Category Archives: performances attented

Nikolay Gogol, The Government Inspector (1863)

Nikolay Gogol, The Government Inspector (1863) p213-306

I am not a big fan of comedy, and certainly not of farce. Humor is too often no more than a coquette compulsion to please, it is by definition a social function, even if we might have evolved to laugh uncontrollably. Yet, watching the adaptation by Jeffrey Hatcher, I found myself to laugh without self awareness. The book however, is especially clever in the first part, but toward the end it slowly evens out into a cleverly written play without depth or wit.

The Government Inspector
Adapted by Jeffrey Hatcher
From The Government Inspector by Nikolay Gogol

The Duke Theater
a New 42nd Street project
229 West 42nd Street (between 7th & 8th)​

A Tribute to Chinua Achebe

on the 50th Anniversary of Things Fall Apart
Michael Cunningham, Edwidge Danticat, Chris Abani, Colum McCann, Suheir Hammad
Francesca Harper Dance Project
Ha Jin, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Toni Morrison, Leon Botstein, Chinua Achebe

There should probably be no need to explain the importance of Achebe for the standing of world literature, but the truth is it does. That means, there’s no moral prerogative that demands it, no surely not, but it is justified to make such appeal. As the novel was published fifty years ago, it was the first truly African voice that spoke through such a western medium as the modern fictive novel. It catapulted Achebe into literary existence, and like Leon Botstein remarked with cynicism, it is a book whose title is better known than its author. So the literary scene that felt they needed to be there were there, for the man to be revealed.

Michael Cunningham was hired to read the advertisements. Was it embarrassment or humor, was it embarrassing because the humorous intent failed? It was only sympathetic to see Cunningham openly mock his own obligatory presence. But was it more humiliating than Danticat’s reading that dragged out an excerpt of the first chapter of Things Fall Apart? Did she understand the cruel force of the story she was reading as was it melodic love poetry, or was her voice the intrigue of standing on the stage speaking before the eyes of the beholder, Achebe? But any zenith comes about by a slow rise, and I was only impatiently consuming a tasteless appetizer. Continue reading

Parts and Labor, An Albatross

I had underestimated the appeal of a free show with free Bass beer from eight to nine, fixated as I was to see Parts and Labor again since their Asterisk house party two years ago. The line in front of the Knitting Factory told it all, I immediately canceled my friends, don’t come, don’t bother, only the first two hundred get in, and I think I am number two hundred and two. Luckily, I felt lucky, and I got in before the show started.

Around nine Stay High from Brooklyn started playing. Two kids with a mixing board and a laptop that chew out old school electronics with a total lack of charisma or at least without the appearance that they enjoy performing in front of a crowd. I have trouble understanding the desire of people to perform who not even once seek to interact with the crowd of spectators. I can only recommend to anyone who does not feel born to be a star, don’t get on stage. The music was mediocre and not once comes close to being interesting. It was terribly boring to listen to Stay High, and the free show-free beer crowd had swelled to a peak presence. Around nine thirty, the word got out that the free Bass was gone. A relief and the gratuitous half of the visitors left within ten minutes.

But, as Parts and Labor, P&L set themselves and the room breathes a space of normality, where ordering a paid beer costs no bothersome effort, I get excited again. P&L is definitely one of my (many) favorite New York bands, they give a good show full of spirit, they have a sense for aesthetics, they think of themselves as icons. I know their songs, so when they started playing, I understand the sound, the atmosphere and the spirit of the moment without hesitation. Continue reading

Neo Rauch: Para in the Met

In 2007 Rauch painted a serie of works especially for the mezzanine of the modern art wing at the Metropolitan Museum in New York City. This special solo exhibition in the Metropolitan Museum was called “Para.” Rauch explains that he enjoys the associations the word “para” evokes and that his works at “Para” don’t have a particular intention, but that they could signify anything to anyone. His works were painted with the low ceiling and windowless space of the mezzanine in mind, Rauch explains, but this is hard to discover in his works, and the association might be purely existing in Rauch’s own experience.

The nihilist guideline to the exhibition denying any ideological intention is but a blase statement and nothing less than a smoke screen for such a narrative and figurative artist like Rauch who further explains that he believes in being bound by location and time. Such cultural relativist statement are nothing but the bourgeois resistance against a system of cultural and ideological oppression by a ‘labor class dictatorship.’ Continue reading

Cake Shop Punks: Sudden Walks and Evil Army

There’s about six billion people on the world, so no surprise that there’s a lot a of damn good music being performed in the Mecca of the art scene New York. But then again, there’s good, there’s damn good, but also much mediocre music, even mediocre with great ideas. But it is still rare to see the fabulous before they became fabulous, or perhaps to see the fabulous before they split up before they became fabulous. And also, it is a long way from Tennessee, but mark it, because the Evil Army were in New York! And better it got, for I was there to see this victorious parade down the lane of anonimity that all fabulous once walked, before they truely became fabulous. Yet, this is no slow march, but pure blitz: Evil Army is trash punk for the 21st century, and the only question between the Evil Army and underground fame is: are the people ready for them and will the Evil Army be there when they are?

Think Motorhead, Exploited, Reagan Youth, Suicidal Tendencies, Slayer, non-stop, no breaks, and incredibly tight for about 45 minutes of the performance, add original style, power, conviction, anger, and pack it together in the Cake Shop basement with a shitty college band from New Jersey in the pre-show, and playing for no more than a crowd of ten, plus two garage bands. But it are these moments in a lifetime that you realize how great music comes about, how you wish you would have gone to those shows ten years from now. Well, I and my cheap Schmidt beers were blasted away by the Evil Army, and you should too, if music means anything to you, forget about instant pop of the past, go see the Evil Army if they march on your neighborhood. Continue reading

Photo Archive of the Daily News – Archive Peter Piller

If anyone someone working at an advertising agency should know how to sell themselves. So what do you do when you work at an advertising agency and you are obviously bored? That’s right you document your work and advertise it. This is the impression that Peter Piller’s exhibit Archive Peter Piller at Andrew Kreps Gallery in New York from January 11 to February 10 left on me. But even this impression was so vague that I wasn’t even sure what there was to be admire, except perhaps the diligent nature by which Peter Piller committed himself to boringly accumulate a collection of tens of thousands of average regional newspaper images.

The press release (there’s another boring collection for you!) refers to Piller’s “quietly tragic vision of everyday life”, but art is supposed to rise above it, and Piller’s archive is much more a display of it. Of course, this is the moment where we could engage in a never ending discussion about what art is or should be and never was, but Piller’s should have remained an archive above anything. Continue reading

A Tirade of Flamenco at El Centro Espanol-La Nacional

In El Centro Espanol-La Nacional in New York, you can get a taste and feeling of Spain at the heart of downtown Manhattan. El Centro not only has a small original Spanish restaurant in the basement, a cafe with Spanish and Hispanic soccer games, but the main hall has some of the best Flamenco performances in town every Friday and Saturday evening. On January 19, Nelida Tirado danced to the singing of El Pola de Sevilla, accompanied by guitarist Pedro Cortes and percussionist Peter Basil.

El Centro is one of the oldest Spanish social clubs in New York, established in 1868, at the time still in Bowery Street, and merged as La Nacional in 1929 out of several regional Spanish social clubs. It is one of the typical social clubs where immigrants found a little bit of home, and support in the new homeland of America. What makes a visit to El Centro worth while is simply this community atmosphere imported from Spain and being influenced without a doubt in the later years by new Hispanic immigrants. One of the successes of American immigration policy wihtout a doubt is the self-supporting role immigrants had to play due to the lack of interference by the government, and up to today you find many active national social clubs, like for instance El Centro Espenol or the Polish Home in Brooklyn. These social clubs offer a great opportunity to experience performances and shows of the foreign cultures in New York. Continue reading