Gabriela Cowperthwaite's powerful documentary Blackfish is not a movie that seeks to remain neutral. It has a clear agenda: to make the audience take a long, hard look at amusement parks like SeaWorld that keep orcas in captivity, especially after there have been several incidents where people have lost their lives. Even without the very real human tragedy no one in their right mind could argue that it's right to keep these animals in glorified bathtubs simply for our amusement or for some poorly-constructed attempt at "education." When I was a little girl I was definitely inspired by the wonder of seeing sea creatures close up, so much so that for years I wanted to become a marine biologist, but the more I learned about the animals themselves the more uncomfortable I got with the idea of keeping killer whales and such for their performance value. So I am absolutely the choir the movie is preaching to, but I still found it an extremely compelling piece of filmmaking. With few exceptions the former trainers interviewed for the film, even though they loved their jobs and adored the animals, advocate for closing the parks and transitioning the whales back into the wild where possible. I agree passionately with the thought that we will look back on the time of SeaWorld and places like it that run on greed as a time of great barbarism. Support organizations such as the Marine Mammal Center instead, where the welfare of the animals is the #1 concern.
It delights me that when you put a couple of the dudes from Circle together with metal musician Chris "Professor" Black you get something this wonderfully cheesy, firmly in the realm of Blue Oyster Cult and the like. I'm such a huge Circle fan it just makes me laugh, and if I listen carefully I can hear that slight twist of their subversive weirdness. And I gotta love all the hot synthesizer action going on too. Such metal.
Through March 8 - White Hot Lamp Black at Southern Exposure. Light and shadow, reflections and refractions all come into play in this superb group show featuring work by Carrie Hott, Hillary Wiedemann, Dario Robleto, and Jeremiah Barber. Robleto displays two series of concert photos, but instead of representations of the performers we see just the stage lights that illuminated the likes of Johnny Cash and Sun Ra. Robleto's found images in some instances could be mistaken for nebulae, and Wiedemann similarly references the cosmic with her interest in capturing the sun in ways that slightly displace it from how we usually see it, both in her video of sunlight reflected in a telescopic lens and in her prints of the sun as viewed from Mars. Hott's dual installations of glass lamp parts cast evocative shadows on the gallery walls, while her video Part One: To Cover pairs a fascinating voiceover about topics such as blackouts, curfew, and whale falls with the sculptural forms of lighting fixtures and night footage of a flashlight's beam. Finally the show includes video documentation of a live piece Barber enacted with Ingrid Rojas Contreras, performed as they lay on their sides facing each other, half-submerged and shivering in water. It's not every day an exhibition gives you the opportunity to peek into several diverse universes like this one does.
Merce Cunningham and John Cage by Peter Hujar at Fraenkel Gallery
Through March 8 - Peter Hujar: Love & Lust and Nan Goldin: Nine Self-Portraits at Fraenkel Gallery. Goldin is one my goddesses, and her self-portraits reverberate with the kind of honesty and courage that kicks the ass of any contemporary selfie. Hujar's photos are also insanely beautiful, full of NSFW sex and tenderness too. The images of David Wojnarowicz are devastating in particular, as it was impossible for me not to flash forward in my head to Wojnarowicz's own famous image of Hujar on his deathbed.
OK let's just get this out of the way: yes the sex in Blue Is the Warmest Color is explicit, hot, vaguely ridiculous, and (quite honestly) not entirely necessary. It's also a terribly minute part of Abdellatif Kechiche's three-hour masterpiece which so perfectly captures all of the emotional intensity and the potentially destructive power of first love. The viewer quietly roots for the teenager Adèle Exarchopoulos plays as she starts to figure out she might actually be more into girls than guys, and her first kiss with Léa Seydoux's Emma is simply breathtaking. The visuals are gorgeous throughout, shot with a kind of sensuous nonchalance, and I remained glued to the screen from start to finish. Full disclosure: I also spent the last half hour of the film bawling my damn eyes out. So many feelings.
Dominick Fernow has a number of musical irons in the fire (to name just a few: Vatican Shadow, Christian Cosmos, Rainforest Spiritual Enslavement) but Prurient is his original project and my personal favorite. This 7" with its geometric, minimalist artwork might disappoint those who long for the harsh noise of early Prurient, but I love what Fernow is doing here with some dark ambient drift and swirling synths. Get a taste here.
I'm a big jerk and am only now posting about these shows, all of which closed today (this week just got away from me, and how). As penance I am also plugging the spaces' upcoming exhibits, all of which I'm also excited to see.
Carnochan elevates garden photography to a new level with her platinum/palladium prints, and as a result of her process her images can evoke line drawings or even watercolors. The above selection of grasses were particular favorites of mine. Next up at modernbook: Modernbook Editions, a group show featuring work from the gorgeous books the gallery has published over the years.
Chuang's work utilizes his own body in unusual ways, as in the above piece Squat Press where an impression in powdered marble becauses a sort of reverse nude sculpture. Chuang says of his art: “I materialize the vitality of my body through photography, sculpture, painting and printmaking to lighten the weight of my mortality.” Next up at Tyler Wood: Brooklyn photographer Janna Ireland, opening March 7.
Just another crazy-awesome show from the masterminds at Et al. The trio of artists took you on a wending pathway through the small gallery space, presenting delightfully-detailed collaborative sculptural installations and paintings along the way. And the whole thing lit by a selection of vintage lamps interspersed amongst the art. Next up at Et al.: a selection of paintings by Chris Hood.