• Travelogue
  • Travelogue: NYC Art Binge

    Day 2: PS 1 Contemporary Art Center

    Kenneth Anger

    February 22-September 9, 2009ps-10043

    I met Jake in the late morning and we made our way to Long Island City and PS 1.  We came primarily to see the films of iconic filmmaker, Kenneth Anger.  However, we also looked at the other exhibitions running concurrently: Jonathan Horowitz: And/Or, February 22-September 14, 2009;  Lutz Bacher: MYS SECRET LIFE, February 12-September 14, 2009; Florian Slotwa: Apartment Therapy; and, Leandro Ehrlich: Swimming Pool, October 19, 2008-October 24, 2009.   We didn’t really have enough time to see all of this work properly so we concentrated on Anger and the smaller installation by Erlich.  I say “smaller” only in terms of it being a single work.

    The Swimming Pool by this Argentine artist is a very ambitious installation.  It was built within two floors of the gallery in order to realize the visual goals of the piece.  These were the illusions of seeing a common, built-in swimming pool from above on a constructed deck with the capacity for people to walk into the pool from beneath so they could be seen from the viewers above.  Obviously, the illusion was to appear as if the pool was actually filled with water.  But how could that be – if you can also walk into the bottom of it and remain dry as a bone?  Very well executed and an interesting visual experience.   (I was just hoping that at the end of  the run of this installation there was a plan to recycle the construction materials used to create this ambitious piece.  I have seen a lot of wasted materials after large installations come down and in this uncertain economic time – this should not be the norm anymore.)

    After having some fun with this installation, we made our way to the galleries with Anger’s films. We had both seen a film or two between us but this was a “first major survey of the filmmaker’s body of work at a U.S. museum in over a decade” according to their website.  The installation was primarily in one large darkened room where about five or six films were being projected on suspended screens or played on monitors.  There were also two side galleries where individual films were projected.  It was mounted very much like many media installations at alternative spaces but the material covering the walls of the space was red – much more fitting for the occult and dramatic operatic quality of the pieces being shown.

    It was a bit overwhelming to view these works all within a couple of hours.  But considering when these films were made and how daring they were at the time – it was hard to keep all this in perspective.  It was so evident how greatly they influenced so much filmmaking that came after them.  Scorpio Rising, 1963, was a real treat.  Pretty much the original music video with its homo-erotic homage to leather, chains and biker gangs complete with popular music.  In other works, there was a lot of Fellini-meets-homo-erotic-kabuki theater going on especially in films like Invocation of My Demon Brother (1969) as well the general determination to evoke Satan.  I suppose he needed a lot of ritualistic coaxing to make an appearance as he was played by a wannabe, Bobby Beausoleil, who brought all his Manson Family values to the role.  Which underscores an important point about Anger’s life – it is probably more notorious than his films.  His bio reads like a Who’s Who of avant garde filmmaking with large doses of occultism, interactions with movie stars and rock and rollers – and well, at least one convicted murderer (Beausoleil). He’s also the author of Hollywood Babylon, originally published in Paris in 1949.  It’s thought to be the first scandal mongering book about movie stars.  “Unique” is a pale word to use for this artist.  It is clear why he is often referred to as an Icon.  He is also a follower of  Thelema, a philosophy or religion based on the dictum, “Do what thou Wilt”.   Looking at his life-long body of works, all I can say is – he sure has.  For more information and images from the exhibition go to http://ps1.org/exhibitions/view/202/. 

    We headed back to Manhattan for an early dinner of sushi at a little place called Ginger on 1st Ave near 7th.   The sushi and sashimi were very good and reasonably priced.  The service was great as well.  After we finished, we headed down 1st Ave to d.b.a. for a drink.  This bar is also one of Jake’s favorites because of the beer selection and the neighborhood atmosphere.  (If you haven’t already noticed – Jake is a real beer-hound.  He often picks restaurants near a great watering-hole.)  But d.b.a. also has a great selection of whiskies and other hard liquors.  After a few rounds, I went my way to rest up for the last day of our gallery-hop.

    Digg This
    Reddit This
    Stumble Now!
    Buzz This
    Vote on DZone
    Share on Facebook
    Bookmark this on Delicious
    Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
    Shout it
    Share on LinkedIn
    Bookmark this on Technorati
    Post on Twitter
    Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

    Pages: 1 2 3

    No Comments »

    RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL

    Leave a comment