New York City–based multimedia conceptual artist Adam Pendleton makes his manifesto clear in “what a day was this,” an immersive installation continuing at Lever House through August 28. The thirty-four-year-old Pendleton has combined black-and-white text and visuals and mirrors from his series “OK DADA OK BLACK DADA OK” and “System of Display” along with silkscreen works on Mylar. Words such as naive, function, and if can barely be read through redacted-like black blotches on several canvases. Large-scale spiral notebooks contain quotes from W. E. B. Du Bois’s The Souls of Black Folk, which declares, “The Nation has not yet found peace from its sins; the freedman has not yet found in freedom his promised land,” and Hugo Ball’s Dada Manifesto, which explains, “The word, gentlemen, is a public concern of the first importance.” A wall of masklike portraits of black faces, newspaper clippings (about the 1930 Congo Crisis and other events), and abstract geometric shapes looks out onto Park Ave. An unfinished question asks, “What is the bla?”
Pendleton, whose “Black Dada Flag (Black Lives Matter)” recently flew over Scylla Point, previously known as Negro Point, as part of the Frieze art fair on Randall’s Island, started writing poetry as a young boy in Richmond, Virginia. His mother was an elementary school teacher and his father a contractor and a musician. Pendleton, who lives in Brooklyn and Germantown with his husband, Yumami Food Company cofounder Karsten Ch’ien, and works in two studios in Sunset Park, has had such previous one-man and group shows as “shot him in the face; “I am you, you are too”; “Becoming Imperceptible”; and “How to Live Together” around the world. The site-specific “what a day was this” also includes excerpts from Du Bois’s “Of Our Spiritual Strivings” and Pendleton’s Black Dada Reader as well as an interview with choreographer Trajal Harrell. While the mirrors implicate the viewer, Lever House’s glass walls dare people outside to confront the systemic racism staring right at them. “Black Dada is a way to talk about the future while talking about the past. It is our present moment,” Pendleton says.
West 135th St. between Malcolm X Blvd. & Frederick Douglass Blvd.
Saturday, August 18, and Sunday, August 19, free, 12 noon – 10:00 pm
Festival continues through August 25
The theme of the 2018 Harlem Week festival is “Women Transforming Our World: Past, Present & Future,” along with the subtheme “The Community within the Community,” saluting LGBTQ rights. The festivities continue August 18 with “Summer in the City” and August 19 with “Harlem Day,” two afternoons of a wide range of free special events along West 135th St. Saturday’s programs include Harlem Senior Citizens Synchronized Swimming, the NYC Children’s Festival in Howard Bennett Playground (with a parade, exhibits, games, arts & crafts, live music and dance, health testing, and sports clinics), the Harlem Week Higher Education Fair (with more than fifty colleges and universities), “Dancing in the Streets” with live performances and WBLS DJs, the International Vendors Village, the Fabulous Fashion Flava Show, the “Uptown Saturday Concert” (with Sarah Vaughan National Competition winner Ashleigh Smith, Bishop Marvin Sapp, Raheem Devaughn, and the Jeff Foxx Band), and the Imagenation Outdoor Film Festival in St. Nicholas Park. Sunday’s “Harlem Day” celebration features live performances on three stages, the International Vendors Village, the Upper Manhattan Auto Show, Our Health Village, the Upper Manhattan Small Business Expo & Fair, USTA Children’s Tennis Clinics, and the second day of the NYC Children’s Festival (with a Back to School theme).
Museum of Modern Art
11 West 53rd St. between Fifth & Sixth Aves.
Through August 19
“Photographs can and in many ways should exist to contradict one another and to build out a narrative that is confusing and in some ways sort of compulsive,” explains Carmen Winant, one of seventeen photographers included in MoMA’s biannual look at new photography, this year called “Being,” which asks the question “How can photography capture what it means to be human?” Winant’s large-scale “My Birth,” consisting of more than two thousand found images of women giving birth, lines a narrow passageway in the exhibit, which continues through August 19. “This could be a shared narrative that both collapses time, and also sort of points to the difference between kinds of experience,” she adds in her online statement. That could be said for many of the works in the show, which features photographers from Brazil, America, Ethiopia, Poland, India, Italy, Germany, and Palestine, all between the ages of thirty-one and forty-four. Harold Mendez’s “At the edge of the Necró polis” explores ritual and remembrance. Images of water are central to Matthew Connors’s series “Unanimous Desire,” taken in North Korea. Stephanie Syjuco’s “Cargo Cults: Head Bundle” is a self-portrait of the Philippine immigrant in traditional dress but with an Urban Outfitters shopping bag on her head. In “Gesellschaft beginnt mit drei” (“Society Begins with Three”), Andrzej Steinbach delves into personal identity by having a trio of models change position and clothing. The exhibit, organized by assistant curator Lucy Gallun, also includes work by Sofia Borges, Sam Contis, Shilpa Gupta, Adelita Husni-Bey, Yazan Khalili, Aïda Muluneh, Hương Ngô and Hồng-Ân Trương, B. Ingrid Olson, Joanna Piotrowska, Em Rooney, and Paul Mpagi Sepuya. “I just want you to really question,” Husni-Bey says about “The Council,” but that relates to all of the photographs in this compelling presentation.
Brooklyn Bridge Park, Pier 6 through August 12
Hudson River Park, Pier 25 at West St., August 13 – October 7
Hudson River Park, Pier 66a at Twenty-Sixth St., October 7 – May 12
Admission: free (advance RSVP required for boat trip, through October 7)
flow separation slideshow
San Francisco-born, New York-based visual artist Tauba Auerbach has added some razzle dazzle to city waterways with the nautical work “Flow Separation.” For this joint project of the Public Art Fund and 14-18 NOW, the British organization honoring the centenary of WWI, Auerbach has turned the fireboat John J. Harvey into a “dazzle ship,” painting the 1931 boat in red and white dazzle camouflage. If you’re not familiar with the style, its history is fascinating. In the First World War, dazzle camouflage, albeit in less-striking colors, was inspired by ideas from British painter Norman Wilkinson and Scottish zoologist John Graham Kerr — Pablo Picasso claimed credit as well — and was used to confuse the enemy by distorting ships’ speed and direction, making them much tougher moving targets. Auerbach, whose previous painting and sculpture exhibitions include “Projective Instrument” and “Float” and whose “Diagonal Press” is a continuing unique open-edition publishing model, has covered virtually every possible surface of the vessel, from floors and ladders to walls and doors, from storage containers and flags to rope and chains, with exuberant red-and-white marbling and patterns adapted from the movement of water, particularly by how eddies can form in a ship’s wake, making it appear that the water is going both backward and forward at once.
Built in 1931 in a Gowanus plant and decommissioned in 1994, the 130-foot-long Harvey was the first FDNY fireboat with an internal combustion engine. It was named for steam fireboat pilot John J. Harvey, the only casualty of a February 1930 incident involving a fire on a German shipping line and a series of explosions that impacted Harvey’s boat, the Thomas Willett. Before being retired, the Harvey was one of the boats that would shoot out red, white, and blue water immediately prior to the Macy’s July Fourth fireworks display on the East River; it was brought back into action on September 11, 2001, pumping water and helping to evacuate people downtown after the towers fell.
Since then, the Harvey has taken New Yorkers and tourists on short sojourns, but never quite like this. Captain Huntley Gill guides the boat up the East River, passing by Gowanus Bay (where it was built), Red Hook, several bridges, and the Statue of Liberty. Weather permitting, the boat lets loose its water cannons, often with spontaneous rainbows, in a spectacular display that allows you to get as wet as you want to, depending on where you’re standing. Some people choose to get drenched, while others can take cover under a dazzled tarp. Not all the cannons work, so you might get spritzed through old leaks. Most of the ship is accessible, including two lifeboats and one of the lookout towers that features multiple cannons, but there is no available bathroom and no snack bar. It’s a friendly atmosphere, so be ready to interact with your fellow enthusiastic passengers as well as the crew members, who love to talk about the ship, from longtime mates to one young man who recently arrived in New York and was hired on the Harvey as his first job; he even sleeps on the boat and works on his DJ music on off-hours. The captain is happy to share details about the boat and its repainting and upcoming complete restoration, and don’t be surprised if you bump into Florent Morellet, the community activist, artist, and former owner of the favorite Meatpacking District restaurant Florent; he is one of the founders of the group that bought the boat postretirement, and he’s planning on taking trips every weekend.
Through August 12, the fireboat will be docked at Pier 6 in Brooklyn Bridge Park, where it can be boarded between 12 noon and 4:00 on Saturdays and between 3:00 and 7:00 on Sundays. The boat will also take seventy-five people on a forty-five to sixty-minute trip at 4:30 and 6:00 on Saturdays and 12 noon and 1:30 on Sundays. The Harvey will then move to Pier 25 in Hudson River Park from August 13 to October 7, where the boarding and trips continue. Finally, the boat will dock at Pier 66A in Hudson River Park through May 12, but with no more trips. Tickets for the September 15-16 journeys will become available on September 4 at noon, for September 22-23 on September 11 at noon, and for September 29-30 and October 7 on September 18 at noon. There is a standby line that is worth the wait (get there about an hour early), since there is usually, although not always, a handful of no-shows. It’s a fabulous experience and a must-see, a gorgeous, swirling artwork that provides a thrill-a-minute experience. Of course, it is also a reminder of the horror of battle, from the War to End All Wars to the present fears of nuclear confrontation.
The free summer arts & culture season is under way, with dance, theater, music, art, film, and other special outdoor programs all across the city. Every week we will be recommending a handful of events. Keep watching twi-ny for more detailed highlights as well.
Sunday, August 5
Movies Under the Stars: Escape to Witch Mountain (John Hough, 1975), Beach 94th St. off Shorefront Parkway in Rockaway Beach, 8:00
Monday, August 6
Movies Under the Stars: Black Panther (Ryan Coogler, 2018), Cunningham Park, Queens, 8:00
Tuesday, August 7
signs & symbols: artists & allies, group exhibition opening featuring work and discourse, with live performances and discussions continuing every Thursday night through September 7, signs & symbols, 102 Forsyth St., 6:00
Wednesday, August 8
Hip to Hip Free Shakespeare in the Park: All’s Well That Ends Well, directed by Owen Thompson, Flushing Meadows Corona Park at the Unisphere, continues in repertory with King Lear at various parks through August 25, Kids & the Classics workshop at 7:00, show at 7:30
Thursday, August 9
SummerStage: Wild Style 35th Anniversary Reunion at the Amphitheater with special guest DJ Funk Flex, with Almighty Kay Gee, Busy Bee, Charlie Ahearn, DJ Grand Wizzard Theodore, DJ Tony Crush, Eclipse, EZ AD, Grand Master Caz, Patti Astor, and Rodney C and preshow hip-hop dance workshop with Fabel, East River Park Amphitheater in John V. Lindsay East River Park, 6:00
Friday, August 10
Lincoln Center Out of Doors: West Side Story Reimagined, with Bobby Sanabria Multiverse Big Band and poetry by La Bruja and Rich Villar, Damrosch Park Bandshell, 7:30
Saturday, August 11, 18, 25
Norte Maar’s Dance at Socrates, with Kristina Hay and Hilary Brown | HB² PROJECTS and Gleich Dances with Sarah Louise Kristiansen on August 11, Movement Migration | Blakeley White-McGuire and Project 44 | Gierre Godley with Janice Rosario & Company on August 18, and Kyle Marshall Choreography and Kathryn Alter and Dancers with Thomas/Ortiz Dance and konverjdans on August 25, Socrates Sculpture Park, 4:00
Sunday, August 12
Blues Brunch with Bill Sims Jr., Bryant Park Southwest Porch, 12 noon