Who: Emily Johnson / Catalyst
What: All-night outdoor performance gathering
Where: Randall’s Island Park
When: Saturday, August 19, $50, dusk to after sunrise
Why: You don’t just go to a show by Emily Johnson / Catalyst; you become part of an experience. In such presentations as Niicugni and Shore, Johnson builds a sense of community for all involved, including cast, crew, and audience. On August 19, her multiyear project Then a Cunning Voice and a Night We Spend Gazing at Stars reaches its next level on Randall’s Island, where people will gather for an evening of song, dance, storytelling, quilting, ritual, and more under the night sky. The world premiere, presented by Performance Space 122, is directed by three-time Obie winner Ain Gordon (The Family Business, Spalding Gray: Stories Left to Tell) and features performers Tania Isaac, twelve-year-old Georgia Lucas, and Johnson, with visual design by textile artist Maggie Thompson, lighting by Lenore Doxsee, and quilt construction by volunteers from around the country. The ten-to-twelve-hour piece explores such questions as “What do you want for your well-being? For the well-being of your chosen friends and family? For your neighborhood? For your town, city, reserve, tribal nation, world?” You can participate as much as you want as the audience is led into discussions and programs about engaged citizenship, safety, Indigenous people, and making connections. Four thousand square feet of quilts will serve as home base for performances, resting, and just hanging out. Supper, breakfast, and snacks will be served as well. Johnson is a magnetic personality who cares very deeply about the future of all the people and animals living on this planet, so Then a Cunning Voice and a Night We Spend Gazing at Stars should be a powerful and moving experience, in addition to being a lot of fun. Look for our interview with Johnson about the project coming soon; in the meantime, you can contribute to the Kickstarter campaign to help fund this project here.
200 Eastern Parkway at Washington St.
Saturday, August 5, free, 5:00 - 11:00
The Brooklyn Museum starts preparing for the West Indian American Day Carnival events over Labor Day weekend with the August edition of its free First Saturday program. (First Saturdays is skipped in September.) There will be live performances by RIVA & Bohio Music and the Drums and Bugles International Bands Association; the mobile art center caribBEING House, where visitors can share their own stories; a gallery tour of “We Wanted a Revolution: Black Radical Women, 1965–85” with Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art curatorial assistant Allie Rickard; pop-up gallery talks of “Life, Death, and Transformation in the Americas” with teen apprentices; a screening of Matt Ruskin’s Sundance Audience Award winner Crown Heights, introduced by actress Natalie Paul and followed by a Q&A with film subject Colin Warner, community activist Rick Jones, and attorney Ames Grawert; a sneak peek of Cori Wapnowska’s documentary Bruk Out!, followed by a talkback with Wapnowska and Dancehall Queen Famous Red, moderated by Hyperallergic editor Seph Rodney; a Book Club event with Oneka LaBennett reading and discussing her new book, She’s Mad Real: Popular Culture and West Indian Girls in Brooklyn, followed by a signing; an Artist’s Eye talk by Melissa Bunni Elian on her contribution to “The Legacy of Lynching: Confronting Racial Terror in America”; a wukkout! movement workshop based on high-energy soca dancing; a hands-on workshop in which participants can make paintings with watercolor and salt; and a Flag Fete in which visitors can bring their own national flag, joined by female-identified Caribbean artists Sol Nova, Young Devyn, and Ting & Ting featuring Kitty Cash and special guests.
Museum of Chinese in America
215 Centre St. between Howard & Grand Sts.
Friday, July 28, $30, 6:30
On July 28, the Museum of Chinese in America is hosting a multidisciplinary Summer Jam, with live music by YouTube ukelele star Nix, singer-songwriters Grace Ming and Jessica Rowboat, and Brooklyn folk duo Heartland Nomads, spoken-word poetry by Edric Huang and Lavinia Liang from Songline, stand-up comedy with Joon Chung, and storytelling from Talkingstick cofounder Master Lee. There will also be a raffle and a sale in the shop benefiting the museum’s educational program, light hors d’oeuvres courtesy of the pulled-noodle experts at the awesome Xi’an Famous Foods, and unlimited Hiro Sake, Tiger Beer, Bruce Cost Ginger Ale, and other alcoholic and nonalcoholic drinks. And as a bonus, attendees will be treated to a preview of MOCA’s upcoming exhibition, “FOLD: Golden Venture Paper Sculptures,” which opens October 5.
(SOMA)TIC POETRY RITUALS
Madison Square Park Oval Lawn
Twenty-Fourth St. between Madison & Fifth Aves.
Through July 23, free, 12 noon – 5:00 pm (workshops nightly at 6:00)
“Every single human being is creative. When we commit ourselves to nurturing our artistic capacities we improve our ability to more deeply discern the world around us and make the constructive decisions needed in order to thrive in this world,” fifty-one-year-old poet CAConrad writes in his (Soma)tic Manifesto. Through July 23, Conrad will be performing “(Soma)tic Poetry Rituals” in Madison Square Park, under one of American artist and MacArthur Fellow Josiah McElheny’s three sculptures that comprise “Prismatic Park,” a collaborative public art project that is hosting free dance, music, and poetry through October 8, sponsored by Danspace Project, Blank Forms, and Poets House. Born in Kansas and raised in Pennsylvania, Conrad is the author of such books as The City Real & Imagined, ECODEVIANCE: (Soma)tics for the Future Wilderness, and the upcoming While Standing in Line for Death. In 1998, Conrad’s boyfriend, AIDS activist Earth (Mark Holmes), was brutally raped, tortured, and murdered in Tennessee at the age of thirty-six. In order to break out of his subsequent depression and his inability to break away from a factorylike existence that had been with him since childhood when his family ran a casket company, Conrad developed rituals that helped respark his creative energy and his life in general. He is currently in the midst of a six-day residency in Madison Square Park, sitting (in the shade) at a small table under McElheny’s open red vaulted-roof pavilion (with red and yellow glass), where the public is invited to join him for approximately twenty minutes as Conrad develops a personalized (Soma)tic poetry ritual for each individual participant, involving crystals, liquids, and writing. The rituals are meant to help anyone seeking new ways to cope with today’s world; they are not limited to writers. The personalized rituals — bring pen and paper to take copious notes — are first come, first served, from 12 noon to 5:00, followed by workshops from 6:00 to 8:00; on July 22, Conrad delves into crystal trees, while on July 23 he will read tarot cards. “Prismatic Park,” which also features a blue sound wall and a reflective green dance floor, continues with concerts by Joe McPhee & Graham Lambkin (July 25-30), Shelley Hirsch (August 22-27), Matana Roberts (September 5-10), and Limpe Fuchs with poet Patrick Rosal (October 3-8), dance by Netta Yerushalmy (August 1-6) and Jodi Melnick (September 12-17, 19-24), and poetry by Joshua Bennett (August 15-20), Donna Masini (August 29 – September 3), and Mónica de la Torre (September 26 – October 1).
Oscar- and Emmy-winning director Kirk Simon’s The Pulitzer at 100 boasts a remarkable cast and some of the best lines ever written in the history of American arts and letters. It’s also a self-congratulatory bore. Simon celebrates the centennial of the Pulitzer Prize, first awarded by Columbia University in four categories in 1917, by speaking with a vast array of winners from the worlds of journalism (Carl Bernstein, Martin Baron, Thomas Friedman, Nicholas Kristof, Sheri Fink, David Remnick), fiction (Toni Morrison, Michael Chabon, Junot Díaz, Jeffrey Eugenides), drama (Tony Kushner, Paula Vogel, Ayad Akhtar), music (Wynton Marsalis, John Adams), biography (Robert A. Caro), poetry (Yusef Komunyakaa), photography (John Filo, Nick Ut), and more. He also films Martin Scorsese, Helen Mirren, Natalie Portman, Liev Schreiber, John Lithgow, and Yara Shahidi performing selections from the works of some of their favorite writers, including Philip Roth, Harper Lee, and Eugene O’Neill. Interspersed between all of the literary lathering are interesting tidbits — delivered by such historians as Cyrus Patell, Theodore L. Glasser, Roy Harris, and James McGrath Morris — from the life and times of one Joseph Pulitzer, an Austro-Hungarian merchant’s son who came to America as a mercenary to fight in the Civil War. Pulitzer eventually got involved in newspaper publishing, had yellow-journalism battles with William Randolph Hearst, and left money for Columbia to start the Graduate School of Journalism.
Simon lets the prize winners glory in their success, explaining what winning the award meant for their careers; the journalism awardees also delve into the stories they covered to win the trophy, including Kent State, Watergate, Hurricane Katrina, the Vietnam War, Tiananmen Square, and 9/11. While there are some fascinating revelations — particularly by Ut, describing how he took the famous photo of young Vietnamese girl Kim Phuc running from a napalm blast, then poured water over her back to help her (Kim also appears in the film) — most of the news stories are already overly familiar to the viewer, with not enough time to really tackle the subjects properly here. Of course, that’s not really what the film is centrally about, anyway. And it gets especially glib when several of the winners poke fun at the physical award itself, as if it’s really no big deal. Meanwhile, the performances by the stellar actors are far too serious and feel like their readings are just time fillers. Simon (Chimps: So Like Us, Strangers No More) can’t seem to decide what kind of film he’s making. It would have been more interesting learning further about Pulitzer himself rather than listening to terrific writers lavish praise on themselves, their colleagues, and their forebears. Oh, the film, which has no voice-over narration, does put to rest one important part of the Pulitzer legacy: Only one of the speakers says “Pyew-litzer,” while all the others pronounce Joseph’s last name as “Pull-itzer.” The Pulitzer at 100 opens July 21 at Lincoln Plaza, with Simon participating in Q&As at the 7:00 shows on Friday and Saturday night.
Rubin Museum of Art
West 17th St. between Sixth & Seventh Aves.
Sunday, July 16, free (including free museum admission all day), 1:00 - 4:00
The Rubin Museum plans to make some noise at its annual block party, taking place July 16 from 1:00 to 4:00 on West Seventeenth St. This year’s fête is inspired by the new exhibition “The World Is Sound,” which explores the impact of sound in Tibetan Buddhism in the creation / death / rebirth cycle, with ritual music, immersive installations, and the largest “Om” ever, recorded by visitors to the Om Lab. The block party will have spaces for meditation, hands-on art activities for adults and children, a silent disco with Nepali pop curated by Dorjee Dolma, Himalayan snacks, bubble painting, the Wheel of Sounds and the Wheel of Feelings, and live performances by the New York Suwa Taiko Association, the Blue Angels Drumline, poets John Giorno and Tenzin Dickyi, MSHR (Birch Cooper and Brenna Murphy), and Dana Flynn of Laughing Lotus Yoga in addition to a Kirtan concert with the Bhakti Center. Partyers can also stop by “Drawing Sound,” a live painting and sound collaboration curated and hosted by Rhiannon Catalyst, and check out presentations by ACHA Himalayan Sisterhood (music selections), Adhikaar (oral histories), Grassroots Movement in Nepal (Nepali children’s songs), India Home (Garba dance), Tibetan Community of NY/NJ (musical instruments demos), and the United Sherpa Association (translating English names into Tibetan). As a bonus, the museum will be open for free all day long (11:00 am - 6:00 pm), so you can experience such exhibits as “Henri Cartier-Bresson: India in Full Frame,” “Masterworks of Himalayan Art,” and “Sacred Spaces” asw well as “The World Is Sound.”