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


JR (French, born 1983). The Chronicles of New York City, 2018–19 (detail). Dimensions variable. © JR-ART.NET

JR, detail, The Chronicles of New York City, 2018–19 (© JR-ART.NET)

Brooklyn Museum
200 Eastern Parkway at Washington St.
Saturday, October 5, free (some events require advance tickets), 5:00 - 11:00

The Brooklyn Museum parties with Latinx pride in the October edition of its free First Saturday program. There will be live performances by Edna Vazquez and DJ Bobbito García with Los Nativos de Brooklyn and others; a paper-based collage workshop inspired by works with text in “Nobody Promised You Tomorrow: Art 50 Years After Stonewall”; a screening of Bobbito García’s 2018 documentary Rock Rubber 45s, followed by a talkback with García; a letter-writing campaign with the Queer Detainee Empowerment Project, facilitated by Ian Zdanowicz; an Inside Out photo booth inspired by “JR: Chronicles,” with images wheatpasted in the museum; a salsa party with Balmir Latin Dance Studio; the launch of the third volume of Camilo Godoy’s zine Amigxs, with readings and performances by Joshua Allen, Karlo Bueno Bello, Brian Carlos Contratto, ELSZ, and Cristóbal Guerra; and a demonstration, performance, and discussion with Bombazo Dance Co called “Uniting Diaspora, Making That Drum Talk!” In addition, the galleries will be open late so you can check out “Garry Winogrand: Color,” “Nobody Promised You Tomorrow: Art 50 Years After Stonewall,” “Jen Catron and Paul Outlaw: ‘Sin(k)’ and ‘B.S.O. (Bright Shiny Object),’” “One: Titus Kaphar,” “Pierre Cardin: Future Fashion,” “Infinite Blue,” “Rembrandt to Picasso: Five Centuries of European Works on Paper,” and more.


Peter Brook (photo ©-Marian Adreani)

Peter Brook will be celebrated at several events during the Downtown Brooklyn Arts Festival this weekend (photo ©-Marian Adreani)

Brooklyn Cultural District
The Plaza at 300 Ashland and other locations
October 4-6, free - $115

Downtown Brooklyn is the place to be this weekend for the Downtown Brooklyn Arts Festival, taking place around the Plaza at 300 Ashland from Friday to Saturday. There will be an African drum circle, live music and dance, talks and discussions, theater, glass-making demonstrations, film screenings, classes, treasure hunts, art exhibitions, and more; while many events are free, others require ticketing at BAM, Theatre for a New Audience, the Mark Morris Dance Center, and the New York Transit Museum, among others. Below are some of the highlights.

Friday, October 4
Kickoff with live performance by Soul Tigers Marching Band and dance party with Soul Summit, the Plaza at 300 Ashland, free, 5:00 - 8:00

Free Demonstration Night: The Two-Part Mold, with Kellie Krouse and Jeffrey Close, UrbanGlass, free, 6:00 - 9:00

Peter Brook\NY, with Paul Auster, Marie-Hélène Estienne, and Jeffrey Horowitz, Center for Fiction, $10 (includes $10 off at bookstore), 7:00

Pop-Up: An Artistic Treasure Hunt, by Strike Anywhere and the Tours Soundpainting Orchestra, Fort Greene, free, 7:00

Saturday, October 5
African Drum Circle with Mr. Fitz, the Plaza at 300 Ashland, free, 11:00

NYTM Train Operators Workshop, New York Transit Museum, free with museum admission, 11:30 & 3:30

Dance: Pas de Deux, with Brooklyn Ballet, set to Jean-Phillippe Rameau’s “Gavotte et Six Doubles,” the Plaza at 300 Ashland, free, 2:00

Rhys Chatham: The Sun Too Close to the Earth / Jonathan Kane and Zeena Parkins: Oh, Suzanne, ISSUE Project Room, $20-$25, 8:00

Sunday, October 6
Dance: Tribal Truth, in collaboration with Jamel Gaines Creative Outlet, the Plaza at 300 Ashland, free, 12:00

MC Oddissee, the Plaza at 300 Ashland, free, 1:00

Brooklyn Navy Yard: Past, Present & Future Tour, $15-$30, 2:00

Pop-Up: Nkiru Books, with DJ set by Talib Kweli, the Plaza at 300 Ashland, free, 2:00 - 5:00


“Gardens are works of art, and have to be treated as such,” Roberto Burle Marx (photo by twi-ny/mdr)

“Gardens are works of art, and have to be treated as such,” the multitalented Roberto Burle Marx said (photo by twi-ny/mdr)

The New York Botanical Garden
2900 Southern Blvd., Bronx
Through Sunday, September 29, $10-$28

This is the last weekend to see one of the most beautiful exhibits of the summer, “Brazilian Modern: The Living Art of Roberto Burle Marx.” The New York Botanical Garden’s wide-ranging survey of the life and career of São Paulo-born landscape architect and conservationist Roberto Burle Marx is the Bronx institution’s largest botanical exhibition in its history, consisting of plants, painting, sculpture, photographs, quotations, ephemera, and more. The installation is highlighted by a glorious, swirling black-and-white mosaic walkway and Modernist Garden, designed by Burle Marx protégé Raymond Jungles, that leads to a living wall fountain and the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory, which is filled with native Brazilian plants and other species. Marx, who passed away in 1994 at the age of eighty-four, brought back many of them from his extensive travels.

“As far as I’m concerned, there are no ugly plants,” Roberto Burle Marx, “Function of the Garden” lecture (photo by twi-ny/mdr)

“As far as I’m concerned, there are no ugly plants,” Roberto Burle Marx, “Function of the Garden” lecture (photo by twi-ny/mdr)

Blue signs identify Brazilian native plants from Neoregelia and Clusia grandiflora to Aechmea blanchetiana and Philodendron Burle Marx. “One must bring nature into the reach of man and, above all, take man back to nature,” he said in his “Gardens and Landscape” lecture. The display, curated by Edward J. Sullivan, Ph.D., also features a water garden with Bismarck palms, Amazonian water lilies, a dazzling wall of staghorn ferns, a room of Marx’s abstract paintings and tapestries and intricate environmental drawings, a detailed timeline, and an interactive look at the Sítio, which served as his home, a studio, and a salon, where he met with major landscape architects and artists.

“Nature is a complete symphony, in which the elements are all intimately related — size, form, color, scent, movement, etc. . . . . It is . . . an organization endowed with an immense dose of spontaneous activity, possessing its own modus vivendi with the world around it,” Roberto Burle Marx, 1962 (photo by twi-ny/mdr)

“Nature is a complete symphony, in which the elements are all intimately related — size, form, color, scent, movement, etc. . . . . It is . . an organization endowed with an immense dose of spontaneous activity, possessing its own modus vivendi with the world around it,” Roberto Burle Marx, 1962 (photo by twi-ny/mdr)

It's a pleasure to spend hours with Burle Marx, who appears to have been a friendly man with a vivacious thirst for art in every facet of his life. Interestingly, not much is known about his family situation, despite Dr. Sullivan’s attempts to gather information from those who knew him. But what is known is upbeat and positive, as depicted in photos of him with his thick white hair and bushy mustache and through his many quotes.

“The garden is, it must be, an integral part of civilized life: a deeply felt, deeply rooted, spiritual, and emotional experience,” Roberto Burle Marx, “The Garden as a Form of Art,” 1962 lecture (photo by twi-ny/mdr)

“The garden is, it must be, an integral part of civilized life: a deeply felt, deeply rooted, spiritual, and emotional experience,” Roberto Burle Marx, “The Garden as a Form of Art,” 1962 lecture (photo by twi-ny/mdr)

On Saturday from 1:00 to 4:00, Artes Brasileiras will present live music, while on Sunday the Silva Dance Company will perform at the same time and the Cinema Brasileiro! film series will screen Joao Vargas Penna’s 2018 documentary Landscape Film: Roberto Burle Marx. Do whatever you can to make sure you experience this one-of-a-kind exhibition about a one-of-a-kind artist and environmentalist.


(photo by twi-ny/mdr)

“Mrinalini Mukherjee: Phenomenal Nature” continues at the Met Breuer through September 29 (photo by twi-ny/mdr)

The Met Breuer
945 Madison Ave. at 75th St.
Through September 29, suggested admission $12-$25

It’s a shame that Indian artist Mrinalini Mukherjee didn’t live long enough to see her lovely Met Breuer retrospective, “Phenomenal Nature.” This first major US survey follows the career of Mukherjee, who passed away in 2015 at the age of sixty-five, as she balanced between figuration and abstraction, the traditional and the modern, and Western and non-Western modalities while moving from fiber wall hangings and free-standing works to ceramic and bronze objects. The show, arranged chronologically, features her feminist totems that at times evoke a walk through the Star Wars Cantina, populated by strange and intriguing, often erotically charged creatures.

(photo by twi-ny/mdr)

Mrinalini Mukherjee, Aranyani
(Goddess of the Forests),
fiber, 1996 (photo by twi-ny/mdr)

Inspired by nature, Mukherjee’s colorful fiber and hemp sculptures reference both humans and animals and bear Sanskrit names such as Apsara (Celestial Nymph), Yakshi (Female Forest Deity), Rudra (Deity of Terror), and Black Devi (Black Goddess). Thoughtfully curated by Shanay Jhaveri, it’s a menagerie of snakes, peacocks, palm fronds, flowers, and figures with sexual organs that form their own kind of iconography; other pieces mimic furniture, from chairs to lamps, but there is nothing mundane about Mukherjee’s oeuvre, which she intended to be seen as an artistic whole rather than craft pieces. “My work is physical — my body, my materials, the way of life, the environment, all work together,” she said. The fifty-seven works are on view through September 29, a poignant introduction to a sadly little-known artist you can learn more about at the free MetFridays lecture “Mrinalini Mukherjee: Materials and Experience,” with Julia Bryan-Wilson, Fred Moten, and Jhaveri at the Met Fifth Ave. at 6:30 on September 27.


(photo by twi-ny/mdr)

Marta Minujín’s La Menesunda has a neon-heavy room evocative of Buenos Aires and Times Square (photo by twi-ny/mdr)

New Museum of Contemporary Art
235 Bowery at Prince St.
Through September 29, $12-$18

If you missed Mika Rottenberg’s “Easypieces” at the New Museum, you still have a chance to catch Marta Minujín’s similarly immersive, astute, and funny “Menesunda Reloaded,” continuing through September 29. The Buenos Aires-born Minujín, collaborating with Rubén Santantonín, debuted the participatory installation La Menesunda in 1965 at the Instituto Torcuato di Tella in her home city to huge acclaim, with long lines of eager art lovers waiting for their chance to go inside the multimedia labyrinth and experience the unique happening, one at a time. “‘LA MENESUNDA’/is a caprice/a nonsense/way of creating difficult/strange/embarrassing ‘situations’/for those who are willing to accept them/INTENSIFYING EXISTENCE/beyond gods and ideas/feelings/mandates and desires,” the pamphlet at the opening described.

(photo by twi-ny/mdr)

Visitors meet a masseuse or a makeup artist in “The Woman’s Head” (photo by twi-ny/mdr)

You’ll have to wait in line at the New Museum as well, but it moves pretty quickly as people make their way up and down stairs and into a series of rooms Minujín, who was only in her early twenties when she made the piece, calls “The Woman’s Head,” “The TV Tunnel,” “The Intestines,” “The Swamp,” “The Rotating Basket,” and “The Forest of Forms and Textures,” among others. Each space offers different types of interactions as visitors can see themselves on an old television monitor, watch a couple in bed, get a schpritz from a makeup artist, and navigate through glowing neon, soft sculptures, and a mirrored area with confetti. The exhibition is supplemented with a black-and-white documentary of people going through the original installation, but avoid watching it until after you come out so it doesn’t ruin any of the surprises.

(photo by twi-ny/mdr)

La Menesunda features hidden surprises around every corner and through mysterious peepholes (photo by twi-ny/mdr)

Now seventy-six, Minujín counted among her friends and colleagues Claes Oldenburg, Allan Kaprow, Carolee Schneemann, Christo, and Andy Warhol and has constructed such other immersive environments as El Batacazo, The Academy of Failure, and Eróticos en Technicolor. She is quite a character, as she reveals in a catalog interview with Helga Christofferson and Massimiliano Gioni in which she touts her success and large ego, declares her work is not spectacle-driven, and explains why she hasn’t gone to a doctor since the birth of her daughter. When asked if La Menesunda was purposely designed so that it was possible for people to exit before seeing every room, she responds, “Yes. I always liked the idea that something is missing. For instance, I am very famous in Argentina, so I signed a dollar with the statement: ‘Take me, I am yours.’ People would then have to think about whether they wanted to sell the dollar with my signature on it, or use it. It’s like if you found a dollar bill signed by Andy Warhol in New York, would you sell it, keep it to sell it later, or spend it? I always want to create that kind of situation. That’s what I like about art: to wake up senses and ideas, to wake people up from their everyday lives, to wake up feelings they’ve never felt before.” Anticipating Instagram-friendly pop-up galleries and the need for publicly-announced instant gratification, La Menesunda accomplishes all that and more.


Pope.L. "The Great White Way, 22 miles, 9 years, 1 street" (2000-2009). Performance. ©POPE. L. COURTESY OF THE ARTISTS AND MITCHEL-INNES & NASH, NEW YORK.

Pope.L., “The Great White Way: 22 miles, 9 years, 1 street,” 2000-2009 (©Pope.L, courtesy of the artist and Mitchell-Innes & Nash, New York)

Seravalli Playground, St. Vincent’s Triangle, Washington Square Park, Union Square Park
Saturday, September 21, free, 9:45 am - 3:30 pm

On September 21, Newark-born, Chicago-based multidisciplinary artist Pope.L will lead “Conquest,” a crawl starting at Seravalli Playground at Hudson and Horatio Sts. at 9:45 am, continuing to NYC AIDS Memorial Park at St. Vincent’s Triangle around 11:00 and Washington Square Park at approximately 12:30, and then concluding at Union Square Park from 2:45 to 3:30. More than 140 volunteers will make their way on their bellies, becoming one with the New York City landscape. “The reason it’s called ‘Conquest’ is because that’s not what we’re gonna do at all!” (William) Pope.L explains in a Public Art Fund video. “We’re gonna give up stuff. And in giving up stuff, we’re gonna make more stuff for more people.” The one-day-only site-specific, 1.5-mile relay journey will offer up, according to the artist, humility, generosity, mirth, puzzlement, a guffaw, and maybe even some hectoring during these hard times, bringing a new perspective to how we all get by in this thoroughly amazing yet maddeningly frustrating city. Pope.L (eRacism: White Room, Thunderbird Immolation a.k.a. Meditation Square Piece) will be at the Frederick P. Rose Auditorium at the Cooper Union on September 20 at 6:30 for a Public Art Fund talk (free with advance RSVP) about the project, which leads up to two concurrent New York museum exhibitions: “Choir” at the Whitney (beginning October 20) and “member” at MoMA (October 21), which with “Conquest” form “Instigation, Aspiration, Perspiration.”


Mika Rottenberg

A tunnel welcomes visitors to Mika Rottenberg’s Cosmic Generator at the New Museum (photo © Mika Rottenberg / courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth)

New Museum of Contemporary Art
235 Bowery at Prince St.
Through September 15, $12-$18

Allegorical depictions of consumerism, the means of production, and the global reach of capitalism are at the center of Mika Rottenberg’s artistic concerns, and they are on full display in her first solo New York museum show, the delightful “Mika Rottenberg: Easypieces,” which continues at the New Museum through September 15. The presentation consists of three major video installations along with playful sculptures and an additional short film that immerse visitors in the Argentina-born, Israel-raised, New York–based Rottenberg’s unique visual and physical world. Her videos have an almost visceral and tactile appeal due to her inventive use of sound and imagery, while the uncanny sculptures that accompany them enhance the overall experience, bringing together humanity, nature, materiality, and technology. The title of the show was inspired by Richard P. Feynman’s Six Easy Pieces: Essentials of Physics Explained by Its Most Brilliant Teacher; Feynman, a theoretical physicist, writes in the introduction, “Each piece, or part, of the whole of nature is always merely an approximation to the complete truth, or the complete truth so far as we know it. In fact, everything we know is only some kind of approximation, because we know that we do not know all the laws as yet. Therefore, things must be learned only to be unlearned again or, more likely, to be corrected.” Feynman might have been speaking to physics students, but it also reads like Rottenberg explaining her work to her audience.

Mika Rottenberg

A hallway of ceiling fans leads to Mika Rottenberg’s new Spaghetti Blockchain video installation (photo © Mika Rottenberg / courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth)

Visitors get a hint of what’s to come as soon as they get off the elevator, where they are greeted by AC and Plant, an air conditioner sticking out of a temporary wall, a slow drip from which waters a potted plant on the floor. The three main videos burst with bright colors, make absurdist connections, and depict the monotony of everyday work. You enter the new Spaghetti Blockchain through a hallway of ceiling fans seen through slits in the walls; the twenty-one-minute video travels from Siberia, where Tuvan throat singer Choduraa Tumat vocalizes in traditional dress in a vast mountain landscape, to a potato farm in Maine shot from above, to the Large Hadron Collider at CERN in Switzerland. A rotating hexagonal kaleidoscopic structure at the antimatter factory turns to reveal a knife slicing a jelly roll, a man getting his bald spot sprayed, sizzling candy melting, and other odd actions that serve as ASMR cues.

(photo by twi-ny/mdr)

Mika Rottenberg’s Finger might just contain the key to the universe (photo by twi-ny/mdr)

You have to walk through a tunnel to get to 2017’s Cosmic Generator (Tunnel Variant), a twenty-seven-minute video that connects Chinese restaurants in Mexicali to a wholesale market in Yiwu, China, through a network of abandoned underground tunnels, creating seemingly arbitrary relationships that comment on border towns, immigration, and cheap Chinese labor and plastic goods. (Be sure to ride the large elevator to get a cool bonus.) You exit the room through a floor-to-ceiling sparkling rainbow curtain, like the ones on display at the Yiwu market, leading you to the three-minute short Sneeze, in which barefoot men in suits sit at a table, sneezing out rabbits, lightbulbs, and steak, referencing Thomas Edison’s 1894 five-second Fred Ott’s Sneeze. That room and the next contain bags of (fake) pearls and bunnies made of the gems, leading into 2015’s NoNoseKnows (Artist Variant), linking a pearl factory in China, where women first infect oysters so they will produce pearls, then harvest them and separate them, with fetishist Bunny Glamazon, who sniffs flowers in a small room and sneezes out plates of noodles. Meanwhile, a pair of upside-down feet stick out of a bucket of cultured pearls.

Mika Rottenberg

Pearls are at the center of Mika Rottenberg’s NoNoseKnows (Artist Variant) (photo © Mika Rottenberg / courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth)

The videos are supplemented by a room of kinetic sculptures that are directly or indirectly related, physical manifestations of what we have seen and/or experienced onscreen, blurring the lines between fact and fiction: AC and Plant is joined by Frying Pans (duo), a pair of pans on stovetops into which drops of water fall from above and sizzle, emanating smoke and sharp sounds; Finger is a digit sticking out of a wall, slowly turning, the cosmos visible on its long nail; Lips (Study #3) is a pair of sultry red lips on a wall, a miniature video playing inside, with smoke occasionally wafting out; and Ponytail (Orange) is made of real hair, flopping out of a hole in a wall. You’re not going to make sense out of every detail, so don’t try; just enjoy the pure fun of it all, even as it takes on aspects of labor with a Marxist bent. Rottenberg’s (Bowls Balls Souls Holes, Seven with Jon Kessler) work can be extremely funny and surreal, but it also is deceptively smart and clever as it deals with the apparatus of making and using, manufacturing and consuming, that so dominates modern society.