UNSTOPPABLE: SEAN SCULLY AND THE ART OF EVERYTHING (Nick Willing, 2019)
260 West 23rd St. at Eighth Ave.
Thursday, November 14, 7:15
Festival runs November 6-15
“When I first met Sean, he told me, ‘I want to be the greatest abstract artist of my generation,’ and I thought, this is a lot of hubris. I didn’t know him then, and I believe him now,” says Sukanya Rajaratnam of the Mnuchin Gallery in New York about painter and sculptor Sean Scully in Unstoppable: Sean Scully and the Art of Everything. Don’t be surprised if you feel exactly the same way after you see Nick Willing’s bewitching film, making its North American premiere at DOC NYC on November 14. Born in Dublin in June 1945 and raised on the tough streets of South London where his family lived in squalor and he was in a gang, Scully was determined from early on to be more than just a successful artist, and he’s achieved his goal. “People want to see Scully like they want to see or Warhol or van Gogh, and that’s quite unique for an abstract painter to have risen above the fray and become an icon,” Hirshhorn chief curator Stéphane Aquin says.
Willing follows Scully through a whirlwind 2018 as the artist travels around the world, from his studios in Berlin, Bavaria, and Manhattan to gallery and museum shows in Washington DC, the National Gallery in London, Yorkshire Sculpture Park, De Pont Museum in the Netherlands, the Hugh Lane in Dublin, the State Russian Museum in St. Petersburg, San Cristobal in Mexico City, a church in Montserrat, the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool, the Mnuchin Gallery on the Upper East Side, and Newcastle University, where he went to art school, as well as key places from his youth. It’s exhausting and electric watching the driven, dedicated Scully make these rounds while also creating new work, forcefully slashing at the canvas with his bold brushstrokes. Willing traces Scully’s evolving style, from his initial figuration to his use of grids and geometric patterns and his famous stripe paintings. “The presence of the vertical and horizontal grid in his work, for me, is indicative of a person who knows he has a volatile temperament and is seeking to control it,” explains his Newcastle tutor Bill Varley. Meanwhile, fellow Newcastle student Moira Kelly proclaims, “The stripes are delicious. The stripes are about experiences. The stripes are like poems.”
Scully carefully manages his career, monitoring the market, giving generously to museums, participating in retrospectives and new shows, and delivering animated talks and lectures, but it’s about his legacy, not the money, and he doesn’t care one iota for trends or critics. “It’s not possible to discourage somebody like Martin Luther King or Bobby Kennedy; they believe so much in what they believe that they don’t mind if they get shot. I don’t mind either ’cause I’m doing what I believe, and that’s all there is to it,” he says, a tough, bald imposing figure of a man who looks like someone you would not want to get into a bar fight with. Writer and art critic Kelly Grovier notes, “Sean very much believes in the supernatural power of his paintings, that the works not only communicate a kind of truth but they actually have the power to affect change in this world . . . for the better.”
Willing also explores intimate details of Scully’s personal life, delving into his hardscrabble childhood; his relationship with his two ex-wives, Catherine Lee and Rosemary Henderson; the tragic loss of his first son, Paul; his distaste for Donald Trump and the American fascination with guns; and his life now with his third wife, Liliane Tomasko, and their son, Oisín. Scully usually works from instinct, attacking the canvas with his brush in ways that mimic the martial arts that he practices, but his deep love for Oisín has brought him back to figuration. He not only creates paintings of his son on the beach based on photos he has taken with his iPhone, he has also worked on a series depicting the US flag that replaces the stars in the upper left corner with a gun. I’ve seen several Scully shows over the last decade, including “Wall of Light” at Mnuchin in 2018, consisting of his magnificently meditative stripe paintings, and “Eleuthera” at the Albertina in Vienna, colorful, large-format oils of his son playing in the Bahamas. Unstoppable sheds new light on the artist, his work, his process, and his inspiration. “He’s a bit like the Ancient Mariner,” Grovier says. “He goes around the world, gallery to gallery, person to person, stopping almost anyone who will listen to tell them the great truth that his paintings portray.” It’s a gospel that Willing now spreads to an even wider audience.
A FISH IN THE BATHTUB (Joan Micklin Silver, 1999)
34 West 13th St. between Fifth & Sixth Aves.
Opens Friday, November 8
Brooklyn-born duo Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara were the first couple of American comedy for six decades, from appearing on The Ed Sullivan Show, in popular ads for Blue Nun wine, and on their own brief sitcom and more recent web series to their solo gigs on Seinfeld and The King of Queens for Stiller and Archie Bunker’s Place and Kate McShane for four-time Emmy and Tony nominee Meara, who passed away in 2015 at the age of eighty-five. They starred in only one film together, 1999’s little-seen senior-citizen rom-com A Fish in the Bathtub, which is finally getting its theatrical release for its twentieth anniversary, in a 2K restoration opening November 8 at the Quad.
The film, written by Raphael D. Silver, John Silverstein, David Chudnovsky, is part of Joan Micklin Silver’s unofficial Jewish trilogy, which also comprises 1975’s Hester Street and 1988’s Crossing Delancey, neither of which A Fish in the Bathtub can hold a candle to. Stiller and Meara play long-married couple Sam and Molly, who get into a tiff one night at a card game with their friends; the loud and obnoxious Sam shouts down the much calmer, easygoing Molly in a thoroughly embarrassing manner, so she leaves him and moves in with their son, real estate agent Joel (Mark Ruffalo), and his wife and daughter. While Molly starts seeing dullard Lou Moskowitz (Bob Dishy), Jerry shares his problems with a large carp he is keeping in the bathtub. Joel and his sister, Ruthie (Jane Adams), are experiencing their own complicated situations — one of Joel’s clients, the married Tracy (Pamela Gray), is heavily flirting with him, while Ruthie has a new boyfriend at work. Sam isn’t about to apologize, so Molly isn’t about to come back to him, but it is clear that they need each other, for better or worse.
Stiller’s screaming antics are over the top even for him, although he does display some tenderness, while Meara is sweetly endearing in a motherly/grandmotherly way, and it’s great to see a young Ruffalo shaping his craft. The supporting cast is filled with familiar faces, including Doris Roberts, Louis Zorich, Phyllis Newman, Val Avery, Elizabeth Franz, Paul Benedict, David Deblinger, Jonathan Hogan, and Mordecai Lawner — even if you don’t recognize many of those names, you will recognize their faces. There’s a Woody Allen–light aspect to much of the story and the minor characters; the film has some lovely moments, and Stiller, who is now ninety-two, delivers several hilarious laugh-out-loud howlers, but the pace is slow and the narrative circuitous, evoking the endless path taken by the poor carp. So this film might not become part of Stiller and Meara’s legacy — which also consists of their talented children, Amy and Ben, in addition to their other work — but it’s always good to seem them together, whatever the format. Oh, and here’s hoping their real life was nothing like this.
SCHOOL OF SEDUCTION: 3 STORIES FROM RUSSIA (Alina Rudnitskaya, 2019)
323 Sixth Ave. at West Third St.
Saturday, November 9, 9:15
Festival runs November 6-15
In 2009, Russian filmmaker Alina Rudnitskaya made the short film Bitch Academy, about a school where a man taught women of all ages how to attract potential husbands the old-fashioned way, by flaunting their sexuality and playing dumb. She has now expanded that into the full-length feature documentary School of Seduction: 3 Stories from Russia, making its North American debut at IFC Center as part of the DOC NYC festival. Rudnitskaya follows three women over seven years as they take the workshop run by Vladimir Rakovsky and then apply what they’ve learned to their life, with varying degrees of success. Rakovsky, a former 911 hotline worker who is not exactly a smooth-talking Romeo or Don Juan — he actually talks and acts like someone you might avoid on the subway — teaches the women how to bend over, how to wiggle their butts, and how to jump in a man’s arms and turn him on. “What did you think it was about? The psychological aspects of gender politics in modern society?” he says, defending his techniques, which are questionable at best in the twenty-first century (or any time, really). But there is a severe shortage of available men in Russia, so he convinces the eager women that they need to play this game in order to snag a wealthy suitor, that they are not able to survive in this world on their own.
“What a nightmare!” Lida Lodigenskaya declares about Rakovsky’s ideals. Lida lives with her mother and is in love with a married father of two. She is combative and determined, sure that he will eventually leave his wife; surprisingly, he allows himself to be filmed with Lida despite his personal situation. Vika Sitnik is in a lackluster marriage and is in the process of opening a lingerie store in a mall. She suffers from anxiety, sharing her fears with a psychologist. Her mother does not understand her crisis, stuck in the old ways. “I feel bad inside,” Vika says as she reaches a turning point in her life. Diana Belova is a single mother whose parents threw her out of the house so she lives with her grandmother. She makes the most out of the workshop, creating a fake, fanciful existence built on attractiveness and elegance. “I believe in fairy tales,” she says as she meets a series of men, not searching for true love but for someone who will be able to give her the upper-crust life she feels she deserves. “I need to be the best,” she explains.
Rudnitskaya is not making fun of any of these people but rather focusing on the difficulty women are having finding the right person to share their life. They have been reduced to becoming kewpie dolls to catch and keep a man, which is both sad and heartbreaking to watch. The film is screening on November 9 at 9:15, with executive producers Sigrid Jonsson Dyekjær, Eva Mulvad, and Rose Grönkjær in attendance to talk about the film.
ELLIOTT ERWITT — SILENCE SOUNDS GOOD (Adriana Lopez Sanfeliu, 2019)
323 Sixth Ave. at West Third St.
Sunday, November 10, 4:30
“I hate to give explanations,” photographer Elliott Erwitt says in Adriana Lopez Sanfeliu’s lighthearted Elliott Erwitt — Silence Sounds Good, having its North American premiere November 10 at IFC Center as part of the DOC NYC festival. Sanfeliu, a protégé of Erwitt’s, follows her mentor around the world for two years as he goes through his vast archives; exercises in his Manhattan apartment overlooking the park; returns to Cuba for a new book and exhibition and meets former ballerina and choreographer Alicia Alonso, who passed away last month at the age of ninety-eight; snaps pictures on the street at the spur of the moment; and shows some of his iconic images, including photos of presidents and popes, a series on dogs (especially one that steals his heart in Cuba), a photo of segregated drinking fountains in North Carolina, and others that reveal his innate sense of composition. But he doesn’t have a lot to say about them; “I’m not very good about talking about pictures,” he notes at an illustrated lecture.
Now eighty-nine, Erwitt, who was born in France, moved to Italy when he was three, then came to the United States when he was ten, has a dry, self-effacing sense of humor, although he has a tremendous amount of fun taking unusual self-portraits. Sanfeliu often lets her camera linger on him as he sits quietly, with nothing more to say, preferring to let his work speak for itself. “Photography is about having a point of view, nothing else,” he says. “With calm, but also with passion. But without making too much noise about it. It’s the photo which must make noise.” When he does pontificate, he has a tendency to come up with some doozies. “I don’t think anything is serious,” he says. “Nothing is serious, and everything is serious. . . . Well, it’s one of those conundrums. You might say that I’m serious about not being serious.” Erwitt will be at the DOC NYC screening to perhaps talk about it — he does appreciate his silence — along with Sanfeliu, producer François Bertrand, editor Scott Stevenson, and writer Mark Monroe. Preceding it is Tasha Van Zandt’s fourteen-minute short One Thousand Stories: The Making of a Mural, about JR’s video mural project, The Chronicles of San Francisco.
“You’re the most beautiful thing in our life, but what a life I’ve brought you into. You didn’t choose this. Will you ever forgive me?” Waad al-Kateab asks in the extraordinary documentary For Sama. In 2012 during the Arab Spring, Waad, a marketing student at Aleppo University, joined the protests against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad. She started taking photos and cell-phone video, then got a film camera as she became a citizen journalist, documenting the escalating conflict, trying to find moments of joy amid the brutal, senseless murders of innocent men, women, and children. She met and fell in love with heroic doctor Hamza al-Kateab, who was determined to keep his hospital running as the bombings got closer. Waad and Hamza got married, and on January 1, 2016, she gave birth to a healthy girl, Sama.
The film, directed by Waad (who also served as cinematographer and producer) and Edward Watts (Escape from ISIS), is a poignant, unflinching confession from mother to daughter, explaining in graphic detail what the families of Aleppo are going through as Russian and Syrian forces and Islamic extremists maintain a constant attack. “We never thought the world would let this happen,” Waad explains as the body count rises — which she intimately shows, not shying away from shots of bloodied victims being brought into the hospital, a pile of dead children, or a desperate attempt to save the life of a mother and a newborn after an emergency caesarean. “I keep filming. It gives me a reason to be here. It makes the nightmares feel worthwhile,” Waad says.
She captures bombings as they happen, films families huddled inside their homes while machine guns can be heard outside, talks to a child who says he wants to be an architect when he grows up so he can rebuild Aleppo. Because she is a woman, Waad gains access to other women that would not be available to a male filmmaker as they share their stories of love and despair. Waad and Hamza plant a lovely garden to bring color to the dank, brown and gray city. A snowfall covers the turmoil in a beautiful sheet of white. The pitter-patter of rain offers a brief respite. But everything eventually gets destroyed as Waad and Hamza struggle with the choice of leaving with Sama or staying to continue their critical roles in the rebellion, she depicting the personal, heart-wrenching images of war — in 2016, her Inside Aleppo reports aired on British television — he tending to the ever-increasing wounded. “The happiness you brought was laced with fear,” Waad tells Sama in voiceover narration. “Our new life with you felt so fragile, as the freedom we felt in Aleppo.” Winner of the Prix L’Œil d’Or for Best Documentary at Cannes among other awards, For Sama is screening at Cinepolis Chelsea on November 10 and 11 as part of the DOC NYC festival, with director Waad al-Kateab, codirector Edward Watts, and subject Dr. Hamza al-Kateab expected to attend to discuss the film.
ROLLING THUNDER REVUE: A BOB DYLAN STORY BY MARTIN SCORSESE (Martin Scorsese, 2019)
260 West 23rd St.
Thursday, November 7, 9:15
Festival runs November 6-15
“I wouldn’t say it was a traditional revue but it was in the traditional form of a revue — that’s all clumsy bullshit,” Bob Dylan says at the beginning of Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story by Martin Scorsese, a documentary about the legendary 1975-76 tour led by Bob with a collection of special guests. “I’m trying to get to the core of what this Rolling Thunder thing is all about, and I don’t have a clue, because it’s about nothing. It’s just something that happened forty years ago. . . . I don’t remember a thing about Rolling Thunder. I mean, it happened so long ago I wasn’t even born. So what do you want to know?” he asks with a wry smile. Scorsese, whose 2005 documentary No Direction Home focused on Dylan’s early years, now takes viewers behind the scenes and onstage of the infamous tour, in which Dylan donned face paint and wore a mask and a southwestern hat with flowers. Along with a load of anecdotes, the film features electrifying versions of such songs as “One More Cup of Coffee (Valley Below),” “Love Minus Zero / No Limit,” “When I Paint My Masterpiece,” “She Belongs to Me,” “It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry,” “A Hard Rain’s a-Gonna Fall,” “The Ballad of Ira Hayes,” and “Romance in Durango,” among many others.
And what a cast it has: Allen Ginsberg as the Oracle of Delphi, Patti Smith as the Punk Poet, Martin von Haselberg as the Filmmaker, Scarlet Rivera as the Queen of Swords, Joan Baez as the Balladeer, Roger McGuinn as the Minstrel, Larry “Ratso” Sloman as the Rolling Stone Reporter, Jim Gianopulos as the Promoter, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott as the Sailor, Sam Shepard as the Writer, David Mansfield as the Innocent, Sharon Stone as the Beauty Queen, Ronnie Hawkins as the Shitkicker, Anne Waldman as the Word Worker, Ronee Blakley as the Ingénue, Joni Mitchell as the Artist, Chief Rolling Thunder as the Medicine Man, Chief Mad Bear as the Chief, Peter La Farge as the Cowboy Indian, Michael Murphy as the Politician, and Rubin “Hurricane” Carter as the Boxer. The film debuted on Netflix but will look and sound much better in a theater; it is screening November 7 at Cinepolis Chelsea as part of the DOC NYC festival and will be followed by a discussion with producer Margaret Bodde and executive producer/editor David Tedeschi.
ONCE WERE BROTHERS: ROBBIE ROBERTSON & THE BAND (Daniel Roher, 2019)
333 West 23rd St. between Eighth & Ninth Aves.
Wednesday, November 6, 7:00 & 7:30
Festival runs November 6-15
The tenth annual DOC NYC festival, which has grown dramatically since its humble beginnings, consisting now of more than three hundred screenings and special events over ten days at three venues, kicks off in a big way on November 6 with Daniel Roher’s Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson & the Band, an intimate, if completely one-sided, look inside one of the greatest, most influential music groups in North American history. The film was inspired by Band cofounder Robbie Robertson’s 2016 memoir, Testimony, offering his take on the Band’s ups and downs, famous battles, and ultimate breakup. “I don’t know of any other group of musicians with a story equivalent to the story of the Band, and it was a beautiful thing. It was so beautiful it went up in flames,” Robertson, sitting in a chair in a vast, empty room, guitars hanging on the wall far behind him, says. The setup puts the focus on Robertson’s individuality, his alone-ness, in what others trumpet as a collection of extraordinary musicians. “There is no band that emphasizes coming together and becoming greater than the sum of their parts, than the Band. Simply their name: The Band. That was it,” fan Bruce Springsteen says. “I was in great awe of their brotherhood. It was the soul of the Band,” notes Eric Clapton, who says he wanted to join the group made up of singer-songwriter and guitarist Robertson, singer and bassist Rick Danko, singer and keyboardist Richard Manuel, singer and drummer Levon Helm, and keyboardist and accordionist Garth Hudson.
When Robertson, who was born in Toronto in 1943, talks about his childhood — his mother was born on the Six Nations of the Grand River Indian reserve, which had a profound effect on him musically, and his biological father was a Jewish gangster, although he was raised by an abusive stepfather — the film is revelatory, with archival photographs and live footage of Robertson’s early bands and his time with Ronnie Hawkins and the Hawks. Robertson shares mesmerizing anecdotes about going electric with Bob Dylan, recording the Basement Tapes in a house called Big Pink, and discussing his craft. “I don’t have much of a process of like I’m thinking about this, and now I’m going to write a song and it’s gonna be about that,” he explains. “A lot of times, the creative process is trying to catch yourself off guard. And you sit down and you’ve got a blank canvas and you don’t know what you’re gonna do and you just see what happens.”
Hawkins speaks glowingly of his protégé Robertson, who wrote his first songs for Hawkins when he was only fifteen. Roher also talks to executive producer Martin Scorsese, Rolling Stone founder Jann Wenner, record producer John Simon, road manager Jonathan Taplin, equipment manager Bill Scheele, photographer John Scheele, Asylum Records creator David Geffen, and musicians Dylan, Taj Mahal, Peter Gabriel, Van Morrison, and Jimmy Vivino, who all rave about Robertson and the Band. “They were totally in love with their music, and they were in love with each other,” photographer Elliott Landy says. “I never saw any jealousy, I never saw any arguments, I never saw them disagree. They were always supporting each other. They were five brothers, very clearly five brothers who loved each other, and I never saw anything but that.”
Of course, Roher cannot talk to Manuel, Danko, and Helm, who are all dead, and Hudson did not participate in the documentary. Robertson and his wife, Dominique, paint a harrowing picture of the Band’s severe strife as drugs and alcohol tear them apart. There’s really no one, aside from a brief point made by guitarist Larry Campbell, to offer an opposing view to Robertson’s tale, which puts him on a golden throne despite some very public disagreements, particularly with Helm over songwriting credit and royalties. Robertson speaks enthusiastically and intelligently throughout the film, but it’s clear from the get-go that these are his carefully constructed, perhaps selective memories about what happened. But Roher doesn’t disguise that conceit; the film is named after one of Robertson’s solo songs, and the second half of the title is, after all, Robbie Robertson & the Band, as if Robertson is separate from the rest.
One of the main surprises is Robertson’s claim that the Last Waltz concert at Winterland in 1976 was not meant as a farewell but just a pause; Roher and Robertson fail to point out that the group continued to tour and record without Robertson. On his sixth solo album, Sinematic, which was released in September, Robertson has a song about the Band, the aforementioned “Once Were Brothers,” that can be heard at the start of the film. “Oh, once were brothers / Brothers no more / We lost a connection / After the war / There’ll be no revival / There’ll be no one cold / Once were brothers / Brothers no more,” Robertson sings. “When that curtain comes down / We’ll let go of the past / Tomorrow’s another day / Some things weren’t meant to last.” It’s a sad testament to a storied legacy. Packed with amazing photos and live clips that make it a must-see for fans of the group, Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson & the Band is screening at 7:00 and 7:30 on November 6 at the SVA Theatre, with Roher and Robertson on hand to discuss the work.
November 1-24, free - $50
The eighth annual Performa Biennial kicks off today, celebrating the hundredth anniversary of the Staatliches Bauhaus, the German art school founded in 1919 by Walter Gropius that set in motion a major movement in art, architecture, and design around the world. There will be dozens of performances across disciplines, including film, dance, theater, music, installation, and unique hybrids, often incorporating architectural and sculptural elements, as well as conversations and panel discussions through November 24. The price for ticketed events range from $10 to $50, with most around $15-$25; among the highlights are artist Nairy Baghramian, dancer-choreographer Maria Hassabi, late modernist designer Janette Laverrière, and architect Carlo Mollino’s Entre Deux Actes (Ménage à Quatre), taking place on two floors of a Fifth Avenue town house; Lap-See Lam’s Phantom Banquet, a multimedia performance piece about ghosts and Chinese restaurants in Sweden; Pat’s You’re at Home, a one-night-only collaboration between Jacolby Satterwhite and Nick Weiss; Yvonne Rainer’s restaging of her seminal 1965 work Parts of Some Sextets, with new choreography and a recording of the original score; Huang Po-Chin’s Heaven on Fourth, which tells the story of a Chinese immigrant sex worker who committed suicide in Flushing in 2017; and the grand finale, Radio Voices, led by David J of Bauhaus and Love & Rockets with special guests Curse Mackey, Rona Rougeheart, Vangeline, and Heather Paauwe. But there are also dozens of free shows in cool locations, from museums and art galleries to outside on the street, most of which do not require advance RSVP; the full list is below.
Friday, November 1, 4:00 - 8:00
Saturday November 2, 4:00 - 8:00
Sunday, November 3, 2:00 - 6:00
Zakaria Almoutlak and Andros Zins-Browne: Atlas Unlimited: Acts VII–X, with the voices of Ganavya Doraiswamy and Aliana de la Guardia, 80 Washington Square East
Friday, November 1
Sunday, November 24
Ylva Snöfrid: Nostalgia — Acts of Vanitas, daily painting performance ritual, fifth-floor loft at 147 Spring St.
Saturday, November 2
Shu Lea Cheang, Matthew Fuller: SLEEP1237, Performa Hub, 47 Wooster St., 5:50 pm - 6:25 am
Gaetano Pesce: WORKINGALLERY, Salon 94 Design, 3 East Eighty-Ninth St., 2:00 - 4:00
Saturday, November 2
Sunday, November 24
Yu Cheng-Ta: “Fameme,” live and filmed performances about reality television, Wallplay, 321 Canal St.
Tuesday, November 5
Tara Subkoff: Deepfake, the Hole, 312 Bowery, 7:00
November 6, 13, 16, 20
Luca Veggetti with Moe Yoshida: From Weimar to Taipei (Roland Gebhardt-Mercedes Searer’s Selfdom, Luca Veggetti’s Fourth Character, Chin Chih Yang’s Black Hole, Rolando Peña’s Less Is More), WhiteBox Harlem, 213 East 121st St., 7:00
Thursday, November 7
Yahon Chang: Untitled, Performa Hub: Deitch Projects, 18 Wooster St., 5:00
Sarah Friedland: CROWDS, three-channel video installation of durational dance, La MaMa La Galleria, 47 Great Jones St., 6:00
Saturday, November 9
Pia Camil and Mobile Print Power: Screen Printing Workshop, Queens Museum, 1:00
Niels Bolbrinker and Thomas Tielsch: Bauhaus Spirit: 100 Years of Bauhaus, Goethe-Institut New York, 30 Irving Pl., 3:00
Duke Riley: Non-Essential Consultants, Inc., Red Hook Labs, 133 Imlay St., 6:00
Sunday, November 10
Glendalys Medina: No Microphone, Participant Inc., 253 East Houston St. #1, 4:00
Sunday, November 10, 17, 24
Glendalys Medina: The Shank Live, Participant Inc., 253 East Houston St. #1, 8:00 am
Monday, November 11
Nkisi: Listening Session, Performa Hub, 47 Wooster St., 6:00
Monday, November 11
Sunday, November 17
Dimitri Chamblas, Sigrid Pawelke: UNLIMITED BODIES, Performa Hub: Deitch Projects, 18 Wooster St., 12:00 and/or 1:00
Tuesday, November 12
Huang Po-Chih, Su Hui-Yu, Yu Cheng-Ta: “The Afterlife of Live Performance” Panel Discussion, Performa Hub, 47 Wooster St., 6:00
Adam Weinert: Monuments: Echoes in the Dance Archive, the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, Bruno Walter Auditorium, 111 Amsterdam Ave., 6:00
Tuesday, November 12, 19
Glendalys Medina: Dear Me, Participant Inc., 253 East Houston St. #1, advance RSVP required, 4:00 - 9:00
Wednesday, November 13
Paul Maheke, Ligia Lewis, Nkisi: Levant, Goethe-Institut Cultural Residencies, Ludlow 38, 38 Ludlow St., 6:00
Thursday, November 14
The New Blockheads: The Brotherhood of the New Blockheads, the Mishkin Gallery, 135 East Twenty-Second St., 6:00
Friday, November 15
Bauhaus at the Margins: Gender, Queer, and Sexual Politics, Performa Hub, 47 Wooster St., 6:00
Heman Chong, Fyerool Darma, Ho Rui An, and Erika Tan: As the West Slept, Silver Art Projects, 4 World Trade Center, twenty-eighth floor, 7:00
Saturday, November 16
“A School for Creating Humans”: Bauhaus Education and Aesthetics Revisited, Performa Hub, 47 Wooster St., 1:00
Sunday, November 17
Bodybuilding: Architecture and Performance Book Launch, including a lecture-performance by New Affiliates (Ivi Diamantopoulou and Jaffer Kolb), Performa Hub, 47 Wooster St., 4:00
Lap-See Lam in conversation with Charlene K. Lau, Performa Hub, 47 Wooster St., free with advance RSVP, 4:00
Tuesday, November 19, 6:00
Sunday, November 24, 8:00
Éva Mag: Dead Matter Moves, production of clay bodies, the Gym at Judson Memorial Church, 243 Thompson St., 1:00 - between 5:00 & 8:00
Tuesday, November 19, 6:00
Friday, November 22, 8:00
Torkwase Dyson: I Can Drink the Distance: Plantationocene in 2 Acts, multimedia performative installation, Pace Gallery, 540 West Twenty-Fifth St.
Thursday, November 21
Machine Dazzle, Narcissister and Rammellzee: Otherworldly: Performance, Costume and Difference, Aronson Gallery, Sheila Johnson Design Center at Parsons School of Design, 66 Fifth Ave., 6:00
Sarah Friedland: CROWDS — Conversation with Tess Takahashi, La MaMa La Galleria, 47 Great Jones St., 7:00
Thursday, November 21, 6:00
Saturday, November 23, 1:00 & 3:00
Sunday, November 24, 1:00 & 3:00
Tarik Kiswanson: AS DEEP AS I COULD REMEMBER, AS FAR AS I COULD SEE, featuring eleven-year-old children reading his writings, Alexander Hamilton US Custom House, 1 Bowling Green, free with advance tickets
Friday, November 22
Tarik Kiswanson: AS DEEP AS I COULD REMEMBER, AS FAR AS I COULD SEE: In Conversation with Performa Curator Charles Aubin, Performa Hub, 47 Wooster St., 5:00
Saturday, November 23
Cecilia Bengolea, Michèle Lamy: Untitled Performa Commission, featuring boxers and ballet, dancehall, vogue, and contemporary dancers, Performa Hub: Deitch Projects, 18 Wooster St., 4:00
Sunday, November 24, 8:00
Éva Mag: Dead Matter Moves — In Conversation with Camilla Larsson and Yuvinka Medina, the Gym at Judson Memorial Church, 243 Thompson St., 3:00
What is a son without a father? What is a father without a son? Those questions are at the heart of Dead Centre’s Hamnet, making its New York premiere this week at BAM. The sixty-minute multimedia show is part of new BAM artistic director David Binder’s inaugural Next Wave Festival consisting exclusively of BAM debuts, and this one is highlighted by a dynamite performance by Aran Murphy as the title character, in his professional acting debut. Murphy is a contemporary Hamnet, William Shakespeare’s only son, who died tragically in 1596 at the age of eleven. The boy is dressed in modern clothes, carries around a backpack, and regularly asks Google for information; it’s as if he’s been searching for his father, who abandoned him and his twin sister, Judith, and their mother, Anne Hathaway, in order to write his plays, for more than four hundred years. “To be, or not to be,” he declares several times, hoping that maybe his dad’s writings will help him find him.
Written and directed by Dead Centre founders Bush Moukarzel and Ben Kidd, Hamnet features a large screen at the back of the stage, where the audience is live-streamed through most of the show. Jose Miguel Jimenez’s innovative video design and Liv O’Donoghue’s choreography form a kind of magic as Hamnet roams Andrew Clancy’s set, sometimes disappearing onscreen even though he is right in front of us, or vice versa, and growing even more complex and eerie when the ghost of his father (Moukarzel) appears. The narrative at times becomes murky and confusing, but the technical wizardry and Murphy’s astounding portrayal overshadow its shortcomings. “Who would fardels bear, / To grunt and sweat under a weary life, / But that the dread of something after death, / The undiscovere’d country, from whose bourn / No traveller returns, puzzles the will, / And makes us rather bear those ills we have / Than fly to others that we know not of?” Hamlet asks. Hamnet is a hypnotic puzzle about death, grief, and personal identity, albeit one that is not easily unravele’d.
After seeing Hamnet, make your way around the corner to BAM’s main home, the Peter Jay Sharp Building, which houses the Howard Gilman Opera House, to catch the world premiere of Dumbworld and Irish National Opera’s He Did What? The ten-minute animated film, conceived and created by Brian Irvine and John McIlduff with video by Killan Waters and Conan McIvor, is projected onto the facade of the building at the corner of Lafayette Ave. and St. Felix St. The audience is given headsets through which they hear the hysterical story of three alter kockers with walkers parading slowly down the street, a man followed by two women. The two women are gossiping about him, as his wife recently caught him in bed with another woman and is deciding what to do about it. The characters are sung by Doreen Curran, Sylvia O’Brien, and Dan Reardon, with music composed by Irvine and played by the RTE Concert Orchestra, conducted by Fergus Shiel. The piece was written and directed by McIlduff; the riotous words also appear on the wall in goofy, graffiti-like type, complementing KAWS’s BAM mural and David Byrne’s bike rack across the street. While Hamnet will have you wondering, “How did they do that?,” the free presentation of He Did What?, running 7:00 to 10:00 nightly through November 2, will have you saying again and again, “He did what?” as well as “Oh no she didn’t. Oh yes she did.”