The Glass[Water]Tower

A transparent sculpture by Tom Fruin made from roughly one thousand scraps of plexiglas. It includes such details as interior and exterior access ladders and an operable roof hatch. The locally-sourced plexi came from all over New York City—from the floors of Chinatown sign shops, to the closed DUMBO studio of artist Dennis Oppenheim, to Astoria’s demolition salvage warehouse Build It Green!NYC.

Source: Tom Fruin

Watertower 3: R.V. Ingersoll, by Brooklyn artist Tom Fruin, sits atop 334 Furman Street, Brooklyn Bridge Park

February 18th, 2017

Crossword on a felt board

Rivane Neuenschwander (1967)

Watchword, 2012

For this work the artist, who was born in Belo Horizonte but lives and works in London,  has embroidered words borrowed from the language of protest – take, back, justice, trade, war, corrupt, revolution, system, democracy, over – onto fabric tags similar to those used for clothing labels. Visitors were encouraged to take a tag, either to sew onto their clothes or to pin to the board. In both cases the migrating and accumulating words formed a poetic, global map of resistance.

I pinned ”Public” on top of ”Justice” on the board – my contribution to the resistance.

The Jewish Museum

January 8th, 2017

The elephant in the room

Simon Starling: At Twilight (After W. B. Yeats’ Noh Reincarnation), is a multimedia project in which the artist explores the influence of Noh on Western Modernism. It was displayed in the Japan Society’s galleries starting with a dimly lit room where a modern interpretation of At the Hawk’s Well, W.B. Yeats’ one-act dance play was showing alongside masks created by Noh Mask maker, Yasuo Miichi. The play was inspired by Yeats’ close collaborator and friend, the poet Ezra Pound who at the time, was translating Japanese Noh plays.

The installation continued in the ”mirror room”, a place Noh performers would traditionally use to change into their characters and, finally, concluded with an exhibit of photographs, prints, masks and other archival material – all related to Mr Starling’s project.

Bronze portrait of the dancer Michio Ito, who performed as the Hawk in the original 1916 staging of ”At the Hawk’s Well”, conceived as a Noh mask and created in the mid-1920s, around the time when Ito was collaborating with New York-based choreographer Martha Graham. Isamu Noguchi, 1904-1988.
W.B. Yeats, 1913 by Alvin Langdon Coburn (1882-1966). Digital print.
The hawk costume seen in the film.
The elephant in the room.
The Bamboo Gallery was converted into a mirror room (kagami-no-ma), traditionally used by Noh performers to change into their characters. Costumes reproduced based on archival materials from Yeat’s original play were displayed here.
Rock Drill, 1913-14. Bronze by Jacob Epstein. One of the Modernist works that inspired the creation of the Noh masks…
… and the creator, Jacob Epbstein. Photogravure by Alvin Langdon Coburn, in 1914.
Kumasaka in the Misty Moonlight, undated. Polychrome woodblock print by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi (1839-1892).
Noh Mask, Edo period (1603-1868) by an unknown artist.
H.H. Asquith, 1914. Photogravure by Alvin Langdon Coburn (1882-1966). H.H. Asquith was Prime Minister of England between 1908 and 1916. Known for his indecisive leadership during the initial stages of WWI, he was a regular guest at the home of Lord and Lady Cunard and was among the intimate audience gathered at the premiere of ”At the Hawk’s Well”. Prior to this, Asquith met the Japanese dancer Michio Ito, who played the Hawk.

Ito later recalled: At supper, Lady Cunard, a refined, white-haired gentleman and I, all sat at a table together. The old man tried to carry on a conversation with me. However, it was in English, so I didn’t follow very well… I began to get frustrated, and interjected in halting English: ”If you allow me to speak in German I can answer a little more intelligently.” Hearing this, the old man let out a hearty laugh: ”I am an Englishman and can’t speak Japanese. You are Japanese and can’t speak English. If German mediates between us, then by all means let’s speak in German…” The person I had spoken to in German – the language of his enemy – had been the Prime Minister of England.”

Noh mask by an unknown artist. Edo period (1603-1868).
Nancy Cunard, 1916. Digital print by an unknown photographer.
Eeyore. Ten years after the first performance of ”At the Hawk’s Well”, the trees of Ashdown Forest that surrounded W.B. Yeats and Ezra Pound’s wartime retreat, Stone Cottage, were immortalized in Ernest Shepard’s illustrations for A.A. Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh books. Milne based Pooh’s One Hundred Acre Wood on Ashdown Forest, where he lived and where, at the time Yeats and Pound were there, he was writing wartime propaganda articles for the MI7b. Eeyore is the pessimistic, old grey donkey from the story.

Pessimistic, downward facing Eeyore concludes the three-part series about Simon Starling’s project shown at the Japan Society. For more inspirational views connecting the pieces, please click here and here.

January 6th, 2017

“Whenever people see birds flying through the sky, it is said that they get the urge to go on a journey”

”At the Hawk’s Well”, W.B. Yeats’ dance play premiered in 1916 with Michio Ito at the role of the hawk. In its 2016 re-incarnation, the dance was co-choreographed by Javier de Frutos.
Noh no Tenkai (The Evolution of Noh), 1954. By Jiro Nan’e (1902-1952).

Simon Starling: At Twilight
(After W.B. Yeats’ Noh Reincarnation)

A multimedia installation by Simon Starling to mark the centennial of W.B. Yeats’ staging of the Noh-inspired dance play ”At the Hawk’s Well”, in 1916. The project aimed to illustrate the influence of Noh on Western Modernism by pairing newly created masks, costumes and a video (from which the above stills) with Modernist works and archival material connected to Yeats and his circle.

It was on show at the Japan Society until mid January 2017.

*Title from Kino no Tabi – the Beautiful World anime series (2003)

January 6th, 2017

Rain of Light

My title, not the artist’s. The artist left it untitled so I thought, what if I call it ”Rain of Light”, isn’t it more fitting? Presumptuous may be, but it was the first thing that came to mind when I saw it illuminating the stairwell, making it an integral part of the museum rather than a solely utilitarian feature. I instantly thanked myself for choosing to take the stairs instead of the lift.

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Ambience

Felix Gonzalez-Torres
”Untitled” (America), 1994

Twelve light strings, each with forty-two 15-watt lightbulbs and rubber sockets, at the stairwell of The Whitney Museum of American aRt.

September 10th, 2016

Manifesto

I went in expecting to see an interesting video art installation. I came out a better person, conscious that I have witnessed a brilliant work of art. Julian Rosenfeldt’s Manifesto bridges admirably the boundaries between filmmaking, theatrical artistic expression and technical dexterity. Mounted on 13 screens, positioned all over the monumental Wade Thompson Drill Hall in deceptive randomness, Manifesto brings to life excerpts of over 50 manifestos and statements by artists, filmmakers, choreographers and architects, going back as early as 1913 (Appolinaire’s The Futurist Antitradition) and as recently as 2002 (Jim Jarmusch’s Golden Rules of Filmmaking).

And then, there is Cate Blanchett. In case you still had a doubt about Ms. Blanchett’s brilliance as a performer this is your moment of truth. Passing effortlessly from the role of a homeless man, to a diva choreographer, a TV anchorwoman, a factory worker, a school teacher, a scientist, or my two favourites – a puppeteer and a conservative mother, Ms Blanchett interprets, dramatizes and recites excerpts, merging different manifestos and statements in every story seamlessly, skillfully proving yet again what a powerful performer she really is.

Manifesto is on at the Park Avenue Armory until January 8th, 2017. An unmissable treat, if your way brings you to New York City until then.

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Photography is not permitted inside the hall, and rightfully so for once, as camera and cell phone lights would have been all but rude intruders destroying the immersive, audio-visual experience.

As a compensation, cameras are welcome in all the beautifully restored reception rooms on the first floor.

December 10th, 2016