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

NEGATIVE LIBERTY / POSITIVE LIBERTY

The Invisible Dog Art Center
51 Bergen St.
Thursday - Sunday, March 18 - April 18, free with advance RSVP
www.theinvisibledog.org
www.theamericanvicarious.org

The american vicarious and the Invisible Dog Arts Center follow up their socially distanced Static Apnea with Negative Liberty / Positive Liberty, an immersive performance installation for one audience member at a time. The piece explores Latvian-born British philosopher Isaiah Berlin’s Oxford lecture delivered on Halloween 1958, “Two Concepts of Liberty: Negative & Positive.” while also incorporating Anthony Barboza’s 1966 photograph, Pensacola, Florida, of a neon sign depicting the word Liberty with a broken “E” and dangling “R,” revealing the fragility of freedom, as they both relate to current events. Berlin writes:

“To coerce a man is to deprive him of freedom – freedom from what? Almost every moralist in human history has praised freedom. Like happiness and goodness, like nature and reality, the meaning of this term is so porous that there is little interpretation that it seems able to resist. I do not propose to discuss either the history or the more than two hundred senses of this protean word, recorded by historians of ideas. I propose to examine no more than two of these senses – but those central ones, with a great deal of human history, behind them, and, I dare say, still to come. The first of these political senses of freedom or liberty (I shall use both words to mean the same), which (following much precedent) I shall call the ‘negative’ sense, is involved in the answer to the question ‘What is the area within which the subject – a person or group of persons – is or should be left to do or be what he is able to do or be, without interference by other persons?’ The second, which I shall call the positive sense, is involved in the answer to the question ‘What, or who, is the source of control or interference, that can determine someone to do, or be, one thing rather than another?’ The two questions are clearly different, even though the answers to them may overlap.”

Conceived and directed by Christopher McElroen (Debate: Baldwin vs Buckley, Static Apnea), the installation features performers Sarah Ellen Stephens and Olivia Gilliatt, with scenography by Troy Hourie, video design by Adam J. Thompson, sound by Andy Evan Cohen, and lighting by Lucrecia Briceno. Admission is free to each eight-minute session but must be reserved in advance; slots are already filling up, so you’d best sign up fast. In addition, Barboza is included in the Whitney exhibition “Working Together: The Photographers of the Kamoinge Workshop,” which continues through March 28.

NOWHERE FEST

Nowhere Fest takes place in three-dimensional fantastical wonderlands

NOWHERE FEST
March 11-13, $5-$100
www.urnowhere.com/fest

One of the most innovative online platforms to emerge during the pandemic is Nowhere, a three-dimensional fantastical world where users’ images appear on the front of seedlike pods that can move around the location and interact with one another face-to-face. I’ve experienced it three times so far, twice for multimedia presentations from EdgeCut and New York Live Arts (NYLA), allowing participants to navigate through different virtual spaces to watch live and prerecorded dance, music, and high-tech art, and once when NYLA rolled out its upcoming season, previewing works and giving people the opportunity to speak with the artists. What feels unique is the agency each pod has, able to meet others and interact, settle in front of a virtual screen or proscenium within the virtual area, or wander off with magical flourishes. The platform, which can be pronounced “No Where” or “Now Here,” will be hosting a virtual festival March 11-13, featuring performances, panel discussions, and more in conjunction with the one-year anniversary of the World Health Organization’s declaration that Covid-19 was a global pandemic. Admission is $5 to $100, based on what you can afford, with proceeds benefiting Helping Hearts NYC, which “was created to provide aid to those affected the most during this time, and to those on the front line saving lives.”

Nowhere digital platform offers new way to experience live events with other people (screenshot by twi-ny/mdr)

Nowhere Fest celebrates the technological advances made over the last twelve months to connect people when they couldn’t physically be together in the same space. Jen Lyon, Liz Tallent, Patrick Wilson, Stephen Chilton, and Becca Higgins of the National Independent Venue Association will talk about their industry and the Save Our Stages Act. Columbia University Rabbi Irwin Kula, the president of the National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership, will meet with Kristina Libby, the CEO and founder of SoCu and the Social Works Co., and chair professor Robert Wolcott, cofounder of the World Innovation Network. Athena Demos, Michael “Danger Ranger” Mikel, and Damian Madray will look at the future of Burning Man. Tony winner Christine Jones, director Tamilla Woodard, and actor-writer Shyla Lefner will discuss the success of the Theatre for One program “Here We Are,” in which one actor at a time performed for one audience member, with microphones and cameras on for both. Heidi Boisvert and Kat Mustatea of EdgeCut will lead a conversation with artists about the development of hybrid live performances. Group.BR will delve into its use of the Gather.town digital platform in its reimagining of its immersive, site-specific Inside the Wild Heart. EMBC Studio goes behind the scenes of its recharge rooms.

People can meet face-to-face and watch live performances and talks at Nowhere Fest

There will also be appearances, performances, demonstrations, and talks by comedian Chris Gethard, mentalist and mind reader Vinny Deponto, Shasta Geaux Pop, world champion whistler Lauren Elder, singer-songwriter Andrew McMahon, QuarMega, House of Yes & Elsewhere, Macy Schmidt of Broadway Sinfonietta, Deep End NYC, the Feast + Art Plus People, wellness innovator Leah Siegel, Hoovie cofounder Vallejo Gantner, Pete Vigeant of Completely Surrounded Games, poet Mason Granger, filmmaker Storm Saulter, MICRO DIY MUSEUMS founder Charles Philipp, Robert Siegel and Scott Simon of NPR, magician Greg Dubin, DJ Passionfruit, DJ MSG, Globally Curated founder Megs Rutigliano, photographer Will O’Hare, and strategy and design consultant and musician Alain Sylvain. Attending Nowhere Fest might just be the best five-dollar entertainment purchase you make during the pandemic (of course, give more if you can), introducing you to the future of live, online performance once we’re on the other side of this crisis.

PUBLIC ART FUND VIRTUAL TALKS: ELMGREEN & DRAGSET

Elmgreen & Dragset’s The Hive welcomes busy bees to Moynihan Train Hall (photo by twi-ny/mdr)

Who: Elmgreen & Dragset (Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset), Nicholas Baume
What: Public Art Fund live discussion
Where: The Cooper Union on Zoom
When: Thursday, March 11, free with RSVP, 1:00
Why: On January 1, Moynihan Train Hall opened to the public with much fanfare, highlighted by site-specific commissions from Stan Douglas (Penn Station’s Half Century), Kehinde Wiley (Go), and Elmgreen & Dragset. The Hive, E&D’s inverted cityscape on the ceiling of the Thirty-First St. midblock entrance, has dazzled visitors, who stare up at ninety-one miniature buildings that contain seventy-two thousand LEDs and weigh more than thirty thousand pounds, part mysterious metropolis, part cave stalactites. The duo of Denmark-born Michael Elmgreen and Norway-born Ingar Dragset, who have been combining art, architecture, performance, and installation for more than a quarter of a century, will discuss the construction and meaning of The Hive in a free Public Art Fund conversation hosted by the Cooper Union on Zoom, straight from their Berlin studio. The event will be moderated by PAF director and chief curator Nicholas Baume. To catch Baume’s January 28 talk with Douglas, go here.

GRIEF AND GRIEVANCE: ART AND MOURNING — SPECIAL EVENTS

Kerry James Marshall, Untitled (policeman), acrylic on PVC panel with plexiglass frame, 2015 (Museum of Modern Art, Gift of Mimi Haas in honor of Marie-Josée Kravis. © Kerry James Marshall. Courtesy the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York)

GRIEF AND GRIEVANCE: ART AND MOURNING
New Museum
235 Bowery at Prince St.
Special online events free with RSVP
Exhibition runs through June 6, $12-$18
www.newmuseum.org

The New Museum exhibition “Grief and Grievance: Art and Mourning in America” is an extraordinary collection of nearly one hundred works by thirty-seven artists taking on racism and violence in Black communities. The show was conceived by Nigerian curator Okwui Enwezor prior to the coronavirus crisis and the BLM protests and scheduled to open around the time of the presidential election, but it was delayed because of the pandemic lockdown and Enwezor’s death in March 2019 at the age of fifty-five. Completed by Naomi Beckwith, Massimiliano Gioni, Glenn Ligon, and Mark Nash, the exhibit includes new and older painting, sculpture, photography, video, and installation by such artists as Terry Adkins, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Garrett Bradley, Theaster Gates, Arthur Jafa, Rashid Johnson, Simone Leigh, Kerry James Marshall, Julie Mehretu, Lorna Simpson, Hank Willis Thomas, Kara Walker, Nari Ward, and Carrie Mae Weems exploring how we deal with loss.

In conjunction with the exhibit, the New Museum is hosting weekly live online conversations and virtual tours, featuring an all-star lineup of participating artists. All programs are free with advance RSVP; click on each title for more information.

Tuesday, March 2, 5:00
Melvin Edwards in Conversation with Massimiliano Gioni

Wednesday, March 3, 4:00
Virtual Tour: “Grief and Grievance: Art and Mourning in America”

Friday, March 12, 7:00
LaToya Ruby Frazier in Conversation with Margot Norton

Thursday, March 18, 4:00
Kerry James Marshall in Conversation with Massimiliano Gioni

Tuesday March 23, 4:00
Dawoud Bey in Conversation with Gary Carrion-Murayari

Thursday, April 1, 7:00
Adam Pendleton in Conversation with Andrew An Westover

Thursday, April 8, 7:00
Hank Willis Thomas in Conversation with Margot Norton

Rashid Johnson, Antoine’s Organ, black steel, grow lights, plants, wood, shea butter, books, monitors, rugs, piano, 2016 (photo by Dario Lasagni)

Thursday, April 15, 7:00
Rashid Johnson in Conversation with Massimiliano Gioni

Thursday, April 29, 2:00
Jennie C. Jones in Conversation with Gary Carrion-Murayari

Monday, May 3, 2:00
Tiona Nekkia McClodden in Conversation with Margot Norton

Thursday May 13, 7:00
Okwui Okpokwasili in Conversation with Massimiliano Gioni

Thursday May 20, 4:00
Howardena Pindell in Conversation with Margot Norton

Tuesday, June 1, 4:00
Sable Elyse Smith in Conversation with Margot Norton

Thursday, June 3, 7:00
Tyshawn Sorey in Conversation with Gary Carrion-Murayari

GALERIE LELONG — DIALOGUES: MAKING VISIBLE THE INVISIBLE

Who: Alfredo Jaar, Koyo Kouoh
What: Livestreamed conversation
Where: Galerie Lelong & Co. online
When: Thursday, February 25, free with RSVP, 1:00
Why: Chilean-born, New York-based artist, architect, photographer, and filmmaker Alfredo Jaar specializes in sociopolitical interventions and installations, such as The Skoghall Konsthall, Culture = Capital, Shadows, and Lament of the Images. On February 25 at 1:00, he will discuss his sixteen-year work The Rwanda Project 1994-2010 with Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa executive director and chief curator Koyo Kouoh, kicking off the new series “Galerie Lelong: Dialogues.” The talk, “Making Visible the Invisible,” will focus on his investigations and photojournalistic field research done in Rwanda over six years, resulting in twenty-five works he calls “exercises in representation.” The Zeitz Museum, located in Cape Town, South Africa, is currently home to “Alfredo Jaar: The Rwanda Project,” on view through May 23, consisting of photographs, mounds of slides, black file cabinets, and a neon sculpture that declares, “So much to do today / kill memory / kill pain / turn heart into a stone / and yet / prepare to live again,” documenting the Rwandan genocide that occurred while the world watched and did nothing. “Galerie Lelong: Dialogues” will continue with conversations with Mildred Thompson, whose “Throughlines, Assemblages, and Works on Paper from the 1960s to the 1990s” runs at the gallery through March 27, and Tariku Shiferaw, who will have his first show with the gallery in the spring.

LIGHTHOUSE PROJECT: WITH GREAT POWER COMES NO ACCOUNTABILITY BY JILLY BALLISTIC

Jilly Ballistic’s With Great Power Comes No Accountability kicks off Playwrights Horizons’ Lighthouse Project (photo by twi-ny/mdr)

Playwrights Horizons
416 West Forty-Second St. between Ninth & Tenth Aves.
Through February 28, free
www.playwrightshorizons.org

Theaters around the country are facing severe financial hardships as a result of the coronavirus pandemic lockdown, but the enormous dollar bill in the window facade of the shuttered Playwrights Horizons building on West Forty-Second St. is only partly about money; it’s primarily about the cost of death, specifically the ultimate price paid by hundreds of thousands of Americans who have died from Covid-19. The piece is titled With Great Power Comes No Accountability, and it is by Jilly Ballistic, who has been decorating the subway and subway platforms for decades. The title of this aboveground work was previously used by Ballistic on an L train platform on January 31, 2020, before the full nature of the health crisis was known. The giant note of legal tender is signed by then-Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, and Ballistic initially wrote on it, “IMAGINE 352,464 of these. Now imagine they’re bodies,” in a word bubble being spoken by President George Washington. Ballistic has returned to the bill several times, using a Sharpie to cross out that number and write in 399,053, then crossing that out and adding 427,626. The coronavirus crisis is costing America in multiple ways, each and every day.

“It’s difficult to conceptualize such large numbers, especially when those numbers are linked to something so tragic as these deaths. There’s a danger, though, if we don’t fully grasp the atrocity: we allow those in power to get away with murder. What better way for a politician to understand our pain than using money as a metaphor?” Ballistic says in her artist statement. She sees the piece as “a reflection on corruption, failure, value, and death in America.” The work is the inaugural installation in Playwrights Horizons’ Lighthouse Project, which is curated by artist, activist, and writer Avram Finkelstein, a founder of the Silence=Death Project, and two-time Tony-winning set and costume designer and activist David Zinn (The Flick, Circle Mirror Transformation). With Great Power Comes No Accountability will remain on view through February 28, to be followed by commissions from Ken Gonzales-Day, Dread Scott, and others.

Jilly Ballistic’s With Great Power Comes No Accountability looks at the cost of the coronavirus pandemic (photo by twi-ny/mdr)

“This year, this theater is celebrating its fiftieth anniversary under remarkably strange circumstances: a global pandemic, a historical reckoning, and a constitutional crisis,” artistic director Adam Greenfield explained. “In this moment, we want to rediscover the ways our building can be used, to expand the range of artists and disciplines we present, to create a culture of inquiry that pervades the entire building, inside and out, so that genuine artistic innovation can be met with genuine openness.” Zinn added, “I know a lot of things are happening quietly inside of theaters to meet both this racial and economic moment, but I also feel like theaters have a moral responsibility to communicate to the world outside the building. What we’re making is a vehicle for communication — for this need for our buildings to speak for this moment. Jilly's piece in particular addresses this moment with weight and a sense of political irony that is heartbreaking, and it’s responsive to current events in a very immediate way.”

The Lighthouse Project will also include online conversations, workshops, concerts, and other events addressing this dire moment in time. You can watch the first two talks, “Public Art / Public Space” with Greenfield, Ballistic, Finklestein, and Joy Episalla and “Theater and Society” with Natasha Sinha, Michael R. Jackson, Heather Raffo, Michael John Garcés, and Mimi Lien, here. Up next is “Profiled” on March 3 at 7:00 with Sinha, Lileana Blain-Cruz, Clint Ramos, and Gonzales-Day talking about Gonzales-Day’s Playwrights installation, which will consist of two large-scale digitally edited photographs, part of his long-term series that looks at portraiture through historical memory, race, museum display, moral character, beauty, and the body.

LET FREEDOM RING VOL. 2

Jasmine Wahi’s On Visibility was part of first iteration of BAM’s “Let Freedom Ring” project (photo © Terrence Jennings 2020)

LET FREEDOM RING VOL. 2
BAM sign screen
Flatbush Ave. at Lafayette Ave.
February 12-15, free
www.bam.org/let-freedom-ring

Last month, as part of its thirty-fifth annual Brooklyn Tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., BAM hosted “Let Freedom Ring,” a weeklong public art display on its sign screen at the corner of Flatbush and Lafayette Aves., featuring visual meditations on what freedom means by Derrick Adams, Alvin Armstrong, Laylah Amatullah Barrayn, Lizania Cruz, Kameelah Janan Rasheed, Hank Willis Thomas, and Jasmine Wahi. Armstrong’s We Don’t Die We Multiply depicted two silhouetted bare-chested men bumping bodies. Adams offered MLK’s Tropic Interlude. Thomas asked, “Who Taught You to Love_?” Wahi’s On Visibility posits, “Do you see me for who I am or what you think I am” over an image of two large eyes. And Barrayn expllored beauty in Self-Portrait (Extension of a Woman) and Water Spirit (March on Washington 2020). The second iteration of “Let Freedom Ring” takes place February 12-15, with electronic billboard contributions from Jordan Casteel, Kevin Claiborne, Amy Sherald, Deborah Roberts, Cruz, Barrayn, and Wahi.

In a statement, BAM curator-at-large Larry Ossei-Mensah said, “After the first project’s success, I felt it necessary to continue the conversation and reflect on freedom as the nation observes Presidents Day and celebrates Black History Month. Working on ‘Let Freedom Ring’ has been a cathartic experience growing from a desire to ponder and imagine what freedom could look like in 2021 and beyond. It’s imperative that we share this thought-provoking work with the public and not relegate it to just a gallery exhibition. These are fundamental questions and concerns we all share as Americans, as human beings.” Commenting on the participants, he noted, “Naturally, as a curator, I look to artists who create work that inspires hope, proposes deep philosophical questions, and reminds us of our humanity for guidance on what is possible. I’m honored that these seven artists accepted my invitation and responded in a variety of ways. I was thrilled to see each artists’ perspective on freedom — from self-reflection, joy, and a reintroduction to Dr. King’s fight for economic justice with the Freedom Budget document.” BAM is one of the institutions I am missing the most during this pandemic lockdown, but this is a little taste of the kind of work it has been doing for decades.