COLUMNS

  • Project Runway

    THE LAST TIME I saw New York–based Polish artists Joanna Malinowska and Christian Tomaszewski was at a party in Brooklyn. The guests were asked to set their inhibitions aside and howl together like a pack of wolves (or was it coyotes?) in preparation for a participatory group performance Malinowska was staging as part of her contribution to the 2012 Whitney Biennial.

    Nothing quite so taxing, or invigorating, was required of the elegant crowd gathered around the giant Tyvek spacesuit for the opening earlier this month of Mother Earth Sister Moon at the Zachęta Gallery in Warsaw. The spacesuit was

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  • Research and Development

    Critic and poet Claudia La Rocco recently chatted with the celebrated American Ballet Theatre and Bolshoi Ballet dancer David Hallberg in Chelsea. They talked about his dual lives in New York and Moscow, what it means to be an intellectually curious ballet dancer in 2013, and his long self-education in contemporary art, including a for-now shelved collaboration with the French choreographer Jérôme Bel.

    Claudia La Rocco: When did you start seeing contemporary dance, and what got you interested?

    David Hallberg: It started when I was at Paris Opera School in 2000. I saw the company perform whenever

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  • East of Eden

    Critic and writer Claudia La Rocco recently caught up with the pioneering performance art journalist Cynthia Carr in SoHo. They talked about her latest book, Fire in the Belly: The Life and Times of David Wojnarowicz (Bloomsbury, 2012), and her time spent writing for the Village Voice during a period that spanned the culture wars, the AIDS crisis, and the fabled East Village art scene.

    Claudia La Rocco: So many things changed for me as a writer when I found you and Jill Johnston; your books were incredible guides to me. Was there anyone like that for you?

    Cynthia Carr: Well, Jill Johnston definitely.

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  • Everyday People

    BRILLIANT,” the man behind me at the Kitchen exhaled, to himself and his date and anybody else within earshot on this particular Sunday afternoon, during the final performance of Claude Wampler’s N’a pas un gramme de charisme. (Not an ounce of charisma.).

    It was spoken in that reverent, self-satisfied stage whisper, where it’s always ambiguous as to whether the person is speaking about the art, or himself for perceiving the art, or some combination of the two. And lo. Just then the woman onstage—well, technically on the risers where the audience typically sits but which in this case formed the

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  • Elad Lassry at The Kitchen

    ELAD LASSRY remade the Kitchen’s gallery space for his “Untitled (Presence).” Entering through a parabolic arch, you immediately confronted a wall with a long rectangular opening at eye level. Beyond that stood a medium-height wall whose top was scalloped and painted bright pink and green. (Lassry has an unfailing sense for hideous colors.) Through the scallops you could catch glimpses of photographs on the back wall. These deliberately clunky framing devices were presaged in the room demarcated by the arched and slotted walls. There, projected directly on the gallery wall, was a looped 16-mm

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  • Fiona Banner’s Heart of Darkness

    IF YOU CROSS London’s Waterloo Bridge heading south, you will see the familiar complex of large buildings that make up the Southbank Centre—the Royal Festival Hall, the National Theatre, the Hayward Gallery. To the right you will see the more recent gigantic wheel of the London Eye. And currently, perched on the roof of a convenient concert hall, you will see what looks like a new, small, stranded houseboat. It is a sort of houseboat, but it isn’t stranded. It has been designed (by the artist Fiona Banner and the architect David Kohn) to float there for a while. It is modeled on a Belgian

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  • Four Saints in Three Acts

    “STEINMANIA” SWEPT OVER SAN FRANCISCO during the summer of 2011, incited by two major exhibitions related to the writer—“The Steins Collect: Matisse, Picasso, and the Parisian Avant-Garde,” at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and “Seeing Gertrude Stein: Five Stories,” at the Contemporary Jewish Museum—as well as a new staging of Gertrude Stein’s first opera, Four Saints in Three Acts, mounted at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (and sponsored by SF MoMA and Ensemble Parallèle). I went to San Francisco in August to introduce that production, Four Saints in Three Acts: An Opera

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  • A. K. Burns and A. L. Steiner’s Community Action Center

    The little cretin shepardess was now ruined for normal love and she ran amok among the other freaks, inflaming them.

    —Jack Smith, “Normal Love,” 1963

    SOME FEMININE PRODUCTS: Makeup, paint, and brushes. Floggers and Boston creams. Joints. Bananas that bleed when stabbed. Bloody pinkies poked through magazine pages and punctured beer cans held in taut tighty-whiteys. Watermelons split by samurai swords. Adult babies sprung from clay wombs.

    FEMININE PRODUCTS says the sign, hoisted atop a stretched canvas above a slew of art supplies. It is both the literal and the conceptual establishing shot

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  • Ann Liv Young

    IF SHERRY WERE ANY GOOD, she wouldn’t have to insult other people. The Kitchen in New York won’t present her work again, she guesses, “because I’m nasty to the audience.” Sherry sure is nasty. And mercurial, brash, honest, and mean. Her T. J. Maxx business-class drag (blond wig, makeup, pumps, polyester dress) exudes arriviste confidence: “It’s amazing / I’m the reason / everybody’s fired up this evenin’,” Sherry sings crazily, with gusto, atop the Kanye West anthem “Amazing.” This isn’t appropriation or karaoke; this is competitive Pop. Sherry sings not with the original track—played via

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  • René Pollesch

    AROUND TEN YOUNG GIRLS wearing pink nightgowns and toting crude wooden rifles take the stage. They strike various poses in rapid succession, threatening us, conducting drills, enacting tableaux vivants. Most of the poses are taken directly from the Maoist comic Das Mädchen aus der Volkskommune (The Girl from the People’s Commune), which, in the early 1970s, was popular with European leftists, and which was published in book form, complete with an afterword by Umberto Eco, by a German literary press. The performance of the pink-gowned girls goes on for quite a while and is peppered with political

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  • Deborah Hay

    THE AMERICAN CHOREOGRAPHER Deborah Hay has minimal interest in movement. She’ll tell you herself: She is not interested in athletic movement, or in abstract movement, or in movement that comes naturally. After nearly fifty years of experimentation—beginning as a dancer for Merce Cunningham and as a member of Judson Dance Theater in the 1960s—Hay has arrived at an understanding of dance that relies not on pedestrian tasks or set phrases but rather on radical shifts of awareness.

    Hay’s approach elicits remarkable performances in which movement is akin to a side effect—as in If I Sing

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  • “LIVE FILM! JACK SMITH!”

    RENÉ RIVERA IS A SLIGHT, CASUALLY COMPOSED seventy-four-year-old Nuyorican in thick glasses. He’s so inconspicuous as to stand out: It took three days of encountering Rivera in plain clothes during the “LIVE FILM! JACK SMITH! Five Flaming Days in a Rented World!” conference in Berlin this past fall before I realized he was also Mario Montez—the enchanting icon who had already appeared multiple times onstage in performance, strikingly refurbished in brunette wig and soigné gloves, shrugs, and gowns. Montez, star of Jack Smith’s two most significant films, Flaming Creatures (1962–63) and

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