Who: Mingyur Rinpoche, Ponlop Rinpoche, Laurie Anderson, Sivamani, Preeti Vasudevan, Deepak Chopra, Tracy Dennis-Tiwary, Stuart Firestein, Daniel Goleman, Ana Lucia Valencia, Erin Reid
What: Rubin Museum virtual gala
Where: Rubin Museum online
When: Wednesday, October 21, free with RSVP (donations accepted, $25-$5,000), 6:00
Why: The Rubin Museum couldn’t have had any idea how prescient its 2020 theme would be when it first came up with it: “Impermanence: A Yearlong Exploration.” It’s been quite a year, from protests over police brutality to a global pandemic, from a bitter presidential race that has torn apart the country to a fierce economic crisis. The Rubin will offer a look back as well as a way forward at its annual gala, taking place online on October 21 at 6:00. “Inside the Mandala” promises to guide audience members into the symbolic circular spiritual object, with appearances by meditation teachers Mingyur Rinpoche and Ponlop Rinpoche, visual artist and musician Laurie Anderson, musician Drums Sivamani, choreographer Preeti Vasudevan, Rubin teaching artist Erin Reid, neuroscience researcher Ana Lucia Valencia, author and alternative medicine practitioner Deepak Chopra, emotion scientist Dr. Tracy Dennis-Tiwary and her family, biological scientist Stuart Firestein, and psychologist and science journalist Dr. Daniel Goleman.
Admission is free, but donations will be accepted at any amount. As deputy executive director and chief programmatic officer Tim McHenry noted in an email blast, “Wednesday night we take you on a journey. Inside the mandala. We are revealing for the first time our plans to convert a whole floor of the museum into an experiential (and experimental) zone for social and emotional learning using the tantric precepts of the Vairocana mandala as our model. Yes, we are...” See you there, in mind and spirit if not body.
Who: Dread Scott, Sylvia Yount
What: Artist talk
Where: Met Museum Facebook or YouTube
When: Friday, October 23, free, 6:30 (exhibition continues through November 1)
Why: In his artist statement, Dread Scott explains, “I make revolutionary art to propel history forward. I look towards an era without exploitation or oppression. I don’t accept the political structures, economic foundation, social relations, and governing ideas of America. . . . I work in a range of media: performance, installation, video, photography, printmaking, and painting. Two threads that connect them are: an engagement with significant social questions and a desire to push formal and conceptual boundaries as part of contributing to artistic development.” On October 23 at 6:30, the Met will be livestreaming the prerecorded program “Artists on Artwork — Dread Scott on Jacob Lawrence,” in which Dread looks at his own work and puts it in context with that of Lawrence, focusing on the intensely beautiful “American Struggle,” on view at the Met through November 1. The show features Lawrence’s extraordinary “Struggle: From the History of the American People,” a mid-1950s series consisting of thirty historical twelve-by-sixteen-inch tempera paintings that trace US history from 1775 to 1817, depicting, in Lawrence’s words, “the struggles of a people to create a nation and their attempt to build a democracy.”
The Met has twenty-five of the thirty original canvases on display (the other five are represented by black-and-white facsimiles), organized in chronological order, reminiscent of Lawrence’s more famous 1940-41 “The Great Migration.” Like that series, “Struggle” engages with social questions — many of which are still relevant today — while pushing formal and conceptual boundaries. [Ed. note: On October 22, it was announced that one of the missing paintings, There are combustibles in every State, which a spark might set fire to. — Washington, 26 December 1786, depicting Shays’ Rebellion, has been found and will be reunited with the rest of the series at the Met.] Colors explode off the panels, which favor sharp angles and striking imagery melding representation and abstraction that often requires rapt concentration to decipher, coming to life slowly before your eyes. Lawrence used descriptive titles often taken from published quotations to name the pieces. In We crossed the River at McKonkey’s Ferry 9 miles above Trenton . . . the night was excessively severe . . . which the men bore without the least murmur (Tench Tilghman, December 27, 1776), bayonets point up to the sky as Gen. George Washington leads three rowboats over the ocean, being carried by treacherous blue waves. In . . . we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honour, words taken from the conclusion of the Declaration of Independence, a man is barely visible through the wagon of hay he is pulling while blood drips down the right side of the painting. And Lawrence celebrates military veteran Margaret Cochran Corbin at the Battle of Fort Washington in And a Woman Mans a Cannon, with sharp horizontals offset by a tall, vertical figure at left.
In a 1968 interview with Carroll Greene for the Archives of American Art, Lawrence said about the work, “Several years ago I started an American history series, which did not pertain strictly to the Negro theme but I think my reason for doing it had something with the Negro consciousness. I wanted to show how the Negro had participated — and to what degree the Negro had participated — in American history. In fact I call it the ‘Struggle.’ As late as a few years ago in the 1950s, the Negro had not been included in the general stream of American history. We don’t know the story, how historians have glossed over the Negro’s part as one of the builders of America, how he tilled the fields and picked cotton and helped to build the cities. But I wanted to do a series showing the American Revolution. Again, this had to do with struggle — the struggle of man. This was not a Negro series; it isn’t just Negroes. It dealt with Negroes who were with Washington when he crossed the Delaware. Not as slaves. These were people who had signed up to take part in the American Revolution.” For more on Lawrence, check out a short 1993 video portrait here; born in Atlantic City and raised in Harlem, he passed away in 2000 at the age of eighty-two.
Dread’s work includes the 2019 performance piece Slave Rebellion Reenactment, a timely exploration of suppression, resistance, and revolution; the controversial What Is the Proper Way to Display a U.S. Flag?; and Money to Burn, in which he burned cash on Wall Street. Right now he has a billboard on Morgan Ave. and Harrison St. in Brooklyn in the group show “Ministry of Truth 1984/2020,” declaring, “9-1-1. There’s a white male running down the street.” For more on Dread Scott, watch this interview from April. The MetSpeaks talk is moderated by Sylvia Yount, the Lawrence A. Fleischman Curator in Charge of the American Wing. And don’t forget to see the Lawrence show, which is utterly stunning and closes soon.
Who: Nobutaka Aozaki, Hanako Murakami, Aki Sasamoto, Daisy Nam, Felipe Arturo, Kyle Dancewicz, more
What: Livestream performances and artist Q&As
Where: Japan Society online
When: October 22 - December 17, $10 per program ($40 for all exhibition-related programs), 6:00
Why: On September 24, Japan Society unveiled its first virtual exhibition, in response to the pandemic lockdown resulting from the coronavirus crisis. On view through January 21, “From Here to There” consists of three visual artists taking on isolation and community, the physical versus the digital, and issues of control and agency. The works will evolve over time and take the audience behind the scenes of their progress. New York-based Nobutaka Aozaki is maintaining a conceptual map of found items and ground-floor businesses along Broadway. In Imaginary Landscapes, Paris-based Hanako Murakami repurposes vintage film and photographic plates and paper to explore the nature of memory (followed by “Palpebra” on October 22, “Film Reels” on November 19, and “Magic Lantern” on December 17).
And New York-based Aki Sasamoto is staging, with collaborators from the Yale School of Art, three livestreamed performances and Q&As from Japan Society, on October 22 with Armando Cortes, Sae Jun Kim, Erik Nilson, Hyeree Ro, Amina Ross, Audrey Ryan, Jeenho Seo, Pap Souleye, Lucas Yasunaga, Stella Zhong, and moderator Daisy Nam, November 19 with moderator Felipe Arturo, and December 3 with moderator Kyle Dancewicz, all at 6:00. The improvised pieces will reconsider live performance in the age of Covid-19, announcing, “Let’s sing together. Physically transport objects. Think about speech patterns. Throw a workout session.” In addition, Murakami will give a photo processing demonstration from her personal darkroom on November 5 and will speak with Maison Européenne de la Photographie director Simon Baker on January 7, and Aozaki will give an artist talk and gallery walkthrough of his intervention at Japan Society on December 17. You can watch the virtual opening of the exhibit with the artists, gallery director Yukie Kamiya, and assistant curator Tiffany Lambert here.
Who: Michael Menchaca, Claudia Zapata
What: Online launch of The Wall (link goes live October 22)
Where: El Museo del Barrio Zoom
When: Thursday, October 22, free with advance RSVP, 6:00
Why: On October 22, Texas-born artist Michael Menchaca will launch the online version of his three-channel video project The Wall, as part of El Museo del Barrio’s “Estamos Bien — La Trienal 20/21.” Previously presented live at the American University Museum in DC last year, The Wall, which features music from Jorge Ramos Avalos’s January 2019 video op-ed “Trump Is the Wall,” addresses issues of borders and immigration using gaming and video art as seen through Chicanx aesthetics. The event will include a discussion between Menchaca, Smithsonian American Art Museum curatorial assistant Claudia Zapata, and curators from El Museo del Barrio. "With the virtual presentation of The Wall, my intention is to offer a space for contemplation on one of the central campaign promises of the forty-fifth U.S. president as he seeks reelection,” Menchaca said in a statement. The on-site exhibition “Estamos Bien — La Trienal 20/21” is scheduled to open at El Museo on March 13.
Who: Firelei Báez, Rosanne Cash, Moeko Fujii, Maira Kalman, Nico Muhly, Simon Schama, Aimee Ng, Xavier F. Salomon, Ian Wardropper
What: Virtual gala
Where: Frick Zoom
When: Monday, October 19, free - $50,000, 6:30
Why: For decades, one of my crucial respites has been the Frick Collection, the spectacular museum on East Seventieth St. and Fifth Ave. that houses endless masterpieces assembled by Pittsburgh industrialist Henry Clay Frick and his daughter, Helen Clay Frick. The Gilded Age mansion features one of New York City’s most beautiful indoor fountains and art treasures around every corner. But it will be a while before I am able to visit this austere institution, as it has been closed not because of the pandemic but for a major renovation; however, it is expecting to reopen in early 2021 in a temporary new location, taking over the former home of the Whitney and the Met Breuer on Madison Ave. The Frick has been active online during the coronavirus crisis, presenting “Frick Five” interviews and the hugely popular weekly series “Travels with a Curator” on Wednesdays and “Cocktails with a Curator” on Fridays, hosted by curator Aimee Ng and deputy director and chief curator Xavier F. Salomon. (You can read my May interview with viral superstar Salomon here; have a cocktail ready.)
And now you will be able to get a sneak peek at the Frick Madison while also looking back at the museum’s history at “Frick on the Move: A Virtual Gala,” an online fundraiser being held on October 19 at 6:30. The evening includes appearances by Firelei Báez, Rosanne Cash, Moeko Fujii, Maira Kalman, Nico Muhly, and Simon Schama; in addition, Ng will give a tour of the museum’s second floor, and Salomon will debut a special edition of “Cocktails with a Curator.” (The preferred cocktail is a White Russian or an Iced Ginger Coffee.) Admission is free, but donations will be accepted; gifts of $1,000 or more come with access to an exclusive behind-the-scenes virtual tour led by director Ian Wardropper. You can keep in touch with the Frick during the renovation through several ongoing online programs, including “Collecting Impressions: Six Centuries of Print Connoisseurship Part III” on October 21, “Symposium on the History of Art” on October 23, “Continue the Conversation: El Greco, Purification of the Temple” on October 28, and “Provenance Stories” on October 30.
La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club
Saturday, October 17, 11:00 am - Sunday, October 18, 11:00 am, $5 - $400 (pay what you can)
Osaka-born multidisciplinary artist Yoshiko Chuma celebrates the fortieth anniversary of her collective, “The School of Hard Knocks” (SOHK), with the live, twenty-four-hour virtual work Love Story, streaming through La MaMa beginning at eleven o’clock in the morning on October 17. SOHK debuted at the 1980 Venice Biennale and became an official company four years later; the troupe has traveled the world with such shows as AGITPROPS: The Recycling Project, 7 x 7 x 7, and Pi=3.14 . . . Ramallah-Fukushima-Bogota Endless Peripheral Border, many of which were developed and premiered at La MaMa as well as PS122 and Dixon Place here in New York. A durational performance installation that incorporates dance, music, film, visual art, and narrative storytelling, Love Story deals with such timely topics as immigration, national security, and war; Chuma, who has been based in the United States since 1977, will also be looking at her personal and professional past, present, and future, focusing on the idea of borders, which have taken on a whole new level of importance under the Trump administration while also impacting how art is now created online as well as how Chuma has shunned the limitations of genre in her career.
Love Story — which consists of live and prerecorded segments, with part of the show taking place in La MaMa’s Ellen Stewart Theatre — was conceived, choreographed, and directed by Chuma, working with artist liaison Ai Csuka, creative producer and musician Ginger Dolden, actor Ryan Leach, Middle East specialist Ruyji Yamaguchi, and dramaturgs and designers Jake Margolin and Nick Vaughan. Among the cast of more than fifty international performers are Deniz Atli from Turkey, Agnè Auželytė from Amsterdam, Los Babuinos from Venezuela, Sahar Damoni from Palestine, Tanin Torabi from Iran, and Martita Abril, Mizuho Kappa, Heather Litteer, Devin Brahja Waldman, and zaybra from New York, with live, original music by Robert Black on double bass, Jason Kao Hwang on violin, Christopher McIntyre on trombone, and Dane Terry on piano.
“This week I was supposed to be in New York for performances celebrating Yoshiko Chuma and the School of Hard Knocks’ forty-year anniversary,” Auželytė recently wrote on Facebook. “While my physical body will stay put in Amsterdam for a long while to come, I will still be there, online and energetically, sharing the screen with a group of artists, some whom I had the opportunity to get to know for a long time already and some whom I only ever met on Zoom! (How weird is that? Is it still weird?) I am also touched to see some of them physically at the theater at La MaMa, which has been closed to the public for seven months now! We’ve had a lot of late-night conversations during this process and it continues to make me think about how to reimagine theater in the era of self-isolation and Zoom life. What does local-global mean anymore? Where are our bodies? What are our bodies?”
The list of collaborators on Love Story is long and impressive. In addition to those listed above, there will be choreography by Yanira Castro, Ursula Eagly, Allyson Green, Jodi Melnick, Sarah Michelson, Anthony Phillips, Peter Pleyer, Kathryn Ray, Steve Recker, and Vicky Shick; poetry by Kyle Dacuyan, Bob Holman, and Anne Waldman; music by Mark Bennett, Tan Dun, Nona Hendryx, Christian Marclay, Lenny Pickett, and Marc Ribot; film and video by Chani Bockwinkel, Jacob Burckhardt, Rudy Burckhardt, Andrew Kim, Jonas Mekas, and Charlie Steiner; photography by Robert Flynt and Dona Ann McAdams; set designs by Tim Clifford, Alex Katz, Elizabeth Kresch, and Elizabeth Murray; and appearances by Barbara Bryan, Rachel Cooper, Mark Russell, Yoko Shioya, Bonnie Sue Stein, Laurie Uprichard, David White, Donald Fleming, Dan Froot, Kaja Gam, Brian Moran, Nicky Paraiso, Harry Whittaker Sheppard, Gayle Tufts, Sasha Waltz, David Zambrano, Nelson Zayao, Emily Bartsch, Peter Lanctot, Kouiki Mojadidi, Emily Marie Pope, Isaac Rosenthal, and Aldina Michelle Topcagic. Of course, it takes a lot of work to fill up 1,440 continuous minutes of performance, and Chuma has assembled quite a team.
You can get a sneak peek and behind-the-scenes look at the collaborative project on October 15 at 8:00 when La MaMa will present a livestream preview that includes archival footage, sketches, and rehearsal clips. In preparation for Love Story, La MaMa has also been hosting such live Saturday morning Zoom events as “Secret Journey: Stop Calling Them Dangerous” and “SML: Zooma — Dead End” in addition to evening shows that give a taste of what we’re all in for from Bessie Award winner Chuma and her unpredictable troupe, a virtual hybrid that should offer, at the very least, a twenty-four-hour respite from this school of hard knocks we are living through in 2020.
Who: Elena Filipovic, Frances Richard, Judith Rodenbeck, Randal Wilcox, Laura Phipps
What: Online discussion about “Around Day’s End: Downtown New York 1970-1986” exhibition
Where: Whitney Museum of American Art Zoom
When: Thursday, October 15, free with advance RSVP, 6:00; Tuesday, October 27, free with advance RSVP, 6:30
Why: In 1975, land artist and anarchitecture specialist Gordon Matta-Clark deconstructed an abandoned industrial building on Pier 52 on the Manhattan riverfront, cutting into the walls, doors, and floors and turning it into a unique kind of performance art piece, at least until the police shut it down and arrested him. You can watch Matta-Clark’s twenty-three-minute silent film about the project, which he called a “temple to sun and water,” here. American artist David Hammons is revisiting Matta-Clark’s intervention, known as Day’s End, by constructing his own version on the same site for the Whitney, which is right across the street. It is expected to be completed in December; in the meantime, the Whitney is presenting “Around Day’s End: Downtown New York 1970-1986,” a small show in the first-floor gallery that explores art depicting the waterfront area at the time, when it was known as a gay cruising hotspot. Among the photographs, drawings, sculpture, video, and paintings in the exhibition, which continues through November 1, are Dawoud Bey’s David Hammons, Pissed Off performance photos, Christo’s Package on Hand Truck, Joan Jonas’s Songdelay video, Martha Rosler’s The Bowery photo and text series, David Wojnarowicz and Kiki Smith’s Untitled (Psychiatric Clinic: Department of Hospitals), Anton van Dalen’s Street Woman on Car, Peter Hujar’s Canal Street Piers: Fake Men on the Stairs, and Carol Goodden’s documentation of Matta-Clark’s Jacks, in addition to works by Alvin Baltrop, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Jimmy Wright, and G. Peter Jemison and a vitrine of proposed projects for Pier 18 from Mel Bochner, Robert Morris, William Wegman, Richard Serra, Harry Shunk, János Kender, and Matta-Clark.
On October 15 at 6:00, the Whitney is hosting a virtual discussion about the exhibit, focusing on Baltrop, Hammons, Jonas, and Matta-Clark, with Elena Filipovic, author of David Hammons: Bliz-aard Ball Sale; Frances Richard, author of Gordon Matta-Clark: Physical Poetics; Judith Rodenbeck, associate professor and chair of media & cultural studies at the University of California, Riverside; and Randal Wilcox, who worked with Baltrop and is a trustee of the Alvin Baltrop Trust. The free Zoom talk will be moderated by assistant curator Laura Phipps, who organized the show with senior curatorial assistant Christie Mitchell. Phipps and Mitchell follow that up October 27 at 6:30 with the Zoom discussion “Community Conversation: Around Day’s End,” teaming up with the Hudson River Park Trust, the Meatpacking Business Improvement District, and Manhattan’s Community Board 2 to look at the project from a different angle.