17

Multiple venues
November 1-19, free - $40
17.performa-arts.org

The seventh Performa biennial takes place November 1-19 in multiple venues around the city, featuring an impressive roster of international artists pushing the limits of what live performance can be. This year’s lineup includes ten Performa commissions and dozens of events, from film, poetry, and dance to architecture, music, and comedy, arranged in such categories as Performa Projects, Performa Premieres, and Pavilion without Walls. In addition to the below recommendations for this always exciting festival, there will be presentations by Kendell Geers, Xavier Cha, Yto Barrada, Brian Belott, Flo Kasearu, Jimmy Robert, Mohau Modisakeng, Kelly Nipper, Kemang Wa Lehulere, Nicolas Hlobo, Kris Lemsalu with Kyp Malone, the Marching Cobras of New York, and others at such venues as Abrons Arts Center, BAM, the Met, White Box Arts Center, Marcus Garvey Park, the Connelly Theater, St. Mark’s Church in-the-Bowery, Harlem Parish, and the Glass House in New Canaan.

Thursday, November 2, 7:00
Friday, November 3, 7:00 & 9:00
Saturday, November 4, 7:00

Teju Cole: Black Paper, BKLYN Studio at City Point, 445 Albee Square West, $15-$25

Thursday, November 2, 9, 16
Barbara Kruger: The Drop, Performa 17 Hub, 47 Walker St., $5, 4:00 - 8:00

Sunday, November 5
Monday, November 6

William Kentridge: Ursonate, Harlem Parish, 258 West 118th St., $25-$40, 7:00

Sunday, November 5, 12, 19
Eiko Otake: A Body in Places, Metropolitan Museum of Art, free with museum admission, 10:30 am

Wednesday, November 8
Estonian Pavilion Symposium: Call for Action — Key Moments of Estonian Performance Art, lecture and screening with curators Anu Allas and Maria Arusoo, free, Performa 17 Hub, 47 Walker St., 5:00

Thursday, November 9
Friday, November 10
Saturday, November 11

The Tracey Rose Show in Collaboration with Performa 17 and Afroglossia Presents: The Good Ship Jesus vs The Black Star Line Hitching a Ride with Die Alibama [Working Title], the Black Lady Theatre, 750 Nostrand Ave., $15-$25, 7:30

Friday, November 10
Zanele Muholi on Visual Activism, grand finale of two weeks of meetings, performances, discussions, and art-making, the Bronx Museum, 1040 Grand Concourse, free, 7:00

Friday, November 10
through
Sunday, November 19

Alex Schweder and Ward Shelley: The Newcomers, with Lena Kouvela and Sarah Burns, 28 Liberty Plaza, free, all day

be here now

Saturday, November 11
Architecture Conference, with Giovana Borasi, Lluís Alexandre Casanovas Blanco, Yve Laris Cohen, Cooking Sections (Daniel Fernández Pascual & Alon Schwabe), and Elizabeth Diller, Performa 17 Hub, 47 Walker St., free, 2:00 - 6:00

Monday, November 13
Tuesday, November 14

Wangechi Mutu: Banana Stroke, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Grace Rainey Rogers Auditorium, free with museum admission, 7:00

Monday, November 13
through
Friday, November 17

Kwani Trust: Everyone Is Radicalizing, multimedia installation and public programs, Performa 17 Hub, 47 Walker St., free, 12 noon – 6:00 pm

Wednesday, November 15
Thursday, November 16
Friday, November 17

Anu Vahtra: Open House Closing. A Walk, Performa 17 Hub, 47 Walker St., free, 5:00

Thursday, November 16
Julie Mehretu and Jason Moran: MASS (HOWL, eon), Harlem Parish, 258 West 118th St,, $25-$40, 7:00 & 9:00

Thursday, November 16
Friday, November 17
Saturday, November 18

Gillian Walsh: Moon Fate Sin, Danspace Project, St. Mark’s Church in-the-Bowery, 131 East Tenth St., $22-$25, 8:00

NOH-NOW: LEFT-RIGHT-LEFT

Luca Veggettis Left-Right-Left will make its North American premiere at Japan Society October 13-14 as part of NOH NOW series

Luca Veggetti’s Left-Right-Left will make its North American premiere at Japan Society October 13-14 as part of “NOH-NOW” series

Japan Society
333 East 47th St. at First Ave.
Friday, October 13, and Saturday, October 14, $35, 7:30
212-715-1258
www.japansociety.org

In May 2014, Italian director and choreographer Luca Veggetti brought Project IX — Pléïades to Japan Society, a graceful collaboration with Japanese percussionist Kuniko Kato and Japanese dancer Megumi Nakamura that was the finale of the sixtieth anniversary season of the institution’s performing arts program. Veggetti and Nakamura are now back for the North American premiere of Left-Right-Left, part of Japan Society’s 110th anniversary and the series “NOH-NOW,” which blends the traditional Japanese musical drama with contemporary styles. The work, commissioned by Japan Society and Yokohama Noh Theater, is conceived, directed, and choreographed by Veggetti, with the esteemed author and scholar Dr. Donald Keene of the Donald Keene Center of Japanese Culture serving as project advisor and text translator. The three-part piece is inspired by the ancient play Okina, a sacred ritual about peace, prosperity, and safety. It will be performed by butoh dancer Akira Kasai, contemporary dancer Nakamura, and butoh-trained dancer Yukio Suzuki, with music director Genjiro Okura on noh small hand drum and Rokurobyoe Fujita on noh fue. Child noh actor Rinzo Nagayama will recites the new English translation of passages from Okina and another popular traditional noh play, Hagoromo, about a celestial feather robe. The lighting is by Clifton Taylor, with costumes by Mitsushi Yanaihara. “Noh has very precise patterns in the space that the performers follow,” Veggetti says in a promotional interview, explaining that his goal was “to use this archaic blueprint form and infuse it with different choreographic ideas, with that to find a language that is somehow organic.” Left-Right-Left, or “sa-yu-sa” in Japanese, will be at Japan Society on October 13, followed by a Meet-the-Artists Reception, and October 14, followed by an artist Q&A. In addition, Okura, Grand Master of the Okura School of kotsuzumi, will lead a noh music workshop on October 14 at 10:30 am ($45). “NOH-NOW” continues November 3-5 with the world premiere of Hiroshi Sugimoto’s Rikyu-Enoura, December 7-9 with Leon Ingulsrud’s adaptation of Yukio Mishima’s Hanjo, and January 11-14 with Satoshi Miyagi’s Mugen Noh Othello.

BAM NEXT WAVE FESTIVAL: CROSSING

(photo by Gretjen Helene Photography)

Matthew Aucoin’s Crossing makes its New York premiere at BAM this week (photo by Gretjen Helene Photography)

BAM Howard Gilman Opera House
30 Lafayette Ave. between Ashland Pl. & St. Felix St.
October 3-8, $35-$110
718-636-4100
www.bam.org/opera/2017/crossing

Five years ago, BAM presented “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry,” a three-day multimedia festival celebrating Walt Whitman’s 1856 poem of the same name from Leaves of Grass, in which the New York City native wrote, “Others will enter the gates of the ferry and cross from shore to shore, / Others will watch the run of the flood-tide, / Others will see the shipping of Manhattan north and west, and the heights of Brooklyn to the south and east, / Others will see the islands large and small; / Fifty years hence, others will see them as they cross, the sun half an hour high, / A hundred years hence, or ever so many hundred years hence, others will see them, / Will enjoy the sunset, the pouring-in of the flood-tide, the falling-back to the sea of the ebb-tide.” The Brooklyn arts institution is now returning to Whitman with Crossing, Matthew Aucoin’s hundred-minute 2015 chamber opera, which takes off from Whitman’s 1861-63 Civil War diary and these lines from the poem: “What is it then between us? / What is the count of the scores or hundreds of years between us?” The twenty-seven-year-old Aucoin wrote, composed, and conducts the work, which is directed by Tony winner Diane Paulus (Pippin, Eli’s Comin) and features the Boston-based chamber orchestra A Far Cry, with choreography by Jill Johnson, sets by Tom Pye, costumes by three-time Tony nominee David Zinn, lighting by two-time Tony winner Jennifer Tipton, and projection by Finn Ross. Baritone Rod Gilfry, who has previously appeared at BAM in David Lang’s the loser and Mark-Anthony Turnage and Richard Thomas’s Anna Nicole, plays Whitman, a Civil War nurse tending to wounded soldier John Wormley, portrayed by tenor Alexander Lewis. The work, which was produced and commissioned by the American Repertory Theater at Harvard University, runs October 3-8 as part of BAM’s 2017 Next Wave Festival. “Crossing emerges out of my sense that Whitman wrote his poetry out of need,” Aucoin writes, “that his poetry is not, or is not exclusively, a vigorous assertion of what he is, but rather the expression of a yearning to be what he is not, or to reconcile opposing aspects of his identity. The person/persona/personality ‘Walt Whitman, an American, one of the roughs’ is the living product of this need.”

112th: DAVID GOODWIN ON LEFT BANK OF THE HUDSON

david goodwin left bank of the hudson

Who: David J. Goodwin
What: Book talk and signing with David J. Goodwin, author of Left Bank of the Hudson: Jersey City and the Artists of 111 1st Street (Fordham University Press, October 2017, $24.95)
Where: Book Culture, 536 West 112th St. between Broadway & Amsterdam Ave., 212-865-1588
When: Tuesday, October 3, free, 7:00
Why: In his blog, Another Town on the Hudson: Jersey City and Its Culture, Fordham University School of Law librarian David J. Goodwin describes himself as “a frustrated fiction writer, aspiring historian, and budding urban homesteader.” A past commissioner and chairman of the Jersey City Historic Preservation Commission and currently a board member of the Jersey City Landmarks Conservancy, Goodwin has just written Left Bank of the Hudson: Jersey City and the Artist of 111 1st Street, a detailed examination of an artist colony that took shape at an old tobacco warehouse in Jersey City in the late 1980s when a group of New York City painters, sculptors, photographers, writers, and filmmakers headed across the river in search of affordable studio space. Goodwin will be at Book Culture in Harlem on October 3 at 7:00 to discuss and sign copies of the book, which includes a foreword by D. W. Gibson, author of The Edge Becomes the Center: An Oral History of Gentrification in the 21st Century. At the talk, Goodwin will delve into the history of 111 First St., gentrification, geographic and architectural options for artists, interaction with government officials, and more. And you don’t even have to cross the Hudson to get there.

BAM NEXT WAVE FESTIVAL: THE PRINCIPLES OF UNCERTAINTY

(photo by Rebecca Greenfield)

Maira Kalman looks on as her online graphic diary is brought to life at the BAM Fisher (photo by Rebecca Greenfield)

BAM Fisher, Fishman Space
321 Ashland Pl.
September 27-30, $25
718-636-4100
www.bam.org

The audience at the BAM Fisher isn’t the only one smiling throughout The Principles of Uncertainty, the lovely multimedia collaboration between choreographer John Heginbotham and author-illustrator Maira Kalman; the musicians and dancers seem to be having just as much fun, if not more. Based on Kalman’s 2006-7 online graphic diary, the hour-long dance-theater piece is infectiously gleeful from start to finish. The sixty-eight-year-old Kalman is onstage the entire show, reciting text, calmly watching from the back, and, yes, dancing with Lindsey Jones, John Eirich, Courtney Lopes, Weaver Rhodes, Amber Star Merkens, and Macy Sullivan (several of whom are from Dance Heginbotham). The baroque and carnivalesque songs are played by music director Colin Jacobsen on violin and viola, Caitlyn Sullivan on cello, Nathan Koci on accordion, and Alex Sopp on flute and vocals. The lively staging puts Kalman in a large movable box, where she’s joined by assistant director Daniel Pettrow for some literary surprises and acerbic comedy; meanwhile, Todd Bryant projects (not enough of) Kalman’s words and drawings on a back wall, and a classical framed painting lies on the floor. (Kalman also designed the set and the costumes.) Heginbotham’s choreography includes repeated pairings: dancers’ foreheads rest against each other, and gentle fists press against knuckles and palms. The set is reconfigured — nearly everything is on wheels — while Nicole Pearce has a ball with different colored lights, and the band, members of the chamber ensemble the Knights, plays works by Bach, Villa-Lobos, Schubert, Beethoven, and Mexican ranchera king José Alfredo Jiménez. “John and I are trying to make something that feels like nothing,” Kalman writes in the program. “Well, not nothing, of course, but the kind of nothing that is full of the sad sweet funny uncertain life we lead.” As an added touch, each seat is covered by a two-sided cloth printed with words from the serious to the silly, the practical to the mundane. But there is nothing mundane about The Principles of Uncertainty, which indeed is a unique look at “the sad sweet funny uncertain life we lead.”