Art Archives

February 20, 2014

Stop explaining, James Franco!

James Franco in a wig

I've had fun watching the ongoing experimental performance art that is James Franco's career. First he stars in the Spider-Man movies and a Julia Roberts romance. Then he's on "General Hospital" playing a tortured artist named "Franco". Then he's hosting the Oscars. Then he's directing tiny indie movies about Hart Crane and Sal Mineo, and an impressionistic adaptation of As I Lay Dying. Then last year he played an ingeniously unflattering version of himself in This Is The End, and Florida drug dealer Alien in the craziest movie of the year Spring Breakers. And also starred in Oz the Great and Powerful, which wasn't good by anyone's standards but was a huge hit. Oh, and he's also had shows in art galleries and appears to be pursuing doctoral degrees at several top universities simultaneously.

James Franco is the only person I can think of whose career is in itself a smart commentary/critique of what it means to be a movie star, while also actively being a movie star. He's wildly prolific, and takes on incredibly disparate projects that I assume he's doing because he's genuinely interested in trying new things. Especially if those things fuel speculation about his sexuality, like the "30 Rock" episode where his character, "James Franco", is having a secret romance with a Japanese body pillow, or last year's Interior. Leather Bar., which he directed and starred in, which re-imagines 40 minutes of gay S&M footage cut from Cruising. I don't know what he's doing, exactly, but I admire him for it.

But his latest trend of writing these explanatory pieces for the Times are starting to ruin it. Last year he wrote about why he posts so many selfies on Instagram, describing the up-close-and-personal access the public feels like they're getting through the celebrity selfie. Today he's got an opinion piece about Shia LaBeouf's recent anti-celebrity antics, which he thinks are part of LaBeouf's effort to "reclaim his public persona." It's a smart piece, and I'm sure his ideas about why famous people rebel against celebrity are accurate.

But he's too close to tipping his hand. I don't want to read James Franco's essays about how his appearances on "General Hospital" dismantle the hierarchy of entertainment. I just want the freaky, confusing experience of watching his scenes on YouTube, which he pretty much pulls off. I want to be confused. Whatever James Franco is doing is a lot more interesting when he does it without explanation.

Out of the ten (!) movies he's got scheduled to come out later this year, one is an adaptation of The Sound and the Fury. He's directing. And playing Benjy. It will also feature Seth Rogen and Danny McBride. This movie sounds utterly impossible and probably disastrous, but I want to see it anyway -- I just don't want to read Franco's philosophical musings about his craft and why Caddy smells like trees.

January 23, 2013

Hell's Kitchen dancers, Hell's Kitchen pervs

Broadway Dance Center, and Private Eyes, on 45th St

There's an article today about a stretch of West 45th Street where a fascinating diversity of New Yorkers intersect. There's the Broadway Dance Center, a high-level school for aspiring young dancers that's been around for decades, and right across the street, there's a hotel for homeless people. Students and parents with kids at the school just learned that three sex offenders live (legally) at the hotel, including one guy who abused a 9 year-old, so now they're concerned. One 19 year-old student says, "We go home by ourselves every night at 11. It's dark and bad things could happen."

In addition to housing sex offenders, there have been violent incidents in the hotel, like a woman arrested for attacking a man with a knife a few weeks ago, who yelled "I'm the victim!" as she was led away. Residents of the hotel (and actually, anyone on the sidewalk) can see the Broadway Dance Center students dancing through large windows that face the street.

What this article doesn't mention, and the parents don't comment on, is the strip club immediately adjacent to the dance school, Private Eyes. You can see the sign in the photo above. I've long been amused by the variety of dance styles offered in one convenient midtown location.

All kinds of questions come to mind. Like: Do parents and students have any concerns about all the non-traditional forms of dance going on next door, while Broadway Dance Center students are walking home? Are parents worried about the Private Eyes patrons hanging around outside eyeing their 19 year-old daughters during ballet class? What about the Private Eyes dancers, many of whom are probably the same age as the students--is it dangerous for them to walk home after work past convicted rapists?

On a more practical level, do recruiters from Private Eyes visit the Dance Center to tell students about the job opportunities available to them after they finish Jazz, Tap, and Modern? Do Private Eyes dancers ever brush up their technique with a few Street Jazz Funk classes next door? Broadway Dance Center actually offers a class called Stiletto Heels, which seems like a perfect cross-over for students looking for an immediately lucrative career, right in the neighborhood.

One concerned mom with a daughter taking ballet says she doesn't like that the guys in the homeless hotel can watch her daughter during class. "The kids are all wearing tights, but they might as well be naked." She really said that, I swear.

April 2, 2012

Cindy Sherman at MoMA

Cindy Sherman photo

I went to see the huge Cindy Sherman exhibit at MoMA, which I think includes pretty much everything she ever did in the style she's famous for: Cindy Sherman dressed up as a character of her own invention, photographed by Cindy Sherman. People often write things about her photographs that include phrases like "the construction of identity", "nature of representation", and "artifice of photography" (those are all in the first sentence of the MoMA wall text at the exhibit. I might have even dropped something about "gender performance" or something obnoxious ripped off from Judith Butler in the conversation I had after leaving the museum.

But the truth is, no one can express that thing about humanity and the peculiar, funny, sad, insane ways we present ourselves to the world as well as Cindy Sherman can. That's why we're all are so crazy about her and her photos.

Cindy Sherman photo

Also. Note to self after seeing this exhibit: Do everything in your power to prevent people from looking at you and thinking, "That lady looks like a Cindy Sherman photograph." If I can pull that off, everything else in life should be OK.

Cindy Sherman photo

November 28, 2011

Face-melding movie posters

Have you seen the poster for David Cronenberg's new movie, A Dangerous Method, with the main female character's face in the middle blurring into the faces of the two main men?

A Dangerous Method

If it looks familiar, that might be because it uses the same idea as the poster for one of my favorite Cronenberg movies, Dead Ringers:

Dead Ringers

Back in the 80's, when Dead Ringers came out, Cronenberg was known for making creepy psycho-horror movies where characters tend to have sex with and, usually, kill each other in remarkably perverse and usually disgusting ways. In the earliest of his movies that I've seen, Rabid, he cast porn star Marilyn Chambers as a woman who accidentally becomes infected with some kind of virus that causes a penis-like protuberance to emerge from her armpit and attack other people, turning them into zombies. You can see it in the first five seconds of this video clip.

Lately he's backed off most of the gross, oozing body stuff, but his characters are just as driven by their desires for sex and violence. I liked A Dangerous Method a lot, and it was fascinating to see Cronenberg take on well-known historical figures like Freud and Jung for, I think, the first time in his career (Naked Lunch only half counts.) But the familiar themes are all there: violence, sex, violent sex, uncontrollable obsessions, and weird science, this time in the form of early psychoanalysis. Talk therapy might help explain his characters' strange thoughts and behavior, but it doesn't really stop them from happening. A.O. Scott's review proposes a great idea: the "Cronenbergian principle of uncontrollability."

As psycho-kinky as some of the stuff in A Dangerous Method might be, though, it's nothing compared to Jeremy Irons in those red surgery robes and mutant gynecological implements of torture from Dead Ringers. Shudder!

November 8, 2011

Ai Weiwei and Chinese philanthropy

Ai Weiwei

There's been a great story developing for the past few days about everyone's favorite dissident Chinese artist, Ai Weiwei, who was detained for three months earlier this year for "tax evasion", and now isn't allowed to leave Beijing.

Now 20,000 of his supporters in China have been sending him money. A lot of money: over $900,000 so far. The cover story is that people want to help Ai pay his $2.4 million tax bill, but since everyone knows the reason the Chinese government is watching him has nothing to do with taxes, and since he claims he has plenty of money and doesn't need the donations, it's really a big spontaneous diss to the government.

The state of philanthropy in China is weird. The country has plenty of rich people, and increasingly a lot of charitable rich people, but there's historically been a lot of suspicion about giving money to nonprofit organizations that are essentially controlled by the government, and could be shut down if they take a critical stance. Or setting up a foundation that might be private in name, but is ultimately controlled by the government. And I'm pretty sure there aren't tax benefits for donating money in China.

Which is why I love that so many people are going straight to Ai Weiwei's house and literally wrapping money around pieces of fruit, or folding it into paper airplanes, and throwing it into his yard. They're also wiring him cash. One donor said he sent money because it's "a rare opportunity to support what I believe. I will keep my receipt of the postal order forever, because it is my first real vote."

Here's a bit about the government response to the public outpouring of support for him:

In a commentary Monday, the state-run Global Times cited unnamed experts as saying Ai could be suspected of "illegal fundraising." It also said the movement did not represent the larger Chinese population. "It is absolutely normal for a certain number of people to show their support for him with donations. But these people are an extremely small number when compared with China's total population."

"Illegal fundraising"?! Regular Chinese people are throwing their money at this man's house. Ai hasn't decided if he'll pay his tax bill or not, because it would imply his arrest was justified.

But regardless of whether he sucks it up and pays the bill or not, people are using their money and philanthropy to make themselves heard. Ai says, "The government hates this the most."

September 14, 2011

Drive and the 80's

Drive movie poster

I went to see the new arty action movie Drive last night, which I think is this year's 28th movie starring Ryan Gosling. I liked it for its unabashedly stylized approach to action movie standards like car chases and people getting shot in the head, and especially for all the 80's design. As much as I liked this stuff, I don't understand it at all.

Take a look at that movie poster, with the inexplicable anachronistic hot pink cursive font. What's that about? Some people have drawn comparisons to classic 80's movie posters, like the one for Heathers, but I see some other inspirations. Like this:

Risky Business poster

And a little bit of this:

Purple Rain

And let's not forget:

Tiffany album cover

The director, Nicolas Winding Refn, stopped by for a little Q&A after the movie, and he came right out and said he ripped off the Risky Business poster. He explained that, as a Danish director coming to America, he found LA to be a city stylistically trapped in the 80's. I'm not sure I totally get what he means, but I'll admit there do seem to be an awful lot of restaurants that incorporate glass bricks and walls unironically painted turquoise out there.

Then there's the music. The soundtrack (by Cliff Martinez, Steven Soderbergh's main man) is hyper-self-conscious 80's pop synth. The theme songs sound a lot like OMD's "Souvenir" or Q Lazzarus's "Goodbye Horses", which is featured in both Married to the Mob and Silence of the Lambs.

What all this 80's stuff is doing in a contemporary action movie is beyond me, especially one with scene after scene of gruesome, brutal violence that seems to explode out of nowhere. The killings in this movie are so graphic and violent that audience members started laughing in disbelief.

Then there's the acting. It's the opposite of the horrific violence and the synth soundtrack. It's terse. Minimal. Dialogue is sparse, stylized, and often sort of weird. Ryan Gosling is, as one reviewer says, a closed book. But, wait, then there's also Bryan Cranston and Albert Brooks, playing smaller roles with funny, snappy dialogue, plenty of warmth, and a dollop of sinister fiendishness.

The director explained that he used the lush, warm, synthy music to balance out the harsh violence and the (sometimes) cold acting style. But watching the movie, I wasn't sensing "balanced" so much as "mentally ill". The word that describes the feeling I got from the collective tones and styles of this movie is crazy. Specifically, either Nicolas Wearing Refn is crazy, or I am.

The poster font, the soundtrack, acting that's all over the place, Albert Brooks saying lines like "I used to make movies in the 80's. Action films, sexy stuff--one critic called them European." People getting stabbed in the eye with a fork. It's like if you took Michael Mann's Thief, Collateral, and the first season of "Miami Vice", then went nuts, then remade them into one crazy Scando-American movie. And it's good!

I was curious about Refn's next project, which will be a movie called Only God Forgives, also starring Ryan Gosling. Here's the description: "A Bangkok police lieutenant and a gangster settle their differences in a Thai-boxing match."

So maybe it's not just me.

February 6, 2011

The Clock: really cool video art

Christian Marclay's

I went to see Christian Marclay's video art exhibit, "The Clock" at the Paula Cooper Gallery in Chelsea. I find a lot of video art to be a ponderous, humorless, overly conceptual snore. Reading the blurb outside the screening room can be more interesting than actually watching it. But this piece is my favorite video art ever. I spent an hour and a half there on Friday night, and if I could have had a pizza delivered to the gallery, probably would have stayed all night.

The piece uses clips of movies that include a shot of a clock or watch or reference to the time, and it's constructed so that the time in the movie clip is the actual time in the real world. I watched it from 11:30 PM until about 1:15 AM, so as you might guess, saw a lot of clips of cops staking out buildings, people getting woken up by a ringing phone, people realizing they'd missed the last bus, and endless clunky 80's clock radios. And a phenomenally cool montage of clocks striking midnight, accompanied by the kinds of scary or explosive things that tend to happen in movies at the stroke of midnight.

The clips are also linked thematically. If someone picks up a ringing phone and says "Hello?", we'll cut to someone in a different movie asking to speak to Walter (there are a lot of ringing phones in "The Clock") or a series of clips of people slowing descending the stairs into a dark, scary basement. We come back to some movies over and over again as the characters watch the hours tick by. We see the same actors again and again--I caught three Steve McQueen movies in just an hour and a half, and Vincent Price appeared in a whole lot of movies with creepy old grandfather clocks in the background.

A lot of the talk about this piece is about the inescapability of time, and the audience's constant awareness of time passing, both in the movie clips and in real life. Movies use the passage of time to create tension or draw out a scene in ways that have become clichés. In the NY Times article about the exhibit, Roberta Smith says, "Moviemakers have developed endless devices to make us aware of time's passage in their films, and to hold us in thrall, or suspense, within that artificial time -- while we forget about the real kind outside the theater." But I see the piece as primarily an exploration and adoration of movies. Time provides the structure and the framework, but the medium is movies.

Trying to identify the movie clips is both fun and aggravating. It's a lot like listening to a Girl Talk album--you'll see a lot of stuff you sort of recognize, but 8 seconds later it's gone, and you'll have that tip-of-your-tongue feeling again and again that will drive you kind of nuts, but keep you wanting more.

Recognizing the movies in "The Clock" isn't necessary, but it sure is fun to watch the incredible variety of movies Marclay found and see some stuff you know. Even if you can't identify the movies, the range of time periods and styles is huge. In just a couple of minutes, he'll use Gone With the Wind, The Crow, The Awful Truth, Sid and Nancy, The Hudsucker Proxy, Gosford Park, Mildred Pierce, What Lies Beneath, Now, Voyager, and Lolita. Plus some TV: "ER", "The X-Files", and (of course!) "24". You get silent movies, foreign movies, action, horror, Woody Allen, and Beverly Hills Cop.

What about sex? Yep! Nudity? Oh, yes! No editing. Also, movies that aren't in English don't have subtitles--what you see is what you get.

My dream for when I'm enormously rich is that I'll buy a copy of "The Clock" and install it in my living room as an actual time-telling device. "What time is it?," I'll ask, look at my video art installation, see DJ Stevie Wayne announcing the next song on her late-night radio show in John Carpenter's The Fog, and go, "Oh, it's 12:35."

You can see part of "The Clock" during regular gallery hours, 10-6 Monday-Thursday, or see the entire thing from 10:00 AM on Friday until 6:00 PM on Saturday for the next two weekends. Note: there will probably be a line if you get there between 11:00 and 12:00 at night. Word seems to have gotten out that midnight is cool.

Here's a BBC TV news story about the exhibit which incorporates some of the piece and some of Marclay's other stuff.

December 10, 2010

Steven Soderbergh and Spalding Gray

Spalding Gray

Somehow I had never seen any of Spalding Gray's stuff, never seen him interviewed, or seen him in a single movie (except, I guess, for How High.) Until today, when I saw Steven Soderbergh's new movie And Everything Is Going Fine, which is a good introduction to Spalding Gray, because there's nothing in it at all except for Spalding Gray.

It's such a fantastic introduction, in fact, that now I feel like I fell in love with someone and then lost them forever in the space of an hour and a half.

I suppose the movie is technically a Soderbergh documentary, but there's nothing in it that identifies Soderbergh at all. Considering Gray made a career out of talking about himself and his own experiences, it's fitting that a documentary about him is constructed solely of clips of Gray, talking about himself, and a few people he interviewed on stage during his shows. There's great stuff that goes beyond his funny and intimate monologues, like TV interviews that range from what you'd expect from a serious New York art scene kind of celebrity (Charlie Rose) to those that made me realize how mainstream-famous he actually was (MTV).

Nathan Rabin at The A.V. Club starts his review by saying, "What can anyone possibly say about Spalding Gray that he didn't articulate more eloquently himself?" Soderbergh takes the same approach. He constructed the movie like a posthumous autobiography, and it's only through an interview in the Times from earlier this year that I would have known anything about his own relationship to Gray. Talking about how he avoided Gray for the last three years of his life, Soderbergh says, "I was totally absent in a way that is inexcusable to me. And this entire movie is in part an act of contrition. The irony is that I spent the better part of three years immersed in something I tried to avoid."

If there's any sense of Soderbergh's presence in the movie, it's that feeling of regret. I hardly knew anything about him and his work when he was alive, and now I can't believe it's over already.

June 18, 2010

Maybe this Al Pacino is a decent actor

Al Pacino as Shylock

I went to see The Merchant of Venice at Shakespeare in the Park last night, with Al Pacino as Shylock. I've heard it's been brutal trying to get tickets, and the show is still in previews (opens June 30), but I highly recommend it if you can go, it's one great production. It's like the best psychological thriller about contract law you've ever seen.

This is a tricky play--it often gets branded as anti-Semitic, what with every Christian character hurling non-stop abuse and hatred at Shylock and spitting the word "Jew" like it's a derogatory term. But it's really a play about anti-Semitism (and racism, and sexism) and this production shows all of that while staying true to the language and structure.

Characters are dressed in Victorian-era morning coats, and the set looks like a 19th century London trading company with a cool old ticker-tape machine and guys wearing visors. Shylock looks pretty much exactly like the old men who lumber along West 47th Street in the diamond district today, so I was glad they didn't go for anything too cartoonish. Pacino plays Shylock as a pragmatic, successful businessman who's sitting on an ocean of bitterness at being socially rejected from mainstream Christian society. He's not ashamed of who he is, he's just sick of living in an unfair, racist world.

It's not too hard to make Shylock a sympathetic character, but Pacino doesn't hold back on the anger and frustration that make him so bloodthirsty. The amazing thing is that he doesn't do any of the scenery chewing or hooah'ing that's made him into a caricature of himself in movies lately. Venice is basically an apartheid society, using its legal structure to keep people like Shylock down, so when he gets the chance to use the law to his advantage, he grabs on and won't let go. He wants that pound of flesh, not because he's a sadist killer, but because it's legally his.

But, of course, things don't go so well for old Shylock--the moral of the story seems to be Live by the contract, Die by the contract. Shakespeare structures the story as a rejection of rigid adherence to law and other pronouncements from on high that have little to do with people's actual lives, a theme that comes up in other plays like Measure For Measure.

The height of the action in the trial scene is really great and tense, with loads of moral ambiguity and really uncomfortable stuff about religious self-righteousness that makes Christians and Jews and pretty much everybody look like monsters. For a supposed romantic comedy, this is not at all a date play.

The play doesn't stress this too heavily, but the other big theme is how men unfairly control women's lives. Portia is the smartest person on the stage, but it's only when she's disguised as a man that anyone listens to her. She's played by Lily Rabe (daughter of Jill Clayburgh and David Rabe) and was clever and sassy without being self-righteous.

Al Pacino is the only huge star in the show, but there's also Law & Order's Jesse Martin and Mitch from "Modern Family" as the hilarious and campy comic relief.

April 14, 2010

Exit Through the Gift Shop

exit through the gift shop

Someone finally made a good documentary about street art, except it's only partially about Banksy and other actual street artists, and mostly about a crazy, obsessive French fan who followed them around with a camera, Thierry Guetta.

The best thing about the movie is Banksy himself and his totally self-effacing sense of humor. It's not so surprising that he's a funny guy: most of his art is funny in a sly, dark way. But the man is also a master of comic timing, telling the strange story of how he befriended Thierry Guetta, only much later realizing how mental he was, like he's been crafting a whole other career as a performer. We never see his face or hear his voice without distortion, but you can still tell he's not only a great artist but a hilarious storyteller, too.

The movie was directed by Banksy, but almost all the footage was filmed by Thierry Guetta though his obsessive recording of pretty much every moment of his waking life. Guetta started hanging out with LA street artists sort of by accident, and claimed he was making a documentary even though he had no intention of cutting all his miles of tape into anything like a movie. As Banksy eventually realized, he wasn't really a filmmaker, but "just someone with mental problems who happened to have a camera." It's not a very flattering story for Banksy, but he's honest in showing that his relationship with Guetta was based on Guetta's total adoration of him and willingness to do whatever he asked. Even cool street artists are susceptible to ego-stroking.

After Guetta's monumentally successful debut as an artist himself (as Mr. Brainwash), the street artists he had followed around didn't want anything to do with him. Guetta copied their styles and techniques, and threw together hundreds of meaningless pieces that blatantly rip off every major pop artist of the last 50 years. It's easy to dismiss all the people who got suckered into buying his bad art as trend-seeking morons, but I admire that Banksy also included footage of his own media circus of an LA art exhibit, with celebrity buyers and a stunt involving a baby elephant overshadowing the actual art. As the title suggests, street art has become something you buy in a museum gift shop. Banksy's art is in a different category than Mr. Brainwash's, but the hype that surrounds both of them is equally silly.

One of the best parts of the movie is a beautiful and inspiring opening montage of street and graffiti artists at work on brick walls, trains, tunnels, and sidewalks all over the world, set to Richard Hawley's "Tonight the Streets Are Ours". You can see most of it in this extended trailer. In spite of all the money and attention that a pretend artist like Mr. Brainwash might get, it's so awesome to watch the real ones out there doing it and risking getting hurt or busted by the cops because they love it.

February 1, 2010

Doing art with Tino Sehgal at the Guggenheim

Timo Sehgal at the Guggenheim

This weekend, a new exhibit opened at the Guggenheim by German conceptual artist Tino Sehgal. I saw the feature the Times did on him recently, and some of the details about his work (he never uses materials other than human beings, has no written contracts but sells his work to museums and, bizarrely, private collectors, he doesn't fly or use a cellphone) made him sound like some combination of exacting performance-art auteur and high-concept weirdo.

So I went to the show. There are other reviews out there (NY Times, WNYC) that describe in detail the experience of being at the exhibit, but I don't want to give away too much here. I didn't know what was going to happen when I went into it, and I think it's better that way. I'll just say that there is no art at all on the walls of the rotunda, and you experience the piece, called "This Progress", by walking up the long ramp of the museum where you encounter various people.

As the WNYC reviewer says (after making a Jersey Shore joke about the "situations" that the artist calls his pieces,) trying to talk about this exhibit is like "trying to reconstruct a particularly intense dinner party conversation: It was fascinating while it happened, but on the retelling can seem trite and pretentious." Interacting with the people that make up the exhibit was like being seated next to someone really friendly and interesting on a plane--you don't really know the person you're talking to and you'll almost definitely never talk to them again, but during the time you're together, you can get into some pretty cool stuff.

But what the exhibit really made me think of is those artists who surreptitiously install their own pieces in museum galleries, guerrilla-style--like Banksy or the guy at the Brooklyn Museum last year. If you can expose the arbitrary nature of what art gets into museums and what art doesn't just by hanging your painting in the Met for a few hours before it gets noticed and removed, couldn't you do the same thing in an experiential, interactive exhibit like this one?

I hope some enterprising young artists decide to go into one of those little recessed gallery areas in the Guggenheim rotunda and become another art installation by ironing some pants or jumping rope or eating Wheat Thins. You could easily circumvent the real installation by striking up a conversation with a museum-goer and talking about your cats or Boggle or one time you threw up in your brother's Darth Vader mask. It would probably be the easiest way to get your own art into a world-famous museum, and, actually, Tino Sehgal would probably love it.

Actually, the first time I started walking up the rotunda ramp, I somehow didn't get properly engaged in the interactive part of the exhibit, so my companion and I went all the way to the top with having an actual art experience, except for watching the people around us who seemed to be having a better time than we were. At the top, an older gentleman started talking to me, claiming he was a critic and not part of the exhibit. He urged me to go back to the beginning and try again, but then started talking about being open to life and experience and how one could find progress by being open to confusion, and I still can't figure out if he was part of the exhibit or just into dispensing advice in the form of rambling non-sequitur.

January 27, 2010

Banksy film trailer

Shot from Banksy movie trailer

I'm a few days late, here, but wanted to mention the Banksy movie that sort of appeared out of nowhere and premiered at Sundance the other day. It's called Exit Through the Gift Shop.

Here's the trailer:

There's some really thorough press coverage of the movie (Guardian review: "very funny") and about Banksy and his style of guerrilla public art as sly, darkly funny social commentary. The LA Times has a lot to say about it, so I'll briefly summarize: the movie originated with a Banksy fan, a French guy living in LA named Thierry Guetta who started filming everything in his life after his mother died. He met up with Banksy in LA, and they became friends and sort of accomplices as Thierry decided to make a documentary about Banksy, until Banksy started to think maybe this guy Thierry was just a crazy person with a camera. A crazy person who later became an art-world version of a superstar.

Anyway, Banksy ended up making this movie using the miles of footage they accumulated, so it's sort of a documentary about both of them. Judging from the trailer and its many shots of pratfalls, face plants, spilled paint, torn stencils, and other street-art disasters, it seems to promote the idea that art can be both a serious contribution to the world and a joke.

Of course, you can't see Bansky's face or hear his unmodified voice in the movie at all.

Banksy had this to say about his movie: "Trying to make a movie which truly conveys the raw thrill and expressive power of art is very difficult. So I haven’t bothered. Instead this is a simple everyday tale of life, longing and mindless vandalism."

It's supposed to come out this Spring. Here's the Flickr group pool of his art.

November 1, 2009

(Untitled) and Adam Goldberg


The biggest reason that I went to see (Untitled) is Adam Goldberg. It's promoted as a satiric look at the avant-garde art world, it got mixed reviews, and it's only playing at the Angelika, one of my least favorite movie theaters, but that Adam Goldberg is so funny and compelling in everything I've seen him in, even when he's playing a hapless grump who hates the world. Hell, especially when he's playing a hapless grump who hates the world.

Experimental art galleries and atonal concert music are tricky subjects for a comedy, but this movie really knows its stuff. Some of the performance scenes of Adam Goldberg's trio are straight out of one of the better Christopher Guest parodies, but what sets them apart is that these characters are completely unaware they're in a comedy. There's hardly any caricatures or winking at the camera, just people who genuinely believe in their music with non-melodic piano, clarinet, yowling, bubble wrap, and bucket. Though it reflects some of the experimental art out there that's meaningless hogwash, the movie also includes some really cool, beautiful music, which redeems it from getting too mean. All the music was composed by David Lang, who obviously has a sense of humor about his genre.

In the movie, a beautiful gallery owner falls for Adam Goldberg, so we see a lot of crazy conceptual art and the people who like to talk about it. There are some jabs at real artists, including a wildman English superstar specializing in taxidermy who's clearly based on Damien Hirst, played by Guy Ritchie standby Vinnie Jones. And there are references to Jake and Dinos Chapman's disturbing child mannequins with genitals attached to their heads and Robert Gober's legs coming out of a wall, and probably a lot of other stuff I didn't recognize. It's an easy field to make fun of, but the jokes are smart and subtle, and even if the people who collect these kinds of pieces can be gullible phonies, they're sort of sweet, too. It's good to see a satire with real, believable characters.

The rest of the cast is good too: there's Marley Shelton who played the doctor in Robert Rodriguez's Planet Terror, and Zak Orth, a hilarious comic actor from all the David Wain/Michael Showalter movies who plays an art collector more into the investment than the aesthetics ("Art does not look as good when it goes down in value.")

Here are a few reviews, from the Times, Kurt Loder, and Arts Journal, and here's the trailer. Time Out hated it, but their movie reviews have been weird and unpredictable lately.

Now I've got to consummate my love for Adam Goldberg by finally seeing The Hebrew Hammer.

September 17, 2009

Store Fronts

Phil's Stationery

Yesterday I was out looking to buy some airmail stationery, which if you're like me, is something you haven't thought about since the time in your life when friends were studying abroad in college and you hadn't quite started using email as the sole means of communication with everyone you know. These days it's not so easy to find.

So I went into Phil's Stationery on East 47th, right smack in the middle of midtown and standing between a Chinese noodle shop and a nail salon, offering office supplies and "Zerox copies", according to the sign. It looks like the kind of place that would have functional, cheap, non-wedding-invitation-oriented stationery that hardly anyone has been interested in buying for at least ten years.

They did! The employee who helped me walked past a small display of day planners and toner cartridges and randomly piled stacks of paper, dug around among the dusty boxes, then rummaged through a huge, falling-over pile of stuff on a back shelf. He pulled out a crumpled pad of airmail stationery with the price $1.89 printed right on the front sheet, and a package of airmail envelopes (the kind with a red and blue pattern along the edges) that had already been opened and half used and was yellowing with age. An unseen manager in the basement shouted back and forth with the employee through an old dumbwaiter shaft that opened onto the sales floor, and they decided on a price of $1.50. "Perfect!," I said, and bought both from a seriously elderly woman with an impressively thick (Polish?) accent.

The whole process reminded me of a great exhibit I saw the other day at the Clic Gallery on Centre Street in Soho. The exhibit is a collection of photographs by James and Karla Murray called "Store Front: The Disappearing Face of New York", and features lots of oldtime store fronts from all over the city for bakeries, discount stores, record stores, diners, and barber shops, all from before the era of printed awnings that identify most street-level businesses today. There are lots of places I see all the time in there, like the Film Center Cafe, Smith's Bar & Restaurant, and Clover Delicatessen, and some that are dearly missed, like McHale's. The show is up through this weekend, and there's a book available.

The artists mention in the intro of the book that almost 1/3 of the stores have closed since they photographed them. I'd be surprised if Phil's is still hanging on this time next year.

August 13, 2009

The Bacchae, on and off-stage

Anthony Mackie in The Bacchae

Last night I saw a preview performance of The Bacchae, the non-Shakespeare play of this summer's Shakespeare in the Park season. If you're not familiar with this play, let me give you some of the more spectacular highlights. (The play is 2,500 years old, but, OK: spoiler alert.)

The Bacchae includes a posse of drunken, ecstatic, feral women who worship the god Dionysus. They're out there in the woods, orgiastically cavorting and shaking with ecstasy, tearing apart cows with their bare hands and suckling wolf cubs with their milk. There are also instances of these women rushing around and satisfying the lusts of men or something salacious like that. Then at one point, they pull a man in full drag down from a tree and eat him.

Those Greeks! They were some sick, sick, bloody-minded people! Euripides created all this stuff that would make for the greatest movie ever, and one show-stopper of a live theatrical experience. Unfortunately, because this is Greek tragedy, all the action happens off stage. Which is incredibly frustrating. What's the point of having people savagely ripped apart and eaten during wine-fueled orgies if the audience can't see it? With today's production values, Euripides could have been a Dario Argento-esque master of horror.

You're probably familiar with the crazy, blood-thirsty stuff the Bacchae get up to if you watch "True Blood", where I hear some Maenads have been making appearances. (Bacchae and maenads are both female followers of Dionysus.) Or that book The Secret History about a group of preppy kids whose Dionysian rituals lead to their downfall.

Anyway, I liked the play itself. The moral of the story is this: gods do what they want, and if you worship them or spite them, they can (and probably will) mess you up either way. And don't go out and get too wasted or you might accidentally kill your kids.

But I wanted more godlike bacchanalian mojo from Dionysus himself. He's played by Jonathan Groff, who was also in Hair last year and in Spring Awakening (and in those sexy posters.) He played his demigod character as a chilled-out, smug skater/hippie/greaser, wearing some unflattering jeans and a leather jacket. His hair was fittingly in Grecian ringlets. But I would have loved to see him go all-out Rock God, like an early 70's Robert Plant rockstar dynamo.

In last year's production of the play at Lincoln Center, Alan Cumming played Dionysus in drag, and looks like he gave a much more energetic performance:

Alan Cumming in The Bacchae

This production's Dionysus is all too happy to put the handsome Anthony Mackie (above) in drag before sending him off to the feral drunken ladies. Mackie is great in this role: he's transformed from a determined non-believer to a lovely, shyly glamorous drag queen in a purple dress and swishy strawberry blond wig. It's not every actor who would go on stage in a strappy dress and killer heels and walk around clearly enjoying his new prettiness. Considering that earlier this year, Mackie played both Tupac and a member of an Iraq bomb defusing squad this year, I'm very impressed.

In a recent interview in the Times, Mackie discusses the play and various costume changes, and sounds like he's really proud of this role: "I get to don some five-inch wedge stillettos and show girls how it really should be done." Snap!

April 16, 2009


Puppetry of the Penis auditions

Reuters gets into some pantless photojournalism today at the auditions for a show called Puppetry of the Penis, which they generously describe as "performance art" in the captions.

Here's the slideshow. None of these shots would necessarily get you fired from work for looking at them, but they might encourage you to test out genital elasticity in ways you're not comfortable exploring.

My favorite:

Puppetry of the Penis auditions

Puppetry of the Penis is a show that originated in Australia (surprise!) as guy performing a collection of dick stunts (or "genital origami") on stage. It ran in New York for a while back in 2002, and was either very hilarious or very horrifying, depending on how you feel about a penis contortion trick called "weed-snipper". It's going to be at Comix on 14th Street next Wednesday, and the producers auditioned some new members for the show earlier this week.

A lone woman showed up thinking it was an audition for an actual puppet show for puppeteers who work with puppets that aren't their dicks.

December 12, 2008

Eric Fensler, the G.I. Joe PSA guy (sorry, Eric)

G.I. Joe PSAs

You probably remember those funny G.I. Joe PSA parodies from around 2003--they were an early internet video phenomenon that probably helped inspire the creation of YouTube. Here's a collection of a bunch of them so you can reminisce.

Anyway, the guys over at Spout's FilmCouch podcast decided to track down the creator of the videos, Eric Fensler, and interview him over the phone. Fensler is a video artist who's gone on to do lots of music videos and other parodies using found footage, including some stuff that looks just like 80's cable access video and some writing for Adult Swim's Tim and Eric Awesome Show. He's had his stuff in galleries and film festivals and everything. But, as you would probably guess, he's still usually referred to as the G.I. Joe PSA guy, which it seems he isn't crazy about.

Anyway, the Spout interview starts about 10:00 into the podcast, and it's one of the stranger interviews with a filmmaker I've ever heard. It starts with Fensler apologizing for being so out of it because he had recently eaten a roast beef sandwich that wasn't sitting well, and he says some things in the interview that make the interviewer start to wonder if in Fensler is pulling one over on him.

Throughout the interview, the guys at Spout stop the tape and provide some commentary about how they couldn't figure out what was going on, if Fensler was for real or if he was turning the interview into one of his parody projects. In the interview, he claims the following: he made videos of the girls' softball team in high school that were really popular when played at assemblies, and he thinks they're some of his best work; he doesn't own a video camera; he didn't own a computer until 2004; in high school he weighed 300 pounds and had bad acne. The interviewer actually knew Fensler in high school and says he was skinny and fairly good looking, which is when he starts really getting confused about what's going on.

Then Fensler calls people who like the G.I. Joe videos "losers", then calls himself a loser and quotes Micky's death scene from Rocky 3. He also notes that his best work is the stuff that throws people off and confuses them. He says, "Isn't that the best kind of stuff? It's like you're asking questions, people are left to guess what the hell's going on. I don't like to be told everything. I like to be, like, what was that?"

And then the bad roast beef sandwich gets the better of him, and it's all right there on the interview tape.

So the FilmCouch guys were either made to be part of a performance art parody of an interview, or they recorded a filmmaker having some terrible digestive problems and broadcast it over the internet. Hard to say which.

Anyway, here's Fensler's website, with links to his music videos, Flickr, YouTube (including 23 videos of the kickoff of the 2007 Super Bowl), Vimeo, and live streaming video and slideshows of his dogs.

September 5, 2008

Sarah Palin Folk Art!


Amy's Robot's favorite folk artist, Pan Handle Slim, has created a beautiful portrait of the Republican Veep candidate. The painting is on eBay now, if you're interested in bidding.

June 4, 2008

"Assassination" political art show shut down

Assassination art show getting papered over

The Democratic primary may be over, but it looks like we're still, on some level, freaking out about having a woman or a black man as our next president.

A Boston-based artist named Yazmany Arboleda was installing an art exhibit in a gallery today called "The Assassination of Hillary Clinton / The Assassination of Barack Obama". But don't worry, says the artist--he means the character assassination of the two candidates, as perpetrated by the media.

Well, the NYPD didn't care what kind of assassination he meant, and by 9:30 this morning had papered over the title on the gallery doorway. The artist, who just hit the free publicity jackpot, says he still plans to open the show on Thursday, but it sounds like it will run for only two days.

The NY Times post on the exhibit links to two websites that show its pieces, which mostly consist of doctored campaign photos, book jackets, and print ads about each of the candidates. The exhibit looks "edgy" to the point of being stomach-turning.

In case you're interested in learning more racist and sexist jokes and references about these two people, there's a whole bunch of them at the Obama exhibit site and the Clinton exhibit site. The artist says his exhibit is a "metaphorical"critique of the media, presumably the media's sexism and racism in how it covered the candidates during primary season. Critical analysis of sexism and racism is one thing, but when your art consists exclusively of cruel, belittling material, you could end up just looking like a jerk.

But it's not the content of the show that concerned the cops, or the Times, just the title. The cops took the artist in for questioning, then released him. The Times points out that the subject of assassination has come up in many cultural works, but--you know what's coming next--"in the post-9/11 context, recent comments touching on assassination during this political season — including references by former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton — have hit a nerve, and have been followed by apologies."

Both candidates are protected by the Secret Service, and Obama has had Secret Service coverage for over a year, which is apparently the earliest that any candidate has been given protection.

January 9, 2006

Robot-on-the-Spot: Robots in Brooklyn!

If you're walking down Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn - look out! You may see some robots on the loose.

Robots in brooklyn
More robots in brooklyn

The robots are part of a display by Bennett Robot Works (aka artist Gordon Bennett) called "40 Robots" - a collection crafted from found industrial materials like used car parts, cameras, radios, and fire alarms. It looks like they've been up there since October, but I just noticed them a few weeks ago.

At first I was intrigued, then charmed. Now I stop and visit with my robot friends every time I walk past. My favorite is Detecto, but I am also partial to Captain.

The best thing about these robots is that they are for sale, and I imagine they make excellent gifts! In fact, you probably wouldn't even have to wait until someone's birthday. You could probably get one for me them right now, and they would be totally happy, I bet.

February 10, 2005

The Gates go up

Since every single blessed one of the NYC-oriented blogs will feature wads of nearly identical photos of the Christo and Jeanne-Claude The Gates Central Park project starting this weekend, we thought we'd provide some shots that were emailed to our office of the people who were working in this morning's drizzle to set it all up.

Public art: it's hard work. But it already looks cooler than I would have expected, considering the simplicity of the project. But contemporary art shows us that if you just have a whole lot of the same thing, even if it's just some orange metal and fabric, it looks good.

December 14, 2004

Stars apologize, capitalize

Oliver Stone to Turkey: "Hey guys, I'm really sorry about that Midnight Express screenplay I wrote. You don't really rape and torture your prisoners, OK? And that whole "nation of pigs" thing was way out of line, and anyway, that was in the original book. OK? Now go watch Alexander. You guys love the Greeks, right? Besides, no one in my own goddamn country will go see it."

Robert DeNiro to Italy: "Oh hi, Italians? Hey, I'm really sorry about all those harmful ethnic stereotypes I've been promoting for my entire career. You're not *really* all a bunch of greasy murderous thugs. And that Shark Tale thing? That was just a joke, you know, for the kids! OK? Now go see my dead father's art exhibit. And while you're at it, give me Italian citizenship. I'm proud of my heritage, and I deserve it! Capishe?"

November 19, 2004

NY's humongous new museum


OK everybody, ready to stand in line for 5 hours to eventually get inside the new Museum of Modern Art and get swept by the herds of unwashed masses through gallery after gallery, waiting in that shuffling line of people as it slowly winds past the paintings, looking at all those catatonically bored children who would rather be doing anything else, whose parents are trying to get them to do some free image association with a Motherwell abstract? Then get ready! Because tomorrow's reopening of MoMA is free free FREE! Which is a great deal, as long as your time has absolutely no value.

On other days, it will cost $20 to get in; that $75 annual membership fee is looking better all the time isn't it? With a membership, entrance to the museum is always free, and so are the movies. Friday nights from 4-8 are also always free (thanks Target.)

Here is some local writing about the opening. The Daily News wonders if we can scrap that silly Liebeskind WTC plan and go with Taniguchi instead: his simple and airy design is already making people giddy. And the Times offers an explosive frenzy of coverage. The guarded review likes the new layout (though calls it a "chilly box") but also recalls what has always been the main problem with MoMA--the fact that it still is a stuffy elitist conventional place, especially for an international leader in forward-thinking art.

The Times also includes logistical details about the new museum's offerings, including the new restaurants and bars planned to open soon.

I assume that P.S. 1 and the Noguchi Museum and all those other destinations in Long Island City that benefited from MoMA's temporary relocation to Queens for the past 2 years are getting a little worried about their attendance rates for next year.

October 8, 2004

Creative remote dating tactics

We all know how hard it is to meet that special someone these days. Some people use interest-specific internet dating sites to narrow down the field (such as, or the Judeo-Christian values based that we profiled yesterday), and some people take the opposite approach: posting your name and phone number in a photograph in the 2004 Crate & Barrel fall catalog. Marc Horowitz is a freelance photo assistant, performance artist, and master of self-promotion in San Francisco who embedded a straight-to-the-point mini-personals ad in a photo of an armoire: "Dinner w/ Marc" and his number. Close-up photo here. He's received over 500 phone calls from people (I gather mostly women) interested in meeting him. "It's kind of like speed dating on a whole new level," he says. Marc's many other interactive projects are documented on his extensive website.

Well Marc, good for you. It's encouraging to know that single women today will call the number of a total stranger written in a catalog and actually be genuinely interested in going on a date with him. Is it the medium that created such interest and, I have to say it, gullability? Would Marc have gotten 500 responses if he had posted a conventional profile to an actual dating service? Let's look at one of the women who is interested in Marc: 28 year-old Brooklynite Kelly Chilton, an associate art director with "O" Magazine, had just split with a longtime boyfriend. "It was just so intriguing and I wasn't sure it was real, but when I called the number, it was like, 'Wow!'" It should be an interesting dinner for Kelly.

Horowitz plans to document his three-month cross-country dating tour on his website Despite the obvious potential to get a whole lot of action from the kinds of women who would respond to the adult version of a number written on a bathroom wall, "Horowitz insists his three-month trip, which he hopes to videotape for a possible documentary, absolutely is not about trying to have a coast-to-coast sex marathon." This seems legitimate--he is scheduled to have dinner with men, women, and groups of people. He has also done a similar random-dinners project before, which was also documented on his website and in the press.

September 30, 2004

The NY Times gets bitchy: Iceman = Moses

Sometimes, a movie or play is released that is so bad and misguided that all serious critics can do is throw up their hands to the heavens and craft an unbelievably mean and belittling review, which is, of course, the very best kind. We then bring you lovingly chosen excerpts for your reading pleasure.

The play: The Ten Commandments (with advertising tagline: "Val Kilmer Is Moses"), a pop opera opening in LA, after a 2001 debut in Paris. The Paris production was a huge hit, but didn't feature the LA version's cast, director, or score. Some details about the New Ten Commandments:

The Review Title: "He Sings, He Dances, He Parts the Red Sea", by Charles Isherwood

"This bland, static, overproduced and underdirected musical all but submerges the famous episodes from Moses' life in an oily sea of pleasant but unremarkable pop music. The legendary journey unfolds here like a long, lumbering fancy-dress episode of 'American Idol.'"

The star: Val Kilmer. "It's tempting to let the phrase that has been used as the advertising tag for The Ten Commandments, the pop opera that opened this week, stand as its critical epitaph. To wit: 'Val Kilmer Is Moses.'

It isn't Mr. Kilmer's name that should appall optimistic musical theater fans or delight specialists in showbiz schadenfreude. Nor is Moses the problem. That little verb is to blame. It is, in this context, ominously suggestive of the pretentious, the misguided, the monumentally silly. Val Kilmer is Batman? O.K. Val Kilmer is Jim Morrison? It worked. But Moses?"

The score: written by Patrick Leonard, who also wrote "Like a Prayer" and "Who's that Girl" for Madonna.

The director: Robert Iscove, "whose credits include the recent television version of Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella with Whitney Houston, the Freddie Prinze Jr. movie She's All That and something called, arrestingly, Romeo and Juliet on Ice.

Mr. Iscove's direction, abetted by cheesy hieroglyphic vogueing from the choreographer Travis Payne, also obscures more than it clarifies. The stage is perpetually awash in buffed slaves pushing slabs of stone and statuary around trying to escape the torments of their personal trainers - er, I mean their cruel Egyptian overlords. While they labor histrionically at the fringes, the principal performers trade places center stage, often dropping to their knees for emotive emphasis, trying to outdo one another in stretching a single syllable into a showstopper."

Thanks for the sass, Charles.

August 16, 2004

Do you get it? It's Irony +

Our friend Rungu took notice of a feature piece in today's Times about a group of ladies from San Francisco called Double Dutchess who do double-dutch jump roping. But these girls have a website, on which they sell t-shirts and DVDs. They also perform at hotel parties sponsored by city newspapers. SF Weekly loves them, and they were invited to perform at the Christmas party for Zoetrope, Francis Ford Coppola's literary magazine. So what has propelled these girls to the art-world A-list, and not the girls who do double-dutch every day at the Stanley Isaacs Playground on 1st and 96th? When black girls do it, it's a non-notable emblem of urban culture. When white girls do it, it's avant-garde and worthy of national press.

Not surprisingly, some people have wondered about race issues when approaching Double Dutchess. The article reports, "The women of Double Dutchess are regularly confronted with questions about their race, often by young black boys at the largely African-American community center in the South of Market neighborhood where the team practices. The women do not treat the issue lightly. "It makes me sad when we get hassled for this race issue," said Ms. Dougherty, a 21-year-old office worker. Ms. Hupp said that the women in Double Dutchess were largely drawn to the sport because it was affordable. "We live in an urban area, and we don't have a lot of money," she said. Ms. Herrera added, "It's just a really, really good friendship thing.""

So they claim to jump rope for the exercise, and for the "friendship thing," but since their earliest days they were performing on stages in front of audiences. And each performance has a theme, usually a sexual theme. Girls, if you wear hot, matching outfits and do your routine on a stage, or if Dave Eggers is in the audience, you are not just exercizing in a way that you and your admin homegirls can afford, you are using someone else's cultural expression to promote yourselves. Just call it what it is.

Well, we'll let Rungu give you his ideas:

The article makes it sound like they are doing some hip, alternate, new-style Double Dutch, but then you look at the videos and it's not. This is regular double-dutch like little girls in black neighborhoods used to do on the streets before children made the lifestyle choice to stay inside and become obese. As far as I can tell, what makes these girls interesting is that:

a) they wear funny clothes,
b) they have bigger breasts than the 9 year-old girls who usually do this stuff (but not substantially, frankly) and,
c) they are white.

And of course, it's c that makes the difference. I hate to sound like a whiny liberal, because I'm not a whiny liberal, but really, if four black girls from Oakland put on a double dutch show, they would not wind up showing it at the McSweeney's/Zoetrope Christmas party. Sure, it's all in who you know, but it really strikes me how blatant an appropriation this is. They're good, but all this hooting and hollering is for run of the mill double-dutch stunts with cool costumes. No wonder the Times talks about some people complaining about their race. I know when straight people get famous for doing things gays see as their turf (disco, fashion, flamboyant magic involving great cats) the gays get pissed, though it's generally more grumbling than anything else. I think black people get more upset about blatant appropriation than gays do, since all we want is to be noticed anyway.

The other aspect of this I thought was fascinating was how superficially European it is. One thing that I find fascinating and bizarre about Europe is the way Europeans appropriate things from other cultures (dreadlocks, Arab music, bhangra, the blues) without any real understanding of where it comes from. Japanese people don't even pretend to care about context, and Americans are so self-absorbed we don't even bother. But Europeans think it's a political statement to wear dreadlocks, when in fact, it makes them look stupid. (Though the Rolling Stones got the blues right, as history has shown, and white Americans who were too racist to perform it were wrong.) Anyway, this Double Dutchess is an obvious case of appropriating an aspect of another culture without paying any attention to where it comes from, but, God love us, Americans do things ironically. So the fun is watching women dressed as criminals, or Catholic school girls, jumping rope. Europeans would just dress as black girls, jump rope, and think it's a statement. Americans dress as Black Sabbath, jump rope, and call it a party.

This all reminds me of those Radical Cheerleader groups that were popular about 4-5 years ago. Except that the RCs use their performance to promote social and political causes rather than promoting themselves and their careers as performance artists; they preach non-ironic respect for actual, non-avant-garde cheerleaders; and they are often recruited from poor neighborhoods, like the squad discussed in this Guardian article.

Outside discussions suggest that people might have some insightful comments to make on this issue. So if you have something to say, feel free to comment.

May 4, 2003

Cirque du Soleil

NYT has an interesting, though not particularly well-written freelance review of Cirque du Soleil, which is out on Randalls Island right now (in the blue and yellow tent that you see if you drive by on the FDR). The review is sort of filtered through the eyes of Professor Ame Wilson, who went undercover to write her dissertation on the Cirque du Soleil. She says it's like the Cirque is on acid this time around (I thought that was the point) and it's like "the apocalypse has come to New York".

There is a strange line in the article where the author writes "Dr. Wilson turned out to be a leggy beauty with a cloud of blond hair and a brand-new belly-button piercing..." I have no idea what this line is doing in a theater review. Anyway, maybe the slideshow of the show makes up for it.

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