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

IDEAS CITY: THE INVISIBLE CITY

Drone painting is part of three-day Ideas City festival on the Lower East Side

Drone painting is part of three-day Ideas City festival on the Lower East Side

NEW YORK CITY FESTIVAL FOR THE FUTURE
New Museum of Contemporary Art, the Aula, Sara D. Roosevelt Park, the Cooper Union, and other Lower East Side locations
May 28-30, free - $50
www.ideas-city.org

In his 1972 novel Invisible Cities, Cuban-born Italian journalist and author Italo Calvino wrote, “Cities, like dreams, are made of desires and fears, even if the thread of their discourse is secret, their rules are absurd, their perspectives deceitful, and everything conceals something else.” That quote is the inspiration for this year’s Ideas City festival, three days of panel discussions, debates, lectures, interactive art projects, music and theater, and other special presentations about the future of New York and other cosmopolitan areas. Founded by the New Museum, the festival begins on May 28 with an all-day ticketed conference, but most everything else is free, with many events requiring advance registration. On Friday, “A Performative Conference in Nine Acts” ($20) consists of nine performances at the Aula on Mulberry St. by such artists as Jordi Enrich Jorba, Penny Arcade, and Danny Hoch, while Saturday’s Street Program features outdoor projects in and around Sara D. Roosevelt Park. Below are only some of the highlights of what should be an intriguing and fascinating look at civic responsibility and how you can make a difference.

Thursday, May 28
Ideas City Conference, with screening by Rivane Neuenschwander, welcome address by Lisa Phillips and Joseph Grima, “Seeing through the Noise” keynote by Lawrence Lessig, “Hope and Unrest in the Invisible City” panel discussion with Jonathas de Andrade, Rosanne Haggerty, Yto Barrada, Micah White, and moderator Jonathan Bowles, “Make No Little Plans: Towards a Plausible Utopia” conversation with Bjarke Ingels and Kim Stanley Robinson, screening of Joshua Frankel’s Mannahatta: Studies for an Opera about Robert Moses and Jane Jacobs, “Make No Little Plans: Policy and the Invisible City” conversation with Rohit Aggarwala and Connie Hedegaard, “Full Disclosure and the Morality of Information” panel discussion with Trevor Paglen, Christopher Soghoian, Jillian C. York, and moderator Gabriella Coleman, screening of OpenStreetMap’s 2008, a Year of Edits, “Maps for the Invisible City” panel discussion with Steve Coast, William Rankin, and moderator Laura Kurgan, screening of Adam Magyar’s Stainless, 42 Street, introduction by Richard Flood, and “Finding the Invisible City” mayoral panel discussion with Annise Parker, Carmen Yulín Cruz, Svante Myrick, and moderator Kurt Andersen, Great Hall, the Cooper Union, 7 East Seventh St., free - $50, 9:30 am – 7:30 pm

ETH Zurich, Block Research Group, and others: Pop-Up Workshop + Gallery, ETH Zurich Future Garden and Pavilion, 34 East First St., 11:00 am – 6:00 pm

ETH Zurich Alumni — New York Chapter: The Invisible Feedback Loop: Architects, Infrastructure, and Public Space, ETH Zurich Future Garden and Pavilion, First Street Garden, 6:30

NEW INC and Deep Lab: Drone Painting Performance, 231 Bowery, 8:00

Social Innovation in the Data Age: Inventing a Truly Smart City takes place May 29 in the First Street Garden

Social Innovation in the Data Age: Inventing a Truly Smart City takes place May 29 in the First Street Garden

Friday, May 29
PareUp, miLES, and others — Wasted Food x Wasted Space: A Morning Dialogue over Breakfast, ETH Zurich Future Garden and Pavilion, First Street Garden, yoga at 8:00, roundtable dialogues at 9:00

Swiss Think Tank W.I.R.E., SAVIDA, and others — Social Innovation in the Data Age: Inventing a Truly Smart City, ETH Zurich Future Garden and Pavilion, First Street Garden, 12 noon

Jordi Enrich Jorba: Nomadic Place, A Performative Conference in Nine Acts, the Aula, 268 Mulberry St., 7:30

NEW INC and Deep Lab: EMA Performance, 231 Bowery, 8:00

Urban Word, Ministry of Endangered Language, and others — The POEMobile: Quechua Poetry & Projections, with Doris Loayza, Inti Jimbo, and Inkarayku, Mulberry St. between Houston & Prince Sts., 8:00 pm – 12 midnight

United States Department of Arts and Culture — People’s State of the Union: “2015 Poetic Address to the Nation,” A Performative Conference in Nine Acts, the Aula, 268 Mulberry St., 8:10

Penny Arcade: Longing Lasts Longer, A Performative Conference in Nine Acts, the Aula, 268 Mulberry St., 8:40

Danny Hoch: Excerpt from Taking Over, A Performative Conference in Nine Acts, the Aula, 268 Mulberry St., 10:45

Sharifa Rhodes-Pitts, Michael Henry Adams, and others: Last Dance, A Performative Conference in Nine Acts, the Aula, 268 Mulberry St., 11:00 pm

Ursula Scherrer with Brian Chase and Kato Hideki: afloat, A Performative Conference in Nine Acts, the Aula, 268 Mulberry St., 11:59 pm – 3:00 am

Abrons Arts Center invites The City of the Lost and Found (photo by Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre)

Abrons Arts Center invites visitors to “re-create an item, a feeling, or an idea they have lost in the city” (photo by Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre)

Saturday, May 30
Abrons Arts Center: The City of the Lost and Found, Street Program, Sara D. Roosevelt Park, 12 noon – 3:00 pm

Art in Odd Places: Recall, Street Program, Sara D. Roosevelt Park, 12 noon – 6:00 pm

Arte Institute, Albanian Institute New York: Surface Markers and I will play your soul, Street Program, Sara D. Roosevelt Park, 12 noon – 6:00 pm

Center for Urban Pedagogy (CUP): Sewer in a Suitcase, Street Program, Bowery between Houston & Stanton Sts., 12 noon – 6:00 pm

Circus for Construction, Austin + Mergold: The Wall Inside, Street Program, Sara D. Roosevelt Park, 12 noon – 6:00 pm

Davidson Rafailidis: “MirrorMirror,” Street Program, Sara D. Roosevelt Park at Stanton St., 12 noon – 6:00 pm

Emily Johnson/Catalyst: Conjuring Future Joy, Street Program, Bowery between Stanton & Rivington Sts., 12 noonn – 6:00 pm

Hester Street Fair: Ideas City Food Court, with Brooklyn Soda Works, Doughnut Plant, Khao Man Gai NY, Luke’s Lobster, Meat Hook Sandwich, Mindful Juice, Oddfellows Ice Cream, Petee’s Pies, Red Star Sandwich Shop, and
Roberta’s, 12 noon – 6:00 pm

US Department of Arts and Culture, Endangered Language Alliance, and others: Ministry of Endangered Language, Street Program, Stanton St. & Bowery, 12 noon – 6:00 pm

Wojciech Gilewicz, Artists Alliance Inc. — RRRC: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Compost, Street Program, multiple locations, 12 noon – 6:00 pm

BOOKEXPO AMERICA / BOOKCON

Judy Blume will be at BEA with her new adult novel, IN THE UNLIKELY EVENT

Judy Blume will be at BEA with her new adult novel, IN THE UNLIKELY EVENT

Jacob K. Javits Convention Center
655 West 34th St. (11th Ave. between 34th & 39th Sts.)
BookExpo America: May 27-29, $104-$419
www.bookexpoamerica.com
BookCon: May 30-31, $5-$40
www.thebookcon.com

The ways we are producing, purchasing, and reading books are changing at lightning speed, but when all is said and done, it’s still primarily about the written word. And that is precisely what you can celebrate at two major events this week. BookExpo America, better known as BEA, will be at the Javits Center May 27-29, the annual convention for book-buying professionals, publishing professionals, and book industry professionals and authors. In addition to hundreds of exhibitors, there is the Global Market Forum: China Pavilion, a special Translation Market, Start Up Alley, and Digital Discovery Zone. BEA is followed immediately by BookCon on May 30-31, two days of panels, signings, and celebrity guests that are open to the general public. Below are highlights, some of which require advance registration and ticketing.

BookExpo America
Wednesday, May 27
Opening Day Spotlight: In Conversation with Jonathan Franzen, moderated by Salon.com cofounder Laura Miller, Room 1E12/1E13/1E14, 12:30

Autographing Sessions with T. J. English, Alison Weir, Amy Ewing, Mo Willems, John Quiñones, Karin Slaughter, Carol Alt, Al Roker, Rosemary Wells, Bernadette Peters, more

Thursday, May 28
Adult Book & Author Breakfast, with Lee Child, Dyana Nyad, Brandon Stanton, and MC Kunal Nayyar, Special Events Hall, 8:00 am

Autographing Sessions with Anne Ursu, Michelle Zink, Maryrose Wood, Betsy Lewin, Tama Janowitz, Erin Stead, Jon Scieszka, Jesse Eisenberg, Sarah Mlynowski, Claudia Gabel, Gregory Maguire, Carolyn Mackler, Tim Harrington, Ahmet Zappa, Dr. Ruth Westheimer, Judah Freidlander, Mary Higgins Clark, Paul Morrissey, Adam Carolla, Jane O’Connor, more

Friday, May 29
Children’s Book & Author Breakfast, with Oliver Jeffers, Rainbow Rowell, James Patterson, and MC Nathan Lane, Special Events Hall, 8:00 am

Meet BEA Young Adult Editors’ Buzz Authors and Meet BEA Middle Grade Editors’ Buzz Authors, BEA Uptown Stage

Autographing Sessions with Kenneth Oppel, Kelley Armstrong, Stuart Gibbs, Jack Gantos, Hamish McKenzie, Scott Westerfeld, Katherine Applegate, Nathan Lane, Linda Fairstein, Kim Harrison, Oliver Jeffers, Amy Krouse Rosenthal, Lauren Oliver, Rita Williams-Garcia, Gitty Daneshvari, David Baldacci, Patrick Ness, Meg Cabot, more

APA Author Tea, with Judy Blume, Adriana Trigiani, Jack Gantos, and MC Jacqueline Woodson, Room 1E15/1E16, 3:30

David Duchovny will present his new book, HOLY COW, at BookCon at the Javits Center this week

David Duchovny will present his new book, HOLY COW, at BookCon at the Javits Center this week

BookCon
Saturday, May 30
Mindy Kaling in Conversation with BJ Novak, Special Events Hall, 11:00 am

Marvel Presents: Star Wars, with Jordan White, Charles Soule, and Alex Maleev, Room 1A21, 12:30

Mixed Me: A Discussion with Taye Diggs and Shane Evans, Room 1A10, 1:00

Holy Cow, meet David Duchovny, Macmillan Meeting Room 3139 on the show floor, 2:00

Nick Offerman’s Gumption Revival!, Special Events Hall, 2:30

Aziz Ansari / Modern Romance, Special Events Hall, 4:15

Paper Towns Film Panel, with John Green, Justice Smith, Kathleen Heaney, Michael H. Weber, Nat Wolff, and Ryan Lott, Special Events Hall, 6:00

Autographing Sessions with Paige McKenzie, Sarah Dessen & Gayle Forman, Mac Barnett & Jory John, Meg Cabot, David Baldacci, Marissa Meyer, Nick Offerman & John Hodgman, Lauren Oliver, Tavi Gevinson, Brad Meltzer, Patrick Ness, Calvin L. Reed, more

Sunday, May 31
First in Line Red Carpet Event & Author Breakfast, with E. Lockhart, James Dashner, Jennifer Niven, and Nicola Yoon, Penguin Random House Meeting Room 3205 on the show floor, 10:00 am

We Need Diverse Books Presents Luminaries of Children’s Literature, with Aisha Saeed, David Levithan, I. W. Gregorio, Jacqueline Woodson, Libba Bray, Meg Medina, and Soman Chainani, Room 1A10, 11:15

Jodi Picoult and Samantha van Leer – Off the Page, Room 1A23, 1:00

John Leguizamo: Ghetto Klown, Downtown Stage, 2:00

Judy Blume in Conversation with Jennifer Weiner, Special Events Hall, 2:30

A Conversation with Brandon Stanton, Creator of Humans of New York, Room 1A21, 3:30

Goosebumps Movie Panel with R.L. Stine, Dylan Minnette, and Ryan Lee, Special Events Hall, 4:15

Autographing Sessions with Charlaine Harris, Matthew Van Fleet, Jacqueline Woodson & Libba Bray, Meg Cabot, R.L. Stine, Judy Blume, Scott Westerfeld, David Levithan, E. Lockhart, Mingmei Yip, Candace Bushnell, Brandon Stanton, Jodi Picoult & Samantha van Leer, James Dashner, Michael Buckley, more

HAUTE COUTURE ON FILM — VERSAILLES ’73: AMERICAN RUNWAY REVOLUTION

Liza Minnelli

Liza Minnelli was among the participants when the Americans battled the French at the Palace of Versailles in 1973

CinéSalon: VERSAILLES ’73: AMERICAN RUNWAY REVOLUTION (Deborah Riley Draper, 2012)
French Institute Alliance Française, Florence Gould Hall
55 East 59th St. between Madison & Park Aves.
Tuesday, May 26, $13, 4:00 & 7:30
212-355-6100
www.fiaf.org
www.versailles73movie.com

The French Institute Alliance Française’s CinéSalon series “Haute Couture on Film,” part of the larger “Fashion at FIAF” festival, comes to a fitting close with Deborah Riley Draper’s fab 2012 doc, Versailles ’73: American Runway Revolution. In June 1919, Germany and the Allies signed a peace treaty at the palace of Versailles in France, where Louis XIV and his family lived until they had to flee in 1789. Nearly two hundred years later, the historic Château de Versailles was in disrepair, and American fashion doyenne Eleanor Lambert decided to do something about it, creating a high-society fundraiser featuring presentations by five French designers and five American designers. Deborah Riley Draper captures all of the backstage intrigue and surprising results in her debut full-length film, speaking with many of those who were on hand for what turned out to be an eye-opening, game-changing haute couture competition. “There are moments in history that change the course of history,” says Versailles ’73 model Alva Chinn. “That was a moment in history that changed the course of fashion history.” Among those sharing their perspectives on the Battle of Versailles, which pitted Yves Saint Laurent, Christian Dior, Hubert de Givenchy, Pierre Cardin, and Emanuel Ungaro against Anne Klein, Stephen Burrows, Bill Blass, Oscar de la Renta, and Halston, are Met Costume Institute curator-in-charge Harold Koda, Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture president Didier Grumbach, American actor and Halston assistant Dennis Christopher (Breaking Away), Château de Versailles chief curator Beatrix Saule, public relations executive and former Lambert assistant John Tiffany, Versailles ’73 patron Simone Levitt, former Halston assistant and Bill Blass executive Tom Fallon, photographer Charles Tracy, designer Burrows, and, most fabulously, participating models China Machado, Barbara Jackson, Charleen Dash, Pat Cleveland, Karen Bjornsen, Norma Jean Darden, Nancy North, Marisa Berenson, Bethann Hardison, Carla LaMonte, and Billie Blair, who are utterly delightful as they detail the fascinating goings-on.

The competition not only shed new light on American design and runway presentation but on the style and verve of black models, who brought a new energy to the world of international fashion. Narrated by King of Vintage Cameron Silver, the film features photographs and silent color footage from the event; it’s too bad that better material isn’t available from this seminal moment in twentieth-century haute couture, when the underdog Americans brought their A-game once again to the French. Versailles ’73: American Runway Revolution is being shown May 26 at 4:00 & 7:30; both screenings will be followed by a wine reception, and Macy’s fashion director Nicole Fischelis will introduce the later show.

TWI-NY TALK: MICHAEL BUCKLEY

Michael Buckley’s YA debut, UNDERTOW, is set in Coney Island (photo by Dana Gallagher)

Michael Buckley’s YA debut, UNDERTOW, is set in Coney Island (photo by Dana Gallagher)

BookCourt
163 Court St. between Dean & Pacific Sts.
Tuesday, May 19, free, 7:00
718-875-3677
bookcourt.com
michaelbuckleywrites.com

Brooklyn-based author Michael Buckley has gone from writing advertising copy to the text for Macy’s holiday window display to a pair of New York Times bestselling series for middle-grade readers, the Sisters Grimm and N.E.R.D.S. He has now made the leap to YA with Undertow (Houghton Mifflin, May 5, $18.99), the first in a trilogy about an alien race, known as the Alpha, in Coney Island. A tall, gregarious fellow, Buckley, who was born and raised in Ohio, was a stand-up comic, and it shows in his wickedly wry and playful sense of humor. He’s just finishing up a nine-city book tour that took him to Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Salk Lake City, Minneapolis, St. Paul, and Rochester, concluding May 19 in Brooklyn, where he lives with his wife and young son. (He will also be signing at BookCon at booth #2541 at the Javits Center on May 31 at 2:00.) I’ve known Buckley for more than ten years now — his wife and my wife are partners at Stonesong, his literary agency — and it’s been exciting watching his career skyrocket. Just as he returned home from the tour, we discussed Coney Island, migraines, immigration, China, and imaginary friends.

twi-ny: On your blog, you recently wrote, “Undertow is the culmination of a lot of hard work and a whole lot of wishing and risk taking — not only by me but a whole lot of other people.” What were some of those risks?

Michael Buckley: Anytime a writer tries to do something new there’s a risk that their audience is not going to embrace it. For some, a fear of losing their fans can get in the way of growth as an artist, but I don’t do anything because it’s the safe thing to do. I want to try new stories and ways of telling them. I’m blessed to have editors and publishers who are supportive, because it’s not easy on them either. Every time I try something new, it takes a lot of energy by lots of folks to get the word out about it, to find ways to get my readers to give it a chance, and to make sure booksellers get excited about it as well. That’s a lot of long hours at work for everyone. I try not to lose sight of the fact that every risk I take is one I am not taking alone.

twi-ny: In the book, you write very candidly about migraines, which the protagonist, Lyric, suffers from and grades on a scale. Are you writing from personal experience?

MB: Actually, I rarely get headaches at all, but I have friends who get them and from what I understand they can be destructive. I asked a few what it felt like and how they handled it and most of them had different experiences and different strategies that helped them cope. Some have little tricks they do that can fend off a migraine, while others know the stimuli that cause the pain so they can avoid them. I have the utmost sympathy for these people, but I’m also in awe of them, too. There is an incredible amount of bravery and personal strength in people who suffer from migraines. They’re tough people, far tougher than me.

twi-ny: Undertow is set in Coney Island. Prior to writing the book, what was your opinion of Coney Island? Were you a regular visitor?

MB: I’ve been drawn to Coney Island since I moved to NYC in ’96 and have spent many a summer day in Rudy’s Bar or walking on the boardwalk. It’s grungy in the best possible ways — a real people’s amusement park, filled with faces from every corner of the world. I also worked in documentary films earlier in my life and researched Coney Island’s glorious history. It was once the biggest tourist attraction in the world until the original park burned to the ground in 1911.

twi-ny: What do you think about the changes going on there these past few years?

MB: I like some of the things that are happening down there now — the Cyclones’ ballpark is spectacular, and some of the new rides are fun, but it’s important to me that the park stays affordable. It’s getting a bit too expensive in my opinion, especially for the people who live in that neighborhood. I hope the city and the investors are considering the community.

undertow

twi-ny: The story in Undertow is an apt metaphor for the current heated debate over immigration in America. Where do you stand on that issue? I gather you’re not hiding much by giving the female politician most against the Alpha the last name Bachmann. Then again, you also give an ultra-right-wing conservative pundit the last name Rifkin.

MB: America is an amazing place to live, so no one should be surprised when people want to come here. We’ve also got a giant statue in New York Harbor that asks the world to send us “your huddled masses yearning to be free.” I mean, if we’re not going to welcome the world to this country, then let’s take the statue down — it’s false advertising. I think it’s hypocritical — we’re either welcoming them with open arms or we’re not. It’s not like we don’t have the room. There are plenty of places to live in the US. Have you ever been to North Dakota? Fifteen people live there! As for the Bachmann name, that could be purely coincidental. I mean . . . the character in my book is clearly insane and manipulative. She’s also a moron. Who could that be? [As far as that other name,] I’m not sure whom you’re referring to . . . ahem.

twi-ny: Undertow has elements of a number of science-fiction movies, from Alien Nation to Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Did any specific films or books either influence or inspire Undertow?

MB: I was wildly inspired by District 9. That movie blew me away — not because it was a film about aliens, but rather that it felt real to me. I have no doubt that if an alien species crash-landed here and could not fly away, we would put them in a camp with a big fence around it. I was inspired by books as well. The Outsiders was a huge influence.

twi-ny: Your previous series, the Sisters Grimm and N.E.R.D.S., were for middle-grade readers. With Undertow, did you consciously set out to write a YA trilogy, or did it just happen that way?

MB: Undertow is the first young adult novel I have written and it was daunting. I wasn’t sure I could pull it off. First, the themes and ideas in a YA book are far more complicated than in middle-grade books. You can explore ideas and feelings in a way that you can’t when writing for a younger audience, and I had never really had the opportunity to try it. To prepare, I gave myself a sort of master’s in young adult literature, reading everything I could get my hands on, then interviewing some of the authors behind the books I loved the most to find out what they thought was important for the readers, how to write a teenage girl, how far to go with adult themes — they were true friends and mentors to me. When I felt like I understood YA, and more importantly, when I realized I loved YA, that’s when I knew it was time to give it a try.

twi-ny: You’ll be at BookCourt on May 19 in Brooklyn, where you live. Is it exciting to come home, or is a book tour all just a big blur?

MB: Book tours can be both exhilarating and exhausting at the same time. I get to meet fans and booksellers and teachers and librarians and occasionally other authors, so that part is always fun, but getting up early and racing to airports and forgetting what your rental car looks like — well, there’s a million stories there. I’m excited to finally have an event here in Brooklyn. BookCourt has always been a great supporter of what I do and it’s a fantastic indie shop that really knows what people like to read.

twi-ny: Do you have anything special planned for the event?

MB: We’re going to throw a little shindig with some mermaid cupcakes and a little wine for the grown-ups. I’m hoping to see a lot of faces both familiar and new.

twi-ny: You’ve also contributed the story “Mr. Shocky” to Jon Scieszka’s sixth Guys Read volume, Terrifying Tales, and you’ll be signing copies of the book later this month at BEA. How did that come about?

MB: Jon is one of the leaders in getting boys to read, which is sometimes a complicated endeavor. He’s done a few of these Guys Read books in the past, but this was the first one in which I was able to contribute. I was thrilled to be able to write something scary — another new thing I’d never tried. I’m very excited to see how people react to it. Everyone involved has said my story is one of the scariest they’ve read.

twi-ny: I agree; it’s tremendously scary. It deals with a boy and his imaginary friend; did you ever have an imaginary friend growing up?

MB: I had an imaginary friend, but then he met another imaginary friend, and they both stopped hanging out with me. That’s sad. Wait, that could be a great story!

twi-ny: You recently got back from a trip to China with your wife and son. What was that experience like?

MB: China is nothing like I expected. Growing up in the ’70s and ’80s, during the Cold War, we were taught to fear all things Communism, and I had heard a lot of stories about China that turned out to be nonsense. What I saw was a vibrant, exciting country filled with amazing architecture and food and art. The people were friendly and kind and there was very little of the “police state” I was led to believe existed. In fact, if you ask me, they could use more police. Everyone drives like a maniac there! I can’t wait to go back.

twi-ny: Do people ever confuse you with so-called “Internet Celebrity” Michael Buckley of The What the Buck Show?

MB: I do get confused with him all the time and even get some of his fan mail. We connected on twitter awhile back. He gets some of my fan mail, too. I’ve become a fan of his — he’s hilarious, but every once in a while someone puts a picture up of him when they should have put a picture of me. Then, it’s not so funny — lol.

FOREVER

(photo by Joan Marcus)

Dael Orlandersmith shares intimate details of her dysfunctional childhood in FOREVER (photo by Joan Marcus)

New York Theatre Workshop
79 East Fourth St. between Second & Third Aves.
Tuesday - Sunday through May 31, $75
nytw.org

Pulitzer Prize finalist Dael Orlandersmith returns to New York Theatre Workshop with the searing Forever, a harrowing, deeply intimate one-woman show about the severely dysfunctional relationship between a daughter and her alcoholic mother. In the semiautobiographical work, Orlandersmith (Yellowman, Monster, The Gimmick) spends a gripping eighty minutes discussing her artistic influences while looking back at damaging scenes from her past as she walks through Pere Lachaise Cemetery in Paris, paying tribute to Jim Morrison, Edith Piaf, Richard Wright, and other writers and musicians who helped her survive a brutal childhood in Harlem. “All of us have come / All of us who are seeking / have come to be with these people here in Pere Lachaise — who beyond our parents helped us give birth to ourselves,” she says. Statuesque and elegant in a long black dress, her braided hair falling over her shoulders and reaching toward her hips, she recalls a broken friendship with a local tomboy, being beaten by her mother over math homework, and how she felt when her mother tells her she is “fat / hateful / disgusting.” She shares her physical and psychological pain with the audience, making direct, lingering eye contact that is both soothing and uncomfortable. “I can’t believe I still can feel her slap. She’s been gone / dead / over twenty years but I can still see / feel / hear her laughing,” she says. Orlandersmith tells the story with a lyrical, poetic rhythm that is captivating and unique. She describes her Caesarian birth thusly: “October 29, 1959 / I was torn from blood/guts/water / Spanked into consciousness / Spanked into living.” Later she adds, “A scar I made a long time ago coming through you / I stare at it / Wondering how I could have been born from it / How I could have been born from you.”

(photo by Joan Marcus)

Dael Orlandersmith’s tale of her relationship with her mother is both harrowing and uplifting (photo by Joan Marcus)

About midway through Forever, which is calmly directed by Neel Keller, with excellent lighting by Mary Louise Geiger and sound by Adam Phalen, Orlandersmith relates a long, agonizing episode from her childhood in nerve-racking detail, one of the most powerful and frightening things you’re ever likely to experience from a show; it’s difficult to watch, but you won’t be able to avert your eyes from hers, finalizing an unbreakable bond between performer and audience that will stay with you long after you leave the theater. Ultimately, she tries to find closure as she revisits her mother’s death. Forever is both heartbreaking and uplifting, a shocking, poetic exploration of family, memory, and the ties that bind; it was particularly poignant the night we saw it, on the eve of Mother’s Day. Before and after the show, people are invited to write their own tributes to those they’ve lost on notecards they can tape to the long, narrow bulletin boards lining the side walls, and following the show, attendees can walk around Takeshi Kata’s central staging area and check out dozens of Orlandersmith’s family photographs on similar boards around the set. The notecards and photographs are a brilliant touch, a physical evocation of how the past embraces and surrounds both the audience and the performer’s emotional experience, providing yet more intimacy and reminding you of your own relationships. (The May 20 show will be followed by a discussion with photographers James and Karla Murray and NYU adjunct professor Cynthia Copeland, moderated by Alexander Santiago-Jirau, who will also lead a Shop Talk after the May 27 show.)

MAD. SQ. ART: EXPLAINING PUBLIC ART

Jaume Plensa’s “Echo” is a prime example of the innovative public art program in Madison Square Park (photo by twi-ny/mdr)

Jaume Plensa’s “Echo” is a prime example of the innovative public art program in Madison Square Park (photo by twi-ny/mdr)

One Madison Ave. at 23rd St., twelfth floor
Monday, May 18, free with advance RSVP, 9:00 am
www.madisonsquarepark.org

One of our favorite places to experience public art is in Madison Square Park, where the Mad. Sq. Art program has featured site-specific works by Antony Gormley, Alison Saar, Roxy Paine, Rachel Feinstein, Leo Villareal, Shannon Plumb, Jim Campbell, and so many others over the years. On May 18, the park will host a morning symposium, “Explaining Public Art,” in the One Madison Ave. building, starting with a welcome from Madison Square Park Conservancy board chairman David Berliner, executive director Keats Myer, and Parks Department director of art & antiquities Jonathan Kuhn, followed by an introduction by senior curator Brooke Kamin Rappaport. Beginning at 9:15, eight Mad. Sq. Art participants will make presentations: Richard Deacon, Orly Genger, Paula Hayes, Mel Kendrick, Jaume Plensa, Jessica Stockholder, Ursula von Rydingsvard, and Teresita Fernández, whose new installation, “Fata Morgana,” is being installed right now for a June 1 opening. At 10:30, there will be three panel discussions, one on “Site” with Bill Fontana and Charles Long, moderated by Ariella Budick; a second on “Medium,” with Sandra Gibson, Luis Recoder, and Villareal, moderated by Phong Bui; and a third on “Public,” with Feinstein, Plumb, Bill Beirne, Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, and Jacco Olivier, moderated by Robin Cembalest. The symposium concludes with a keynote conversation between Bloomberg Philanthropies arts program head Kate D. Levin and Ford Foundation president Darren Walker. Admission is free, but advance RSVP, is required. New York City just wouldn’t be the same with public art, so this should be a fascinating way to gain insight into its creation and development.

WIKIPEDIA EDIT-A-THON: SELECTIONS FROM THE GUGGENHEIM COLLECTION

Attendees of the inaugural Guggathon edit new Wikipedia entries last October (photo by Kris McKay © 2014 Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, New York)

Attendees of the inaugural Guggathon edit new Wikipedia entries last October (photo by Kris McKay © 2014 Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, New York)

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
1071 Fifth Ave. at 89th St.
Tuesday, May 19, free with advance registration, 3:00 - 7:00
212-423-3587
www.guggenheim.org

Ever look at a Wikipedia page and want to make changes to an entry but didn’t know if you were allowed to or how to do it? On May 19 from 3:00 to 7:00, the Guggenheim is hosting its second Wikipedia Edit-a thon, as the uptown institution donates one hundred images to the online encyclopedia and invites the general public to help flesh out the entries, either at the museum or remotely. Among the images that will become part of Wikipedia Commons are works by Edgar Degas, Paul Klee, Vincent Van Gogh, and others. The Guggenheim’s inaugural Wikipedia Edit-a-thon was held last October, dedicated to museum architecture. Tuesday’s Guggathon begins with a welcome address from Guggenheim curatorial assistant Natalia Lauricella and remarks from Wikimedia NYC president Richard Knipel, who will then lead a training session for registered attendees. Then the hands-on editing — participants must bring their own laptops and power cords — takes place from 4:15 to 5:45, followed by a review of the results. At 6:00, gallery educator Lewis Kachur will give a private tour of the Thannhauser Collection.