A BIGGER SPLASH (Jack Hazan, 1974)
7 Ludlow St. between Canal & Hester Sts.
Opens Friday, June 21
Just in time to coincide with Pride celebrations throughout New York City in honor of the fiftieth anniversary of the Stonewall riots, Metrograph is premiering a 4K restoration of Jack Hazan’s pivotal 1974 A Bigger Splash, a fiction-nonfiction hybrid that was a breakthrough work for its depiction of gay culture as well as its inside look at the fashionable and chic Los Angeles art scene of the early 1970s. This past November, David Hockney’s Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures) sold at auction for $90.3 million, the most ever paid for a work by a living artist. A Bigger Splash, named after another of Hockney’s paintings — both are part of a series of canvases set around pools in ritzy Los Angeles — takes place over three years, as the British artist, based in California at the time, hangs out with friends, checks out a fashion show, prepares for a gallery exhibition, and works on Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures) in the wake of a painful breakup with his boyfriend, model, and muse, Peter Schlesinger, who is a key figure in the painting.
It’s often hard to know which scenes are pure documentary and which are staged for the camera as Hazan and his then-parter, David Mingay, who served as director of photography, tag along with Hockney, who rides around in his small, dirty BMW, meeting up with textile designer Celia Birtwell, fashion designer Ossie Clark, curator Henry Geldzahler, gallerist John Kasmin, artist Patrick Procktor, and others, who are identified only at the beginning, in black-and-white sketches during the opening credits. The film features copious amounts of male nudity, including a long sex scene between two men, a group of beautiful boys diving into a pool in a fantasy sequence, and Hockney disrobing and taking a shower. Hockney’s assistant, Mo McDermott, contributes occasional voice-overs; he also poses as the man standing on the deck in Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures), only to be replaced by Schlesinger later. There are several surreal moments involving Hockney’s work: He cuts up one painting; Geldzahler gazes long and hard at himself in the double portrait of him and Christopher Scott; and Hockney tries to light the cigarette Procktor is holding in a painting as Procktor watches, cigarette in hand, mimicking his pose on canvas. At one point Hockney is photographing Schlesinger in Kensington Gardens, reminiscent of Michelangelo Antonioni’s Blow-Up, which questions the very nature of capturing reality on film.
Hockney was so upset when he first saw A Bigger Splash, which Hazan made for about twenty thousand dollars, that he offered to buy it back from Hazan in order to destroy it; Hazan refused, and Hockney went into a deep depression. His friends ultimately convinced him that it was a worthwhile movie and he eventually accepted it. It’s a one-of-a-kind film, a wild journey that goes far beyond the creative process as an artist makes his masterpiece. Hockney, who will turn eighty-two next month, has been on quite a roll of late. He was the subject of a 2016 documentary by Randall Wright, was widely hailed for his 2018 Met retrospective, saw one of his paintings set an auction record, and is scheduled to have a major drawing show at the National Portrait Gallery next year. In addition, Catherine Cusset’s novel, Life of David Hockney, was just published in English, a fictionalized tale that conceptionally recalls A Bigger Splash, which opens June 21 at Metrograph, with various Q&As and introductions by Hazan, Richard Haines and Alexander Olch, Nick McCarthy, Ryan McNamara, Matt Wolf, and Cusset from June 21 to 30. And if you can’t get enough of Hockney, Anita Rogers is showing “Films by James Scott, Etchings by David Hockney” through July 27, consisting of Hockney’s 1966 series “Illustrations for Fourteen Poems from C. P. Cavafy” and Scott’s 1966 documentary short about the series, Love’s Presentation.
June 17-30, free - $300 and more
This year’s pride festivities honor the fiftieth anniversary of Stonewall, which set the Gay Pride movement in motion in full force. There are some new events, while the March itself has changed its route, so pay close attention to the locations listed below. As always, the ticketed events and VIP treatment are selling out fast, so you better act quickly if you want to shake it up at some pretty wild gatherings. Also be on the lookout for the World Mural Project in all five boroughs and the Quilt Initiative, which displays portions of the AIDS Memorial Quilt in numerous places.
Monday, June 17
NewFest OutCinema, screening of Adam (Rhys Ernst, 2019), followed by a a Q&A with Ernst and members of the cast and a party, SVA Theatre, 333 West 23rd St., $30-$100, 7:00
Tuesday, June 18
NewFest OutCinema, screening of Invisible Women: The Story of Two Forgotten Revolutionaries (Alice Smith, 2019) and Deep in Vogue (Amy Watson & Dennis Keighron-Foster, 2019), followed by a a Q&A with the filmmakers, moderated by Twiggy Pucci Garçon, SVA Theatre, 333 West 23rd St., $30-$100, 7:00
Wednesday, June 19
NewFest OutCinema, screening of Wig (Chris Moukarbel, 2019), followed by a Q&A with the filmmakers, Lady Bunny, and others, SVA Theatre, 333 West 23rd St., $30-$100, 7:00
Friday, June 21
Family Movie Night, screening of Coco (Lee Unkrich & Adrian Molina, 2017), with field games and live entertainment, hosted by Miss Richfield 1981, Pier 45, Hudson River Park, free ($50 for VIP blanket seating), 6:30
Saturday, June 22
CosPlay & Pride, sunset cruise with Aja and others, hosted by Petra Fried, Pier 40, Hudson River Park, 353 West St., $45, 6:00
Sunday, June 23
Pride Luminaries Brunch, Magic Hour Rooftop Bar & Lounge, 485 7th Ave., $85, 11:00 am
Monday, June 24
Tuesday, June 25
Human Rights Conference, with Raquel Willis, Janet Mock, and Tracey “Africa” Norman, New York Law School, 185 West Broadway, $30-$50, 9:00 am - 5:00 pm
Tuesday, June 25
GameChangers, panel discussion, Q&A, and reception with George Takei, Trace Lysette, Leyna Bloom, and others, SVA Theatre, 333 West 23rd St., $15-$35, 6:00
Wednesday, June 26
WorldPride Opening Ceremony, benefiting Ali Forney Center, Immigration Equality, and SAGE, with Cyndi Lauper, Billy Porter, Chaka Khan, Ciara, Daya, Todrick Hall, and others, Barclays Center, $45-$226, 7:00
Friday, June 28
Savor Pride, food-driven fundraiser, with dishes by chefs Renee Blackman, Julia Turshen, Alex Koones, Manuel González Charles, Lazarus Lynch, and more, God’s Love We Deliver, 166 Sixth Ave. at Spring St., $80-$125, 5:30
Rally: Stonewall 50 Commemoration, performers and speakers to be announced, Christopher St. & Waverly Pl., free, 6:00
Saturday, June 29
Youth Pride, for LGBTQIA+ and ally teens, with Ava Max, DJ Nhandi, Deetranada, Angelica Ross and Hailie Sahar from Pose, and more, SummerStage, Central Park, free, noon - 6:00 pm
VIP Rooftop Party, with DJs GRIND, Toy Armada, Ben Baker, and Kitty Glitter and more, the Park, 118 10th Ave., $100-$150, 2:00 - 10:00 pm
Teaze, with bklyn boihood, TRUUU, Set It Off, Rose Gold, Yellow Jackets Collective, and more, the DL, 95 Delancey St., $40-$80, 5:00 – midnight
Saturday, June 29
Sunday, June 30
Pride Island, with Grace Jones, Teyana Taylor, Pabllo Vittar, and more, Pier 97, Hudson River Park at Fifty-Ninth St. & West Side Highway, 2:00 - 10:00
Sunday, June 30
PrideFest, twenty-sixth annual street fair with music, food, merchandise, and more, featuring live performances by Lauren Jauregui, the Veronicas, Melanie C & Sink the Pink, and others, hosted by E. J. Johnson, Fourth Ave. between Union Square and Astor Pl., free, 11:00 am – 6:00 pm
The March, with grand marshals Phyll Opoku-Gyimah, Monica Helms, the Trevor Project, Gay Liberation Front, and members of the cast of Pose, Lavender Line from Twenty-Sixth St. & Fifth Ave., downtown to Washington Square Park and Stonewall National Monument, and back up to Twenty-Third St. & Seventh Ave., free, 12 noon
Femme Fatale, women’s party with DJs Kittens, Mary Mac, Bonnie Beats, Nikki Lions, and Lena, the Park, 118 10th Ave., $40-$65, 4:00 - midnight
Siren, with Mindy Jones, DJ Whitney Day, DJ Tatiana-Denver, and DJ MO-NYC, hosted by Crissa Ace and Kiyomi Valentine, Watermark, Pier 15, 78 South St., $45 – $275, 9:00 pm - 4:00 am
WorldPride Closing Ceremony, with live performances by Melissa Etheridge, Jake Shears, MNEK, The Prom, Deborah Cox, and more, hosted by Margaret Cho, Times Square, free, 7:00
Who: David W. Dunlap, Fred R. Conrad, Chester Higgins Jr., Marilynn K. Yee
What: Book launch, talk, and signing, Only in New York: 500 Photos • 500 Moments (Rizzoli, May 2019, $39.95)
Where: Rizzoli Bookstore, 1133 Broadway at 26th St., 212-759-2424
When: Monday, June 17, free, 6:00
Why: “Only in New York highlights the threads that hold this city of contrasts together,” former New York Times Metro reporter and “Building Blocks” columnist David W. Dunlap writes in the introduction to Only in New York: 500 Photos • 500 Moments, the new book put together by the Newspaper of Record’s photography staff, consisting of five hundred color and black-and-white snapshots taken in the Big Apple, arranged in diptychs, going back more than a century. He continues, “Wordlessly, the pairings began telling stories of their own. They spoke across time. They described a city that exists on many planes simultaneously: energetic and brutal, compassionate and cruel, creative and desperate, eccentric and conformist, impatient and steady, exuberant and serene, tragic and funny, elegant and shabby, cosmopolitan and insular, crowded and lonely.”
On June 17, Dunlap will be joined by photographers Fred R. Conrad, Chester Higgins Jr., and Marilynn K. Yee at the Rizzoli Bookstore to celebrate the release of the book, which features such inspired photographic pairings as the cast of Cats opposite a dog walker, the light of traffic around the Flatiron Building opposite fireworks over the Brooklyn Bridge, Martin Scorsese opposite Frank Sinatra (both adjusting their coats), birdwatchers opposite a Civil Defense air raid drill (both involving binoculars), the 7 train opposite Mickey Mantle wearing his number 7 Yankees jersey, and the Queen Mary 2 in New York Harbor opposite a space shuttle fly-by in Midtown. Among the photographers whose work is featured are Damon Winter, Neal Boenzi, Ruth Fremson, Vincent Laforet, Michelle Agins, Todd Heisler, Chang W. Lee, Barton Silverman, Sara Krulwich, Michelle Agins, and Tyler Hicks. The book also includes touching and humorous anecdotes, such as this gem: “R. Chester Redhead is waiting for the No. 1 bus on 86th Street and Madison Avenue. When it finally arrives, the woman in front of Mr. Redhead hands the driver a transfer. ‘Lady,’ he says, ‘this transfer is from yesterday.’ ‘That tells you how long I’ve been waiting for this bus,’ she replies.”
512 West 19th St. between Tenth & Eleventh Aves.
June 15-16, 22-23, 29-30, $10 (advance reservations recommended)
Installation on view June 21 & 28, free, 11:00 am - 6:00 pm
Hot on the heels of his widely hailed audiovisual Whitney exhibition, “A View of a Landscape,” which included several live performances using manipulated sounds emanating from a cotton gin motor, Yale MFA candidate Kevin Beasley is stripping down the Kitchen for the installation / performance series Assembly, taking place in newly empty rooms on three floors of the Chelsea arts institution. Beasley, in conjunction with Lumi Tan, Tim Griffin, and Nicole Kaack from the Kitchen, has created custom sound and video systems that will be activated on Saturday, June 15, 22, and 29, at 6:30, and Sunday, June 16, 23, and 30, at 4:00, in dialogue with the building itself and its position in a changing art world, specifically involving access and collectivity. The mix of musicians, dancers, performance artists, and DJs features Suzi Analogue and Pamela Z on June 15, King Britt presents Moksha Black and Richard Kennedy on June 16, Mhysa, David Thomson, and whoisskitzo on June 22, HPrizm, Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe, and stud1nt on June 23, Lafawndah, NAR, and Angie Pittman on June 29, and Jason Moran, Logan Takahashi, and Wetware on June 30. In a statement, choreographer Thomson called his piece, Body of work, “a palimpsest. A meditation on memory, identities, and boundaries. A marking of time on the body of a transitional space.” Admission is $10, and attendees are encouraged to walk throughout the Kitchen; advance purchase is recommended. In addition, the installation will be open to the public for free on June 21 and 28 from 11:00 to 6:00.
Multiple locations on Fifth Ave. between 82nd & 105th Sts.
Tuesday, June 11, free, 6:00 – 9:00 pm
The forty-first annual Museum Mile Festival will take place on Tuesday, June 11, as eight arts institutions along Fifth Avenue between 82nd and 105th Sts. open their doors for free between 6:00 and 9:00. There will be live indoor or outdoor performances by Fogo Azul, Steven Bernstein’s Sexmob, Aurora Flores and Zon del Barrio, Palladium Mambo All Stars, and DJ Bembona in addition to face painting, art workshops, a birthday photo booth, and more. The participating museums (with at least one of their current shows listed here) are El Museo del Barrio (“Culture and the People: El Museo del Barrio, 1969 – 2019”), the Museum of the City of New York (“New York at Its Core,” “Pride: Photographs of Stonewall and Beyond by Fred W. McDarrah”), the Jewish Museum (“Leonard Cohen: A Crack in Everything”), the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum (“Nature — The Cooper Hewitt Design Triennial”), the Guggenheim (“Implicit Tensions: Mapplethorpe Now,” “Artistic License: Six Takes on the Guggenheim Collection”), the Neue Galerie (“The Self-Portrait, from Schiele to Beckmann”), the Africa Center (“Sudan Uprising”), and the Metropolitan Museum of Art (“Play It Loud: Instruments of Rock&Roll,” “The Tale of Genji: A Japanese Classic Illuminated”), along with presentations by the New York Academy of Medicine, the Church of the Heavenly Rest, and Asia Society. Don’t try to do too much, because it can get rather crowded; just pick one or two exhibitions in one or two museums and enjoy.
BAM Howard Gilman Opera House
Peter Jay Sharp Building
230 Lafayette Ave.
June 6-8, $30-$60, 7:30
I was prepared to be blown away by Bryce Dessner’s Triptych (Eyes of One on Another). I’m a big fan of his artsy rock group, the National; I love (who doesn’t?) Patti Smith, whose text figures prominently in the piece; and I thoroughly enjoyed the first part of the Guggenheim’s “Implicit Tensions: Mapplethorpe Now” exhibit, which includes several images that appear in Dessner’s seventy-minute multimedia work. Perhaps my expectations were too high.
Inspired by the 1990 obscenity case against Mapplethorpe’s “The Perfect Moment” exhibit, which took place in Dessner’s hometown of Cincinnati when he was a teenager, Triptych (Eyes of One on Another) explores demons and desire, objectification and beauty, specifically in Mapplethorpe’s XYZ portfolios, which focus on sadomasochism, flowers, and African American male nudes. Accompanying the large-scale projections (by Simon Harding), which appear on a front scrim and/or the back wall, is text from the trial and writings by Smith and poet and activist Essex Hemphill, the latter a critic of Mapplethorpe’s. Dessner’s haunting, ethereal score is performed live by Roomful of Teeth (Cameron Beauchamp, Martha Cluver, Eric Dudley, Estelí Gomez, Abigail Lennox, Thomas McCargar, Thann Scoggin, and Caroline Shaw), joined by soprano Alicia Hall Moran and tenor Isaiah Robinson, the women in silvery white, the men (except for Robinson) in black. (The set and costumes are by Carlos Soto.) Brad Wells conducts, with Jessica McJunkins on violin, Tia Allen on viola, Byron Hogan on cello, Kyra Sims on French horn, Ian Tyson on clarinet and bass clarinet, Laura Barger on piano and harmonium, Donnie Johns and Victor Pablo on percussion, and James Moore on guitar.
Korde Arrington Tuttle’s libretto boasts numerous phrases that stick in the mind as they are sung and projected on walls and screens: “The devil in us all / darkness as beauty”; “Aesthetics can justify desire”; “unsavory things”; “The Artist machetes a clearance.” However, there are also quotes from the trial, which feel trivial and pedantic, especially when juxtaposed with Robinson and Roomful of Teeth’s extensive later repetition of “In america, / I place my ring / on your cock / where it belongs,” from Hemphill’s American Wedding. Among the photographs are “Dominick and Elliot,” depicting a shirtless white man holding the nether regions of a naked white man tied upside down; Mapplethorpe’s famous 1988 portrait of himself gripping a cane with a skull on it; “Jack Walls,” of a black man pointing a gun above his exposed penis; and “Cedric, N.Y.C.,” in which a black man bows his head, the light and shadows making it look like his right side is black and his left side white.
Director Kaneza Schaal is unable to bring the piece together; the words, music, and imagery feel like separate entities. Through it all, a black man wanders across the stage and into the audience, looking up at the projections, a spectator commenting on the images of black bodies by saying nothing. When the audience enters the Howard Gilman Opera House, he is sitting at the front of the stage, watching the people wander in, implicating us all. But I’m not sure in what.