TABLE OF CONTENTS

PRINT March 2008

TOP TEN

Nick Mauss and Ken Okiishi

New York–based artists Nick Mauss and Ken Okiishi recently collaborated on an exhibition at Künstlerhaus Stuttgart in Germany. A book accompanying the show will be published by JRP Ringier this month.

  1. TITUS 1

    The “new” Museum of Modern Art’s main movie theater still looks the same as it did when the old Goodwin-Stone building opened in 1939, and it continues to have the most distinctive and expansive film and video programming in the world. The sleek International Style exit signs at the front have framed so many of our favorite cultural encounters—and we don’t just mean what happens on-screen. The regular crowd here is notoriously cantankerous, out of it, crusty, and audaciously dressed. We’ll never forget the moment when, during a screening of Leonid Trauberg and Grigori Kozintsev’s 1929 silent film, The New Babylon, an octogenarian sitting right next to the piano, but somehow oblivious to the fact that it was being played live, kept screaming: “Turn the music down! Turn the music down!” —NM & KO

  2. MARIA THEREZA ALVES, WAKE, 2001–

    A stunning meditation on history and site, Alves’s amateur botanical study of Berlin’s “seedbed” begins with the simple acts of collecting seeds from the roughed-up earth of the city’s construction sites and trying to germinate them. Lying dormant for hundreds of years, seeds, once sprouted, point back to their far-flung origins; and Alves manages to tease out an intricate lace of sociopolitical interactions that defies every historical narrative. Alves’s research and speculative flourishes introduce us to ideas like “political seeds” and “floral accidents” and to the thought that seeds travel around the globe in trouser cuffs. —NM

    Maria Thereza Alves, Garden Proposal for an “English” Landscape Research Institute: Seeds of Change, 2006, collage, ink, and colored pencil on color photograph, dimensions variable. From Wake, 2001–. Maria Thereza Alves, Garden Proposal for an “English” Landscape Research Institute: Seeds of Change, 2006, collage, ink, and colored pencil on color photograph, dimensions variable. From Wake, 2001–.
  3. GEORGES PEREC AND BERNARD QUEYSANNE, UN HOMME QUI DORT (A MAN IN A DREAM, 1974)

    The recent release of Un Homme qui dort on DVD is the biggest film event since the complete print of La Passion de Jeanne d’Arc was found in a closet in a Norwegian mental institution. The English-language dubbing of Perec and Queysanne’s masterpiece was only printed once and screened a handful of times, even though it features a flabbergasting voice-over by Shelley Duvall. Three years later, the relatively unknown Duvall would win best actress at Cannes for her portrayal of Millie Lammoreaux, the emotionally hermetic character in Robert Altman’s epically weird Three Women. The voice of Millie that says with famous disaffection, “I guess she’s never lived in a decorated place before,” speaks Perec’s stark experiment in psychological exhaustion with the same softened Texas accent: a fabulously odd chimera. —NM & KO

    Georges Perec and Bernard Queysanne, Un Homme qui dort (A Man in a Dream), 1974, still from a black-and-white film in 35 mm, 93 minutes. Georges Perec and Bernard Queysanne, Un Homme qui dort (A Man in a Dream), 1974, still from a black-and-white film in 35 mm, 93 minutes.
  4. MY BARBARIAN

    Founded in 2000 by Malik Gaines, Jade Gordon, and Alexandro Segade, My Barbarian is the wartime cabaret we deserve. Slipping in and out of genres as if they were flimsy veils or sweaty bodysuits, My Barbarian combines the one-woman show with abusive psychedelic experimental theater, operetta, Lehrstück, queer happening, and classical tragedy to propel an incongruous, self-annihilating plot. Acts like Voyage of the White Widow, 2007, and You Were Born Poor & Poor You Will Die, 2005, give Verfremdungseffekt a new meaning, with audience members doubled over laughing, squirting tears, and then flushed with embarrassment at their own complicity. —NM

    My Barbarian, You Were Born Poor & Poor You Will Die, 2005. Performance view, REDCAT, Los Angeles, 2006. Photo: Patterson Beckwith. My Barbarian, You Were Born Poor & Poor You Will Die, 2005. Performance view, REDCAT, Los Angeles, 2006. Photo: Patterson Beckwith.
  5. ANNA OPPERMANN

    Oppermann’s dense ensembles destroy description, as they throw the borders between seeing, thinking, saying, remembering, and materiality into ongoing crisis. While a resolution could be found in the word schizophrenic or traumatic, uttering anything so stupid becomes impossible when actually experiencing the work. —KO

    Anna Oppermann, The Artist’s Task to Solve Problems (Problems of Space), 1978–84, mixed media. Installation view, Musée d’Art Modern de la Ville de Paris, 1981. Photo: Réné Block. Anna Oppermann, The Artist’s Task to Solve Problems (Problems of Space), 1978–84, mixed media. Installation view, Musée d’Art Modern de la Ville de Paris, 1981. Photo: Réné Block.
  6. IXTHYS, PALLASSTRASSE 21, 10781, BERLIN

    Eating at this tiny Korean restaurant in Schöneberg is like being in a liminal zone between Berlin as it is and Berlin as it could have developed in an alternate, more Ausländer-friendly universe. Anyone who has spent any significant time in this still underpopulated city knows what a pain it can be to find good everyday “ethnic” food; indeed, it feels a bit silly, in 2008, to even use the term “ethnic” anymore. But alas, cosmopolitanism is still a strangely problematic idea here. For American visitors, lunch at Ixthys involves the bizarre experience of trekking way into the West to satisfy that hankering for bibimbap, only to find walls covered in extensive passages from the Christian bible written by hand in large letters resembling the script used when teaching the ABC’s. Closed on Sundays. —KO

    Interior of Ixthys Korean restaurant, Berlin, 2007. Photo: Ken Okiishi. Interior of Ixthys Korean restaurant, Berlin, 2007. Photo: Ken Okiishi.
  7. L’ENFANT ET LES SORTILÉGES

    Ravel’s light-as-air 1925 opera, composed to a libretto by Colette, tells the story of a child’s belongings seeking revenge for having been treated cruelly by him. Rarely performed, L’Enfant will be staged this month at the Teatro di San Carlo in Naples, with sets based on sketches by Marc Camille Chaimowicz. The various paintings, furniture, scenarios, and texts by Chaimowicz, collected in the most precise and beautiful artist’s books I have ever seen, remake the world as a sensitive registration of the often unbearable coming to life of things, rooms, memories, words. —NM

  8. MICHAEL CLARK COMPANY

    During the past three years the legendary Michael Clark Company has been developing and performing several pieces set to Stravinsky’s music for ballet. Each time we’ve seen them, we felt that the sky could crash in at any given moment. This June 4 through 7 the entire tripartite Stravinsky Project will finally have its US premiere in New York, at Lincoln Center’s Rose Theater. —NM & KO

    Michael Clark Company, O, 2005. Performance view, Barbican Theatre, London, 2005. Melissa Hetherington and Adam Linder. Photo: Hugo Glendinning. Michael Clark Company, O, 2005. Performance view, Barbican Theatre, London, 2005. Melissa Hetherington and Adam Linder. Photo: Hugo Glendinning.
  9. STIL DISCOTHÈQUE/STIL AUDIO NUMÉRIQUE

    Based on the utopian principle “Nothing in common,” Stil was started in 1971 by Alain Villain as a way to create a new rhythm in the production and distribution of books, films, and recorded sound. Grand projects include a beautifully produced LP box set of the first performance (1982) of Carmen in China (transmogrified into Mandarin, which, as a tonal language, raised new questions about translation); the rediscovery and publication of Rameau’s final tragédie lyrique, Les Boréades; and the first recording of the same composer’s ballet héroïque, Zaïs. While these productions are of obvious importance, what I find most remarkable is Stil’s recorded documentation of the reemergence of notes inégales (an idiomatic rhythmic flexibility, which is not written in the score) into the performance of French baroque music. While contemporary, historically informed performers make these innovations sound more “natural,” Stil recordings of musicologist Antoine Geoffroy-Dechaume, organist Jean Boyer, and, most spectacularly, harpsichordist Scott Ross document the experimental phase, when translating historical research into performance was a new and controversial act. Ross’s recording of Rameau’s music for solo harpsichord is perhaps the most splendorous account of the stricture of “authenticity” as a rhythmic liberation. —KO

  10. CLAUDE CAHUN, AVEUX NON AVENUS (DISAVOWALS), (TATE, 2007; MIT PRESS, 2008)

    Seventy-seven years after it was first published, Claude Cahun’s essay-poem-novel Aveux non avenus has finally been released in English translation. The book includes reproductions of the photogravures she made with Marcel Moore and charming emblems that divide each utterance: heart, star, record, lips. —NM

    Page from Claude Cahun’s Aveux non avenus (Disavowals), (Tate, 2007; MIT Press, 2008). Page from Claude Cahun’s Aveux non avenus (Disavowals), (Tate, 2007; MIT Press, 2008).