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


The Queer Houses of Brooklyn and the Three Towns of Boswyck, Breukelen and Midwout during the 41st Year of the Stonewall Era. (Based on the drawing by Daniel Rosza Lang/Levitsky and with illustrations by Buzz Slutzky.) Crank-Knit Yarn, fabric, thread, sequins, poly-fil, 1" pins (free to the public and replenished endlessly). 9' x 9' x 14'. 2011

LJ Roberts, The Queer Houses of Brooklyn and the Three Towns of Boswyck, Breukelen and Midwout during the 41st Year of the Stonewall Era (based on the drawing by Daniel Rosza Lang/Levitsky and with illustrations by Buzz Slutzky), crank-knit yarn, fabric, thread, sequins, poly-fil, 1" pins (free to the public and replenished endlessly), 2011 (photo courtesy of the artist)

Brooklyn Museum
200 Eastern Parkway at Washington St.
Saturday, June 1, free (some events require advance tickets), 5:00 - 11:00

The Brooklyn Museum honors Gay Pride and the fiftieth anniversary of the Stonewall riots in the June edition of its free First Saturday program. There will be live performances by New York City Gay Men’s Chorus, Linda LaBeija, Amber Valentine, and Madame Gandhi as well as teen staff members presenting an intersextions variety show inspired by “Nobody Promised You Tomorrow: Art 50 Years After Stonewall” and artists Morgan Bassichis, TM Davy, DonChristian Jones, Michi Osato, Una Osato, and special guests celebrating the updated edition of The Faggots & Their Friends Between Revolutions; a book club talk with Jodie Patterson discussing her latest, The Bold World, with Elaine Welteroth; a curator tour of “Nobody Promised You Tomorrow” led by Lindsay C. Harris and Carmen Hermo; a hands-on workshop in which participants can design buttons based on LJ Roberts’s The Queer Houses of Brooklyn in the Three Towns of Boswyck, Breukelen, and Midwout during the 41st Year of the Stonewall Era; a community talk on radical queer histories with Audre Lorde Project; and an “Archives as Raw History” tour focusing on the museum’s LGBTQ+ histories. 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,” “Eric N. Mack: Lemme walk across the room,” “Liz Johnson Artur: Dusha,” “One: Egúngún,” “Something to Say: Brooklyn Hi-Art! Machine, Deborah Kass, Kameelah Janan Rasheed, and Hank Willis Thomas,” “Infinite Blue,” “A Woman’s Afterlife: Gender Transformation in Ancient Egypt,” “Kwang Young Chun: Aggregations,” and more.


(photo by twi-ny/mdr)

“Nari Ward: We the People” continues at the New Museum through May 26 (photo by twi-ny/mdr)

New Museum
235 Bowery at Prince St.
Through May 26, $12-$18

This is the last weekend to see “Nari Ward: We the People,” the first museum survey of the Jamaican-born installation artist. His works fill three floors of the museum, including sculptures, videos, paintings, and repurposed found objects that bring together his ancestral heritage and his longtime home base of Harlem. “Hunger Cradle” is an ever-evolving site-specific web of rope and string from which objects are suspended. “T. P. Reign Bow” features a blue police tower guarded by a fox with an afro tail (named Cornel after Dr. Cornel West). “Amazing Grace” is a room of 365 discarded strollers tied together while a recording of Mahalia Jackson singing the spiritual song repeats.

(photo by twi-ny/mdr)

“Amazing Grace” features the song sung by Mahalia Jackson in a room of 365 baby strollers (photo by twi-ny/mdr)

“Iron Heavens” is a construction made of burned wooden baseball bats and wooden cooking sheets, evoking slavery and the diaspora. “We the People” spells out those constitutional words in shoelaces. “Exodus” recalls slavery, migration, and the current refugee crisis, while “Naturalization Drawing Table” explores the US immigration process. “Spellbound” is a piano covered with keys, a video playing on the back. “Glory” is a unique kind of casket for America.

(photo by twi-ny/mdr)

Materiality and history are central to Nari Ward’s artistic discipline (photo by twi-ny/mdr)

The exhibition also includes such other works as “Carpet Angel,” “Savior,” “Homeland Sweet Homeland,” “Geography: Bottle Messenger,” and “Crusader,” each well worth delving into in detail as Ward takes stock of where we’ve been, and where we are today.


(photo by twi-ny/mdr)

A flash mob sings Arvo Pärt’s “Drei Hirtenkinder aus Fátima” in room of Gerhard Richter wallpaper and tapestries (photo by twi-ny/mdr)

The Shed
Level 2 Gallery in the Bloomberg Building
545 West 30th St. at Eleventh Ave.
Tuesday - Sunday through June 2, four times daily, $25

The Shed, the new performance space at Hudson Yards, has made a rather inauspicious debut. The experimental play Norma Jeane Baker of Troy, inaugurating the five-hundred-seat black-box Griffin Theater, is a critical and popular flop, with bad reviews, walkouts, and lots of empty seats. The first art installation, an untitled work by Trisha Donnelly, initially cost ten dollars but was made free after a less-than-enthusiastic reaction to the exhibit, which consists of trees on gurneys in a dark room where Leontyne Price’s rendition of “Habanera” from Carmen repeats over and over. But the immersive Reich Richter Pärt is a bit more on track, though it too has its drawbacks. “We’re only getting started,” artistic director Alex Poots told me after a recent performance; Poots previously did wonderful things at the Manchester Festival and Park Ave. Armory.

Curated by senior program advisor Hans Ulrich Obrist and Poots, Reich Richter Pärt is a two-room, fifty-minute multidisciplinary collaboration between eighty-two-year-old American composer Steve Reich, eighty-seven-year-old German visual artist Gerhard Richter, and eighty-three-year-old Estonian composer Arvo Pärt. The audience is first let into an expansive white space with high ceilings; the walls feature vertical wallpaper and jacquard woven tapestries that emulate Rorschach-like strips that are supposed to resemble stained glass, as if the room is a cathedral. Visitors are given too much time to walk around and look at the images; many break off into conversations and take out their cell phones until a group of men and women starts singing, a flash mob performing Pärt’s lovely choral work “Drei Hirtenkinder aus Fátima,” about three Portuguese shepherd children who claimed to see an apparition of the Virgin Mary in 1917. The choral work, which is dedicated to Richter and was inspired by Psalms 8.2 (“From the mouths of children and infants you create praise for yourself”), is performed by either the Choir of Trinity Wall Street Performing Ensemble or Brooklyn Youth Chorus.

(photo by twi-ny/mdr)

Gerhard Richter and Corinna Belz’s abstract film screens with live score by Steve Reich (photo by twi-ny/mdr)

The crowd is then led into a second large room, where people can grab folding chairs and sit wherever they like in the empty space between a wall on one side with a screen and a small orchestra on the other, either the Ensemble Signal or the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), depending on the date. (I saw the former, conducted by Brad Lubman. Poots suggested sitting very close to the musicians for the optimal experience, so I joined such visitors as Marina Abramovic and Francis Ford Coppola.) The orchestra plays Reich’s newly commissioned score, created specifically for an approximately half-hour film by Richter and Corinna Belz, which brings to life Richter’s algorithmic processing of his 2016 abstract painting Abstraktes Bild (946-3), using a computer to fold it in half and half again, dividing it into 1/4096ths and then proceeding in the other direction, creating a hypnotic, kaleidoscopic animation in which the painting morphs from bands of bold color, which also line two walls, into yet more Rorschach-like shapes and figures slowly marching across the screen until it all double back to the color strips. (The original work is on view as well.) The film follows the principles Richter employed in his “Patterns” series, which Reich adapted for his thrilling score. As with the first part of the presentation, the second goes on too long, but it’s still a wonder to behold, an example of the kind of fascinating promise the Shed holds.


Christo takes a spin around his massive project in Andrey M Paounov’s Walking on Water

Christo takes a spin around his massive project in Andrey M Paounov’s Walking on Water

WALKING ON WATER (Andrey M Paounov, 2018)
Film Forum
209 West Houston St.
Opens Friday, May 17

Andrey M Paounov’s Walking on Water, opening this weekend at Film Forum, reveals a lot about large-scale installation artist Christo, and you can find out even more when the Bulgarian-born eighty-four-year-old curmudgeonly religious icon / rock star participates in Q&As with Paounov on Friday and Saturday at 7:00 and Sunday at 4:45. In 1961, Christo and his wife and artistic partner, Jeanne-Claude, started creating massive public works, wrapping fabric around the entire Reichstag in Berlin, placing hundreds of yellow umbrellas in Tokyo and blue umbrellas in California concurrently, and lining the pathways of Central Park with dozens of saffron-colored gates, among other impressive spectacles that gave a pop art sheen to land art, which had been the preserve of Robert Smithson, James Turrell, and Walter De Maria, among others. In 1969, Christo and Jeanne-Claude began trying to realize The Floating Piers project, an expansive walkway that would make visitors feel like they were strolling on the water itself. Jeanne-Claude passed away in 2009, and five years later Christo became determined to make The Floating Piers a reality.

The film follows him as he finds his location — Lake Iseo in Northern Italy — adamantly chooses his materials, meets with local politicians, and has something to say about each step of the process, giving Paounov near-total access as Christo experiences bumps and bruises and gets his eyelashes trimmed. He argues with his nephew and right-hand man, Vladimir Yavachev, over numerous details; gets frustrated with computers; complains about the cover of a catalog (“This is horror story,” he says); is thwarted by bad weather; and nearly has a meltdown when crowd control gets out of hand. He approaches everything with the exacting eye of an artist, taking in the beauty of nature while seeking perfection, and nothing less, from the large crew working for him.

Christo is worshipped everywhere he goes; not only does his name evoke Jesus’s but so does the purpose of The Floating Piers, inviting men, women, and children to traverse the lake on foot similarly to what Jesus did on the Sea of Galilee. Christo even has long (white) hair that flaps in the wind. His eyes light up when he visits the Vatican and marvels at Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel ceiling and when he takes a helicopter ride to survey the installation, providing filmgoers with breathtaking views. There is also a terrific score by Danny Bensi and Saunder Jurriaans that ranges from sweet and gentle to percussive and pulsating. As ornery as Christo seems to be, he smiles when he needs to, like when he stops by a party loaded with rich collectors, is stopped by fans for selfies, or gazes lovingly at the rich natural landscape surrounding Lake Iseo; it’s all part of his genius.

Paounov (Georgi and the Butterflies, The Mosquito Problem and Other Stories) put the film together with seven hundred hours of footage that had already been recorded before he was hired in 2016, adding to that what he then shot, wisely eschewing talking heads and interviews and instead presenting Christo and his captivating world uncensored and unfiltered, which is a real treat. “Art is not a profession. You don’t work from nine to five,” Christo tells a classroom of small children in his broken English. “To be artist, you are all the time artist. There is no moment when you are not artist.” Walking on Water is an intimate fly-on-the-wall documentary about the creative process and one man’s intense determination to make the planet a better place, one work of art at a time.


worlds fare

Citi Field
123-01 Roosevelt Ave.
Saturday, May 18, and Sunday, May 19, noon - 7:00
General admission $23, with three-hour beer garden $49, VIP $199

The second annual World’s Fare at Citi Field, near where the 1963-64 World’s Fair took place, features more than one hundred food vendors from all five boroughs, more than five dozen craft breweries, a World Market Bazaar, and more. The Culinary Committee co-chairs this year are Gael Greene, Alex Raij, Anita Lo, and Joshua Schneps, with the festival curated by food-arena movers and shakers Liza Mosquito deGuia, Niko Triantafillou, Jean Lee, Joe DiStefano, George Motz, Tia Keenan, Hannah Goldberg, Felipe Donnelly, Jenny Dorsey, Joseph Yoon, Karen Seiger, Kysha Harris, Tamy Rofe, and Cindy VandenBosch. There will be live music by Black Tie Brass Band, Strings N Skins, Funky Dawgz Brass Band, Mariachi Loco, Rho & the Nomads, Royal KhaoZ, Kaleta & Super Yamba, and Underground Horns and dance performances by Sachiyo Ito & Company, Leggz Ltd., American Bolero Dance Company, NY Chinese Cultural Center, Salit Bellydance, Nartan Rang Dance Academy, Country Dancing, KG Group Entertainment, Gemuetlichen Enzianer Dancers, and Schade Academy of Irish Dancing along with interactive murals, karate exhibitions, henna, African body painting, art by Taisan Tanaka, and other events. Among the participating eateries are Baba’s Pierogies, Balkan Bites, Barbecue on a Stick, Caribbean Street Eats, Chef Jimmy’s Vicious Creole Cycle, D’Abruzzo NYC, DiRiso Risotto Balls, Donovan’s Pub, Down East Lobstah, Duck Season, George Motz’s Oklahoma Fried Onion Cheeseburger, Keki Modern Cakes, Little Porky’s, Macaron Parlour, Melt Bakery, Memphis Seoul, Miss Holly’s Smokehouse, Nansense, Oaxaca Taqueria, Republic of Booza, Rooster Boy, Sam’s Fried Ice Cream, Stuffed Ice Cream, Tania’s Kitchen, Twisted Potato, Wafels & Dinges, and What’s the Dillaz. General admission is $23; you can add three hours of libations in the beer garden for another $26, while VIP access goes for $199.


international day of light

Multiple venues
Thursday, May 16, free

Every May 16, UNESCO’s International Day of Light is celebrated around the world, “a global initiative that provides an annual focal point for the continued appreciation of light and the role it plays in science, culture and art, education, and sustainable development, and in fields as diverse as medicine, communications, and energy.” There are several events here in New York City, all free. “Art of Light” at the HoloCenter at 352 Canal St. is hosting film screenings and discussion, held in conjunction with the exhibition “Iridescence,” comprising art holograms by Michael Bleyenberg, =Lana Blum, Philippe Boissonnet, Patrick Boyd, Betsy Connors, Pascal Gauchet, Setsuko Ishii, Sam Moree, August Muth, Ray Park, and Fred Unterseher; among the participants are Max Clarke, Eric Leiser, Lindsay Packer, Matthew Schreiber, and Moree, with a showing of Ikuo Nakamura’s 3D Gentle Storm, images of the Aurora Borealis under a G2 magnetic storm, with music by flutist Hayes Greenfield. Appropriately for the International Day of Light, there will be a Flash Mob in Times Square, a live pop-up installation choreographed by Carlos Neto and with cinematography by Jayna Maslechko; if you want to join in, meet up at 6:00 at Valerie at 45 West 45th St.; the event takes place at 8:05 at 47th St. and Broadway. Let there be light!


live ideas

New York Live Arts
219 West 19th St.
May 8-12, $10-$20

New York Live Arts’ seventh annual Live Ideas humanities festival explores artificial intelligence with five days of art, dance, discussion, music, lectures, and more, asking the question “AI: Are You Brave Enough for the Brave New World?” Inaugurated in 2013, the festival previously focused on Dr. Oliver Sacks and James Baldwin; social, political, artistic, and environmental issues; a nonbinary future; and strengthening democracy. Among those participating in the 2019 edition are Bill T. Jones, Nick Hallett, Yuka C Honda, Scorpion Mouse, Kyle McDonald, Patricia Marx, and Eunsu Kang, delving into technological dreaming, coding, mental illness, drones, and the truth. Tickets for most events are between ten and twenty dollars; below are some of the highlights.

Wednesday, May 8
What Is AI?, keynote/performance with Nick Hallett, Meredith Broussard, Patricia Marx, Baba Israel, and Ragamuffin, $15, 6:00

Wednesday, May 8
Saturday, May 11

Rhizomatiks Research X ELEVENPLAY X Kyle McDonald: discrete figures, performed on stage designed for interactivity between performers, drones, and AI, $36-$45, 8:00

Thursday, May 9
Future of Work, panel discussion with Arun Sunderarajan, Matthew Putman, Carrie Gleason, Madeleine Clare Elish, and moderator Ritse Erumi, $20, 6:00

Rational Numbers: Music and AI, performance by Yuka C Honda and Angélica Negrón, $10, 9:00

Friday, May 10
Does Truth Need Defending?, panel discussion with Ambika Samarthya-Howard, Hilke Schellmann, Jeff Smith, and moderator Malika Saada Saar, $10, 6:00

Algorave: LiveCode.NYC, rave featuring AI experiments and live performances by Scorpion Mouse, CIBO + Ulysses Popple, Colonel Panix + nom de nom, ioxi + Zach Krall, and Codie, $10, 9:00

(photo by Tomoya Takeshita )

Rhizomatiks Research, ELEVENPLAY, and Kyle McDonald collaborate on interactive performance piece discrete figures (photo by Tomoya Takeshita )

Saturday, May 11
Symposium: AI x ART, including “Body, Movement, Language: AI Sketches” with Bill T. Jones, “Between Science & Speculation: Technological Dreaming” with Ani Liu, “AI in Performance: Making discrete figures” with Kyle McDonald, “Yes, AI CAN help you develop a new relationship with your audience” with Dr. Brett Ashley Crawford, “Livecoding Traversals through Sonic Spaces” with Jason Levine, “GANymedes: Art with AI” with Eunsu Kang, “Emergent Storytelling with Artificial Intelligence” with Rachel Ginsberg, and “Creating in the Age of AI” with Ani Liu, Dr. Brett Ashley Crawford, Eunsu Kang, Kyle McDonald, and Bill T. Jones, $15, 4:30

Sunday, May 12
Class: How to Question Technology, Or, What Would Neil Postman Say?, with Lance Strate, $15, 1:30

HACK-ART-THON: ACT LABS, “Breaking the Stigma Around Mental Illness,” prototype presentation, jury deliberation, and award ceremony, with Katy Gero & Anastasia Veron, Artyom Astafurov & Beth Graczyk, Jennifer Ding & Dominika Jezewska, Ishaan Jhaveri & Esther Manon Siddiquie, Keely Garfield & Cynthia Hua, Keira Heu-Jwyn Chang & Nia Laureano, Jared Katzman & Rachel Kunstadt, and Marco Berlot & Zeelie Brown, free with advance RSVP, 6:30