Andrew Hultkrans

  • A view of Rhys Chatham's A Crimson Grail (Outdoor Version) on August 8, 2009, at Damrosch Park Bandshell, New York. (All photos: Stephanie Berger)
    diary August 11, 2009

    Rhys’s Pieces

    New York

    NEVER HAVE I RUN INTO as many friends and acquaintances at a New York event as I did last Saturday at the band shell abutting Lincoln Center, where Rhys Chatham’s orchestra of two hundred electric guitars, fifteen basses, and one hi-hat graced a perfect summer evening with oscillating ambient bliss. Maybe I knew so many people there because my friends are cheap and the concert was free, part of the institution’s long-running “Out of Doors” series. Perhaps it was because I know my share of rock critics, and many—including Michael Azerrad, Will Hermes, and former Blender editor Rob Tannenbaum—were

  • Left: Artist Jonah Freeman with dealer Andrew Kreps. Right: Dealer Jeffrey Deitch. (All photos: David Velasco)
    diary July 06, 2009

    Acid House

    New York

    THERE WAS NO ACID at last Thursday’s opening of Jonah Freeman and Justin Lowe’s fully immersive installation Black Acid Co-op at Deitch Projects. There was no black, either, unless you count the carbon on the singed and burned furniture and plyboard walls in some of the rooms (the traces of meth-lab meltdowns). I mention this because the title (and the press copy) seemed to promise some kind of early-1970s-aesthetic abattoir, the half-charred ruins of a Hell’s Angels headquarters–slash–Symbionese Liberation Army safe house. Inside the mazelike, three-story structure that completely obscures the

  • Left: Celine Danhier, Blank City, 2008, black-and-white and color film, 106 minutes. (Still features Patti Astor in Eric Mitchell's Underground USA, 1980.) Right: Bette Gordon, Variety, 1983, color film, 97 minutes. Christine (Sandy McLeod) Production still.  Photo: Nan Goldin.
    film April 27, 2009

    Point Blank

    WHILE THERE HAVE BEEN numerous films celebrating the musical class of ’77—beginning with The Blank Generation, Amos Poe and Ivan Kral’s 1976 New York punk documentary that lends Blank City its name—the concurrent eruption of underground cinema (often made by and with the same downtown artists) has remained unexplored in its own medium. French first-time director Celine Danhier—former Sorbonne law student and member of La Compagnie Vapeur, an avant-garde theater group—seeks to fill this cinematic lacuna with this thorough, entertaining doc. Sampling liberally from little-seen No Wave and Cinema

  • Left: Writer Luc Sante. Right: Photographer David Maisel. (Photos: Nick Hunt/Patrick McMullan)
    diary April 16, 2009

    Dust Collector

    New York

    RARELY ARE CULTURAL EVENTS so fortuitously mirrored by their venues as Monday’s group reading in honor of Library of Dust, David Maisel’s recent book of photographs of psychedelically corroded copper canisters encasing the ashes of unclaimed Oregon lunatics. Inside the Angel Orensanz Foundation for the Arts on Norfolk Street, formerly one of the oldest synagogues in New York, the images—hung on the cobalt-blue peeled-paint walls and projected on-screen behind the altarlike stage—seemed to have always been there, matching their surroundings in hue and vibe, twin testaments to the stubborn

  • Left: Oulipian Anne F. Garréta. Right: The panel of Oulipians. (All photos: Dawn Chan)
    diary April 03, 2009

    Trompe Lit

    New York

    IF THIS WERE A TEXT generated by the OuLiPo, or Ouvroir de Littérature Potentielle (Workshop of Potential Literature), which, founded in France in 1960 by novelist-poet Raymond Queneau and engineer-mathematician François Le Lionnais, dedicated itself to the playful pursuit of constrained writing (e.g., a novel that eschews the letter e or a palindromic poem), I might have bound myself to the rule that I name the participants of Wednesday’s group reading at the New School only once. This, it turns out, happens to be a not entirely arbitrary conceit, because while Yale associate French professor

  • Zack Snyder, Watchmen, 2009, color film in 35 mm, 163 minutes. Publicity still. Silk Spectre II (Malin Akerman), Dr. Manhattan (Billy Crudup), and Rorschach (Jackie Earle Haley).
    film March 06, 2009

    Comic Relief

    AFTER DECADES OF DEVELOPMENT HELL at multiple studios (Fox, Paramount, Warner Bros.), the protracted attachments of several directors (Terry Gilliam, Paul Greengrass, Darren Aronofsky), and the subsequent disenchantment and self-erasure of its source author (Alan Moore), Watchmen, the so-called Citizen Kane of graphic novels, has finally hit movie screens on a wave of Hollywood hype and fan expectation. Your response to the film will have almost everything to do with whether you are already intimate (and in love) with Moore and illustrator Dave Gibbons’s original comic (published in a twelve-issue

  • Left: Filmmaker Arthur Metcalf and Wholphin editor Brent Hoff. Right: Artist Lauren Redniss; Lawrence Weschler, director of the New York Institute for the Humanities; and artist Tara Donovan. (All photos: Stephanie Steiker)
    diary March 02, 2009

    Some Kind of Wonderful

    New York

    THE WUNDERKAMMER (OR “WONDER CABINET”) is an antiquated exhibition concept that, while as old as the sixteenth century, has surprising traction in the twenty-first. The earliest European iterations were ornate rooms hung to the rafters with oddities of the natural world—narwhal tusks, exotic coral, stuffed crocodiles—and relics of dead religions and remote cultures. By the seventeenth century, they included man-made curiosities associated with the sciences and engineering—dioramas, automatons—as well as artworks and ceramics. Born in an era when the lines between art, science, myth, and folklore

  • Left: Filmmaker Jeff Krulik and critic Michael Azerrad. Right: A still from Jeff Krulik's Led Zeppelin Played Here. (All photos: Hannah Shields)
    diary January 08, 2009

    Maryland on My Mind

    New York

    BARRING JOHN FAHEY, curmudgeonly master of American-primitive fingerstyle guitar, whose gnomic, self-penned liner notes mythologized the Takoma Park, Maryland, of his childhood, no artist has done as much for suburban Maryland as Jeff Krulik, underground video documentarian, obsessive chronicler of obsessives, and maker (with John Heyn) of one of the funniest docs of the past thirty years (maybe ever), Heavy Metal Parking Lot (1986). Having no affinity for the state besides a love of Fahey’s music and a repulsion-fascination with the central-Atlantic accent (Philly, Baltimore, and environs—listen

  • Rick Moody, Tom Wolfe, and René Auberjonois.
    diary December 13, 2008

    Acid House

    New York

    DURING THE Q&A at the end of Tom Wolfe’s fortieth-anniversary discussion of his gonzoid Merry Pranksters travelogue The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, Wolfe was asked about his opinion of Gus Van Sant’s forthcoming film adaptation. Wolfe replied, “Films that try to capture trips—hallucinations—always fail miserably.” As counterexamples raced through my mind—David Cronenberg’s Videodrome, Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining, hell, the Monkees’ Head—I found myself thinking, “Polite, laudatory conversations for the NPR set at Symphony Space aren’t exactly a freezer bag of ’shrooms, either.”

    I had high-ish

  • Left: Brian Gibson, Breaking Glass, 1980, still from a color film in 35 mm, 104 minutes. Hazel O'Connor. Right: Julien Temple, Joe Strummer: The Future Is Unwritten, 2007, still from a black-and-white and color film, 123 minutes.
    film November 21, 2008

    Thanks for Nothing

    THERE IS A FUTURE, it appears, in England’s dreaming. “Punk ’n’ Pie,” an awfully named but well-programmed UK punk retrospective at BAMcinématek, gathers ten features and documentaries from the thirty-plus years since the class of ’77 first stuck a pin through the queen’s nose and pilloried Tory and hippie culture alike with equal ire. Though sown in New York—the Velvets, the Dolls, the Ramones, Richard Hell, CBGB—with ample fertilizer from a nice Ann Arbor boy called Iggy, punk flowered fully in England, where bleak environs and civil unrest were matched by vibrant street fashion and a serious

  • Neil Ortenberg and Daniel O'Connor, Obscene, 2007, still from a black-and-white film, 90 minutes. Barney Rossett.
    film September 25, 2008

    Censor and Sensibility

    If you need another reminder that book publishing and New York City aren’t what they used to be, you could do worse than to immerse yourself in Obscene (2007), an affectionate documentary portrait of the life and times of Grove Press and Evergreen Review publisher Barney Rossett. A thinking man’s perv with a patrician air, Rossett almost singlehandedly challenged the stultifying cultural puritanism of 1950s America through his publication of and landmark legal victories in defense of previously censored or criminally “obscene” books by D. H. Lawrence, Henry Miller, and William S. Burroughs.

    As

  • Sam Peckinpah, Straw Dogs, 1971, still from a color film in 35 mm, 118 minutes. Amy Sumner (Susan George).
    film September 04, 2008

    Truest Grit

    “Times have changed,” says newly elected sheriff Pat Garrett to his erstwhile partner, Billy the Kid, at the beginning of the 1973 Sam Peckinpah film that bears their names. “Times, maybe, not me,” replies the Kid. It’s as good a summation of Peckinpah—the work and the man—as any critic’s encomium. Best known for his “revisionist” westerns, mostly set in the early twentieth century, Peckinpah evoked an America that had run out of frontier, doubled back on itself, and was beginning to fence land, pave roads, and enforce laws. This was the country where his characters—Billy the Kid, the Wild Bunch,