Tibor de Nagy
11 Rivington St.
Tuesday - Saturday through July 27, 10:00 am - 6:00 pm
At first glance, you might think that Ann Toebbe’s “Friends and Rentals” exhibit at Tibor de Nagy on the Lower East Side consists of flat architectural renderings of real home layouts. But up close you’ll see they’re delightfully detailed three-dimensional collages of the interiors of houses, it turns out, owned by Toebbe’s friends and members of her extended family in Ohio and Kentucky. The Cincinnati-born, Chicago-based artist creates the works based on social media postings and actual visits to these houses, but she uses only her memory, not photographs or on-site sketches. Toebbe incorporates flocking, cut paper, yarn, glitter, pencil, gouache, and other materials on panels in constructing these birds’-eye views that serve as unique biographical portraits even though most of them contain no people in them. The rooms are divided to resemble how a brain is compartmentalized into different thought processes and, in these crazy days, how so many of us must multitask, but the works have a calming effect, not a frantic pace. Friend: Jana features a muted brown palette, while Friends: Lisa and Tim is much more colorful, and the only one seen from a horizontal perspective of the standing house. Not surprisingly, LA Air BnB is more standard and folksy than Friend: Becky, which includes children’s toys and a flatscreen TV showing a football game.
You’ll find family photos, religious icons, the American flag, carpets, knickknacks, backyards, Christmas decorations, pets, plants, clocks, birthday presents, and a few lurking human figures, all helping describe people that we are likely never to meet but now somehow know. In the catalog essay “Ann Toebbe Wants to Organize Your Life,” Ryan Steadman writes that Toebbe “empathically [relates] to her subjects’ desire to reinvent themselves in their living spaces by making paintings that are themselves appealing coping strategies. . . . with a fortitude that usually belongs to a librarian or a paleontologist.” Each work is not to scale and is not architecturally sound, as Toebbe, who counts Venezuelan artist Arturo Herrera as her mentor, puts a little fantasy into each life. As you walk around the gallery, you’ll wonder what your home might look like if Toebbe re-created it on panel, but you’ll only be able to imagine it, or perhaps go home and reorganize your own clutter.
Dancer and choreographer Ligia Lewis presents the next iteration of her Sensation series July 23-25 with Sensation 1 / This Interior, the first to be performed outside, taking place at 7:30 each night at the Fourteenth Street Passage on the High Line. Sensation 1 premiered as an indoor solo in 2011, followed the next year by Sensation 2; both pieces involved very slow movement that viewed the body as a sculptural object. Now the Dominican-born, Berlin-based Lewis, who has recently completed a trilogy consisting of Sorrow Swag (2014), minor matter (2016), and Water Will (in Melody) (2018), revisits Sensation with dancers Trinity Bobo, Emma Cohen, Rebecca Gual, Miguel Ángel Guzmán, Stephanie Peña, and Jumatatu M. Poe and music by Lewis’s brother, George Lewis Jr., aka Twin Shadow, focusing on the last note of a song on multiple bodies as a shared experience. Admission is free with advance RSVP.
Be sure to show up early or stay late and take a walk along the High Line to see its current art commissions. The group show “En Plein Air” comprises works by Ei Arakawa, Firelei Báez, Daniel Buren, Sam Falls, Lubaina Himid, Lara Schnitger, Ryan Sullivan, and Vivian Suter that, like Sensation 1 / This Interior, take advantage of the outdoor location. Also be on the lookout for Simone Leigh’s giant Brick House, a sixteen-foot-high bronze figure of a black woman with long cornrow braids and a skirt that doubles as her body and a dwelling; Ruth Ewan’s Silent Agitator, which demands that it’s “time to organize”; Dorothy Iannone’s I Lift My Lamp Beside the Golden Door, depicting three colorful versions of the Statue of Liberty; and Autumn Knight’s Complete Total Pleasure, a new video about anhedonia, power, race, and control.
And on August 6 at 5:00, the High Line will host “In Conversation: On Top of All This,” a free (with advance RSVP) three-hour gathering on the Spur at Thirtieth St. and Tenth Ave., with poetry, fiction, prompts, and predictions from poet and scholar Lucas Crawford, poet, curator, and artist Anaïs Duplan, and dancer, writer, curator, and choreographer Emily Johnson, including prerecorded audio reflections, readings, and a panel discussion.
On July 14, 1789, a Parisian mob stormed the Bastille prison, a symbolic victory that kicked off the French Revolution and the establishment of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen. Ever since, July 14 has been a national holiday celebrating liberté, égalité, and fraternité. In New York City, the Bastille Day festivities are set for Sunday, July 14, along Sixtieth St., where the French Institute Alliance Française hosts its annual daylong party of food and drink, music and dance, and other special activities. The celebration is highlighted by the free live performance “Gérard Chambre: Si on chantait l’Amour” in Florence Gould Hall at 3:00 and a screening of C’est la vie! (Le sens de la fête) (Eric Toledano and Olivier Nakache, 2017) in the hall at 5:30 ($16). The elegant Champagne, Cocktail, and Jazz Party takes place at 1:30 and 3:30 in the Skyroom ($75), with live music by the Avalon Jazz Band, five different Champagnes, cocktails by Giffard, chocolates from Jacques Torres, macarons from Ladurée, and hors d’oeuvres from Maman Bakery, while a Summer in Provence tasting occurs in Tinker Auditorium from 12:00 to 4:30, with three wines, one beer, one Ricard cocktail, and cheese and charcuterie ($30).
The French Garden between Madison and Fifth Aves. includes booths from Atelier Paulin, French Wink (Atelier Novo, Calisson Inc, Emma & Chloé, Merci Bisous, Môme Care, Tissage Moutet), Ladurée, Strasbourg Tourism Office, and Saint James, while Market Booths between Lexington and Madison features Hanami Designs, Katia Lambey Expressions, Alhambra Lifestyle, Barraca / the Shack Collective, Brasserie Cognac, Epicerie Boulud & Bar Boulud, Financier Pâtisserie, Harmless Harvest, Le Bec Fin, Lelo Fine Foods, Macaron Café, MAD Foods, Maman Bakery, Meska Sweets, Mille-Feuille Bakery Café, Miss Madeleine NYC, Oliviers & Co, Perrier, Pistache NYC, Sel Magique, Simply Gourmand, Sud de France, the Crepe Escape, the American Association of French Speaking Health Pro, BZH New York, Canal +, Exploria Resorts, France Amerique, Green Mountain Energy, Sheridan Fencing Academy, and TV5 Monde / Sling TV.
There will also be a bevy of free outside performances and events, beginning at 12:35 with Joanna Wronska doing the Can-Can, followed by Chloé Perrier & French Heart Jazz Band (12:40), live Art with COCOVAN (12:50), mime with Catherine Gasta (12:50), music by the Love Show (1:10, 2:15, 3:15), a feather dance wby Joanna Wronska (1:25), music by the Blue Dahlia (1:30), Les P’tites Ouvreuses (2:30), the Hungry March Band (3:00), and Rodeo Joe (3:30), a Zouk dance lesson with Franck Muhel, and the Citroën Car Show (12:55 – 5:00). And for the kids, the FIAF Library hosts a trio of Fly Away with Books workshops: “Geometry of Animals with Lucie Brunelli” at 1:00, “Full Speed Ahead! with Cruschiform” at 2:00, and “Pop-up Art with Anouck Boisrobert & Louis Rigaud” at 3:00.
Park Avenue Armory
643 Park Ave. at 67th St.
Through July 21, $20
“Spare no expense to make war beautiful,” historian Anna Duensing says in Drill, referring to military history. Drill, a three-channel, twenty-one-minute video, is the centerpiece of German artist Hito Steyerl’s site-specific, wide-ranging multimedia installation of the same name at Park Ave. Armory, where it continues through July 21. Projected on both sides of three large screens in the fifty-five-thousand-square-foot Wade Thompson Drill Hall, Steyerl’s film delves into the history of the armory, from its time as the headquarters of the Seventh Regiment of the National Guard, known as a silk-stocking regiment, to its exclusive use by the wealthy and its direct relationship to the founding of the National Rifle Association. Steyerl goes to the armory basement, formerly a shooting range, where bullet holes can still be seen in the walls; includes clips of speeches by antigun activists at a Washington, DC, rally; and follows the Yale University Precision Marching Band as it makes its way through the drill hall, playing music by Jules Laplace based on data sonification from casualty statistics of AR-15 violence and mass shootings, with choreography by Thomas C. Duffy. Among the participants are Nurah Abdulhaqq of National Die-In, Kareem Nelson of Wheelchairs Against Guns, retired school principal and proud gun owner Judith Pearson, and gun violence prevention activist Abbey Clements. A series of interconnected bulbs on the floor occasionally light up in white and red, linking the viewer to what is happening onscreen.
In her 2013 e-flux article “Too Much World: Is the Internet Dead?,” Steyerl wrote, “Data, sounds, and images are now routinely transitioning beyond screens into a different state of matter. They surpass the boundaries of data channels and manifest materially. They incarnate as riots or products, as lens flares, high-rises, or pixelated tanks. Images become unplugged and unhinged and start crowding off-screen space. They invade cities, transforming spaces into sites, and reality into realty. They materialize as junkspace, military invasion, and botched plastic surgery. They spread through and beyond networks, they contract and expand, they stall and stumble, they vie, they vile, they wow and woo.” That statement relates to several of the other works in the show, spread throughout the armory’s period rooms and hallway.
In the Parlor, Is the Museum a Battlefield? is an illustrated lecture projected on two screens and a box of white sand as Steyerl investigates the fascinating relationship between art museums and war, starting with a bullet that killed a friend of hers. The audience sits on sandbags, immersed in the narrative that involves the Louvre, the Hermitage, and other arts institutions. “Museums are of course battlefields. They have been throughout history,” she says. “They have been torture chambers, sites of war crimes, civil war, and also revolution.” Although the illustrated lecture was produced for the thirteenth Istanbul Biennial, it feels right at home at the armory, a building initially constructed for the military that now is an arts institution itself. That is followed by Duty Free Art, in which Steyerl delves into income inequality through art, business, and war via freeports, where collectors store their art holdings without having to pay taxes, impacting the global economy.
In the Veterans Room and Library, Hell Yeah We Fuck Die, named for the five most-used English words in songs on the Billboard charts, features concrete and neon sculptures of those words along with video of product testing on robots, while Robots Today ties together narration from Muslim polymath Al-Jazari’s 1205 Automata with shots of a Kurdish city destroyed by the Turkish military in 2016.
Broken Windows is shown at both ends of the central hallway; one end depicts Chris Toepfer and other community activists painting canvases and placing them over broken windows in abandoned buildings in Camden, New Jersey, while at the other end researchers in London test the sound of breaking glass for artificial intelligence. The title of the video takes on added meaning here in New York City given the NYPD’s controversial use of broken windows policing, which believes that targeting smaller crimes will prevent bigger ones.
The show also includes The Tower in the Mary Divver Room and ExtraSpaceCraft in the Board of Officers Room, which are like watching virtual reality video games, while Prototype 1.0 and 1.1 in the Field and Staff Room is a pair of blue robots made of foam-and-aluminum, one standing, the other lying on the floor, as if they had come out of Hell Yeah We Fuck Die after undergoing brutal testing. And in the Colonels Reception Room, Freeplots offers hope for the future amid all the technological mayhem, a collaboration with El Catano Community Garden in East Harlem that consists of flowers blooming in wooden planters filled with horse-manure compost, turning the crates that store art in the freeports into something positive for everyone. The exhibition requires a significant investment of time and concentration; the works are complex, and the videos run more than two hours in total, but Steyerl has a lot to say that is worth paying attention to, even if some of the delivery is less inspiring than others. On July 20 at 3:00 and 5:00 ($10), there will be a performance lecture by Anton Vidokle, Adam Khalil, and Bayley Sweitzer, “The Dead Walk into a Bar,” which promises: “As a staff of identical ushers draws back layers of confusion and pain, the freshly resurrected gradually become aware of the reality of their corporeal reinsertion: perhaps the world of the living is not a world at all; to be alive in this place may merely be an exhibit.”
Who: Janet Biggs and Scott MacDonald
What: Panel discussion and book launch
Where: Cristin Tierney Gallery, 219 Bowery, second floor, 212-594-0550
When: Thursday, July 11, free with advance RSVP, 6:30
Why: In his new book, The Sublimity of Document: Cinema as Diorama (Oxford University Press, August 1, 2019, $125), author and film history professor Scott MacDonald writes of visual artist Janet Biggs, “I first became aware of Biggs when she visited Hamilton College in the spring of 2017 to present a talk about her work. As she showed stills and clips from recent videos, I was struck by the fact that Biggs had traveled to and filmed particular far-flung locations that I had been introduced to by other filmmakers. . . . I was interested not only that multiple artists would be drawn to these precise locations, but also that, in somewhat different ways, these locations can be dangerous to visit. As I became familiar with Biggs’s work, I came to wonder why an artist would go through the considerable difficulties of visiting distant, potentially dangerous locations, not in order to produce films that might have substantial audiences, but to offer relatively brief visual experiences to comparatively smaller audiences within gallery and museum spaces. I came to realize that my experiences with Biggs’s work offered an opportunity to explore, at least in a small way, the issue of installation cinema versus theatrical cinema.” The book continues with an interview between MacDonald and Biggs that was conducted online.
On July 11, MacDonald and Biggs will be together in person at the Cristin Tierney Gallery for a discussion on film and art in conjunction with the publication of The Sublimity of Document and Biggs’s most recent exhibition, “Overview Effect,” the second part of which, Seeing Constellations in the Darkness between Stars, continues at Cristin Tierney through August 2. MacDonald’s book features interviews with Biggs and more than two dozen other “avant-doc” filmmakers, including Ron Fricke, Laura Poitras, Frederick Wiseman, Bill Morrison, Abbas Kiarostami, and James Benning. Biggs has also contributed the article “Fragility Curve” to the current edition of the Brooklyn Rail, writing about her experiences making her latest films, which deal with Mars. “The earth will remake itself and survive the legacy of its human inhabitants, but will we?” she asks. The conversation with Biggs and MacDonald will be followed by a book signing; in addition, Biggs, who has participated in two twi-ny talks, will be presenting the multimedia performance piece How the Light Gets In July 18 at the New Museum.
200 Eastern Parkway at Washington St.
Saturday, July 6, free (some events require advance tickets), 5:00 - 11:00
The Brooklyn Museum celebrates the 243rd birthday of the United States of America in the July edition of its free First Saturday program. There will be live performances by Brooklyn Maqam musicians, Dj InO, Tunde Olaniran, Snips, and Cumbia River Band; a curator tour of “Garry Winogrand: Color” led by Drew Sawyer; a hands-on workshop in which participants can design wearable art inspired by “Nobody Promised You Tomorrow: Art 50 Years After Stonewall”; a book club discussion with Adreinne Waheed, author of the photo book Black Joy and Resistance, with artist Zun Lee and moderator Delphine Adama Fawundu; teen pop-up gallery talks in honor of the fortieth anniversary of The Dinner Party and creator Judy Chicago’s eightieth birthday; a screening of Garry Winogrand: All Things Are Photographable (Sasha Waters Freyer, 2018), followed by a talkback with Sawyer and Susan Kismaric; Cave Canem poetry readings with JP Howard, Raven Jackson, and Trace DePass responding to “Liz Johnson Artur: Dusha”; and a community talk about the Lesbian Herstory Archives with Flavia Rando, Shawn(ta) Smith-Cruz, Ashley-Luisa Santangelo, and Elvis Bakaitis. 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,” “Rembrandt to Picasso: Five Centuries of European Works on Paper,” “Kwang Young Chun: Aggregations,” and more.