Saturday, January 28, 2012

What a Lovely Bear Crown, 3/24/09

Ivy Baldwin's Bear Crown at DTW.

There’s something about Ivy Baldwin’s work that’s transporting. It could be the movement, which shifts between childlike play and virtuosity. It might be the attention to detail in every element, from lighting to set to sound, including a settling overture. It might be the five engaging performers, including Baldwin. In all likelihood, it’s everything assembled and polished til it gleams.
Baldwin’s new work at DTWBear Crown, which closed this last weekend,  makes the cavernous theater look wonderful. The velvet curtain sits closed for the overture (music by Justin Jones), with shimmering, hypnotic chords easing our minds into place for the performance. It opens to reveal a three-tiered, semicircular, wood platform (by Mendel Rabinovitch) flush upstage. Downspots cast light-columns on the wall, and Chloe Brown’s essential lighting imbues a golden glow over the proceedings. The setting is formal and monumental.
Ivy Baldwin: Bear CrownMindy Nelson, fists above crooked elbows, slide-snaps her crossed feet together, slowly establishing a rhythm. The group joins in, making semi-heroic poses in lunges, biceps flexed and flaunted, circling wrists and torsos. Eyes hidden by hands, they migrate upstage and the movement diminishes to near imperceptibility, down to a collective sway, then just a breath. The five become one. The energy rises as the dancers step-chassee around the stage before beaching themselves on their stomachs, one leg bent, arms sphinxed.

West Side Story, 3/19/09


New York audiences are most familiar with West Side Story from choreographer Jerome Robbins’ same-titled suite for New York City Ballet, from the 1961 film directed by Robbins and Robert Wise, and the essential story from myriad renditions of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. But it is on Broadway now after nearly 30 years (!), and a chance for a new generation or two to become acquainted with a wonderful show.
Leonard Bernstein wrote the score for the show, which premiered in 1957. Arthur Laurents, who wrote the original book and is now in his 90s, directed the new production. Most notably, it incorporates Spanish dialogue and lyrics to give the ethnic divide some real bite, but refrains from using technological wizardry. Lin-Manuel Miranda, who wrote In the Heights, was charged with the translating some of Stephen Sondheim’s lyrics into Spanish, although the songs are so familiar that it’s almost irrelevant what language they’re sung in. In some of the conversations, the actors elide from Spanish into English, as Nuyoricans might. All in all, if you don’t speak Spanish, don’t worry.
Dancers in West Side StoryWhile the Sharks (Puerto Ricans) are still depicted as the interlopers in this turf battle, they come across as more balanced and better dressed than their foes. Much of this depth comes from the females—Maria (Josefina Scaglione) and Anita (Karen Olivo), two sides of a coin—and their friends. They wear purple flared dresses with flouncy skirts (designed by David Woolard) that the women swish around. The Jets guys are mostly thuggish or limited somehow, and the gals—who get pushed around a lot—wear narrow cut, skimpy outfits that don’t seem to have anything to do with the rest of the costumes.

Armory—The Personal Touch Prevails, 3/7/09

The Armory Show.

Armory Apothecary
Art fair fever grips the city this weekend. In addition to the smaller Pulse, Scope, and Bridge fairs, there is the mega Armory Show, which has added modern art to its contemporary focus, with more than 250 exhibitors. The Armory is located on two piers this year, with 94 (at 53rd St. on the Hudson) housing a majority of the contemporary galleries, and 92 modern work. The piers are connected by a soaring temporary staircase that holds 20 people, adding an element of daredevilry to things.
There are several tactics for galleries to follow. The most common is to bring a sampling of the gallery’s artists, generally mixing known names with unknowns. Going one step further, you can curate your booth along a unifying theme, by color or concept. Still another, and by far the most successful for me, is to go with one artist in an installation.
A standout is Ronald Feldman Gallery’s booth, #951 on Pier 94. For the past several years, they have featured one artist at the Armory, including large installation work (remember Mierle Ukeles’ mirrored sanitation truck? if you saw it, you do). This year’s work is by performance artist Christine Hill, entitled The Volksboutique Armory Apothecary. It is not only an apothecary in the old fashioned style of those found in Europe, but Hill staffs the counter to hear of your maladies and administer advice—“which path to travel, which salve to apply, which wisdom to seek.”

No One Puts Taylor in a Corner, 3/5/09

Paul Taylor Dance Company at City Center.

Paul Taylor Dance Company is performing 19 works in nearly three weeks at City Center, through March 15. This is both a gift and a curse. The sheer breadth of his work is dazzling, and it is brought into stunning clarity by his amazing company of 16. The downside is choosing which programs to see.
Breadth, you say? I can hear some eyes rolling from here. Some people think they know everything about Paul Taylor, whose company has been around since 1954. Yes, Taylor has developed his own modern language, the basics of which become as identifiable as ballet’s fundamentals. A run with straight arms alternating and head in opposition, a jump with bent legs and curved arms… familiar. But what he has done is turn this language—this elegant, reliable modern vocabulary—into the foundation on top of which he builds his ideas, structures, patterns. It is so familiar that it’s easy to take for granted, or peg as merely repetitive, but I see it more like ballet—infinitely malleable.

Kippenberger: Rogue at MOMA, 3/3/09

Martin Kippenberger at MOMA

It’s plain to see what Martin Kippenberger (1953 – 1997) did, judging from MOMA’s fairly comprehensive overview of this German artist. The question is, what didn’t he do? At various stages of his sadly brief life, he had the ambition to be an actor, writer, musician, and artist. He met each with varying success, but surely it is his body of artwork that best reflects the larger-than-life man who seemed to view the world as his playground and art history as his palette. He located his place in the universe for us by attaching tangents to other artists/artworks or historical items.
KippenbergerSubtitled The Problem Perspective and assembled by Ann Goldstein, senior curator at MOCA in LA, with Ann Temkin, MoMA’s chief curator of painting and sculpture, the centerpiece of the show is an installation that sums up Kippenberger’s madcap vision and breadth of ambition. Located in MOMA’s cavernous atrium space, entitled The Happy End of Franz Kafka’s “Amerika,” it is the ostensible set for a scene from Kafka’s unfinished book. On an artificial turf football field sit dozens of seating/table arrangements of every stripe, each unique unit a stand-alone artwork—a setting for so many simultaneous interviews made into a spectator sport by bleachers at two ends.

Alchemy and Ghosts, 2/24/09

Brian Rogers' redevelop (Death Valley) at Chocolate Factory and Doug Varone's Alchemy at Joyce Theater.

Watching a dance can sometimes leave me wondering why the choreographer created it. Often it’s during a “pure dance” work that doesn’t offer anything new, even if the technique is solid and the dancers are skilled (as is nearly always the case in New York City). Sometimes, form is enough, sometimes not. But two programs – redevelop (Death Valley) by Brian Rogers, andAlchemy, by Doug Varone – focus on important subjects that provide much context to work with.
redevelope (Death Valley)Redevelop, at the intimate Chocolate Factory(where Rogers is artistic director) in Queens through Feb 28, concerns myriad ideas of gentrification and the inexorable displacement of longtime residents. The primary set pieces are modular plastic sheets suspended on wires by hooks, reminiscent of the building’s industrial roots. The semi-translucent panels obstruct, catch images, and are removed to allow us to see the action beyond. The work begins with a video of a man discussing local life from decades ago. The performance is like a poem comprising all different elements — hardware/building bits are illuminated slowly and magically; mysterious and mostly obstructed movements repeat; sounds, like wind chimes, haunt the air.

MOMA—Station Domination!, 2/19/09

MOMA—Atlantic Station advertising domination!

Remember the sad time when MoMA closed its headquarters for renovation, forcing legions to cross the god-forsaken East River to Queens, where it shattered the space/time continuum in a hangar-like aluminum shed? It’s not exactly the same, but some masterpieces from MoMA have transplanted themselves, via giant plastic decals, into the Hades-like Atlantic/Pacific transit complex in Brooklyn in what has been dubbed a Schwarzeneggeresque “station domination.” (The catacombs have NOTHING on this monstrosity of tunnels and stairs, although Manhattan’s Fulton Street subway complex surely does.)
Object: Fur CupIn fact, MoMA/AP is way better, because it catches folks by surprise, at least it did me. MoMA has put up nearly 60 different “artworks,” most of which are familiar, and some of which are new. Icons include Meret Oppenheim’s Object(“fur teacup”), Picasso’s Demoiselles D’Avignon, and van Gogh’s Starry Night reside next to fresher names such as Wangechi Mutu and Bill Morrison. Also included are works of industrial design, such as John Barnard/Ferrari’s Formula One racing car and flower printed fabric by William Morris.

Gotham Chamber Opera—L’isola disabitata, 2/17/09

Gotham Chamber Opera—Haydn's L’isola disabitata, directed by Mark Morris, at John Jay

Mark Morris has proven how deft he is with opera, particularly when it includes his wonderful dancers. His productions of Romeo & Juliet: On Motifs of ShakespeareOrfeo ed Euridice,PlatéeKing Arthur—and the sublime L’Allegro ed il Penseroso ed il Moderato and Dido and Aeneas for his own company—all integrated his astute sensitivity with music and his playful, earthbound choreography.
Tom Corbeil, Takesha Meshé Kizart in L'Isola DisabitataNow he has taken a bit of a departure in directingGotham Chamber Opera’s production of Joseph Haydn’s L’Isola Disabitata (The Deserted Island),with a libretto by Metastasio, in five performances at John Jay College from Feb 18- 28. There will be no dancers or chorus, just four soloists and an orchestra: sopranos Takesha Meshé Kizart and Valerie Ogbonnaya, tenor Vale Rideout, and bass-baritone Tom Corbeil. Neal Goren, artistic director of Gotham Chamber Opera, will conduct. The plot revolves around shipwrecked Costanza raising infant Silvia to fear men, and then a man appears.

The Third Mind—Asia Gets Its Props, 2/12/09

The Third Mind at Guggenheim.

James McNeill Whistler, Nocture: Blue and Gold - Old Battersea Bridge, ca >>> 1872-75. Oil on canvas, 68.3 x 51.2 cm. Courtesy Tate, London.
The Third Mind: American Artists Contemplate Asia 1860-1989, at the Guggenheim, derives its title from a mixed-media work by William Burroughs and Brion Gysin in which disparate elements combine to make a new form. The show, on view through April 19, in the works years before the current economic tailspin, coincides with the moment’s need to diminish the material and seek the spiritual. (Okay, many of the objects in the show are still worth a bundle. And then there’s The Death of James Lee Byars, a room covered in fluttering, luminous gold leaf…)
The exhibition is fascinating when it doesn’t list into the overly ambitious.And sprawl it does, drawing on more than 100 artists. It explores various Asian inspirations and sources for many familiar and less-known American artists in the last century and a half. Curator Alexandra Munroe (Senior Curator of Asian Art) divided the show into seven chronologically organized sub-themes, all of which would serve nicely as doctoral theses. The sections pretty much cover the bases of formal, philosophical, spiritual, geographical, and in addition to visual art, pulls from literature, performance, and dance.

Firefall: Organic Web, Robotic People, 2/10/09

John Jesurun's Firefall at DTW.

Firefall, John Jesurun’s new work that recently ran at Dance Theater Workshop (with an emphasis on theater), does not lack for either verbal or visual content. In fact there is so much information flying through the air in the work’s 55-minute length that it feels twice that long—at times too dense for normal, somewhat fatigued brains and eyes to process properly.
The work certainly fits well in this theater, which normally can be exaggeratedly wide for many dance productions (although one function it favors is locating a musician’s table in a corner, as is so often the case these days). (See DTW’s Artistic Director Carla Peterson discuss the work here.) Three long tables sit center stage, at which seven actors sit with laptops. On the cyc is a matrix of the closed circuit feed from the laptops, plus some other larger-scale video footage on occasion. While the effect is sinister in a “constant and all-seeing surveillance” kind of way, it is also somewhat quaint in feel, like the concept of the control room at NASA ten years ago, or the set of 24.
Firefall, John Jesurun's new workThe projections monopolize attention, and evoke the large computer desktop of someone with ADD (ahem). The feed ranged from politics to pop culture to sports, and seemed pre-selected. It began with scripted takes of two women discussing a death from different points of view—one experiencing it firsthand; the other an artist perhaps mining the situation for subject material. (Video clip below.) The montage included clips of a boy singing in the style of Maurice Chevalier, Reagan’s inauguration, Nadal and Federer accepting their Australian Open trophies (an unfortunate reminder of how much emotional impact real life, albeit sports, can make).

chelfitsch—Babblings and Buzz, 2/3/09

chelfitsch's Five Days in March at Japan Society.

One of Japan’s buzz-worthy young theater companies, chelfitsch, is in town this week at theJapan Society on Feb 5-7. The troupe’s name is a baby-talk twist on the word selfish. This makes perfect sense given the context of the play, Five Days in March, written and directed by the group’s artistic director Toshiki Okada. The characters are maddeningly navel-gazing – holing up in a love hotel for five days at the onset of the US invasion of Iraq, deliberately losing total track of time. The actors babble on about liking bad films, boring soundtracks, travelling to Mars, escaping from the war, SARS.
chlfitschAs guileless as the characters seem to be, they can also set rules to shape apparently random acts, such as deciding to remain in the hotel for five days (the amount of money they have contributes to the length of their stay too), and buying three dozen condoms to use in that length of time. Their blithe hope is that when their time together is up, the war will have ended. They experience this intimate bond and yet never even learn one another’s name, and hope they don’t have to deal with future encounters. It’s not dissimilar to the confidences shared through avatars online — at times more personal than those shared among best friends in real time, face to face. Anonymity as the ultimate freedom; no pesky obligations.

The Morgan—Laugh to Keep from Crying, 1/28/09

Cartoons about money at The Morgan Library.

New Yorker cartoon by Fradon
If you haven’t been to the Morgan Library & Museum lately, then you might be under the impression that it’s a musty, gilded mansion stuck in the olden days, albeit laden with treasured works on paper. But one of the current shows, On the Money, shows that the Morgan has a sense of humor and a contemporary kick to go along with its airy Renzo Piano greenhouse addition. This comes hot on the heels of the wonderful and very popular Babar drawing show(also blogged about for SundayArts), which no doubt introduced the Morgan to a whole new generation of collectors.
The exhibition of original drawings of money-themed cartoons from The New Yorker magazine turns a mirror on this institution, begun as the private library of magnate Pierpont Morgan. Many of the cartoons poke “poor little rich guy” fun at tycoons, or the Wizard of Oz-like façade of executive work. Others hit all too close to home in this house-of-horrors economic climate.
New York cartoon by Lee LorenzeAside from a couple from the 30s and 50s, a good deal of the cartoons in this show ran in gloomy economic times of recent decades: in the 70s, Black Tuesday in the late 80s, and again in the 90s. Come to think of it, it’s perversely reassuring that in each of the past several decades there have been dips in the country’s financial strength, and we managed to recover each time. We will again (right?), but the question is, after how much pain? It’s not nearly as bad as after 9/11 when it felt like the entire city might never laugh again, but I suppose it depends on your point of view.

City Ballet—Miami, Not New York, 1/21/09

Miami City Ballet at City Center.

Arvo Part, Muse, 1/17/09

Guggenheim Works and Process with projects by Christopher Wheeldon, Tarik O'Regan, and Sophie Callie inspired by Arvo Part's music.

Looking Back, and Ahead, 1/6/09

Noteworthy events from 2008.

Embracing the Duality of Ailey, 12/22/08

Alvin Ailey at City Center

Matthew Rushing
If you’ve been hibernating in a cave, here’s some good news: Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater is celebrating its 50th anniversary. (Don’t ask about the bad news. Just go back in the cave, fast.) You can only tip your hat to the juggernaut they’ve become, what with street namings, Barbie dolls, guesting on Dancing with the Stars, world tour dates, Oprah headlining their gala, and more. After all, at heart, Ailey’s style has wide appeal, but with its pedigreed modern dance roots, it is hardly akin to the slick stuff often seen on So You Think You Can Dance.
At a recent performance, I was pleased to see the crowd, but somewhat dismayed when they erupted in applause at every split, leap, or turn of moderate difficulty. Accomplishments should be acknowledged, but it felt somewhat self-congratulatory. Back and forth I go, simultaneously gleeful at the company’s popularity for the sake of dance and the fantastic company, and a bit chagrined at the abject commercialism. But you can’t argue with success.
That duality might sum up Ailey’s oeuvre in a nutshell. He produced some gorgeous, moving work, and then he made some less compelling stuff sometimes weighed down by dated-feeling costumes or music. There is no denying his contribution to modern dance, but the flatness elicited when watching some revivals make me constantly reassess his body of work and his dance legacy.

Nuts and Frauleins, 12/18/08

NYCB's Nutcracker and Doug Elkins' Fraulein Maria

The Nutcracker

A list of holiday traditions in New York runs longer than my arm, but two are essential. One is New York City Ballet’s Nutcracker, which always conjures seasonal spirit, even in annual viewings. Another is Doug Elkins’ Fraulein Maria at The Public Theater’s Joe’s Pub, which couldn’t be more of a contrast, but which left me ridiculously giddy. At heart, they sum up the best of the city at holiday time. Any time, really.
The first act of George Balanchine’s Nutcracker, to Tchaikovsky’s iconic score, shows that it was created in a different era. Essentially one long family party scene ending with a frothy snowflake ballet, it shows a patience for details and an indulgence in small children that wouldn’t be made nowadays. Balanchine’s focus on Christmas as a kids’ holiday is clear when you realize how incidental the adults are. Of them, only the mysterious Herr Drosselmeyer has any import, and that’s because he bears lavish (and simple) gifts, thereby dispensing power. But the real scene stealer always has been the enormous tree that never stops growing, making even the multi-headed Mouse King look tiny. Rouben Ter-Arutunian’s amazing set also includes snow-laden pine bowers, charming and ominous at once and an enchanting setting for the human and artificial snowflakes besetting the stage.
Fraulein MariaAct II is a dance travelogue, more gifts being offered, that unspools after Marie watches Fritz do a mime recap. Little angels criss-cross the stage. Nationalities/attributes are represented by various food stuffs. Spain/chocolate, China/tea, Arabia/coffee, high energy/candycanes, Germany/marzipan (led by the dynamic Tiler Peck), grace/dewdrop. (If anyone knows what dewdrop—not a food—stands for, speak up. Obviously I don’t.) I saw the incomparable Maria Kowroski as the Sugarplum Fairy and the serviceable Charles Askegard as the Cavalier.

LeeSaar’s February, 12/12/08

LeeSaar’s February, at PS 122

It’s been a few years since LeeSaar, a small company begun by Lee Sher and Saar Harari of Israel that settled here, first made a splash in New York; they received a Guggenheim Fellowship this year, among several laurels. Their work hasn’t lost much of the uniqueness and power that might have been due to its novelty, as seen in a double bill (called February) at La Mama. One half is a short play written and performed by Sher, who is an engaging presence. The other half is a dance, One Day, choreographed by Sher and Harari (they also designed the sound and costumes) for Jye-Hwei Lin and Hsin-Yi Hsiang.
One of the most powerful aspects of past works by LeeSaar has been its intimacy. No doubt this was in part due to the confines of the small theaters I’ve seen them in (such as PS 122’s two spaces), where you could hear them breathing and practically feel the warmth from their bodies. But I wondered how it would translate to the cavern of La Mama’s Annex. With Joe Levasseur’s lighting, the choreography did just fine, often taking place in one zone or another, as defined by light and darkness. Levasseur showed a resourceful invention by placing a strip of aluminum foil where footlights would be in a larger house, and bouncing light off it to ligth the dancers from below.

Delight in Clarke’s Garden, 12/2/08

Martha Clarke's Garden of Earthly Delights at Minetta Lane Theater

Garden of Earthly Delights
Martha Clarke’s productions often slide between the seams of defined genres. For instance, her revival of Garden of Earthly Delights could aptly be described as dance, yet it defies that category in part due to its location at the Minetta Lane Theater, its ticket price range, and a planned three-month run. For those who go expecting more traditional theater, perhaps this confection of movement will coax them to see more dance.
Clarke, whose productions have been in the public eye for upwards of three decades, is a creator whose work has been recognized with numerous grants and other institutional laurels. Yet she is not a household name. And the scope of her productions, which are often based on works of visual art, is large and best produced in longer, theater-style runs, rather than the dance world’s week-long norm. (The harrowing story of re-mounting Garden, which premiered in 1984, is told in this New York Times article.)
Garden of Earthly Delights involves only movement and music, provided by an onstage trio in monks’ robes. The eleven performers are all skilled dancer/actors; some are fixtures from established companies, such as Marjorie Folkman and Jen Nugent. The company wears flesh-toned unitards that are somewhat revealing, but not tawdry. They enter walking on all fours, after awhile looking like some kind of gawky species.

Kehinde Wiley: Down, 11/25/08

Kehinde Wiley: Down, at Deitch Gallery

Source imagery: Jean-Antoine Houdon, Photo credit: Max Yawney, Courtesy of Deitch Projects.Kehinde Wiley’s painting show, Down, at Deitch Gallery’s Wooster Street space, has the unique effect of stretching time – taking you back a couple of centuries while keeping a foot firmly planted in the present. The most immediate impression of the show is its monumentality. The space itself is cavernous, better suited to showing large sculpture or installations rather than paintings. But Wiley’s paintings range from large to ginormous (up to 300” wide), and look entirely proper in the gallery — even the awkward platform viewing area reached by steps.
The title refers to the fact that all of the figures in these paintings are of “fallen characters” painted by old masters such as Velasquez and Mantegna, and other less-known technical wizards such as Maderno and Clesinger. Some of the subjects simply recline in sleep or repose; others are dead. They include religious figures: The Veiled Christ and The Virgin Martyr St. Cecelia, as well as subjects of formal or societal interest. It is refreshing to see the original painters, whose work inspired this series, credited in each caption, as often such sources are not.

Inbal Pinto’s Winter Wonderland, 11/14/08


It’s been pretty warm so far this fall, thankfully. But Inbal Pinto Dance Company’s  Shaker, at the Joyce, might put you in the mood for a cold snap with a winter wonderland of a set, based on the concept of a snowglobe. A thick layer of fake snow blankets the stage, and a horizontal baffle hangs in front of the cyc, cropping the proscenium to wide-screen format and compressing the stage action.
Inbal PintoPinto choreographed Shaker (video clip below) with Avshalom Pollak. They also designed the set, costumes, and selected the music. Their vision is fairly unique these days, more whimsical and sentimental than most work done in New York. Three doghouses sit upstage, out of which emerge the twelve performers. There’s a woman in an evening gown spinning out a ribbon dance, and later sharing tea with an older man in a striped suit; a group of women in black sundresses (a bit puzzling, given the snow… maybe it’s sand?) with long, fling-worthy hair; a dog/mime; and several dancers in head-to-toe unitards in hues of snow, ice, sleet.
The snow is an excellent excuse for the dancers to slide wildly across the stage, or drag a limb through it causing a plow-like wave. It muffles their footfalls, echoes the arcs of their tossed hair, offers a cushion on which to body flop. The performers split into small groups or pairs. Two men partner the dog/mime, gliding her above their heads. Dancers disappear and reappear through the doghouses, or sit atop them like gargoyles. A man manipulates two women by their ponytails – awkward marionettes to his puppeteer.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Just a Minute!, 11/11/08

60x60 at Winter Garden

Jeramy Zimmerman
Attention spans are definitely getting shorter. The whole internet thing, Google, texting, Twitter – how much shorter can the essence of a thought get than 140 characters or an emoticon? And now brevity has ferociously seized the performing arts with 60×60 Dance.
This free event, at the World Financial Center’s Arts>World on November 14 at 12:30pm and 7pm, is perfect for those of us with ADD. Founded by composer Robert Voisey, it pairs 60 choreographers with 60 composers to create 60 works 60 seconds in length. Voisey, director of new music group Vox Novus began the project in the shape of a one hour concert, one composer per minute.
The composers, from far and wide, were paired with choreographers from New York gathered by Jeramy Zimmerman, a contributor as well. The fact that there are 60 choreographers in the city able and willing to participate in this project is pretty remarkable, a testament to the city’s cultural chops. Some names are familiar (among them, Guta Hedwig, Germaul Barnes, and Kathleen Dyer/KDNY Dance) while most are not, but therein lies a big attraction—discovery.

theanyspacewhatever, 11/4/08

theanyspacewhatever, the Guggenheim's exhibition that examines its most famous work of art—its building.

If you recall with cynicism some of the Guggenheim’s more commercial exhibitions over the last decade (such as The Art of the MotorcycleBrazil: Body and Soul, and the Armani retrospective), you might feel redeemed by the current show, theanyspacewhatever( Or you might feel a bit duped, depending on your persuasion and/or patience.
Theanyspacewhatever emphasizes the exhibition itself as the medium. If you like to see art objects, for example Louise Bourgeois’ excellent show at the Guggenheim that closed recently, you may be disappointed. However, if you do a little homework, and like to be challenged by food for thought and not just food, theanyspacewhatever might float your boat. The ten artists included emerged in the 1990s, channelling their points of view through sometimes untraditional genres: rituals, information, storytelling. They traffic in engaging the viewer in a dialogue.
Rirkrit Tiravanija famously lived in Gavin Brown Enterprise for a spell, inviting viewers to join him for meals. Here, he has created a documentary, Chew the Fat, featuring the Guggenheim artists talking about their work and the 90s. Text is important in the work Douglas Gordon, who collaborated with Tiravanija on an upper floor coffee bar with bean bag chairs. HisPrettymucheveryword… includes phrases—some hidden, some in plain sight—all over the place, on walls, in corners, high, low. Some are painted in enamel in lovely, silly, or colored fonts; others are carved into the curved plaster walls of the museum (egad): “I’m right there,” “Nothing can be hidden forever,” and other meaningful or non sequitur phrases are encountered seemingly at random. Liam Gillick’s primary medium here is also text. He created an aluminum signage system that can be helpful or annotative: “this way,” “halfway,” “drunk from the firehose.”