Museum of Chinese in America
215 Centre St. between Howard & Grand Sts.
Friday, July 28, $30, 6:30
On July 28, the Museum of Chinese in America is hosting a multidisciplinary Summer Jam, with live music by YouTube ukelele star Nix, singer-songwriters Grace Ming and Jessica Rowboat, and Brooklyn folk duo Heartland Nomads, spoken-word poetry by Edric Huang and Lavinia Liang from Songline, stand-up comedy with Joon Chung, and storytelling from Talkingstick cofounder Master Lee. There will also be a raffle and a sale in the shop benefiting the museum’s educational program, light hors d’oeuvres courtesy of the pulled-noodle experts at the awesome Xi’an Famous Foods, and unlimited Hiro Sake, Tiger Beer, Bruce Cost Ginger Ale, and other alcoholic and nonalcoholic drinks. And as a bonus, attendees will be treated to a preview of MOCA’s upcoming exhibition, “FOLD: Golden Venture Paper Sculptures,” which opens October 5.
MoMA, Museum of Modern Art
11 West 53rd St. between Fifth & Sixth Aves.
Through July 30, $25
Right outside “Louise Lawler: WHY PICTURES NOW” on MoMA’s sixth floor are several benches that seem ideally placed for tired museumgoers ready to take a break before entering the exhibition. Curiously, however, the benches do not face the introductory text, the entrance, or the barely visible projections of various phrases on a wall. And if you do sit on one of the benches, a security guard will immediately tell you to get up, because it is actually part of the show, a collaboration between Lawler and Cameron Rowland called “New York State Unified Court System.” (The legal reference relates to Lawler’s widespread use of appropriation.) It’s a genius way to begin the exhibition, the first major New York museum survey of Lawler’s work, which for forty-five years has focused on how art is presented to and experienced by the viewer. Born in Bronxville in 1947, Lawler is best known for her photographs of paintings and sculptures by other artists, as the works are in the process of being hung or taken down in museums or seen in collectors’ homes and auction houses, often with sly twists. In an untitled 1950–51 silver dye bleach print, an empty bench sits in front of a Joan Miró canvas that is mostly out of the frame of the photo. In “Monogram,” Jasper Johns’s “White Flag” is on the wall behind a bed covered by a monogrammed sheet. In “White Gloves,” an art handler wearing white gloves is carefully unwrapping a portrait by Gerhard Richter, which is staring right back at the viewer. In her paperweights series, such photos as “Reception Area” and “Untitled (Flavin)” are difficult to see (unless you’re rather tall), placed as they are in small paperweights on individual stands. For her “Adjusted to Fit” series, Lawler takes pictures of others’ artworks, then creates large-scale distorted adhesive vinyl prints that she stretches out to fit on gallery walls; in “Big,” Maurizio Cattelan’s “Picasso — Puppet” is being unpacked, the body of the sculpture lying on the floor, the giant head behind it still in plastic, and behind that is Thomas Struth’s “Pergamon Museum IV, Berlin,” a photograph of people milling about a display of Greek friezes and a headless statue. Thus, Lawler challenges the viewer to get their mind around a series of gazes in which they appear to be both subject and object.
For her “Tracings” series, Lawler, who was part of the Pictures Generation with Cindy Sherman, Robert Longo, Barbara Kruger, David Salle, Laurie Simmons, Richard Prince, and others, creates black-and-white drawings of some of her photographs, including “Pollyanna” and “Triangle,” on adhesive vinyl, removing the color and details, leaving behind a large-format blueprint that looks like it was drawn right on the wall. Of particular interest is “Salon Hodler,” which appears in the show as a regular photograph, inside a paperweight, as a digital gif, and as a tracing. There are numerous chairs in this part of the gallery, where visitors are encouraged to sit and study any of the tracings, yet another wry comment from Lawler, giving museumgoers the opportunity to take their time with works that lack the kind of content evident in the other rooms. The show also features postcards, printed matchbooks, announcement cards, envelopes, press releases, and other items Lawler made for various gallery shows, in addition to collaborations with Lawrence Weiner, Sherrie Levine, Allan McCollum, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, and Andrea Fraser. Finally, out in the Abby Aldrich Sculpture Garden is “Birdcalls,” a seven-minute sound installation recorded and mixed by Terry Wilson in which Lawler chirps and peeps the names of twenty-eight well-known male artists, from Vito Acconci and John Baldessari to Dan Graham and Donald Judd, from Anselm Kiefer and Sol LeWitt to Julian Schnabel and Cy Twombly, not a single woman in the bunch, noting the inherent, primary white male privilege of the international art world. It’s also important to point out that the title of the exhibit, “WHY PICTURES NOW,” purposely does not have a question mark, instead making a firm statement. To cap it all off, Lawler provides us with one last message that we can literally bring home with us: If the artwork on the exhibition poster doesn’t look familiar, that’s because it’s actually not part of the show.
On streets and in parks all around New York City, tourists pay to get their portraits or caricatures drawn. Puerto Rican sculptor and performance artist Jesús “Bubu” Negrón turns that around, literally and figuratively, in “The Back Portrait,” an ongoing project he conceived in San Juan in 2000 and is coming to the High Line July 25-27. From two o’clock to seven o’clock each day, Negrón will draw, using color markers and crayons, people sitting down with their backs to him. Negrón will give the sitter the original drawing, keeping a photocopy for himself to put on display, calling into question original works of art versus copies. Participation is free and first come, first served. Negrón’s previous work, which often equates “artists” with “artisans,” includes “[Standard memes (campaign for the awareness and activation of the neighborhood)],” in which local residents in San Juan helped revive derelict buildings in their communities via memes, “Honoris Causa,” in which Negrón invited two street vendors to set up their carts inside the Whitney lobby for the 2006 biennial, merging art with a different kind of commerce, and “Banco Marímbula,” a public square bench turned into a musical instrument using parts from a 1957 Victrola.
Last year’s inaugural Panorama festival was everything it promised it would be, three days of cool music, art, technology, and food on Randall’s Island. It’s back for its second go-round, taking place July 28-30. Tickets are $125 per day and $345 for the full weekend to see such performers as Future Islands, Girl Talk, MGMT, Spoon, Solange, DJ Shadow, and Frank Ocean on Friday, Belle & Sebastian, Matoma, Vince Staples, Motor City Drum Ensemble, and Tame Impala on Saturday, and Cloud Nothings, Justice, Glass Animals, a Tribe Called Quest, and Nine Inch Nails on Sunday at four different locations — the main stage, the Pavilion, the Parlor, and the Point. Eats and drinks will be available from El Paso, Oddfellows, Roberta’s Pizza, Salvation Taco, Ed & Bev’s, Loco Coco, Spicy Pie, Trapizzino, Uma Temakeria, Matchabar, Pasquale Jones, PDT, Sam’s Fried Ice Cream, and others. The Lab is also back, a 360-degree virtual-reality theater with such interactive works as Future Wife’s “Boolean Planet,” Emilie Baltz’s “Dream Machine,” Prism’s “Future Portrait,” Ekene Ijeoma’s “Heartfelt,” the Windmill Factory’s “Right Passage,” Dirt Empire’s “The Ark Dome Show,” and SOFTlab’s “Volume.” Among the sponsors selling products, giving away samples, and hosting unique experiences are Rough Trade, Barefoot Wine & Bubbly, Sephora, Califia, Macy’s Pool Party, Bai, the Global Inheritance Recycling Store, and Tullamore Dew. Keep watching twi-ny for daily highlights as the fest approaches.
(SOMA)TIC POETRY RITUALS
Madison Square Park Oval Lawn
Twenty-Fourth St. between Madison & Fifth Aves.
Through July 23, free, 12 noon – 5:00 pm (workshops nightly at 6:00)
“Every single human being is creative. When we commit ourselves to nurturing our artistic capacities we improve our ability to more deeply discern the world around us and make the constructive decisions needed in order to thrive in this world,” fifty-one-year-old poet CAConrad writes in his (Soma)tic Manifesto. Through July 23, Conrad will be performing “(Soma)tic Poetry Rituals” in Madison Square Park, under one of American artist and MacArthur Fellow Josiah McElheny’s three sculptures that comprise “Prismatic Park,” a collaborative public art project that is hosting free dance, music, and poetry through October 8, sponsored by Danspace Project, Blank Forms, and Poets House. Born in Kansas and raised in Pennsylvania, Conrad is the author of such books as The City Real & Imagined, ECODEVIANCE: (Soma)tics for the Future Wilderness, and the upcoming While Standing in Line for Death. In 1998, Conrad’s boyfriend, AIDS activist Earth (Mark Holmes), was brutally raped, tortured, and murdered in Tennessee at the age of thirty-six. In order to break out of his subsequent depression and his inability to break away from a factorylike existence that had been with him since childhood when his family ran a casket company, Conrad developed rituals that helped respark his creative energy and his life in general. He is currently in the midst of a six-day residency in Madison Square Park, sitting (in the shade) at a small table under McElheny’s open red vaulted-roof pavilion (with red and yellow glass), where the public is invited to join him for approximately twenty minutes as Conrad develops a personalized (Soma)tic poetry ritual for each individual participant, involving crystals, liquids, and writing. The rituals are meant to help anyone seeking new ways to cope with today’s world; they are not limited to writers. The personalized rituals — bring pen and paper to take copious notes — are first come, first served, from 12 noon to 5:00, followed by workshops from 6:00 to 8:00; on July 22, Conrad delves into crystal trees, while on July 23 he will read tarot cards. “Prismatic Park,” which also features a blue sound wall and a reflective green dance floor, continues with concerts by Joe McPhee & Graham Lambkin (July 25-30), Shelley Hirsch (August 22-27), Matana Roberts (September 5-10), and Limpe Fuchs with poet Patrick Rosal (October 3-8), dance by Netta Yerushalmy (August 1-6) and Jodi Melnick (September 12-17, 19-24), and poetry by Joshua Bennett (August 15-20), Donna Masini (August 29 – September 3), and Mónica de la Torre (September 26 – October 1).
There’s only a few more days to see the best current exhibition in New York City by an artist you’ve never heard of but need to. Continuing at the Met Breuer through Sunday, “Lygia Pape: A Multitude of Forms” is the first retrospective of multidisciplinary Brazilian artist Lygia Pape, who passed away in 2004 at the age of seventy-seven. “My concern is always invention. I always want to invent a new language that’s different for me and for others, too,” she said. “I want to discover new things. Because, to me, art is a way of knowing the world . . . to see how the world is . . . of getting to know the world.” The show opens up a whole new world of invention, a wonderland of geometric form, color, time, and space, consisting of a wide range of drawing, woodcuts, painting, sculpture, film, dance, installation, and performance art taking on the personal and the political, the psychological and the cultural. During her five-decade career, Pape (pronounced pah-PAY) was part of the Concretists, Grupo Frente, and Neoconcretism, pushing the boundaries of the picture plane as she merged genres in unique ways. Her “Pinturas,” “Relevos,” and “Tarugos” demonstrate the development of her style, as square boxes, horizontal bars, and skewed lines eventually emerge from her canvas, creating a three-dimensionality that invades the viewer’s space. Her woodcuts, called “Tecelares,” and ink drawings, known as “Desenhos,” furthered her geometric abstraction, while her “Poema-objetos” turned paper into sculpture, leading to such works as “Livro da criação” (“Book of Creation”), a facsimile of which visitors can engage with, offering an alternate view of their surroundings.
In the short 1967 film O ovo (“The Egg”), Pape breaks through a white box on the beach. In “Divisor” (“Divider”), dozens of heads jut out from a huge white sheet as the participants walk through the streets of Rio de Janeiro. “Ballet neoconcreto I” and “Ballet neoconcreto II” might look like an experimental film of moving geometric shapes but instead are recordings of live performances in which dancers are actually inside the forms, guiding them. “Her trajectory, especially in the 1960s and 1970s, was informed by the irreverence of underground cinema and the influence of vernacular and indigenous cultures and shaped by a strong awareness of her role as a woman artist,” Glória Ferreira explains in her exhibition catalog essay. “Roda dos prazeres” (“Wheel of Pleasures”) is activated at specific times, allowing museumgoers to taste the colored liquids arranged in a circle of bowls, each a different flavor. The massive “Livro do tempo” (“Book of Time”) features 365 painted blocks, as if each day is represented by a new semaphore. “Banquete tupinambá” (“Tumpinamba Banquet”) consists of a wooden table and two chairs covered in red feathers, a lightbulb dangling over it, two polyurethane breasts almost hidden within the work. In its own room is “Ttéia 1, C,” a mesmerizing installation of golden thread pouring down like gorgeous sunlight in the darkness. And yes, those are mummified cucarachas in “Box of Cockroaches.” Much of Pape’s oeuvre is tinged with but not overwhelmed by sociopolitical messages; in fact, she was imprisoned for three months in 1973 for her political activities in a country that experienced tremendous upheaval during her lifetime. But that didn’t stop Pape from doing what she does best, creating remarkable art while existing on the fringes. “I always enjoyed marginality. I made a point about staying in the periphery. I was very much an anarchist,” Pape noted in 2000. “Marginality . . . is a bourgeois concept,” she also wrote. There is nothing marginal or bourgeois about this revelatory exhibition. (For more on Lygia Pape and the show, which is beautifully curated by Iria Candela, you can watch the May 4 Met symposium “To Live Is to Invent: Perspectives on the Art and Times of Lygia Pape” here.)