Wednesday, December 2, 2009

fee's LIST (through 12/8)

* David Chang w/ Mario Batali + Peter Meehan @ Strand Bookstore / 828 Broadway (NRQW/456/L to Union Square), 7p/FREE (word of advice: arrive early). Discussions only rarely figure into my LIST but I have to mention this one. I am bonkers about Momofuku owner/chef and pork-centric overlord Chang. He's talking about his debut cookbook w/ the NY Times' Meehan, the co-author, and Batali, who is also a superstar chef who doesn't shy from pig-related delicacies. Ideal followup: Momofuku Milk Bar.

* Planet of the Drums, feat. Dieselboy, AK 1200, DJ Dara @ Santos Party House / 96 Lafayette St (NQRW/456/JMZ to Canal St), 10:30p/$10 before midnight. This could be hot. Despite my love for proper drum 'n' bass, I never really got down w/ the American scene (give me Roni Size's crew or LTJ Bukem any day). But I've been out of the game for awhile, and these three guys exemplify classic stateside d'n'b — and hey, I haven't danced for seven hours straight in a lonnng time.

* Denyse Thomasos "The Divide" @ Lennon, Weinberg Inc / 514 W 25th St. Thomasos' gridlike acrylics are still highly abstract but there are definable elements in all the noise, like think architectural schematics seen X-ray style from all angles at once.

* Josh Dorman @ Mary Ryan Gallery / 527 W 26th St. More highly intricate landscapes, but Dorman marries acrylic paint and ink w/ vintage maps, to wild Chagall-ian effect.

* Dan Friel + Knyfe Hyts 81 @ Union Pool / 484 Union Ave, Williamsburg (L/G to Lorimer), 9p/$8. This practically reads like a best-of-LIST roster @ this messy noisefest, w/ Parts & Labor's wheeze-electronics composer Friel on deck and Brooklyn's darkest no-wavers Knyfe Hyts 81 wielding their axes like, uh, axes, amid a swirl of feedback. w/ psych-rockers Dinowalrus.

* Family Portrait @ Cameo Gallery / 93 N 6th St, Williamsburg (L to Bedford), 8p/$6. So what if I saw Underwater Peoples' good-vibey Family Portrait twice like a week ago? I want to see them again dammit, and you should too.

* Woods + Real Estate @ Market Hotel / 1142 Myrtle Ave, Bushwick (JMZ to Myrtle, L to Jefferson), 8p/$10. This is big time: psychedelic freak-folksters Woods plus Ridgewood's extended-summer indie rockers Real Estate, in basically the best indie venue around. I've seen 'em both here, but not together!

* Big Troubles @ Monster Island Basement / 128 River St, Williamsburg (L to Bedford, JM to Marcy), 8p/$7. Nice. If I wasn't already committed to the Market Hotel show, I'd totally check out Real Estate's noisy labelmates out in Williamsburg.

* The Beets @ Silent Barn / 915 Wyckoff Ave, Ridgewood (L to Halsey), 8p/FREE. Launch party for the Degenerate Craft Fair (think anti-art fair, w/ a bunch of local participants, 'zines, prints, jewelry, CDs etc), w/ a 10p performance by Queens sing-along kinda-punksters The Beets, and free Brooklyn Brewery beer before that. Totes cool. The DCF reappears next week w/ a pop-up shop in Wsburg and a fete in W Chelsea (stay tuned).

* "A Clockwork Orange" (dir. Stanley Kubrick, 1971) screening @ IFC Center / 323 Sixth Ave (ACE/BDFV to W 4th St), midnight. Let ultraviolence aficionado Alex (a creep-ola Malcolm McDowell, looking fierce in a codpiece and forever spawning iconic Halloween costumes) lead your midnight w/ a spew of Nasdat slang and a discourse on Beethoven and shagging women, until the tables unavoidably turn.

* Talk Normal w/ U.S. Girls + Air Waves @ Secret Project Robot / 210 Kent Ave, Williamsburg (L to Bedford, JM to Marcy), 8p/$8. HUGE show tonight, Brooklyn's finest no-wavers Talk Normal w/ Megan Remy's (aka U.S. Girls) box of FX (these bands have paired quite nicely before), v. super dreamy Air Waves (Nicole Schneit and crew). I'd totally be there...

* Pants Yell! + Fluffy Lumbers @ Bruar Falls / 245 Grand St, Williamsburg (L/G to Lorimer), 8p/$8. ...if it wasn't for THIS show, Slumberland's geeky charmers Pants Yell! (whose new album "Received Pronunciation" epitomizes smart indie-rock, from the full-out jam "Rue de la Paix" to the introspective, strummy "Not Wrong") and Ridgewood indie dreamer Samuel Franklin (Fluffy Lumbers). Mayjah.

* "Namas (The House)" (dir. Šarūnas Bartas, 1997) screening @ MoMA / 11 W 53rd St, 3:30p. House as nation? Or house as knot keeping relationships, routines, comings and goings, together — even the inevitable separations? Bartas' film won the Un Certain Regard prize at 1997 Cannes.

* Lithuanian Shorts screening @ MoMA / 11 W 53rd St, 3p. Incl. "The Window" (1999) and "Vilkas (The Wolf)" (2008) by Julius Ziz, "Spring (Pavasaris)" (1997) by Valdas Navasaitis and more. Doesn't this just sound cool? When your friends ask you how you plan to spend part of your Sunday afternoon, you can tell them 'at a screening of Lithuanian shorts'.

* The Besties + The Specific Heats @ Bruar Falls / 295 Grand St, Williamsburg (L/G to Lorimer), 8p/$7. Oh my goodness! If you missed The Specific Heats (Boston's high-fiving girl-guy-harmonizing quartet) like two weeks ago, see them again! They open for Brooklyn's sweet punk rockers The Besties, who are playing their last show this night. Expect a love-fest!!

* Alcatraz Culture Party + Open Ocean @ Death By Audio / 49 S 2nd St, Williamsburg (L to Bedford, JMZ to Marcy), 8p/$7. I can't stop listening to "Always Sometimes", this mesmerizing track from fashion-forward all-girl quartet Open Ocean's debut performance in mid-Oct. It's got a keyboard/bassline duet that sort of reminds me of The Cure. And Alcatraz Culture Party is the code-name of surf-noisy experimentalists Diego & Michi (Crash Diet Crew). w/ Somnambulists (aka Warren Ng from This Invitation).

* Nate Wooley w/ C. Spencer Yeh + Chris Corsano @ ISSUE Project Room / 232 3rd St, Gowanus (F/R/M to 9th St/4th Ave), 8p/$15. Second installation of improv trumpeter Wooley's "Seven Storey Mountain" project, and though I missed the 1st, I think I'll dig this one quite nicely. Why? B/c of inclusion of avant-violinist/electronics-noisician Yeh and drummer Corsano, whose shared backgrounds incl Okkyung Lee, Keiji Haino, Bjork, Thurston Moore, Jandek and loads other like-minded musicians. To call this evening 'No Fun' would be tongue-in-cheek.

* Parts & Labor @ Brooklyn Bowl / 61 Wythe Ave, Williamsburg (L to Bedford), 9p/FREE. I love these guys, and though they've slightly tempered their math-rock sounds for subtle strains of indie-rock on their latest album "Receivers", they're still fierce as hell live, w/ Joe's machine-man drumming, BJ's yowling and Dan's wheezing electronics.

* "Bauhaus 1919-1933: Workshops for Modernity" @ MoMA 11 W 53rd St (E/V to 5th Ave, 6 to 51st St). Not since 2006's Dada show have I been this excited about an 'historic' MoMA exhibition. Now, solo exhibitions (Joan Miro's unparalleled decade-spanning show last winter plus Van Gogh's spirit-lifting "Colors of the Night" mini-show last fall, in particular) do not count, as what I just included in parenthesis are beyond dope. MoMA has a knack for nailing proper solo-artist shows — I've spoken about this at length in past LISTs and perhaps this is due a blog entry ( soon, but that'll come. Group shows (historic or otherwise, just check MoMA's long-running contemporary hodgepodges, elevated just recently by the rather wicked "Here is Every", which closed this past March) tend to drag, like oh "Color Chart" and "Design and the Elastic Mind" (both Spring 2008) and the "Eye on Europe" multiples show from Winter 2007. Sorry, couldn't get into them! So going into Bauhaus expecting no doubt a history lesson, let's just say much as I thought I dug Bauhaus, I was still a little tentative.
This is a great show. This is a really great show. Unless you are a Bauhaus-fanatic, you'll learn something here, probably a lot here, and it's a very noninvasive lesson. You meander through the loads of mixed media stuff on display, roughly in chronological order (broken up largely by the leaders Walter Gropius, Hannes Meyer and Mies van der Rohe), take it all in, and are then surprised later by how familiar so much of this stuff is. Like the Marianne Brandt- and Hin Bredendieck-designed table lamps from about 1930 — they're so commonly lovely steel lamps, nothing extraneous, just several combined cones and planes. Or an easier one: Marcel Breuer, whose furniture like the striking tubular-steel "Club Chair (B3)", forever epitomized in 'cool' hotel lounges and YOU TOO CAN OWN (a replica), it's here too, many Breuer chairs, plus steel-and-plywood nesting tables that sort of resemble Josef Albers' glossier (and one could suggest: more elegant?) stackable tables, made of ash veneer and colored glass. Or Gropius' "Newspaper Shelf", this gorgeous serpentine mahogany structure, from '28. Hey, now, you're probably thinking: Brian, you are really going on about interior designy stuff (I didn't even mention Anni Albers' silvery silk and wool wall hangings! Or Hans-Joachim Rose's 'typeset' fabric swatches!), even though you claim to 1) be ignorant of and 2) disdain that stuff. Yes, true, but this is Bauhaus and proper contemporary design owes loads to Bauhaus. It's so obvious, just looking at these deceptively simple, clean, elegant yet utilitarian designs. OK enough of that. Beyond the furniture, there's loads else to see. I found the 'texture analyses' and 'color studies' ((led by Johannes Itten and Paul Klee w/ their students) very cool, and Klee offers a bunch of brilliant examples of his playful, mechanical work. Like personal fave "Twittering Machine" (1922), which I think I've seen both here and at the Met, in various shows, and palette-related "The Angler" (1921) — but his paintings on black ground, which tend towards neon-y colors, really excel. Like "Mystical Ceramic (in the manner of a still life)" (1925), situated around actual still-life-quality stuff, like a Carl Jakob Jucker-designed samovar) and the fun "Puppet Theatre" (1923), deftly augmented by Klee's own hand-puppets for his children (nice one, MoMA). Like Josef Albers' ridiculously beautiful glass grid pieces, from the earlier stained glass-styled works ("Park" from 1924 is like early Gerhard Richter color study) to the super-delicate later glass reliefs — the suite of "Skyscrapers" from 1929 end the Bauhaus exhibition on a particularly lovely note.
+ Tim Burton. Probably the busiest show you will attend at MoMA (recalling Van Gogh's "Colors of the Night", see above) through April 2010. There must have been several thousand trying to get into the iconoclastic director's (and artist's — yes that's what this exhibition is about, his drawings, paintings, maquettes etc) show, in multiple queues. Word of advice: if y'r not a member, prepare to buy a timed-entry ticket, which is prone to selling out ahead of time. With that, I am a member so I had no trouble entering Burton's show, and I can safely deem it "OK". It's not strictly kid's stuff — anyone who's seen his darker films ("Sleepy Hollow" in particular) can attest; but it's a bit childish in parts and quite a bit otaku-ish (sort of like "fanboy") in others. You enter the exhibition through a carnival-sized goblin mouth, proceeding across what I took to be the goblin's esophagus (masked as a corridor lined w/ video modules and so, so many slow-moving people), into a nice black-lit chamber. This was a pleasant surprise, as amid Burton's glowing small-scale paintings rested a life-size Oogie Boogie behind glass (my favorite character from "The Nightmare Before Christmas") and a rather wild neon 10'-tall demonic carousel. Exit this and you're practically thrown into the maelstrom, a very crowded labyrinthine gallery full of Burton's drawings, sculpture, paintings and the like. Description: everything tends towards distended limbs, enormous mouths, bugs, humans, aliens, three-eyed clowns (he's got a "Clowns series", apparently), animals. There are character studies of what appear to be Edward Scissorhands (though way more cartoony, not dreamy Johnny Depp-channelling-Robert-Smith), plus Hollywood memorabilia (Batman helmets, other costumes). If there'd been the iron maiden from "Sleepy Hollow", I think I would've had a nervous breakdown. Also notably absent: anything recalling "Planet of the Apes" (remember that?). Low points: the fanboyish costumes and the "Sweeney Todd" pearl-handled razors (talk about sadistic!). High points: black-light room and the Stainboy toy house, aglow w/ Christmas lights and positioned conveniently near the exit.

* Justine Cooper "Living in Sim" @ Daneyal Mahmood Gallery / 511 W 25th St 3rd Fl. Cooper's marriage of science and art takes on an unsettling, visceral air in this 'soap opera' of medical mannequins. Her medium-sized C-prints of glassy-eyed dummies in hospital robes and under the knife or otherwise intubated, in situ, recall both Trevor Brown and Ed Keinholz w/ their respective loving attention to detail and accuracy. But it's Cooper's eponymous photo installation, multiple-POV headshots and detail shots of medical professionals and their patients, mouths agape in what you could interpret as either fear, warning or shock, as their (and conversely OUR) health insurance is compromised.

* Su-Mei Tse "Words and Memories" @ Peter Blum Gallery / 526 W 29th St. A delight for the eyes and ears; Tse's latest really transcends easy description, but it's a joy to experience. Her tubular fluorescent sculpture, here a swing, there a birdcage, are fun but are diminished by several audio-rich installations, augmented by her partner Jean-Lou Majerus. These include "Many Spoken Words", a bubbling cast-iron ink fountain, think the reverence of Charles Ray w/ the opportunity for a huge mess (a la Paul McCarthy or Andres Serrano, maybe); the hypnotic "Floating Memories" (whose shimmering walnut veneer and resin platform plays off the skipping LP); and deceptively simple "Sound for Insomniacs", five large C-prints of cats w/ related MP3 players — listen in and hear the saturated, satisfied purrs, and challenge yourself not to be lulled to sleep.

* Anna Jóelsdóttir "priest chews velvet haddock" @ STUX Gallery / 530 W 25th St. Roughly half this show is composed of Jóelsdóttir's acrylic, ink and colored pencil 'drawings', which look like highly complex smears and zaps of color (oilslick-style), some disintegrating her former color planes. The rest are chimeric 'installations', great Mylar panels ruched, twisted, stapled, tacked, and mounted — or for a better word 'slung' across walls, crawling up pipes, one tentlike shape appears to be retreating into the ceiling tiles. These amorphous screens are literally covered w/ the Icelandic artist's kinetic scribbles and poolings of color.

* Dan Flavin "Series and Progressions" @ David Zwirner / 519-533 W 19th St. A gorgeous, sobering investigation into the Minimalist's core practice of repetition and color. Begin w/ the jewel-box "alternating pink and 'gold'" at 519, a three-wall installation of sugary pink and goldenrod fluorescent rods. Note the fuzzy-edged vibrations, how pairing the two colors turn the pinks whitish and the yellows lemony. In 525 you pass through a series of rooms, from the warm yellow and cherry-red pairings through the shock-saturated blue/reds and shimmering greens, ending on almost a sunrise-like blast of brightness. The seminal all-white "the nominal three (to William of Ockham)" acts as a palate-cleanser before the brilliant cage-like "untitled (to Helga and Carlo, with love and affection"), a white-hot bluish latticework extending across the breadth of 533's space.

* Yue Minjun "Smile-isms" @ Arario NY / 521 W 25th St. Yue's guffawing, grimacing 'self'-portraits are a bunch of active men, throwing baseballs, climbing trees, sitting crosslegged on a diving board like a bunch of demure bathing beauties... What's the dialogue? Well, in these gorgeous color lithographs, maybe Yue means, in order to do these activities properly, the State wants you to enjoy the hell out of them. Be happy all the time! Check the gigantic Yue, yawning mouth stretching over a field of cattle, for a more literal impact.

* Liu Ye "Leave Me in the Dark" @ Sperone Westwater / 415 W 13th St. I love Ye's haunting, spare acrylics, which mostly capture a solitary doll-like girl in scenarios worth of Rene Magritte. She might be reading a book or standing, raincoated and w/ luggage but w/ her back turned to the viewer — and suddenly everything is just a bit less familiar. Ye's 'compositions', of bamboo, blocks and drugs, are rendered w/ a scalpel's clarity, but lack the gauzy beauty of his portraiture.

* Lynda Benglis @ Cheim & Read / 547 W 25th St. Frozen bubblebath, my first thought upon viewing Benglis' tinted polyurethane sculpture "Swinburne Figure I", part of her exhibition of new relief works at the gallery. Everything crawls along the wall here, from other globular polyurethane objet (check the esp. effective orange-sun "D'Arrest") to the black patina'd bronzes (mimicking either coral reefs or coagulated chocolatey breakfast cereal), like the hand-like "Figure 3" and animale "Figure 5".

* Paul Chan "Sade for Sade's sake" @ Greene Naftali / 508 W 26th St 8th Fl. Word of advice before entering this brilliant narrative projection, arguably the standout work when it premiered at the 53rd Venice Biennale: you won't see the whole thing. Chan's centerpiece is nearly six hours long and there are no benches. But linger over the stark shadowy figures in various states of coitus and violence, covered now and then by abstract floating geometric shapes. If you're lucky, you'll see multicolored blocks, like translucent tinted tiles, sweeping across a landscape of de Sade's making. But if you hang around even for 10 minutes you'll experience the unnerving, graceful ballet of orgy, whippings, beatings, masturbation (with figures now and then speaking to one another), amid shapes that either obscure the action or flood past like the great shadows of trees and landscapes from the window of a train. Chan's loose ink drawings in the side galleries augment the action on the wall.

* Emi Uchida "Lines" @ Onishi Gallery / 521 W 26th St. The artist's influences are clearer than ever in this series of obscured works on paper. Uchida's shunga-inspired drawings (Edo-era erotic woodcut works) are veiled by her signature wavy charcoal lines.

* Tim Eitel "New Paintings" @ Pacewildenstein / 545 W 22nd St. Eitel's stark humanist renderings are moodily humorous as ever — figures in uncomfortable repose, homeless tents, misshapen piles of clothes, ruffled birds — but he's shrunk his canvases down now to book-sized, permitting nothing but the intensity of what's on paint to engulf your vision.

* Wolfgang Laib "Frieze of Life" @ Sean Kelly Gallery / 528 W 29th St. The standout piece here, in Laib's typically spare show, is his rather literally titled "Pollen from Hazelnut". This belies the impact of the enormous fuzzy-edged yellow rectangle on the gallery floor, the result of several jars of hand-sifted pollen. It's like Rothko on the floor, sort of.