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.
“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.
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.
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.”
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.
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
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.
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.