Last Thursday night was the big pop up show for Gowanus Swim Society and it was a blast!  Here are some photos courtesy of our member John Azelvandre. 

John Azelvandre and Abigail Groff
Mary Negro
From left to right, Natalie Lomeli,  John Azelvandre, and John Fisk

An installation by Matt Callinan
Suzy Kopf
Natalie Lomeli, Jen Dwyer
Suzy Kopf, Kristen Haskell
Apparently I can't keep it together in this picture.


Trestle Gallery Art Talk: William Villalongo / Justin Sayre at BHQFU

Last week Trestle Gallery hosted an art talk featuring Yale Professor William Villalongo.  Villalongo was kind and thoughtful while explaining the contents of his work, it was a pleasure to hear how his work developed and what motivated him.  I asked Villalongo if he had a favorite work of art at the moment, and after listing a few of his colleagues, he elaborated and stated he mostly enjoys images that show him something he has not seen before.  That our culture is so image heavy, it's most satisfying to see a combination of elements that create an unpredictable image. 

On April 6th we had our 11th week of Object Lessons at the BHQFU featuring playwright and actor Justin Sayre.  For this class we were required to read A Streetcar Named Desire.  I had never read the play before so it was incredible to follow along this narrative about love and possession.  Sayre was incredibly charming and fun to have in class, he told many stories, and explained how and why this play is so relevant to his life.  I will be keeping an eye out for his next production or performance. 

When the Stars Begin to Fall: Imagination and the American South

Benny Andrews
Rudy Shepard
James "Son" Thomas
Marie "Big Mama" Roseman (Detail)
Bessie Harvey

Video Still, Quartered, 2014, Geo Wyeth
Video Still, Quartered, 2014, Geo Wyeth

A couple weeks ago Fisk and I headed out to the Studio Museum in Harlem so I could finish watching Geo Wyeth's video Quartered that we had started in our Object Lessons class at the BHQFU.  This half hour long documentary/performance married a variety of different tropes in a very provocative way.  The video featured moments of sincerity, fear, apprehension, strangeness, and humor.  Through the history of an old relative who lived in the South, Wyeth addresses his identity as a mixed raced transgender person and shows us that story telling can be emotive and magical.  Highly recommended. 


Bill Berkson at BHQFU & Jodorowsky's Dune

 I'm posting life events out of order, but who cares?

Arranging tables for Bill.
Yesterday we had Bill Berkson as our guest in Object Lessons (Week #12) and we were assigned to read What's Your Idea of a Good Time? Interviews and Letters 1977 - 1985 by Bill Berkson and Bernadette Mayer.  Honestly, I haven't read much poetry and for me this was an incredible introduction into so many different things.  The book was sincere, engaging, and the amount of authors discussed/mentioned were enough to give some(like me) a very long reading list.  Having Bill in class shed some light on the kind of tone he may have had in his interviews and Bill lead our conversation to a variety of wonderful places like emotional utopias, esthetic principle, painting, the terrific mess of the 60's, and California.  Bill mentioned quote by Baudelaire that I can't stop thinking about:

"Painting is nothing but a construction of ethics."

After class Fisk and I walked quickly across Manhattan to Film Forum to catch Jodorowsky's Dune.  The greatest sci-fi movie you'll never see. 

I love spoilers, very much so.  To me it feels like knowing a secret about a movie before you go, and then am completely gratified during the movie, sitting in satisfaction while everyone else is tensely awaiting the outcome.  As much as I love them, I won't spoil this amazing documentary.  I can only say that if you love Holy Mountain you'll love this documentary.  My favorite quote in the movie: 

"When you make a picture, you must not respect the novel.  It's like you get married, no? You go with the wife; you take the woman.  If you respect the woman, you will never have child.  You need to open the costume... and to rape the bride.  And then you will have your picture.  I was raping Frank Herbert! But with love." 
Then later that night this happened: 
Then I had a dream that Fisk and I went to Tokyo. The End. 



Announcement #1 The Gowanus Swim Society Website is LIVE.  

You'll be able to read about the swimmers, about the collective, and upcoming events such as...

Announcement #2 The Gowanus Swim Society Spring Pop Up Show 
Trestle Projects
400 3rd Ave. 
Brooklyn NY 11212
One Night Only
April 17th 2014, 7 - 10pm
Come meet with the swimmers of GSS and chat about art, have a couple drinks, and support a new collective that Fisk and I are a part of.  It's going to be fun and you might even get a little wet. 


BHQFU Week #10 Object Lessons: Geo Wyeth, Hausu, & The Empty Space by Peter Brook

Yesterday was my favorite class so far, but it's probably because we were assigned to watch Hausu, one of my favorite movies of all time.  Hausu, which is part of the criterion collection and is directed by Nobuhiko Obayashi, is a seminal piece of Japanese horror and is loved for it's campy and sincere style. 

We were also assigned to read the third part of Peter Brook's The Empty Space, where Brooks discusses how audiences can be captured - that even in an unlikely theater or space, with seemingly off props and decor, the audience can be completely enraptured.  In few occasions they can be more attentive in these spaces than in huge beautifully crafted theaters. 
In class we watched the beginning of Geo Wyeth's video Quartered that is currently being shown in the Studio Museum in Harlem as part of the show When the Stars Begin to Fall, Imagination and the American South.  You can expect a better post about this work when I see the show this coming week.  Geo Wyeth had a lot of really captivating ideas about seduction, performance, theater, and his experience as a transgender artist.  What I enjoyed most was his ability to be completely sincere about whatever it was he was discussing, an attribute that is a favorite of mine in artists. 
My favorite highlights of the conversation were when I explained what fan service was to the class, when people asked if the film Hausu was popular, and when Jarrett made an off hand remark stating that seduction and coercion were just a honey trap.  There are a lot of little delicious moments like these that make this class so engaging. 

BHQFU Week #8 Martha Schwendener & Vilém Flusser...

For week 8 we read VAMPYROTEUTHIS INFERNALIS written by Vilém Flusser & Louis Bec.  There were two reasons why I loved Vampyroteuthis Infernalis. One was for it's ability to create perfect patterns of words and sentences that created the most fantastic imagery available. For example;

"...the vampyroteuthic conflation of mouth and anus, along with its extraordinarily sopisticated sex life (three penises), should represent the zenith of life's development: the triumph of love over death - permanent orgasm."

When an author quite seriously discusses life in this manner is there really anything more interesting?  Most of these details about the creature are not facts, but here's another good one. 

"The male has three penises, each with a different function.  The penis proper is a flexible tube that contains spermatophores and penetrates into the female orifice.  Once inside, its tip detaches and moves alongside the ovary, where it deposits spermatozoa and dies.  This detachable tip regenerates after each act of coitus.  The second, spoon-shaped penis moves between the teeth of the female's tongue, stimulating ovulation and the excretion of specific hormones.  The third, thumb-shaped penis caresses the female abdomen during copulation.  Its physiological function is unclear, but outside of copulation it actively feels the environment.  If only we could grasp the world with a penis."

If only. The second reason I loved this text, was because Vampy became one giant metaphor that Flusser used to talk about life.  Martha Schwendener is writing her dissertation about Flusser, so it was great to hear her explain how amazing he was.  One comment Schwendener made that caught my attention was how she stated that Academics were about expertise and Art is about asking questions. Schwendener, who writes about art for the New York Times, makes a good point in this however I'm not really a fan of describing Art that way.  Mostly I feel artists who ask only questions can be a little too fearful to present real solutions to the questions their posing.  Schwendener also mentioned that the art world is in love with academia right now, which is historically bizarre, and I can't help but agree. What will work look like when the art world falls out of love with Academia?  Who knows.