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


French legend Agnès Varda will discuss her life and career as a visual artist at FIAF

French legend Agnès Varda will discuss her life and career as a visual artist at FIAF

French Institute Alliance Française, Florence Gould Hall
55 East 59th St. between Madison & Park Aves.
Tuesday, February 28, $30, 7:30
Series continues Tuesday nights through March 21

Over the years, FIAF has shown many films by Nouvelle Vague master Agnès Varda, the celebrated auteur behind such classics as Vagabond, Cléo from 5 to 7, The Gleaners and I, Jacquot de Nantes, and The Beaches of Agnès. Now the French Institute Alliance Française is bringing Varda herself to Florence Gould Hall for the special talk “Agnès Varda: Visual Artist,” taking place on February 28 at 7:30, moderated by art dealer Olivier Renaud-Clément. The Belgium-born, France-based Varda, who was married to Jacques Demy for nearly thirty years, will be focusing not only on her film career but her upcoming gallery show at Blum & Poe, which runs March 2 to April 15. The discussion also kicks off FIAF’s CinéSalon series “Agnès Varda: Life as Art,” which consists of Varda’s Daguerréotypes on March 7, with the 7:30 screening followed by a talk with Varda and curator Laurence Kardish, Jacqot de Nantes on March 14, and Lola on March 21. This is a very special chance to see the remarkable eighty-eight-year-old Varda, so get your tickets now.


Nan Goldin (American, born 1953). Nan and Brian in Bed, New York City. 1983. Silver dye bleach print, printed 2006, 15 1/2 × 23 3/16" (39.4 × 58.9 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Acquired through the generosity of Jon L. Stryker. © 2016 Nan Goldin

Nan Goldin, “Nan and Brian in Bed, New York City,” silver dye bleach print, 1983, printed 2006 (the Museum of Modern Art, New York. Acquired through the generosity of Jon L. Stryker. © 2016 Nan Goldin)

Museum of Modern Art
11 West 53rd St. between Fifth & Sixth Aves.
Wednesday, February 8, free with museum admission, 11:30 am
Exhibition continues through April 16, $14-$25

“The Ballad of Sexual Dependency is the diary I let people read. My written diaries are private; they form a closed document of my world and allow me the distance to analyze it. My visual diary is public,” Nan Goldin wrote about her seminal 1985-86 multimedia exhibition and book. “There is a popular notion that the photographer is by nature a voyeur, the last one invited to the party. But I’m not crashing; this is my party. This is my family, my history.” Goldin and the Museum of Modern Art are currently inviting everyone to the party, showing The Ballad of Sexual Dependency in its complete audiovisual form through April 16. Consisting of nearly seven hundred portraits set to music by James Brown, Maria Callas, the Velvet Underground, Nina Simone, and Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, Ballad is set primarily amid the heroin subculture of downtown New York from 1979 to 1986, just as AIDS started ravaging the city, as well as in Berlin, Paris, Boston, Provincetown, and Mexico. Born in Washington, DC, in 1953, Goldin, who left home when she was just fourteen, took intimate photos of her chosen family — friends, lovers, junkies, drag queens, and others, including artists Greer Lankton and Vivienne Dick, actress and writer Cookie Mueller, Andy Warhol, Jim Jarmusch, and performer Suzanne Fletcher. Deeply affected by her sister Barbara’s suicide — she killed herself in 1964 at the age of eighteen, when Nan was eleven — Goldin sees the photos as a way to hold on to her memories. The photos are not chic glamour shots but instead captured moments of real life, with natural lighting and what would technically be considered imperfect composition. Yet they have an immediacy and emotion that overstaging and multiple takes would ruin. Although reminiscent of the work of Larry Clark and Diane Arbus, Ballad finds Goldin boldly revealing her life, particularly in two of the most famous shots, one of her boyfriend Brian sitting on the edge of a bed, smoking a cigarette, as sunlight pours in over Goldin’s face on a pillow, her eyes slyly looking at him, while in the other, a horribly beaten Goldin — the culprit was Brian —looks into the camera, her left eye nearly swollen shut, her red lipstick, dangling earrings, and pearl necklace defining her feminism and strength.

Nan Goldin, “Nan One Month After Being Battered, 1984,” silver dye bleach print, printed 2008 (the Museum of Modern Art, New York. Purchase)

Nan Goldin, “Nan One Month After Being Battered,” silver dye bleach print, 1984, printed 2008 (the Museum of Modern Art, New York. Purchase)

On February 8 at 11:30 am, independent educator Diana Bush will lead a Gallery Session at MoMA, “Nan Goldin: The Personal Is Political,” exploring the relationship between photography, memory, and diary, elements that are central to Goldin’s entire oeuvre, which also includes such books and series as “I’ll Be Your Mirror” and “The Devil’s Playground.” (You can find out more about Goldin in Sabine Lidl’s 2013 documentary, Nan Goldin — I Remember Your Face.) Named after a song in Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht’s 1928 classic, The Threepenny Opera (“They’re all the same / In meeting love’s confusion / Poor noble souls / Get blotted in illusion”) — The Ballad of Sexual Dependency is in its own viewing room at MoMA, where visitors feel like guests at this decades-old party, watching photos of acquaintances pass by, each one a not-so-distant memory tinged with joy and sadness. The central slide show is supplemented by numerous posters from the early versions of Ballad as well as silver dye bleach prints of more than a dozen of the photos, including “The Parents’ Wedding Photo, Swampscott, Massachusetts,” “Trixie on the Cot, New York City,” “Nan One Month After Being Battered,” and “Philippe H. and Suzanne Kissing at Euthanasia, New York City.” Goldin also wrote in the Ballad book, “The diary is my form of control over my life. It allows me to obsessively record every detail. It enables me to remember.” Extended through April 16, The Ballad of Sexual Dependency is hard to forget.


(photo by twi-ny/mdr)

Jewish Museum exhibit gives visitors a chance to go home with actual objets d’art (photo by twi-ny/mdr)

The Jewish Museum
1109 Fifth Ave. at 92nd St.
Thursday - Sunday, $7.50 - $15 (free admission Saturday 11:00 am - 5:45 pm, pay-what-you-wish Thursday 5:00 - 8:00)
“Don’t just look. Touch, take, share,” the Jewish Museum advises about its interactive exhibition “Take Me (I’m Yours),” which continues through Sunday. In 1995, curator Hans Ulrich Obrist and artist Christian Boltanski teamed up at the Serpentine Gallery in London for a show of the same name, in which a dozen artists created works that visitors could literally take home, exploring such ideas as creation, engagement, interactivity, participation, ownership, value, consumerism, and the art market itself. The Jewish Museum show features pieces by forty-two artists and collectives, several from the original Serpentine presentation; a Kickstarter campaign helped fund approximately ten thousand of each work so visitors could add to their own personal art collection. “In principle a work of art has always been reproducible,” Walter Benjamin wrote in his 1935 essay “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction,” adding, “Even the most perfect reproduction of a work of art is lacking in one element: its presence in time and space, its unique existence at the place where it happens to be.” Andrea Bowers’s “Political Ribbons,” featuring feminist mottos, were taken from the museum and worn by protesters at the recent women’s march on Washington. Boltanski’s “Dispersion” consists of used clothing that is meant to be taken and used; the ever-changing mound evokes Felix Gonzalez-Torres’s nearby “Untitled (USA Today),” edible (and kosher) sugar-free candies that, when taken, not only change the shape of the work as a whole but reference loss, especially poignant since Gonzales-Torres and his partner both died of AIDS in the 1990s. Carsten Höller’s “Pill Clock (Red and White),” a mechanism high in a corner, slowly dispensing edible capsules one by one, and Ian Cheng and Rachel Rose’s untitled container of fortune cookies call into question material possession as visitors decide whether to take the objects home to keep or to just eat them, which is a completely different experience.

(photo by twi-ny/mdr)

“Take Me (I’m Yours)” is filled with items that call into question consumerism, consumption, and the art market itself (photo by twi-ny/mdr)

The concepts of immateriality and ownership are also raised in such pieces as aaajiao’s “Email Trek,” in which the art is an email; Kelly Akashi’s “Cavelike,” a sound installation; Alison Knowles’s “Shoes of Your Choice,” involving audience performance; James Lee Byars’s “Be Quiet,” in which a slow-moving woman in a dark dress approaches people who are talking and silently gives them a small, circular piece of colored paper that says, “Be Quiet”; General Sisters’ “No One Is Disposable” recycled, sustainable toilet paper that declares “I am not illegal”; and Daniel Spoerri’s “Eat Art Happening,” a large-scale skeleton made of nonkosher sugar paste that will be devoured by museumgoers on February 5 in “Everything Must Go,” providing the sweet taste of death on the last day of the exhibition. Other pieces to look out for are Uri Aran’s untitled plaster casts of the tops of takeout coffee lids, Andrea Fraser’s “Preliminary Prospectuses” detailing art as corporate commodity, Gilbert & George’s anarchistic buttons, Yngve Holen’s wearable “Evil Eye” contact lenses, Jonas Mekas’s “With Thanks to Joseph Cornell and Rose Hobart” filmstrip (a museum employee will cut a segment for those who ask), Yoko Ono’s “Air Dispenser” capsules (which cost a quarter), Rirkit Tiravanija’s “Untitled (Form Follows Function or Vice Versa No. Two)” T-shirts, Daniel Joseph Martinez’s “(America) Adopt a Refugee” kit, and Jonathan Horowitz’s “Hillary 16” poster depicting the official portraits of all the presidents — except with Hillary Clinton following Barack Obama. Scattered throughout the exhibition are definitions of such words and phrases as New Materialism, Economy, Market, Gift, Charity, Relics, Immateriality, Relational Aesthetics, Exchange, and Democratization, placing it all in sociopolitical perspective. Perhaps it is all summed up by Lawrence Weiner’s pidgin English installation “NAU EM I ART BILONG YUMI,” which translates as “The art of today belongs to us.” Among the other artists giving away cool stuff are Luis Camnitzer, Maria Eichhorn, Hans-Peter Feldmann, Alex Israel, Rivane Neuenschwander, Martha Rosler, Allen Ruppersberg (paying homage to Gonzalez-Torres), Tino Sehgal, and Haim Steinbach. (Note that some works are not available on Saturday.) You’re likely to go home with a bag filled with goodies, but how many will you keep long-term as you reevaluate their worth over time? However, the experience will never go away; just be sure not to pocket any items throughout the rest of the museum.


Beverly Buchanan (American, 1940–2015). Untitled (Double Portrait of Artist with Frustula Sculpture) (detail), n.d. Black-and-white photograph with original paint marks, 8½ x 11 in. (21.6 x 27.9 cm). Private collection. © Estate of Beverly Buchanan

Beverly Buchanan, detail, “Untitled (Double Portrait of Artist with Frustula Sculpture), black-and-white photograph with original paint marks, n.d. (Private collection / © Estate of Beverly Buchanan)

Brooklyn Museum
200 Eastern Parkway at Washington St.
Saturday, February 4, free, 5:00 - 11:00

The Brooklyn Museum continues its 2017 First Saturdays theme, “A Year of Yes: Reimagining Feminism at the Brooklyn Museum,” on February 4 with a focus on the exhibitions “I See Myself in You: Selections from the Collection” and Beverly Buchanan — Ruins and Rituals.” There will be live performances by Courtnee Roze, OSHUN, Leikeli47, and Everyday People (DJs mOma, Rich Knight, and Lola Chung, hosted by Saada Ahmed and Chef Roblé Ali); a tour of “Beverly Buchanan — Ruins and Rituals” led by curator and artist Park McArthur; an interactive performance inspired by the graphic novel The Other Side of Wall Street by Black Gotham Experience (William Ellis, Adrian Franks, Kamau Ware, and Cliff Washington) with DJ GoodWill; excerpts from SHE’s multimedia choreoplay by Jinah Parker, followed by a discussion with the dancers and Kevin Powell; a hands-on art workshop in which participants can make miniature homes inspired by “Beverly Buchanan — Ruins and Rituals”; a screening of Fit the Description, followed by a community talk with retired detective Clifton Hollingsworth Jr., founder of 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement Who Care, and U.S. Air Force veteran and composer and producer Malik Abdul-Rahmaan; pop-up gallery talks on African diaspora artists and revolutionaries, hosted by teen apprentices; a community resource fair with booths from Cultural Row Block Association on Eastern Parkway (CuRBA), Brooklyn Navy Yard, Black Youth Project 100, NYC Books Through Bars, the Safe OUTside the System Collective from the Audre Lorde Project, and others; a book club discussion about Audre Lorde’s Sister Outsider facilitated by Glory Edim and Jessica Lynne; a kids corner with drumming and storytelling by Garifuna artist James Lovell; and screenings of A Nick in Time and American Falls, part of Bé Garrett’s Legacy Projects, followed by a Q&A with members of the casts; In addition, you can check out such exhibits as “Iggy Pop Life Class by Jeremy Deller,” “The Dinner Party by Judy Chicago,” “Life, Death, and Transformation in the Americas,” “Marilyn Minter: Pretty/Dirty,” and “Infinite Blue.”


 Sheila Pepe (photo by Rachel Stern), niv Acosta (photo by Amos Mac), and ; LJ Roberts

Sheila Pepe (photo by Rachel Stern), niv Acosta (photo by Amos Mac), and LJ Roberts will be at MCNY on February 1 to discuss queer art and identity

Who: Sheila Pepe, niv Acosta, LJ Roberts, Hunter O’Hanian
What: Illustrated talk and panel discussion
Where: Museum of the City of New York, 1220 Fifth Ave. at 103rd St., 212-534-1672
When: Wednesday, February 1, $10-$20 (includes museum admission), 6:30
Why: In conjunction with the current exhibition “Gay Gotham: Art and Underground Culture,” the Museum of the City of New York is presenting the special program “Queer Art on the Edge” on February 1 at 6:30. Queer artists Sheila Pepe (born in Morristown, New Jersey; sculpture and installation), niv Acosta (born and raised in New York City; dance and choreography), and LJ Roberts (born in Detroit; textiles) will show some of their work and relate it to their LGBTQ identity, then take part in a discussion with moderator Hunter O’Hanian, executive director of the College Art Association, to examine the present and future of queer art. The two-floor multimedia “Gay Gotham” exhibition, which continues through February 26, explores the life and times of such diverse artists as Mercedes de Acosta, Robert Mapplethorpe, Cecil Beaton, Mae West, Leonard Bernstein, Andy Warhol, and others; it will remain open for a special viewing following the panel.


The Year of the Rooster will be celebrated at Brookfield Place and other locations over the next several weeks

The Year of the Rooster will be celebrated at Brookfield Place and other locations across town over next several weeks

Sara D. Roosevelt Park and other locations
East Houston St. between Forsythe & Chrystie Sts.
January 28 - February 17

Gōng xǐ fā cái! New York City is ready to celebrate the Year of the Rooster, or, more specifically, the Fire Rooster, this month with special events all over town. People born in the Year of the Rooster are trustworthy, responsible at work, talkative, loyal, thoughtful, and popular. Below are some of the highlights happening here in the five boroughs during the next several weeks of Chinese New Year.

Saturday, January 28
New Year’s Day Firecracker Ceremony & Cultural Festival, Sara D. Roosevelt Park, Grand Street at Chrystie St., free, 11:00 am – 3:30 pm

Chinese New Year Temple Bazaar, with live performances, martial arts, food, arts & crafts, and more, Flushing Town Hall, 137-35 Northern Blvd., $3-$5, 11:00 am and 2:00 pm

Sunday, January 29
Lunar New Year Celebration: Madison St. to Madison Ave., with the New York Eastern Chamber Orchestra conducted by Fei Fang, FJ Music, juggler Lina Liu, Chinese marionette puppet show, martial arts performance by American Tai Chi and Health Qigong Center, face painting, calligraphy, themed photo booth, and more, beginning at Harman store at 527 Madison Ave., free, 11:00 am - 3:00 pm

Lunar New Year Celebration, with live performance and brush and ink painting workshop sponsored by the New York Chinese Cultural Center, Staten Island Children’s Museum, 1000 Richmond Terr., $8, 2:00 – 4:00

Tuesday, January 31
Chinese New Year Celebration, with the New York Philharmonic performing works by Li Huanzhi, Adam, Saint-Saëns, Chen Qigang, Huang Zi (arranged by Bao Yuankai), Puccini, Li Qingzhu, and Ravel, David Geffen Hall, 10 Lincoln Center Plaza, $35-$110, 7:30

Friday, February 3
Pauline Benton and the Red Gate Exhibition Opening Reception, Flushing Town Hall, $5 suggested donation, 5:00

Saturday, February 4
Lunar New Year Celebration, with family-friendly arts and crafts, Queens Botanical Garden, 43-50 Main St., free, 1:00

Chinese New Year Celebration, with family workshops, dumpling making, storytelling, lion dance, live music, more, workshops $5-$20, party and performance $10-$20, China Institute, 40 Rector St., 1:00 – 7:00

Sunday, February 5
Eighteenth annual New York City Lunar New Year Parade & Festival, with cultural booths in the park and a parade with floats, antique cars, live performances, and much more from China, Korea, Japan, Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia, Singapore, and other nations, Chinatown, Sara D. Roosevelt Park, and Columbus Park, free, 1:00

Rooster Shadow Puppet Workshop, Flushing Town Hall, $8-$10 (free for teens with ID), 1:00

Lunar New Year Festival: Year of the Rooster, with live performances by Sesame Street puppeteers, Chinese opera by Qian Yi, lion parade, Balinese music by Gamelan Dharma Swara, the China Youth Orchestra, traditional music by Mingmei Yip, Vietnamese drums, drawing, paper folding, button making, tea gatherings, comics workshop, hand-pulled noodle demonstration with Chef Zhang, storytelling, collection chats, and more, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1000 Fifth Ave. at 82nd St., free with suggested museum admission, 11:00 am – 5:00 pm

Saturday, February 11
Lunar New Year Family Festival, with folk arts, live dance, food sampling, storytelling, a gallery hunt, a Nian monster mash-up, and more, Museum of Chinese in America, 215 Centre St., $12, 11:00 am – 4:00 pm

Lunar New Year 4715: Year of the Rooster Celebration, with costume contest, riddles, martial arts, live music and dance, rice balls contest, paper lantern arts and crafts, games, more, P.S.310, 942 62nd St., free, 11:00 am - 2:30

Year of the Rooster Celebration, with lion dancers, lion parade, live music and dance, martial arts demonstrations, theatrical players, and more, New York Chinese Cultural Center at Arts Brookfield, 230 Vesey St., free, 1:30 – 3:30

Saturday, February 11, and Sunday, February 12
Lunar New Year: Year of the Rooster, with puppet shows, scavenger hunt, calligraphy workshop, fortune cookies, and more, Prospect Park Zoo, 450 Flatbush Ave., $6-$8, 11:00 am – 4:00 pm

Friday, February 17
Lunar New Year Shadow Puppet Slam, hosted by Kuang-Yu Fong and Stephen Kaplin, adults only, Flushing Town Hall, $13, 7:00



Documentary tells the engaging story of a pair of Japanese artists and the life they have made for themselves in Brooklyn

CUTIE AND THE BOXER (Zachary Heinzerling, 2013)
Japan Society
333 East 47th St. at First Ave.
Friday, January 27, $15, 7:00

Zachary Heinzerling’s Emmy-winning Cutie and the Boxer is a beautifully told story of love and art and the many sacrifices one must make to try to succeed in both. In 1969, controversial Japanese Neo Dada action painter and sculptor Ushio Shinohara came to New York City, looking to expand his career. According to the catalog for the recent MoMA show “Tokyo 1955-1970: A New Avant-Garde,” which featured four works by Ushio, “American art had seemed to him to be ‘marching toward the glorious prairie of the rainbow and oasis of the future, carrying all the world’s expectations of modern painting.’” Four years later, he met nineteen-year-old Noriko, who had left Japan to become an artist in New York as well. The two fell in love and have been together ever since, immersed in a fascinating relationship that Heinzerling explores over a five-year period in his splendid feature-length theatrical debut. Ushio and Noriko live in a cramped apartment and studio in DUMBO, where he puts on boxing gloves, dips them in paint, and pounds away at large, rectangular canvases and builds oversized motorcycle sculptures out of found materials. Meanwhile, Noriko, who has spent most of the last forty years taking care of her often childlike husband and staying with him through some rowdy times and battles with the bottle, is finally creating her own work, an R. Crumb-like series of drawings detailing the life of her alter ego, Cutie, and her often cruel husband, Bullie. (“Ushi” means “bull” in Japanese.) While Ushio is more forthcoming verbally in the film, mugging for the camera and speaking his mind, the pig-tailed Noriko is far more tentative, so director and cinematographer Heinzerling brings her tale to life by animating her work, her characters jumping off the page to show Cutie’s constant frustration with Bullie.

Ushio Shinohara creates one of his action paintings in CUTIE AND THE BOXER

Ushio Shinohara creates one of his action paintings in Emmy-winning CUTIE AND THE BOXER

During the course of the too-short eighty-two-minute film — it would have been great to spend even more time with these unique and compelling figures — the audience is introduced to the couple’s forty-year-old son, who has some issues of his own; Guggenheim senior curator of Asian Art Alexandra Munroe, who stops by the studio to consider purchasing one of Ushio’s boxing paintings for the museum; and Chelsea gallery owner Ethan Cohen, who represents Ushio. But things never quite take off for Ushio, who seems to always be right on the cusp of making it. Instead, the couple struggles to pay their rent. One of the funniest, yet somehow tragic, scenes in the film involves Ushio packing up some of his sculptures — forcing them into a suitcase like clothing — and heading back to Japan to try to sell some pieces. Cutie and the Boxer is a special documentary that gets to the heart of the creative process as it applies both to art and love, focusing on two disparate people who have made a strange yet thoroughly charming life for themselves. Cutie and the Boxer is screening January 27 at 7:00 at Japan Society and will be followed by a discussion and Q&A with Ushio and Noriko in the gallery, where Ushio’s “Tokyo Bazooka” was on display in 1982 and where the couple was part of the memorable “Making a Home” exhibition in 2007.