This dazzling virtuosa

Yuja Wang, in an unforgettable recital. It would be our last pre-Covid-19 one.

“I believe that every program is a living organism, so it should be in sync with how I’m feeling in that moment, so it is truly alive. I want the music to surprise me and to surprise the audience” – said Miss Wang as she entered the stage, and she proceeded to do just that, changing the sequence of the printed programme and keeping the audience hanging from every move of her flying fingers hitting those notes, for the next two hours.

Carnegie Hall, New York

February 28th, 2020

Tawny Chatmon @Fotografiska

Black Beauty in 24-karat gold leaf

Inheritance, by Tawny Chatmon (American, b. 1979), invites the viewer to look beyond the decorated and nuanced portraits to examine issues of race and the historical positioning of African American portraiture in the absence of subjugation of the “black body” in Western art. ​

Chatmon, a mother of three black children, draws from her life experiences and belief that children inherit our memories, beliefs, traditions, and the world that we leave behind. Through her photographs, she conveys a message to her children, and to all black children, that they are precious, valued, and loved.

While the camera is her primary tool of communication, Chatmon takes a multi-layered approach in producing her photographs—her process does not subscribe to conventional photography. The photographs are often manipulated and hand-embellished with acrylic paint and 24-karat gold leaf, inspired by Gustav Klimt’s (1862-1918) “Golden Phase.” The use of gold and ornamentation in Klimt’s work evokes feelings of grace, magnificence, and beauty within Chatmon and has remained in the artist’s consciousness. These are the emotions Chatmon seeks to convey to those viewing her photographs. Her portraits are staged vignettes with models, who at times are her own children wearing elegant garments. Chatmon experiments with various art practices and does not restrict herself to follow any set of rules, allowing her to create instinctually and fluidly. The result is a beautiful and powerful iconography that speaks to “the disparities that continue to affect black people around the world.” [source]

Fotografiska, New York

February 22nd, 2020

Afterwork @MoMA

Reaping the benefit of having MoMA at walking distance between home & work.

”After setting up her own photography studio in 1894, in Washington, D.C., Frances Benjamin Johnston was described by The Washington Times as “the only lady in the business of photography in the city.” Considered to be one of the first female press photographers in the United States, she took pictures of news events and architecture and made portraits of political and social leaders for over five decades.

In 1899, the principal of the Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute in Virginia commissioned Johnston to take photographs at the school for the 1900 Exposition Universelle in Paris. The Hampton Institute was a preparatory and trade school dedicated to preparing African American and Native American students for professional careers. Johnston took more than 150 photographs and exhibited them in the Exposition Nègres d’Amerique (American Negro Exhibit) pavilion, which was meant to showcase improving race relations in America. The series won the grand prize and was lauded by both the public and the press.

Years later, writer and philanthropist Lincoln Kirstein discovered a leather-bound album of Johnston’s Hampton Institute photographs. He gave the album to The Museum of Modern Art, which reproduced 44 of its original 159 photographs in a book called The Hampton Album, published in 1966.” [source]

February 7th, 2020

Remaster || Trash & Vaudeville

They make an interesting pair, don’t you think?

REMASTER is Irena Haiduk‘s ongoing cinematic adaptation of Mikhail Bulgakov’s novel, The Master and Margarita (written 1928-40). Her project is guided by one of the central principles offered by the novel: the existing infrastructure of this world must be used to create a new one. Glittering surfaces, velvet furnishings, bright flowers, and shifting light conditions create a seductive environment containing fragments of spells and hidden designs. The sound of a cat’s purr reverberates around the galleries with both comfort and threat. [source: The Swiss Institute]

Trash and Vaudeville, was founded by Ray Goodman in 1975, back when St. Marks Place was the epicenter of the City’s rock-and-roll and bohemia. Iggy Pop, Debbie Harry, the Ramones, and everyone who was anyone in the rock scene, were regulars. Tommy Hilfiger would buy clothes and resell them in his upstate stores Underground and People’s Place. It introduced Doc Martens to New Yorkers, the first ever shop in the United States to carry the brand. In 2016, it was relocated to 96 East 7th Street, not far from its original location, just far enough from the noodle shops that have taken over St. Marks Place.

January 20th, 2020

Kleindeutschland, St. Marks Place

On our way to the Swiss Institute, we passed by this wonderfully preserved building. Back home I looked it up, and it was only then I realised that the area was once the centre of Lower Manhattan’s German community. No coincidence then, that the Swiss chose the very same location for their Art Institute.

The Swiss Institute

January 19th, 2020