Patti Smith Celebrates Art And Friendship At MoMA PS1

MoMA PS1 is one of the most unique exhibition spaces. For those who hate school, it brings back memories of classroom tediousness and for those who love it, it’s reminiscent of the days when children sat on the front steps waiting to be picked up. Going there is always a good adventure, especially when Patti Smith is performing in a stage the size of your living room, reading excerpts from her book “Just Kids” and being the class act she’s always been.

As one of the most important artistic provocateurs of our time, Christoph Schlingensief combined political outrage and satire in his work to depict German modern history in a rather shocking way. Using multimedia tools he was able to convey themes of immigration, authenticity, and religion, causing controversy and upsetting German complacency most of his life. In a never-ending attempt to challenge the status quo, Schlingensief and Patti Smith have collaborated in the past, developing a great friendship that ended too soon due to Schlingensief’s death. His retrospective series at MoMA PS1does not fail to get the audience to think critically about many of today’s socio-political issues, and there is no one better than Patti Smith to open its doors to the public.

Emphasizing the importance of cherishing life and creativity, Patti Smith celebrated Schlingensief’s art and friendship with a private concert at the MoMA PS1 Dome.  Although the opening coincided with the date of Robert Mapplethorpe’s death, Smith was in good spirits, contributing to the celebrative yet nostalgic tone of the show. An attentive, reverent crowd listened carefully to Smith’s reading of her goodbye letter to Mapplethorpe, followed by an account of what life was like when both of these legends were part of her life.

For those who missed the opening, no need to fret; Smith is performing again at Carnegie Hall on Tuesday, and the exhibit will be showing at PS1 through May 25th.

Your Cheat Sheet For The Art World’s Wild Week In New York

For that small, slightly insular sliver of the planet known as the art world, this week in New York is a whirlwind of fair-going, exhibition-hopping, and free drinking. Here’s a necessarily incomplete rundown of what’s worth your time in the coming days.

The Armory Show (March 6–9, daytime VIP/press preview March 5)
As the largest and most established event of the week, the Armory Show is often an easy target. Yes, it’s big; yes, it’s commerce-focused, and not exactly the best destination if you’re looking for art-as-transcendence. Then again: It’s an art fair, people. But if you’re desperately in need of cooler-than-thou cred, the top experts recommend attending the Armory, and then heading over to the Independent, where you can complain about the Armory.

ADAA: The Art Show (March 5–9, gala preview evening of March 4)
A bit more breathing room than the Armory Show, and an interesting assortment of galleries, including local heavyhitters like David Zwirner, Luhring Augustine, and Pace. At Carl Solway’s booth, artist Ann Hamilton will unveil a participatory project for which she’ll be “photographing visitors through a membrane-like material that registers in focus only what directly touches its surface,” generating a romantic, ghostly effect. (Everyone who takes part will later be sent a print–not of themselves, but of a stranger who also attended ADAA). ADAA is also touting the high number of solo booths from female artists, including the always excellent conceptual painter Analia Saban at Tanya Bonakdar’s booth.

The Whitney Biennial (March 7–May 25)
Three curators (artist Michelle Grabner, polymath Anthony Elms, and MoMA curator Stuart Comer) unveil their joint effort, featuring a vast cross-section  of US-based talent, from Bjarne Melgaard to Ricky Swallow and Sheila Hicks. If you don’t see this exhibition early you’re going to feel really silly later in the week when everyone asks you what you thought. But if you can’t make it, professionals advise saying something chin-strokingly erudite and vague, like “I really appreciated the return to an object-oriented practice, and the polyphony of curatorial voices totally enlivened the dialogue.”

The Independent (March 6–9)
What sets the Independent apart is the fact that its booth-free format makes it less claustrophobic and uniform; it’s like an art fair disguised as a multi-floor group show. The exhibitor roster is nicely curated, featuring The Approach, Peres Projects, and Stuart Shave, and others. Those in the know recommend  finishing your tour with a beer at the pop-up rooftop cafe–a great place to check out attractive art-goers and their eclectic tote bags.

The Brucennial (March 7–9, opening at 6pm on March 6, but line up early)
My memories of the last Brucennial opening involve works hung salon-style up to a very tall ceiling, and a comfortably sloppy vibe that never quite degenerated into a frat party. This edition supposedly features only women artists, and is (again, supposedly) the “last” Brucennial. It’s delightfully scrappy, weird, and leftfield, despite the Bruce High Quality Foundation’s collaboration with Vito Schnabel, who is pretty much the definition of an art world insider.

“Material Images” at Johannes Vogt Gallery (opens March 6, 6-8pm)
This group exhibition, curated by Nate Hitchcock, focuses on artists pushing forward the language of abstraction, often with unique methods: digital printing on silk, stitched fabrics, beeswax on linen. I’m a longtime fan of Trudy Benson, whose huge canvases are hyperactive retinal crack; she’s joined by Petra Cortright, Franklin Evans, Lauren Luloff, Jeff Zilm,  and others.

VOLTA NY (March 6–9)
This fair’s conceit is that every gallery presents a solo exhibition in its booth; I’m especially excited for Matthew Craven at DCKT Contemporary and Joseph Hart at Halsey McKay.

Moving Image (March 6–9)
Focused on video, installation, and sculpture, this fair–held in the Waterfront New York Tunnel–brings hometown galleries (like Winkleman Gallery, which is showing Leslie Thornton, and Brooklyn’s TRANSFER) along with plenty of potential new discoveries (AV-arkki from Helsinki, Finland).

The American Academy of Arts And Letters Invitational Exhibition (March 6–April 12, Thursdays through Sundays, 1–4pm)
37 Academy-selected artists strut their stuff, including personal favs Anna Betbeze, Keltie Ferris, Josephine Halvorson, and Wade Guyton.

SPRING/BREAK Art Show (March 6–9, press/VIP preview March 4)
This is the “curator-driven” art show–because the word ‘fair’ reeks of capitalism, and capitalism is the worst!–that’s held in a L.E.S. schoolhouse. Last year’s programming was very solid and, like the Independent, the unique venue provides an unconventional backdrop.

Fountain Art Fair (March 7–9)
Taking their name and logo from Duchamp’s seminal urinal sculpture, Fountain brings a range of international galleries (and price points perhaps slightly more attainable for mere mortals). L.E.S. outpost The Lodge Gallery is one of the stand-outs, though there are also exhibitors from less expected locales (like artist Larry Wood from Wyalusing, Pennsylvania).

Christoph Schlingensief at MoMA PS1 (opening March 9)
Provided you’re not desperately hung over by Sunday, I highly recommend delving into the disturbing ouevre of the late German artist Schlingensief (a still from one of his videos is the main image up top). The exhibition should be a worthy follow-up to the blockbuster Mike Kelley show, and an interestingly intense way to conclude a week of schmoozing and boozing.

Celebrating MoMA PS1’s Klaus Biesenbach with ‘Cocktails and Curators’

By Sabrina Y. Smith

Amani Olu and Larry Ossei-Mensah, the founders of The Medium Group and Cocktails and Curators celebrated last night the legendary Klaus Biesenbach, director of MoMA PS1 and chief curator at large of the Museum of Modern Art.

The event was hosted by Spike Jonze and Diana Picasso and was held at The Standard Hotel in Miami.

This is the third Cocktails and Curators the Medium team organizes. The previous two awards were given earlier this year to Paola Antonelli (curator of architecture and design at the Museum of Modern Art) and Mary Ceruti (executive director and chief curator of the Sculpture Center).

Olu and Ossei-Mensah are both writers and curators who started this venture a year ago, with the goal to spotlight and celebrate influential curators and create an art environment that is approachable, light and fun.

Klaus Biesenbach, who had just returned from completing a project in Berlin at KW Institute for Contemporary Art of Christoph Schlingensief’s work, made a pit stop in Miami before taking off again for Brazil to install Expo 1. He was in a jovial mood, happily joking around and entertaining friends – a surprising twist to what may seem like such a serious man. Yet he made it clear both through his behavior and speech that neither he (nor life) is to be taken too seriously. In many ways, he seems to share the same motto as the event’s sponsor: “This is Living: Celebrate it.” He’s a visionary curator that can win your mind with art, and your heart with his personality.

Cocktails and Curators Honoring Klaus BiesenbachJean Marc Merine and Klaus Biesenbach

Cocktails and Curators Honoring Klaus BiesenbachDiana Picasso and Glenn O’Brein

Cocktails and Curators Honoring Klaus BiesenbachDiana Picasso and Spike Jonze 

Cocktails and Curators Honoring Klaus BiesenbachKlaus Biesenbach

Cocktails and Curators Honoring Klaus BiesenbachKorakrit Arunanondchai and Angela Godin 

Spike Jonze%2c Diana Picasso%2c Klaus Biesenbach%2c Larry Ossei-Mensah%2c Korakrit Arunanondchai%2c Amani Olu

The National’s Matt Berninger on Struggle & Regret, Embracing Failure, and ‘Trouble Will Find Me’

Last month, Brooklyn-based indie rock band The National released their sixth studio album, Trouble Will Find Me—which has since been met with both widespread critical acclaim and commercial success. A month prior to this, Mistaken for Strangers, an entertaining and heartfelt tell-all rockumentary-meets-mockumentary, helmed by frontman Matt Berminger’s brother Tom, premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival. And tonight, as part of their world tour, The National takes the stage in their very own borough at the Barclays Center

Though at one time they played to scarcely populated venues, over a decade later The National’s at the top of their game, garnering the recognition that for years they worked towards securing. Matt Berninger and band, comprising twin brothers Aaron and Bryce Dessner and brothers Scott and Bryan Devendorf, continue to wow crowds, but getting bigger comes with its own set of challenges. So, too, does letting your brother make a movie about you.
Last week, Matt took time to chat with me, discussing topics from filming Mistaken for Strangers, creating Trouble Will Find Me, and much more in between. He openly addressed subjects like struggle, failure and regret, unfiltered lyrics and stealing lyrics, as well as expressing to me his concerns for the future of his signature audience walk—where he performs “Terrible Love” while winding his way through a sea of people—and admitting to loving their recent MoMA PS1 appearance, where for six hours straight they played “Sorrow” without stopping.  
First of all, congratulations on Trouble Will Find Me. Secondly, congratulations on Mistaken for Strangers, which is where I actually want to start. It proved a fairly incredible feat indeed. The Post-it Note scene alone made me anxious on your brother’s behalf.
I’ve made a lot of records—and it was mainly my wife and Tom who were able to shape a story, an hour-and-a-half-long actual movie. But this was by far the most daunting creative endeavor I’ve ever been a small part of. It was kind of amazing. I don’t think I ever want to make another movie. I don’t know if Tom does—he might, but it was a huge creative mountain, so I really respect him and my wife for seeing their way to the top of it.
Also in the film, there’s a telling line from you about your early experiences as a band playing at an empty Mercury Lounge and how you used that pain to fuel your work. Does that struggle still motivate you?
We’ve become a better band since those early days, but tension and anxiety are still present when we’re making records and playing shows. We’ve gotten better at both but mostly I’ve learned to respect failure. So many of our songs are about social anxieties or romantic insecurities—the things you lie awake at night thinking about. Every time we go on tour and endeavor to make a record, there’s a whole lot of failure that comes with it. We write more bad than good songs, and it’s just to respect that process, and understand that failure is part of anything. You have to keep working and leave failure behind. But, it’s still a part of our band’s DNA.
Have there been any mishaps or funny stories from tour so far?
There aren’t major mishaps necessarily, but it’s just sometimes a show can go south. Some shows have gone well, some have gone badly. You feel filled with performance anxiety or something like that. I definitely have a healthy amount of that. That stuff can just grow up inside you. You can have an awful experience in your own head. Performing live, we get better and better as the tour goes on, especially at the beginning, it’s a lot of stumbling and tripping up. When you feel like a show isn’t connecting, that can make you want to crawl out of your skin and under the stage. I usually just try to move on to the next song or show and try not to let it bother me. As I said, I’ve learned to respect that process of finding your comfort zone. Now these shows are getting much bigger. It’s not fear, just tension and anxiety, panic attacks or panic swells. That’s happened to me a lot, so I’ve figured out how to deal with it. It’s like jumping into ice-cold water and figuring out a way to keep swimming.
Do you have a pre-concert ritual that helps prepare you to take the stage?
I drink wine. That’s about it. Our band has never been one to do any kind of group huddle or anything like that. We each do our own thing. I try to find a spot where I can relax, drink some wine, put on my suit and steel my nerves. Sometimes that works and sometimes it doesn’t. You never know when a show’s going to go well. Every show, we do everything we can to deliver, but sometimes we fall on our faces. I don’t think our audience can tell the difference, and I don’t think we can sometimes either. Sometimes the experience on stage is very different than what the crowd is experiencing. Some of the shows I mentioned, where I felt awful, I’ve been told were really good. So, you have to trust it’s going better than you think.
You’re about to perform at Barclays Center. Thinking back to those empty venues like Mercury Lounge, playing Barclays must feel pretty triumphant but also kind of distant from where you began. 
We are really excited about that show. The weird thing is, I don’t do much different. It’s the same mental space I get into, whether it’s in a little club with nobody there or a big arena with thousands of people, we do the same thing: get inside the songs and try to deliver a great show. 
The final scene of Mistaken for Strangers uses “Terrible Love” quite prominently, including your walk through the crowd. That moment was a high point of many shows on the last tour, but is it something that’s getting harder to pull off successfully the bigger your shows grow?
Yeah. The first time I did it was a really cathartic experience and connected the whole room. But now we’re going to all these festivals and stuff. I’ve done it a bunch and it can get really strange in the pit, especially in the U.K. For whatever reason, theirs is a drunker, more aggressive attitude and many times people have been trying to undo my belt, looking for souvenirs. I guess my pants would be the souvenir! Also in these big crowds, it gets dangerous for people. I’m a little nervous about somebody falling and getting stepped on. I’m trying to figure out different ways to do that. I love doing it, but I can’t promise I’m going to be able to keep it up. With the theater shows it is easier, but in the festivals it gets scary, so I don’t know what I’ll do. I think I’m going to stay on stage and hope that’s not a huge disappointment to people, but we’ll see. 
Trouble Will Find Me has been very well received. Lyrically, there’s a rawness to it. I’m wondering if you’re more comfortable visiting those areas because your life and career aren’t quite so precarious anymore?
This record I was less concerned. I’ve always been pretty unguarded in my lyrics, but this time, the image of our band is not that important. I don’t think any of us were thinking that way this time—not that we’ve ever thought that way much. But this time less so than ever. We were just trying to chase the songs that were moving us in some sort of emotional and visceral way, and we wanted to write songs that would make a record that was going to last, something broader and more timeless than High Violet. I don’t know if we achieved it, but that was the sense of what we were going for in this one.
Do you ever have regrets about any aspect of what you put out?
I never do, actually. If we master a record and it’s finished and there’s nothing you can change about it anymore, I usually let go of all those little things that were in my head. I love that moment: it’s a year-and-a-half or two years you’ve been working on something and thinking about it. Then, that moment arrives where it’s sealed and delivered. I can finally listen to it and enjoy it. Most of the things that bugged me along the way I end up loving, the little flaws here and there, the awkward moments. Once it’s out, I fall in love with it on its own terms.
Do you listen to much music when you’re writing?
I listen to a lot of music when I’m writing. This record I even let a lot of the stuff I was listening to come into it. There are lyrics that are just stolen—there’s a Violent Femmes lyric, an Elliott Smith lyric, a lyric from “Blue Velvet.” I was also listening to a lot of Roy Orbison this time and was trying a lot of things I was dazzled by that he does: all the different octaves he could sing in—he had a huge range. I was trying to sing outside my normal comfort zone, range-wise. Also, he does things with melodies, where he just takes left turns, songs that go through eight completely different melodies. I was inspired by that and copying him in some ways. This time, more than ever, other records were swimming around in my head a lot.
You chatted recently to the Canadian singer-songwriter Hayden Desser about how one of his albums had been like a friend to you during a difficult time. Is that what you’ve wanted your own albums to be?
You connect with records in very personal and very meaningful ways. All my favorite records are those that, for whatever reason, stuck to my soul. They helped me through something. Hayden’s record, The Closer I Get, is definitely one of those. There are records that you just sink into. They coincide with what you’re going through and become an ally. If our records do that for people, that’s the greatest compliment I could ever receive. That’s one of the reasons making music is so important to me, because there’s a very strange emotional reach. For me—more than books or movies or other things—music is like a mainline to your heart.
Speaking of, what do you feel you gained from playing “Sorrow” so many times at MoMA?
That was an amazing experience. It’s not about endurance necessarily, but reaching a euphoric Zen state, almost like a prayer or mantra. By doing that—we played it 108 times—it became very enjoyable. I broke down towards the end; around 96 or 97 I got all teary eyed and found it hard to sing—but it was a really beautiful thing. It was a bonding, between us and the 50 people who came and stayed for all six hours, one of those exercises of the soul that was really healthy. We feel happy for having done it. Now we know that song better than any other. People keep asking if we’re going to take it out of the set, but now it’s the one we do best!
[More by Nell Alk; Follow Nell on Twitter]

The National & Frightened Rabbit Unite For The Ultimate Melancholy-White-Dude Tour

Good news for any sad-sack caucasians out there who enjoy music that tenderly removes your heart and takes it apart like a pocket watch and leaves the pieces scattered on the floor: Scottish quintet Frightened Rabbit, who had a strong showing with Pedestrian Verse in February, and The National, who drop their new album Trouble Will Find Me later this month, will join forces this fall to make you feel your feelings.

And while Frightened Rabbit is certainly capable of devastating you with the recorded version of their scrape and jangle, nothing can compare to the ferocity (or raw vulnerability) of their live shows. Witness this recent half-hour set from SXSW, which veers from blistering squall to stripped-down ballads. “Backyard Skulls,” a new song that comes around the four-minute mark, is a highlight.

Meanwhile, The National – maybe to assuage the pains of having to promote a new album – have been getting fairly conceptual with their old stuff. On May 5th, over at MoMA PS1 in Long Island City, they played the song “Sorrow” from High Violet for six hours straight—105 times in all—with drummer Bryan Devendorf sitting out a single performance. Featuring a soulful, muted trumpet and cello-bowed guitar, it has the otherworldly grace of the band’s best work.

So, think you’re happy-go-lucky enough to withstand this double bill? Here are the dates you need to know:

9/8 – Nashville, TN @ Ryman Auditorium

9/9 – Atlanta, GA @ Cobb Energy Centre

9/11 – Charlotte, NC @ The Fillmore Charlotte

9/12 – Asheville, NC @ Thomas Wolfe Auditorium

9/13 – Louisville, KY @ Iroquois Amphitheater

9/15 – Madison, WI @ Orpheum Theatre

9/17 – Morrison, CO @ Red Rocks Amphitheatre

9/21 – Troutdale, OR @ Edgefield Winery

9/22 – Vancouver, BC @ PNE Amphitheatre 

In Case You Missed It, Watch The National’s Six Hour Performance of “Sorrow” at MoMA PS1

Everything was sorrow and nothing hurt this past weekend when The National took to MoMA’s PS1 Sunday Sessions to play one song from 2010’s High Violet for six straight hours. And play they did—105 times. So even if you couldn’t be there, thanks to Pitchfork, we now have a roundup of videos from yesterday’s performance— which, of course, was warmly received by adoring fans. With a new album out later this month, Trouble Will Find Me, I’d say this is as good a route as any to spark up some excitement and devotion amongst fans. And by devotion I mean, if you were able to stand there for all six hours, you probably deserve a free album. 

Check out the videos and The National’s spring/summer tour dates below.





See more HERE

05-16 Ithaca, NY – State Theater
05-26 Boston, MA – Boston Calling Festival
06-05 Brooklyn, NY – Barclays Center
06-06 Columbia, MD – Merriweather Post Pavilion ^
06-07 Philadelphia, PA – Mann Center for the Performing Arts ^
06-08 Richmond, VA – The National
06-10 Raleigh, NC – Red Hat Amphitheatre ^
06-11 Pittsburgh, PA – Stage AE ^
06-13 Montreal, Quebec – Lachine Canal
06-14 Toronto, Ontario – Yonge Dundas Square
06-15 Columbus, OH – LC Pavilion
06-13-16 Manchester, TN – Bonnaroo
06-21-22 Scheessel, Germany – Hurricane Festival
06-21-22 Neuhausen Ob Eck, Germany – Southside Festival
06-23 Istanbul, Turkey – Vodafone Istanbul Calling
06-25 Brussels, Belgium – Cirque Royal
06-28 Cork, Ireland – Live at the Marquee
06-30 Rome, Italy – Parco Della Musical
07-01 Milan, Italy – City Sound Festival
07-02 Zagreb, Croatia – Salata
07-04 Werchter, Belgium – Rock Werchter Festival
07-05-07 Roskilde, Denmark – Roskilde Festival
07-12 Cincinnati, OH – Bunbury Festival
08-03 Chicago, IL – Lollapalooza
08-06 St. Paul, MN – Roy Wilkins Auditorium
08-10 Los Angeles, CA – Greek Theatre
09-17 Morrison, CO – Red Rocks
10-31 Helsinki, Finland – Ice Hall
11-02 Copenhagen, Denmark – Forum
11-04 Berlin, Germany – Max Schmelling Halle
11-05 Düsseldorf, Germany – Mitsubishi Electric Hall
11-06 Luxembourg, Luxembourg – Rockhal
11-07 Amsterdam, Netherlands – Heineken Music Hall
11-09 Belfast, Northern Ireland – Odyssey Arena
11-10 Dublin, Ireland – O2 Arena
11-11 Manchester, England – O2 Apollo Manchester
11-13 London, England – Alexandra Palace
11-18 Paris, France – Le Zenith
11-20 Madrid, Spain – Palacio Vistalegre
11-21 Lisbon, Portugal – Pavilhao Atlantico

The National’s ‘Sorrow,’ for Six Hours Straight at MoMA

This is your brain on The National. You wake up, and the sun is shining, and the birds are chirping, and you actually got a seat on the bus or the train to work and it’s not because you’re accidentally sitting in pee. You got a text from someone you like. Everything is going well. Your smile is big and obnoxious. And then you accidentally listen to High Violet and suddenly you become a hung-over, sobbing mess.

This is obviously an extreme, but whether you’re trying to convey a lingering, sad-bastard, rainy-movie-scene sort of sorrow or something a bit deeper and existential, the kind of sorrow other languages than English have words for, The National tends to be a go-to band. So it’s pretty unsurprising that when Icelandic artist Ragnar Kjartansson wanted to incorporate a singular work speaking to “romantic suffering and contemporary Weltschmerz” (German for “world pain”) into his piece A Lot of Sorrow for the Museum of Modern Art’s PS1, he goes with The National. Specifically, their gutting 2010 number “Sorrow,” performed live on a loop, for six hours straight.

As written on the MoMA website:

“As in all of Kjartansson’s performances, the idea behind A Lot of Sorrow is devoid of irony, yet full of humor and emotion. It is another quest to find the comic in the tragic and vice versa.”

If “by finding comic in the tragic” they mean “a bunch of people are gonna write snarky blog and Twitter posts about an attempt at an earnest meditation on sorrow,” then that’s a pretty apt description. And to the brave intern someone will inevitably make livetweet this experience, or suggest doing so themselves out of some duty to intense experiences, it’s okay to say “no” sometimes. You can leave. It’s okay.

[via ANIMAL New York]

Freaks Through the Looking Glass: Tamaryn Performs at PS1’s Saturday Sessions

Just as Fashion Week winds down, goth pop duo Tamaryn play MoMA PS1 this Saturday for a show that will rival any production under the tents for total sensual immersion. Known for its diverse multimedia programming, MoMA PS1’s events series, Saturday Sessions, rolls into its fourth session with Tamaryn, whose reverb-laden sound will float and eddy through every corner of the museum’s cavernous galleries. The event, hosted by designer Lauren Devine and editor Patrik Sandberg, will also feature the theatrics of Mirror Mirror and the visual effects of multi-media collaborative Thunder Horse Video.

“Performance is a fundamental part of Saturday Sessions,” say Curatorial Assistants Eliza Ryan and Matthew Evans, who co-organized Saturday Sessions. “And we hope to create experiences that are different and unique for each event. Collaboration between artists, and often audience participation, are crucial to the afternoon’s structure.” So far, events have included live music shows with multi-media components, like Open Circuit, a performance by a harpist and an avant-turntablist who, while playing in adjacent galleries, were visible only via monitors stacked in short towers. As visitors walked beneath an architecture of surveillance (audio sensors strung up on a web of wires) their movements triggered audio sensors creating “original cumulative sound” or a noisy drone that crescendoed as the space got crowded. Some people waved their hands in front of sensors or watched the monitors. One man closed his eyes in the middle of the room and stood still.

For another Saturday Session, writer and editor Brandon Stosuy hosted a discussion between artist Adam Helms and curator Klaus Kertess, after which Nate Young and John Olson of post-industrialist noise band Wolf Eyes performed their project, Stare Case. Another Saturday offered tea with “blood splattered” cookies served before projections of images of war and baptism.

For Ryan and Evans, Saturday Sessions is an opportunity to invite outside hosts, “whether they are curators, artists, musicians, or architects—to program an afternoon that engages our visitors in a different way than our exhibitions.” For this weekend’s performance, hosts Lauren Devine and Patrik Sandberg enlisted Tamaryn, Mirror Mirror, and Thunder Horse Video to co-produce the event, a first-time collaboration between these artists. Thunder Horse has worked on show-stopping cinematic effects for recent Gatekeeper and Salem productions; Mirror Mirror are known for their collaborations with dancers, costume designers, and video artists that implicate ritual and psychological space. image

Tamaryn, which released its first full length album in the fall, is comprised of the vocalist Tamaryn and guitarist/producer Rex John Shelverton. Asked how she liked the idea of performing in a museum, Tamaryn said, “It’s more about who comes to see a band in a museum. It is interesting to try and use the medium of a rock band to push boundaries a little. I mean I could just play the same old clubs like every other touring band does, or I can try and create a little magic.”

In an effort to build that magic, Tamaryn has been working together with Thunder Horse Video to create the installation that will accompany her performance. “The blueprints of their ideas seem ambitious and lovely,” she said. “I know they will use a little of my images I tour with and it’s going to be a totally immersive experience… just how we like it.” While Tamaryn goes on tour with the Raveonettes in March, this experience will present something more unique. “When you are touring, you are met with all these obstacles, like terrible sounding clubs and in-your-face videos of your performances that get put on the internet or multimedia interviews that magnify you in your most boring state. It just kills all the mystery. I hate it. As a new band you are forced to succumb to the scrutiny and at times it is just really depressing.”

Tamaryn grew up in New Zealand and has moved around since then — ultimately to the West Coast to work on Tamaryn — but she still has a fondness for New York. “There is no doubt New York really is the greatest city ever. My heart hurts just thinking about it.” Some of her favorite spots in the city? “TONIC R.I.P…. Heard Lou Reed’s club is a bit nice. Never been though. Veselka and Hezekia Walker’s Love Fellowship.”

One of her headlining shows last year in New York—a special CMJ showcase that featured all women-fronted bands along with Light Asylum and Frankie Rose and the Outs—was shut down three songs into Tamaryn’s performance. “I think it was over capacity,” Tamaryn said. “Too many babes up in there! That was the most beautiful crowd of people I’d ever seen. The show was promising to be legendary and not just in the way that there was a ton of press there that went nuts after it got shut down. All the bands were fronted by wonderful women and I’d have rather given the people what they came for.”

This time around, she’s playing in a space that will most likely keep its number suitable for appreciation by all interested parties. Indeed, MoMA PS1 might be the perfect send-off before her tour. “I am super inspired to play a place like PS1 where you can totally re-imagine the entire space. I want to think about a rock show like a spectacle, a beautiful experience that is for each audience member alone. Not just a bunch of people spending 20 dollars to be packed into a vulgar mass and forgotten about. I mean, its cool if you need a place to take a girl on a Friday night or somewhere to collect observations for your blog or whatever but I’d rather have this be for the freaks who wanna escape through the looking glass just for a bit.”

Visionaire’s Halloween Party at MoMA PS1

There were many small candles on the steps of MoMA PS1 on the night of the Visionaire Halloween Party last Saturday. The party for this legendary fashion”bookzine”—each issue of which is designed by an artist or fashion designer— coincided with MOVE!, a live performance-based art and fashion event on Saturday and Sunday at MoMA PS1 featuring collaborations between designers and artists. Projected on the side of the building was a scene from a film—a woman speaking to someone in a serious and worried way. She flickered against the wall in warm tones and was gone. We followed a bloodied bride up the stairs and indoors, where someone screamed, “Help me!” The stairwell was not completely dark but not light. I heard it again. It was a recording. When we reached the top a server offered us Belvedere “Fairytale” cocktails from a small round tray. The frosted highball glasses had been chilled.

From the dark hallway you could see the light from the gallery, where most of the guests were gathered, and which, once inside, was bright and large. Around the edges of the room were white wood rectangular structures on which people sat, danced, or put their drinks. At either end of the room was a table of endlessly replenished glasses of alcohol—Belvedere cocktails at one end, Veuve Cliquot champagne on the other. Because the room was square, “walking around” felt more purposeless than usual. Still, people twirled their fingers at each other to say I’m-going-to-walk-around-the-room-now.

By the Veuve Cliquot table stood a man with a pillow tied to his neck. Kate turned him toward us by his shoulder. “I’m a bed bug,” he said. He had a drawing of a bug’s belly on his t-shirt. His friend, whose head was encased in an intricate black shellacked headdress and looked like the alien in Alien, said in a foreign accent that he was a Shaman. Their female friend waved her hand and smiled and said she was “Victorian-looking.” One man in a silvery skintight lamé outfit vogued on the white structures. He had two small monitors on his chest and one near his crotch that played videos and seemed like an homage to Nam June Paik’s TV-Bra for his “Living Sculpture.” He had a lamé bundle on his head around which he moved his hands in a “Vogue”-type way. He stuck his leg out and with control and concentration lunged forward slowly. He froze and someone took a picture.

We took glasses of champagne. They were the kind that could have easily been arranged in a champagne tower. But these were being taken too quickly to be arranged in any way in particular. Cecilia Dean walked in. She was in what looked like an actual ballerina dress from a production of Swan Lake with a stiff radius of white tulle around her and a molded hairpiece of black and white feathers. I thought maybe she was one of Hans Christian Anderson’s Wild Swans. No one could kiss her because of the obstacle of her skirt. She stood inside the main room, or outside the entrance to the main room. Sometimes she smiled. But mostly she stood silently.

Across the hall from the main room was a similarly cubed gallery where two people dressed as Teletubbies (one pink, one blue) stood and drank champagne. I lifted an invitation off the table. It was a black square with a lenticular photograph of two images, one of a person in a pale bear mask with pink lipstick and the other of a person in a ghost sheet. It was a still from Hellish by James Franco and Carter. I wondered if that was the film projected on the front of the building as we entered.


Kate and I walked around looking into other galleries. One room was empty except for several old-style mirrors in shiny frames. I looked in a tall one and then in a squat one. In the next room, a woman in black pants with a mic strapped to her head was talking at us loudly, “Models, get ready,” she said. “Go, go go.” We walked down what felt like a runway but was enclosed on all sides by soft blue walls. At the end of the walkway there was a camera. Kate sached as if she was a model. I just walked. We turned and walked off into a darkened room that had two projections flickering on either wall and an elegant British voice singing “I feel pretty, oh so pretty,” from My Fair Lady. The screen showed footage from a previous Marc Jacobs fashion show with editors and celebrities in the front row. On the runway the party-guests were superimposed to look like they were walking the runway. Runway Kate sached towards us as real Kate took a picture of runway Kate as she got to the end of the runway. A man in front of me and Kate had a large red afro-wig. “Hi,” he said. “You don’t recognize me, but you were in my house for a party a few weeks ago.” It was the artist Izhar Patkin. We were in the Rob Pruitt and Marc Jacobs installation for MOVE! called “Looks.”

Back in the big room, a beautiful woman dressed all in black in a Spanish mantilla walked across the room worried as if she was a mourning widow. To our left a man in a gorilla suit had taken his head off and crossed his legs and was talking casually to a man in a doctor’s lab coat. A man whose suit was covered entirely in small round mirrors walked in. “I wonder what that’s like with a flash,” said Kate. I saw a friend. He was in a red jacket and hat and had crazy hair. “Who are you?” I said. “Cody Critcheloe from SSION.” (He pronounced it “shun,” like he was emphasizing the last syllable of the word FASHION.) He had gotten a Cheryl make-over earlier that day at the Cheryl installation with American Apparel at MOVE! He made a twirling motion with his hand and walked away.

Wearing a cardboard waffle, the model Anouck Lepere walked in. She tilted a can of whipped cream into the mouth of a guy next to her, lifted her eyebrow, and jutted out her hip. Several flashes went off. Next to her was a shorter blonde woman dressed as an orange across which was written “Joosie.” Many people came up to them and kissed their cheeks. They hardly had to move.

“You look like a whore, too,” I heard someone say. I turned around but no one was there. Two people with pink conical headdresses had arrived in the room and stood on the white structures surveying the crowd.

Three astronauts walked in. Their outfits commanded immediate respect. “I want to dance with an astronaut,” said Kate. “Hi,” I said to one of the astronauts. “My friend wants to dance with an astronaut.” They danced. I walked downstairs. The artist Terence Koh walked in front of me down the stairs and smiled. He was wearing what looked like a bed sheet wrapped around his body and draped across one shoulder. With him was a man in a sharp blue yachtsman’s cap. Outside Terence Koh said he was going to be home by midnight, which he said he tries to do these days. He has perfect smooth skin. I asked him what his next project was and he said in a quiet, gentle voice, “Tomorrow. Here. At MOVE!”


MOVE! MoMA PS1 Sunday October 31, 2010 2:30pm

“Come in,” a woman said to me. “He’s about to drop paint.” I walked in and sat down for the Cynthia Rowley/Olaf Breuning installation at MOVE! a two-day performance-based exhibit at MoMA PS1, which involved twelve collaborations between artists and fashion designers. People waited. A model in a dress walked into a wood stall and arranged herself like a doll, holding her skirt out. People lifted their cameras. The artist Olaf Breuning climbed a ladder and stood over her holding a can of paint. People stopped talking. Olaf Breuning talked casually about white paint. Cameras got steady. He talked about gold paint. Then he poured white and then gold paint over the model. Camera shutters fluttered for several seconds. People clapped and walked out. We exited through a sun-lit corridor where racks of paint-splattered dresses hung with tags as if for sale.

Hung in an ordered and symmetrical manner along one wall at the Cheryl/American Apparel installation were long hairpieces in blonde, brunette and chestnut. Large mirrors were dotted with cosmetic lights where make-up artists were applying glitter and teasing fake hair into glamorous nests. “The Makeover You Never Knew You Wanted” was a “psycho-immersive” environment created by Cheryl and American Apparel. Cheryl, the artists and blood-and-glitter party entrepreneurs, had thrown their own Halloween party the night before—Cherylween III. “We had over eight-hundred people,” Stina Puotinen told me about the Halloween party. “[The Bell House] was at capacity.” She had glitter on her lips. Zig-zagged in the front of the room were racks of American Apparel t-shirts, leggings and bodysuits in nude and white donated for makeovers. At the far end was a stage set with a camera and photo umbrella in front of which the face of a glittered subject lit up as the flash popped.

In another gallery exhibiting the installation by Telfar + Lizzie Fitch, Rhett Larue, Fatima Al Qadiri, Ryan Trecartin & Leilah Weinraub, four people dressed in heavy white monk-like tunics held long gold poles. Each person held his or her pole so that the tip of one person’s pole touched the tip of another person’s pole. The four people moved slowly across the gallery floor connected like this and concentrating on the tips of their poles.

At the installation by Terence Koh and designer Italo Zucchelli for Calvin Klein, two men covered entirely in silver paint including their hands, feet and long sheaths walked slowly toward each other and then away from each other in a straight line in a room that was empty except for two beams of light. They repeated this movement. They walked slowly back and forth as droning conceptual electronic music filled the room. Sometimes when the men met at the center of the room they said things to each other only they could hear and smiled or laughed but in a way that didn’t break the composure required for the piece. Sometimes I could hear the sound of their feet against the floor or could hear only the music. Sometimes the light beams gathered in startling conical clusters around their heads. I took a flashless picture. “Excuse me,” said a man next to me. “Can I take a picture of you taking a picture?” I nodded and took another picture.

Photo courtesy of Guest of a Guest.