Rendez-Vous is one part of the ambitious, multi-venue program now underway throughout Williamsburg and DUMBO, entitled Paris in Brooklyn, Brooklyn à Paris. The intent is to cross-pollinate art centers. The curator, Claire Le Restif, has eschewed the instrumental use of artists in service of a visual thesis in favor of an exhibition which might cultivate dialogue and exchange. As such, it represents an encouraging evolution of curatorial activity away from the shallow and proscriptive assemblages of “hot young” curators, towards the cultivation of that unique curatorial attribute of the prime facilitator. Here, the viewer is entrusted with drawing out the works’ themes, which circle around issues of latency and boundaries.
Each of the French artists was challenged to create work site unseen for the cavernous Smack Mellon space, which incidentally, must be the greatest space in New York, especially when compared with the absurd idealized nullity of the Chelsea “yacht showrooms.” In the main space, there is a 14-foot round table/map standing just off the floor by David Renaud, entitled “Iles Kerguelen 1/10000ieme.” In the center of the giant ocean map is a small, improbable looking island, which, it turns out, is an Antarctic island belonging to France. The metaphor of geographic distance is made palpable in the map, which forces the viewer to lean perilously inward from the edges in an effort to read the tiny map labels. As the names are completely unfamiliar, a form of abstraction seeps into the rational mind. Without experiential referent, the content-bearing role of the named place collapses. The distortion implicit in the imposition of a gridded Mercator projection and the signification of the ocean into a monochrome milk blue (which divorces the island from its context within the topography of the ocean floor) reinforces the hypothetical nature of the scientific map. The untethering of scale from its normative size is unnerving; the small island becomes a continent, yet still miniscule when compared to the actual site.
On the balcony above the main room are Stephane Calais’s stacked groups of painted cardboard signs for “clouds,” which call to mind the notion of latency. This sense of stored up potentiality is also given expression in Paul Pouvreau’s cardboard blockhouse construction, which invites the viewer to collapse the structure with a well-placed Power Ranger blow.
Rendez-Vous includes a literal meeting point in the quit video program entitled “Zoom” in the upstairs viewing room. The videos deftly tie into the show as a whole, perhaps due to their utilization of predominantly visual as opposed to auditory means. Timothy Mason’s video “Land of Plenty” presents the super marketing of the supermarket as seen through the gridded projection of a camera placed in a shopping cart. The unedited cart-high view reveals berserk American capitalism with painstaking indifference.
JOHN HAWKE is a contributor to the Rail.
The Brooklyn Presence at SXSWBy Nic Yeager
MAY 2022 | Film
Between March 11 and 20, four Brooklyn-based short films screened at SXSW, each shot in Brooklyn and made by and featuring Brooklynites. SXSW is known for celebrating innovation in tech and education, and these projects offer their own kind of innovation: namely, an irreplaceable artistic ingenuity that flows out of this borough.
Monsoon Wedding Makes Its Way to BrooklynBy Allison Considine
MAY 2023 | Theater
In 2006, when director Mira Nairs agent suggested she adapt her Indian dramedy Monsoon Wedding into a musical, she felt like a penny dropped. The lauded film, now part of the Criterion Collection, has music in its bones, Nair said. Indeed, the colorful, sprawling family drama is fit for the stage.
79. (Brooklyn Navy Yard, Columbia County)
NOV 2021 | The Miraculous
An artist in his mid-30s living in New York and working in a 300-square-foot studio in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, finds himself consumed by frustration and anger. Although he is having exhibitions, after the shows close his paintings inevitably return to his studio, unsold. Hes not sure he wants to go on being an artist. A psychiatrist he consults helps him to understand that his anger revolves around his feelings about race, class and entitlement. Eventually the psychiatrist recommends that he begin working with a physical trainer, who has him start boxing and working out with a punching bag. Around the same time the artist, who is half-Choctaw and half-Cherokee, has been meeting with traditional Native American artists who tell him how the practices of dancing, drumming and beading have saved their lives. These experiences lead him to make a breakthrough in his work. Instead of focusing on painting, he begins to adorn Everlast vinyl punching bags like those he has been using at the boxing gym in extravagant styles inspired by Native American beadwork, pop culture, and everyday life. Along with beads, he adds tassels, sequins, brass and steel studs, yarn, chains, and sundry items. Some of the bags feature beaded texts quoting everyone from Simone de Beauvoir to Public Enemy.
36. The 1960s, BrooklynBy Raphael Rubinstein
FEB 2023 | The Miraculous
Its the mid-1960s in Bedford-Stuyvesant where some 15 or 20 young men get into the habit of harmonizing together after pick-up basketball games. One of them, an aspiring musician who is supporting himself as an elevator operator, notices some talented voices in the crowd, so one night he invites everyone back to his apartment to rehearse, hoping for something interesting to emerge.