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Contents for May 27, 2015

1. James Godwin, FF Alumn, in The New York Times, May 18

The New York Times
Review: 'The Flatiron Hex,' a Delirious Tale With Puppets and Ickiness
The Flatiron Hex
NYT Critics' Pick

James Godwin's deliriously weird puppet show,"The Flatiron Hex," takes place in a New York only a little different from the one we know and sporadically love: "a maze of ghosts and minor gods, floating in the middle of a toxic swamp." A postmodern assemblage of the eerie and the icky, it follows Wylie Walker, a plumber, I.T. expert and high-level shaman, as he works to protect the city from a catastrophic storm.
At the start of the play, Mr. Godwin enters the Dixon Place stage wearing a mask like a gazelle's skull and murmuring ominously, an almost cozy entrance compared with what comes after. The plot that unfurls somehow whirls together Mickey Spillane, H. P. Lovecraft, an AppleCare employee manual and occasional gouts of blood.

Though Mr. Godwin most often plays our hero, Wylie, he also voices the other characters, and manipulates them, too. Some are dolls, some are marionettes, some are paper cutouts, some are stranger than that. Much of the staging involves overhead projectors and when the light bulb on one broke during a preview performance, Mr. Godwin had to improvise, frenetically, while a couple of technicians repaired it. "Please reset your imaginations," Mr. Godwin said when he was ready to go on.
That's no easy feat. "The Flatiron Hex," directed by Tom Burnett, who is also a co-writer and the sound designer, demands that your mind's eye operate in overdrive. There are toad gods and rat queens and animate mainframes and lascivious thumb drives and a disembodied head that haunts a train by "singing Sinatra songs and giving relationship advice." It's not every solo performance that makes you wonder if the usher has slipped some psilocybin into your preshow drink. "Tonight's show is so exciting you'll pay for a whole seat, but you'll only use the edge," Mr. Godwin bragged. The boast isn't entirely idle.

There are double crosses, then triple, quadruple and quintuple ones. The plot makes very little sense and probably made even less than usual during that preview performance, as Mr. Godwin couldn't stop inserting jokes and gripes about that blown bulb into nearly every scene. But in full light or half-light or no light at all, "The Flatiron Hex" is a dauntingly original and possibly hallucinogenic delight.
"The Flatiron Hex" continues through May 30 at Dixon Place, 161A Chrystie Street, Lower East Side; 212-219-0736, dixonplace.org.



2. Yoko Ono, Edward Gomez, FF Alumns, now online at hyperallergic.com, and more

Dear friends and colleagues:

Greetings... With this note, I'd like to let you know that my article, "MoMA's 'One Woman Show': Now, the Ballad of Yoko," has just been published in the "Weekend" edition of the U.S.A.-based, online arts-and-culture magazine HYPERALLERGIC.

This article looks at the exhibition of the artist Yoko Ono's work from the 1960s, a formative decade in her long career, which will open tomorrow at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. The exhibition's title: "Yoko Ono: One Woman Show, 1960-1971."

My article recalls the unusual history behind the presentation of this new exhibition. It also examines some of the abiding themes of Ono's art and ideas as they have developed over the years.

You can find this article here:


Also, recently my first essay about this exhibition ("Plastic Ono Show"), based on an interview with Ono that was conducted here in New York, was published in the May 2015 issue of the American magazine ART & ANTIQUES. That article was the first one about the new MoMA exhibition to have appeared in the national media in the U.S.A. You can find it in PDF form here:


If you're in New York, definitely go see the MoMA exhibition. It's very well designed, the artworks are attractively installed, and it offers some delightful surprises.

With best wishes...



'Yoko Ono: One Woman Show, 1960-1971' Review: Performance for a Lifetime
A lively mind and the off-kilter art it created give visitors a glimpse of the international avant-garde of the '60s
The Wall Street Journal
May 20, 201

Yoko Ono: One Woman Show, 1960-1971
Museum of Modern Art
Through Sept. 7

The co-curators, Christophe Cherix and Klaus Biesenbach, must have thought: Most of the public will be walking into these rooms only because they know Ms. Ono is the widow ofJohn Lennon. So rather than try to suppress this fact, why not begin the chronicle with a 1966 work of hers that happens also to be one of the enduring symbols of the Beatles?

This discreet nod to the record label the four lads founded in 1968, and that may have inspired Steve Jobs when naming his company, is a gamble that pays off. We aren't asked to forget that they were a duo, but Ms. Ono is the solo star here while Lennon plays doting back-up.

In this tightly organized installation, her lively mind, wildly optimistic about what her off-kilter art could do for the world, is expressed through some 125 works-paintings, sculptures, texts, posters, films, sound pieces and recordings. The excellent catalog documents her floating role in the Japanese, British and New York avant-garde during the 1960s, and as an idiosyncratic activist in the antiwar and feminist movements.
Ms. Ono is 82 years old, and her history with MoMA is long and a little awkward. In 1971 she advertised that she would be having a solo show there titled "Museum of Modern (F)art." This was a Dadaist joke. No such show was scheduled. She claimed that it had consisted only of flies that she had scented with her perfume and released in the museum's garden. Then, in 1970, she entered its collections for real when her work was included in "Information," MoMA's landmark roundup of Conceptual Art.
Outside MoMA her art has been further canonized. Over the past 25 years, in small and large histories of Fluxus-the international group that in the '60s argued that art should be ephemeral and not a set of market-ready artifacts-her contributions are routinely listed (with those of George Maciunas and Joseph Beuys) as central to the movement.
"Artists are not here to destroy or to create," she wrote in 1971. "The job of an artist is . . . to change the value of things."

Visitors at MoMA can sample her irreverent ideas by going to the left, where they will encounter the interactive "Bag Piece" from 1964. (It invites you to enclose yourself in a large dark sack and do whatever you want, free of prying eyes. Couples are welcome to disrobe.)

Further along on the wall are pages from her 1964 book "Grapefruit," a set of 150 instructions that read like a cross between Surrealist poetry and a ransom note: "Go to the middle of the Central Park Pond and drop all your jewelries," reads one from autumn 1956.

Her premises tend to be more interesting than their realizations. "Half-a-Room" (1967) is a piece where ordinary articles (chairs, a table, a painting, a tea kettle) are cut in half, painted white, and installed in half a room. The absurd result is what you would expect from an absurd axiom.

"White Chess Set" (1966), in which board, pieces and chairs are painted white, may be the smartest of her provocations. Without contrasting colors to distinguish opponents, chaos reigns after a couple of hours and players often have to give up-a cunning antiwar message.

Her aesthetic of transience has meant that numerous works from the early '60s (including "Painting to Be Stepped On" and "Painting for the Wind") had to be re-created for this show. Her most famous work from this period, the violent and erotic "Cut Piece" (1964), in which she knelt on a stage while the audience was encouraged to come up and snip the clothes from her body with tailor's shears, is remembered here in a nine-minute performance from 1965 filmed by Albert and David Maysles.

Her musical partnership with John Lennon evolved logically from her participation in a scene where John Cage was so revered that she referred to him jokingly as Jesus Christ. Her "Whisper Piece" and "Cough Piece," both from 1961, contain the kind of sonic material that was folded into the mix of the late Beatles records. The couple met in 1966 when she was having a one-person show at the Indica Gallery in London. He was instantly smitten. Despite his renown, he was a Liverpool bumpkin compared with this New York-Tokyo avant-gardiste.

In a white room at the back of the gallery, you can listen through headphones to the singles and albums they recorded as a duo or as the Plastic Ono Band. Not many listeners would trade these efforts for what Lennon wrote with the Beatles. But undoubtedly he was challenged as a songwriter by her experiments with voice and silence, and she by his rock 'n' roll spirit.

More tiresome was their constant need to proclaim their love before the media and to believe that stunts like the "Bed Ins," recalled in posters here, would lead to world peace.
The green apple on the pedestal is not the one from 49 years ago. It is supposed to wither and rot each time the piece is displayed. The artist describes it thus: "There is the excitement of the apple decomposing, and then the decision whether or not to replace it, of just thinking of the beauty of the apple after it's gone." Just as exciting for me was wondering how much of pop culture was transformed because John Lennon walked into that gallery and met Yoko Ono.

Mr. Woodward is an arts critic in New York.
Correction: An earlier version of this review misstated the year Ms. Ono advertised "Museum of Modern (F)art."



3. Taylor Mac, FF Alumn, in The New York Times, May 24

The New York Times
Review: 'The Last Two People on Earth' Offers Soft-Shoe Après Déluge

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. - The singular talents of Mandy Patinkin and Taylor Mac - yes, you read that correctly - combine to delightful effect in "The Last Two People on Earth: An Apocalyptic Vaudeville," the weird and weirdly transfixing entertainment having its premiere here at American Repertory Theater.

I would not venture to say that Mr. Patinkin, the Broadway veteran known for his high-intensity style, and Mr. Mac, the exotic performer and playwright usually treading the boards in glittery eye shadow and spike heels, are the last two performers I'd expect to share a stage. Mr. Mac and, say, Wayne Newton would be an odder combination. Or maybe Mr. Patinkin and Karen Finley. Nevertheless they are not performers with an obvious cultural affinity, and the overlap between their fan bases could probably fit in a phone booth.

The director and choreographer putting these two through their strange paces is Susan Stroman, whose work on Broadway (including "The Producers") mostly falls within musical theater tradition. Stretching in new directions is a necessity for artists of any age or caliber, and all three deserve a round of hearty applause for concocting (with Paul Ford, the music director) this odd and often exhilarating show, which feels like a Beckett play - specifically "Waiting for Godot" - with the gnomic words replaced by more than two dozen tunes from the (mostly) American pop and Broadway songbooks.
Not a word of dialogue is uttered by either performer during the production's 80-minute running time. The two nameless characters portrayed by Mr. Mac and Mr. Patinkin share no language but that of song. Music, it is implied, is the force that will knit together a broken humanity after the apocalypse of the title has washed most of us away.
We see this calamity take place in shadow-play as the show begins. Mr. Patinkin's bowler hat goes flying off as violent winds sweep the earth. Then comes the final flood, washing away civilization. What's left, apparently, is a battered vintage theater, into which Mr. Mac drags a soiled lifeboat.

This survivor appears to have made it through on sheer enthusiasm - or so his bright-beaming eyes and unquenchable smile would suggest. In tattered tails, he sets about preparing a meal, pulling from the boat and his pockets a fish and other provisions, including a few apples, naturally, as we are in a grim new Eden. These are snatched away by a hand emerging from a battered-looking trunk. Eventually emerging from this hiding place is a grizzled Mr. Patinkin, looking bleary-eyed and embittered, like Rip Van Winkle unceremoniously yanked from happy slumber.

Under the buoyant cajoling of Mr. Mac's character, who supplies his new pal with a bamboo cane and a bowler hat to match his own, these two proceed to pass the time by making music together, the urge to sing and dance drawing them into a sweet, almost romantic intimacy. With just their voices and a few meager props, they concoct a madcap variety show that includes a deliriously deranged assortment of music.

There's probably something that will fall within everyone's frame of reference, even if it's just "Row, Row, Row Your Boat." Many of the songs are loosely tied to themes of survival, endurance and more generally the foibles and flaws of humanity that presumably led to its devastation. From "Finian's Rainbow" we hear "The Begat," that jaunty song describing the process of procreation (not an option here; only an inflatable woman has been saved from the destruction). As their spirits rise, they sing a spirited version of R.E.M.'s "It's the End of the World as We Know It (and I Feel Fine)."
Mr. Patinkin's character at first must be nudged into joining the party, with Mr. Mac pushing his hips this way and that to ooze music into his bones. But soon he's hoofing as happily as Mr. Mac, to dance steps by Ms. Stroman that hark back to the early years of American musical theater. Sadly, no tap shoes appear to have survived the apocalypse, but Mr. Mac sprinkles a little salt on the floor for a smooth soft-shoe routine.
With less dynamic performers, the production would probably come across as a quirky idea that fizzles quickly. But Mr. Mac and Mr. Patinkin are both fiercely committed artists who work as hard as anyone to captivate an audience. Mr. Mac's clean tenor has a bright sheen, and with his lanky frame and pliable limbs he's a natural at wordless physical comedy. Mr. Patinkin's unique voice remains limber, too. Although his vibrato sometimes grows a bit wobbly, he retains one of the sweetest-sounding croons in the business, and establishes his character as an initially gruff but ultimately loving and lovable fellow.

Despite differences in age and style, Mr. Mac and Mr. Patinkin establish a natural rapport, their voices harmonizing robustly on songs such as "You've Got to Be Carefully Taught" (from "South Pacific"), "Real Live Girl" (from "Little Me") and "Another National Anthem" (from "Assassins"). From the pop and folk spectrum come "Making Pies," by Patty Griffin, and Randy Newman's "Snow."

If you're scratching your head at how this eclectic, not to say eccentric, list of songs could possibly fit within the frame of a cohesive musical, I sympathize. I couldn't always connect the dots either. But the show doesn't strive to mimic the norms of traditional musical theater; it is indeed a throwback to vaudeville, a grab bag of songs and gags that sometime seem to be chosen (or ordered) willy-nilly.

The loopiness provides part of the show's charm: You don't know what's coming next. Neither, in a sense, do the two shaggy figures who have endured the worst and come through singing their lungs out. Should the apocalypse arrive tomorrow, let us hope the survivors carry on with spirits unbowed, and a song, or rather a veritable hit parade of songs, in their battered hearts.

The Last Two People on Earth
An Apocalyptic Vaudeville
Conceived by Paul Ford, Taylor Mac, Mandy Patinkin and Susan Stroman; music and lyrics by Peter Allen, Thomas Haynes Bayly, Irving Berlin, Gayle Caldwell, Cy Coleman/Carolyn Leigh, Vinicius de Moraes/Baden Powell, W. S. Gilbert/Arthur Sullivan, Patty Griffin, E. Y. Harburg/Burton Lane, Jerry Herman, Eddie Lawrence, Taylor Mac, Freddie Mercury, George W. Meyer/Sam Lewis/Joe Young, Randy Newman, the Pogues/Jem Finer/Shane MacGowan, R.E.M., Richard Rodgers/Oscar Hammerstein II, Harry Ruby/Bert Kalmar, Paul Simon, Samuel Francis Smith, Stephen Sondheim, James Van Heusen/Sammy Cahn, Tom Waits and Gillian Welch; directed and choreographed by Ms. Stroman; sets by Beowulf Boritt; costumes by William Ivey Long; lighting by Ken Billington; sound by Daniel J. Gerhard; tour production supervisor, Production Core; production stage manager, Jason Brouillard; executive producer, Groundswell Theatricals; music direction, arrangements and orchestrations by Mr. Ford. Presented by American Repertory Theater, Diane Paulus, artistic director; Staci Levine and the Dodgers. At the Loeb Drama Center, American Repertory Theater, 64 Brattle Street, Cambridge, Mass.; 617-547-8300, americanrepertorytheater.org. Through Sunday. Running time: 1 hour 20 minutes.
WITH: Mandy Patinkin and Taylor Mac.



4. Steed Taylor, FF Alumn, selected for Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts Studio Program, 2015

The EFA Studio Program welcomes 8 new member artists in 2015!

The EFA Studio Program provides affordable private studio space, facilitates career development, and promotes public and critical exposure for our members. Each year a panel of 5 arts professionals selects 8 to 11 new artists out of over 250 applications to join the EFA community. Steed Taylor, FF Alumn, is among the recipients for 2015.



5. Doug Beube, FF Alumn, in SONYA Art Walk, Brooklyn, May 30-31


Looking forward to seeing you on either May 30 or 31st, between 12-6pm. For other exhibiting artists on the tour please go to the SONYA website (http://www.sonyaonline.org) for further details.

As a reminder please note my new email address is, doug@dougbeube.com and my Mindspring/Earthlink account is no longer current.




6. Hannah Higgins, FF Alumn, at Sector 2337, Chicago, IL, May 30

Hannah B. Higgins, Shawn Michelle Smith, + Ellen Rothenberg; a conversation about the exhibition "else time"
May 30th from 5:00-6:30pm at Sector 2337
free and open to the public - info: conversation

Hannah B. Higgins has been teaching at UIC since 1994. Her research and course topics examine twentieth century avant-garde art with a specific interest in Dadaism, Surrealism, Fluxus, Happenings, performance art, food art and early computer art. Her books and articles argue for the humanistic value of multimodal aesthetic experiences. Higgins is solo author of Fluxus Experience(University of California Press, 2002) and The Grid Book (MIT Press, 2009) and co-editor of with Douglas Kahn of Mainframe Experimentalism: Early Computing and the Foundations of Digital Art(University of California Press, 2012). She has received the UIC University Scholar Award, DAAD, Getty and Philips Collection Fellowships and is co-executor of the Estate of Dick Higgins and the Something Else Press.

Shawn Michelle Smith studies the history and theory of photography, and race and gender in visual culture. She has written several books, including most recently At the Edge of Sight: Photography and the Unseen (Duke 2013), which won the 2014 Lawrence W. Levine Award for best book in American cultural history from the Organization of American Historians and the 2014 Jean Goldman Book Prize from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Her other books are Photography on the Color Line: W. E. B. Du Bois, Race, and Visual Culture (Duke 2004), and American Archives: Gender, Race, and Class in Visual Culture (Princeton 1999). She has been awarded fellowships from several institutions, including the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum Research Center and the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.. Smith is also a visual artist and her photo-based work has been exhibited in art galleries and university museums across the country. Shawn Smith is a Professor at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
Ellen Rothenberg's work is concerned with the politics of everyday life and the formation of communities through collaborative practices. Her installations and public projects often employ the iconography of social movements and their residual documents to interrogate the mechanisms underlying contemporary political engagement and social dialogue. Her work-architecturally scaled installations, public projects, performance, collaborations, and writing -uncovers histories embedded in the present, particularly those of women, labor, and feminism. Her approach to form and material is informed by these concerns, and inflect meaning beyond their historical conventions. Her work has been presented in North America and Europe at The Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; The Museum of Fine Arts and The Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston; The Museum of London, Ontario; The Contemporary Jewish Museum, San Francisco; The Neues Museum Weserburg, Bremen; Royal Festival Hall, London; The Brukenthal National Museum, Sibiu, Romania; among others. Awards include NEA Regional Fellowships, The Bunting Institute Fellowship Radcliffe College Harvard University, Illinois Arts Council Fellowships, The Massachusetts Artist Foundation Fellowships, and grants from CEC Artslink, The Charles Engelhard Foundation, The LEF Foundation, and NEA Artists Projects. Rothenberg teaches at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

solo exhibition by Ellen Rothenberg
Dates: May 9 - July 2, 2015

Sector 2337
2337 N Milwaukee Ave., Chicago IL 60647
produced by The Green Lantern Press



7. John Held, Jr., FF Alumn, publishes new book

New book by John Held, Jr.
Small Scale Subversion: Mail Art & Artistamps
Available on amazon:



8. Mira Schor, FF Alumn, at CREON, Manhattan, thru June 10

Imaginary Anatomies
May 20 to June 10, 2015

CREON 238 East 24 St., 1B (near 2nd Ave)

Opening Reception: Wed, May 20, 7 to 9 pm

Hours: Tue & Wed evenings Please call/text for specific hours

Contact: 646.265.5508 norm@creongallery.com

CREON is pleased to announce Imaginary Anatomies: Mira Schor + Bradley Rubenstein, an exhibition of paintings and works on paper. Schor and Rubenstein will exhibit work that is linked thematically, focusing primarily on the figure as a subject for experimentation both visually as well as conceptually, on what Jacques Lacan described as the imaginary anatomy. Lacan described the imaginary anatomy as a psychological map or image of the body, an internal understanding of the lived, physical body. As a specular psychological construct, it represented the subject's experiences of bodily parts and organs.

Rubenstein's drawings display his continuing interest in expanding the parameters of the body's endless possibilities. The stable identity of the subject is questioned as the essential biological body literally disintegrates in front of our eyes and metamorphoses into distorted and fragmented entities, incorporating a plethora of multiple personae and anatomical prototypes. Following a long tradition of literary and artistic protagonists that stretches from the Golem, Dr. Frankenstein, and Jekyll and Hyde, to more recent manifestations of cyborgs and aliens, the ambiguous moral but also indefinite biological nature of the human condition is revealed.

Schor's paintings present the figure as a reductively sketched archetypal protagonist in the symbolic landscape of a philosophical cartoon. The figure is an agent of thought, reflection, and meditation, frozen in time as on an ancient monument or Egyptian relief. Her iconic avatar is arrested in movement, approaching the cold and distant observation of scientific illustrations faithful documentation of rare anatomical specimens. Schor shows the frailty of the human body: despite its graphic, mechanized presentation: it wears a leg brace, it trips, it is knocked over by paint. The paintings are reversible topsy-turvy diptychs: above or below, depending on how you hang the work, in one register the iconic figure is a diagrammatic representation oppressed by aesthetic and economic imperatives, and in the other register the figure dissolves, transforms, becomes lighter and more ethereal, as if depicting the human spirit triumphing over physical and social restraint.

Mira Schor is a painter and writer living in New York City. Schor has been the recipient of awards in painting from the Guggenheim, Marie Walsh Sharpe, and Pollock-Krasner Foundations, as well as the College Art Association's Frank Jewett Mather Award for Art Criticism and a Creative Capital / Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Grant. Schor has had one person exhibitions at Marvelli Gallery and Momenta Art in New York, and she is represented by CB1 Gallery in Los Angeles.

Bradley Rubenstein has been the recipient of the National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in Painting, The Pollock- Krasner Award and a grant from The Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation. His works are in the permanent collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and The Detroit Institute of Arts, among others. Bradley Rubenstein lives and works in Brooklyn.




9. Devora Neumark, FF Alumn, at École des arts de Szczecin, Poland, thru fall 2015

Devora Neumark, FF Alum, at the École des arts de Szczecin (Poland), in collaboration with DouBle-Stéréo (DBS)

DouBle-Stéréo (DBS) is pleased to host Devora Neumark for the 2015 international artist residency and exhibition program hosted by 23.03.fr and the École des arts de Szczecin. Devora will be travelling to Poland at the end of May to initiate her research-creation process and then again in the fall to complete the live art performance project.



10. Lorraine O'Grady, FF Alumn, spring events 2015

Upcoming: 4 solo shows + 1 performance

Lorraine O'Grady | May 28-June 27, 2015

Installation premier: Rivers, First Draft, 1982/2015. And selections from Cutting Out the New York Times, 1977.

510 West 26 Street, New York, NY, 10001. T: 212.339.2636


Lorraine O'Grady: Art Is... | July 16-Oct 25, 2015
Full installation: Art Is..., 1983/2009.
144 W 125th St., New York, NY 10027. T: 212.864.4500


Harvard University
Lorraine O'Grady | Oct 29-Jan 10, 2016
Full installation: The First and the Last of the Modernists, 2010.
Other selected works, 1977-2013.
24 Quincy Street, Cambridge, MA. T: 617.495.3251


Seville, Spain
Lorraine O'Grady | Sep 2016- Jan 2017
The Clearing: or Cortez and La Malinche, Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings, N. and Me, 1991, and other selected works, 1980-2012.
Monasterio de la Cartuja de Santa Maria de Las Cuevas
Camino de los Descubrimientos, s/n, 41092 Seville, Spain. T (+34) 955 03 70 70


Mlle Bourgeoise Noire - 30 Years Later
Performance premier: Fall 2016.
Stay tuned!

Copyright (c) 2015 Lorraine O'Grady, All rights reserved.



11. Nicolás Dumit Estévez, Yoko Inoue, Juana Valdes, FF Alumns, at Center for Book Arts, Manhattan, June 19


June 5, 6:30pm
Wayne Hodge, Jessica Lagunas, Shervone Neckles, Zoë Sheehan Saldaña, Tattfoo Tan, and Amanda Thackray

June 19, 6:30pm
Cecile Chong, Nicolás Dumit Estévez, Yoko Inoue, Juana Valdes, and Jenifer Wightman

The artists will discuss their work on view in our main gallery exhibition Then & Now: Ten Years of Residencies at the Center for Book Arts and will share how their experiences as artists-in-residence at the Center have influenced their current practices.
Suggested donation: $10/$5 members.



12. Vitaly Komar, FF Alumn, now online at http://www.art-agenda.com/reviews/

Vitaly Komar's "Allegories of Justice" at
Ronald Feldman Fine Arts, New York
March 28-May 2, 2015

Vitaly Komar, formerly half of the illustrious team Komar & Melamid, which split in 2003, continues to paint in a style he has dubbed "New Symbolism." For more than a decade, his virtuosic paintings of the proverbial scales of justice, tiny birds of truth, hulking Russian bears waving red flags, and circular serpents biting their own tails have been going through their allegorical paces, wrapping religion in history and spirituality in cosmic swirls. Melamid, meanwhile, has kept a lower profile.

Komar's recent exhibition at New York's Ronald Feldman Fine Arts, "Allegories of Justice," which includes a few earlier works by the former team, raises a number of questions. What happens when an artist duo splits up, as Komar & Melamid did? What happens when the context of any artist's production-in this case conceptual sociopolitical work satirically skewering both Soviet ideology and American consumerism-vanishes into thin air, as the Soviet system did, leaving them and other Soviet artists without a framework? And how do they continue to make art in the context of the internal void of a suddenly collapsed culture? Also, in the case of Komar & Melamid-who left Moscow in 1977 and moved to New York the next year-how was their work affected by the external disruptions of emigration to a diametrically opposite society?

Komar & Melamid were among the Soviet Union's best nonconformist artists: they founded "Sots Art"-a merger of Socialist Realism, politicized Pop, and Conceptual art-and called their first joint show back in 1967 "Retrospectivism." In 1974, they were arrested during an outdoor exhibition in Moscow that has come to be known as "The Bulldozer Exhibition," because the government used bulldozers to destroy the artworks.(1) Their first US show, in 1976 at Ronald Feldman Fine Arts, consisted of smuggled works.

As emigrés, they expanded their conceptual critiques-establishing a corporation to buy and sell human souls (Warhol donated his), and making allegorical portraits of Reagan and self-portraits as Lenin and Stalin. They had scientific polls taken in 11 countries of the "most wanted" and "least wanted" paintings for their series "People's Choice" (1994-97), and produced those banal paintings, only to conclude that "looking for freedom, we found slavery." For a project titled Ecollaboration (1995-99), they went to Thailand to teach elephants to paint; paintings by Renee, the elephant-painter, auctioned by Christie's, helped save other endangered Thai elephants. Their final joint project, a series of paintings titled "Symbols of the Big Bang" (2001-2003), involved abstraction, spirituality, and cosmic dualities, pointing the way, as it were, to Komar's recent work.

Among the symbolic replays and elaborations of scales, swords, and bears brandishing red flags in "Allegories of Justice" is one intriguing, atypical canvas: Pushkin's Cat (2010-15). It pictures the expanse of an indigo-blue night sky with a central starburst and an indistinct whirlwind of green lettering. Down near the lower edge, an unsmiling cat on a chain peers out at the world. This wise cat is the storytelling narrator of a long epic poem by Alexander Pushkin, "Ruslan and Ludmilla," a Russian classic dating from 1817. In the poem, the cat-bound by a golden chain "to a green oak by the sea"-walks slowly round and round the tree while retelling ancient Russian folktales and legends, and dreaming sadly of better days gone by. Pushkin's Cat sums up the mood of Komar's recent work. The familiar symbols and allegories seemed to have grown distant, generic, and nostalgic. Could it be that the artist, like Pushkin's cat, is chained to his own painterly past?

According to Komar's 2009 description of New Symbolism, symbolic allegories may well be "conceptual signifiers that coexist seamlessly with painting's reverie." They can arguably be interpreted, as the press release suggests, as a "reflection on the current international political situation." Or could it be that what's lacking in Komar's recent work is the biting satire and critique in the work of the former team? It has become apparent that while Komar may be the better painter, it is very likely that Melamid is the more conceptual and skeptical artist. If only they could bury whatever hatchet caused their breakup and join together for one last body of work to aggressively confront the current economic and sociopolitical situation in Putin's weird post-Soviet Russia and in a chaotic post-Bush world of failed states, degraded environments, and hyper-capitalism gone berserk.

Beyond the ideologies of production and consumption, past a century in which two former superpowers needed each other for balance, our geopolitical urgencies and planetary anxieties are now unilateral. Together Komar and Melamid might find a way for their art to reflect on our global Sixth Extinction and the environment in the epoch of the Anthropocene. That's a tall order but if anyone can tackle it, together they might. Their swirling painterly flourishes and acerbic critiques, leavened by a dose of cynicism, would at the very least provide a glorious cap to their career.

(1) "The Bulldozer Exhibition" of September 15, 1974, an illegal exhibition, apparently had no other recorded name. It took place in the Belyaevo area of Moscow.

Kim Levin is a widely published art critic and curator of museum exhibitions in Eastern and Western Europe, Asia, and the US.



13. Raquel Rabinovich, FF Alumn, at First Street Garden, Manhattan, May 30

IDEAS CITY Founded by New Museum

Saturday, May 30, 2015
2:00 PM - 2:30 PM
First Street Garden
33 East 1st Street
New York, NY
Y Gallery: Invisible Cities: On the Work of Raquel Rabinovich and Monika Bravo

Raquel Rabinovich and Monika Bravo have created works incorporating transparency, layers, and viewer perspective, inspired by Italo Calvino's novel Invisible Cities. Rabinovich's Invisible City (2000) is an installation comprised of white metal frames and white gauze forming seven translucent gates. Likewise, Bravo's Landscape of Belief (2012) features the gradual emergence of a city from nothing. Bravo achieved this by projecting animations of a cityscape onto panes of glass. In this conversation, the artists will discuss their work and their respective interpretations of "invisible cities" in a panel with art critic Ann McCoy and professor Carla Stellweg.



14. Susan Bee, FF Alumn, at Mid-Manhattan Library, June 6

Susan Bee: Artist Dialogue with Raphael Rubinstein
Saturday, June 6, 2:30pm, The Corner Room
Mid-Manhattan Library, 455 Fifth Avenue New York, NY, 10016
The Corner Room opens to public at 2:00 p.m. FREE.

Held in conjunction with Art Wall on Third exhibition "Susan Bee: The Challenge of Painting," please join us for a discussion between painter Susan Bee and poet-critic Raphael Rubinstein, focusing on Bee's narrative-based work, which incorporates elements from the 20th-century abstract painting and cinematic history including film noir. Bee and Rubinstein also consider poet and painter collaborations, a genre in which both have considerable experience. What happens when artists and writers encounter each other in the pages of a livre d'artiste? How do images and words affect each other? What are the specific possibilities of the book as a site of collaboration? Another theme to be addressed: the interaction of personal history and political history, as exemplified by some of Bee's paintings.

Recent publication: Threadsuns, Brooklyn Rail, May 2015



15. Helen Varley Jamieson, FF Alumn, now online at walk21vienna.com

hi friends,
yes, our great project Tales from the Towpath is in the running for another award! this time it's the "Walking Visionaries" award, which is part of a conference in vienna in october.

the page for voting is here: http://walk21vienna.com/?dg_voting_submission=tales-from-the-towpath

you have to enter your email, then click on a link in a confirmation email to confirm the vote. apparently you can vote for the same project once each week during the voting period, which ends on 16 june, so if you remember to vote a couple of times that would be great.

thanks! & i hope you're all well,
h : )

helen varley jamieson



16. Shirin Neshat, FF Alumn, in The Wall Street Journal, May 26

'Shirin Neshat: Facing History' Review
In Washington, an artistic look at Iran that's more than just politics.

May 26, 2015 6:14 p.m. ET

The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden is having a distinctly historic moment. In the first place, with "Facing History" in the title, the new solo show dedicated to Shirin Neshat, the renowned Iranian-born female artist, is riddled with history: hers and Iran's. (Ms. Neshat shot to fame in the 1990s with photos of women's faces inscribed with calligraphy.) It has opened when the U.S. and Iran are locked in delicate, potentially epoch-making negotiations over nuclear power. And it is the first show conceived by the museum's recently appointed director, Melissa Chiu, formerly of the Asia Society in New York. The visitor gets to glimpse a pivotal juncture for the Hirshhorn, one that likely indicates the direction in which Ms. Chiu intends to take the institution she calls "the nation's contemporary art museum."

At the Asia Society, Ms. Chiu often put on exhibitions illustrating the cultural richness of regions politically alienated from the U.S., such as the Middle East and Pakistan. So her current choice is no accident, nor is its timing, which cleverly brings the Hirshhorn swiftly to the attention of Washington's chattering classes. In addition, as she told me at the show, she's "conscious that the Hirshhorn wants to remake itself for the 21st century with a more global vision. It was always international but last century that meant mostly European art; Shirin's work embodies the broadening of geographical interest to include other cultures." She also believes that the central attributes of Neshat's work-"multimedia, diasporic, gender conscious, identity focused"-represent universal preoccupations in 21st-century art. In effect, Ms. Chiu seems to feel that Washington is ready to be a global city, like New York, rather than an American city with international interests. Whether she's right remains to be seen.

The show itself clearly assumes that the visitor needs a familiarizing and cohering approach. It was the museum's decision to organize the material largely (but not entirely) around three historical moments in the 58-year-old artist's oeuvre: the 1953 imposition of the shah by a CIA-backed coup that displaced Iran's elected leader; the 1979 revolution that toppled the shah and ushered in Ayatollah Khomeini's mullahs, and the 2009 Green Revolution protests in Iran that preceded the Arab Spring upheavals. This presentation, backed up by news photos and other illustrative artifacts, succeeds up to a point for the layman, but can give the impression that Ms. Neshat primarily possesses a political imagination, chronicling or retro-evaluating grand events. Luckily, though, enough aspects of the show fall outside the guiding categories that Ms. Neshat's complex, poetic vision works its enchantment.

Even in the first rooms devoted to the 1953 coup, the clips from her black-and-white 2008 video "Munis," which was inspired by those events, come across as otherworldly-though they often precisely restage famous news stock from that time. A large American convertible glittering in sunlight, embodying glamour and power, carries paid-for pro-shah demonstrators as it did at the time. Crowds bearing banners and posters illustrate a brief dawn of free speech and open democracy before the shah's repressive rule kicks in.

A straightforward political critique, you might think, not least of the U.S. legacy in such places. But Ms. Neshat's constructions are never so simple. She made that film long after the Khomeinist regime hijacked Iran post-shah and corrupted the logic of mass demonstrations. It's impossible not to see echoes between the two revolutions-the wild rushing through the streets by crowds oblivious to history's lessons. The pent-up acceleration of history can be at once joyous and treacherous, the artist seems to say.

In the next exhibits, from her "Women of Allah" series of the mid-1990s, featuring the renowned photos of juxtaposed guns and female bodies inscribed with poems, the complexity deepens. This sequence, inspired by the 1979 revolution, received sharp criticism down the years for apparently glorifying women's armed support of the mullahs. But as she said to me when we viewed the images, "I never intended to endorse their militancy but to show how supposedly oppressed women pushed their own narrative against all odds, often in conflicted ways." In fact, it becomes cumulatively clearer through the show that Ms. Neshat's concerns go far beyond the political.
You get a firmer beat on how she layers her meanings in the following rooms of videos made before and after the century's end but indexed to no historical event. In "Turbulent" (1998) two large screens face each other, one featuring a man and the other a woman. The man sings coherently before an all-male audience. The woman, alone in darkness, unleashes a more powerful, primeval song without words, beyond language. She may be profoundly disadvantaged but is defiantly vociferous nonetheless. "Rapture" (1999) employs the same two-screen technique. Men in a fortress mill around in discernible, contained patterns. Women clad in chadors approach across a wilderness, bleakly, picturesquely, fanning out over a beach like crows in a landscape and finally draping themselves around a boat they intend to launch seaward. Ms. Neshat's depiction of women here as elemental, dark shapes, daring the unknown and seen from a kind of eternal perspective, comes closest to her fundamental vision.

The next rooms, featuring large photo portraits of participants in Iran's Green Revolution and Egypt's Arab Spring upheavals, have disappointed some. There's a suspicion that Ms. Neshat has begun to imitate herself, that her art is fading. It rather depends on what you, the observer, discern in the faces. Ms. Neshat doesn't provide much help other than the usual inscriptions on skin. Perhaps she has moved on from the medium and doesn't know it. The last section, a video entitled "Soliloquy" from 1999, dramatizing the polarity of East and West through architecture, suggests that her imagination dwells in moving pictures more expansively. Figures drifting through ancient structures (East) and monumental buildings (West) in unearthly light offer us a deeper insight into our identity etiolated by time and space than any scripted drama or, for that matter, any portrait. At her best, as only the finest of artists can, Ms. Neshat gives us a glimpse of history from the eyes of the gods as viewed across eons.

Mr. Kaylan writes about culture and the arts for the Journal.



17. Linda Stein, FF Member, now online at naamat.org/magazine/

An essay about artist Linda Stein and her non-profit Have Art: Will Travel! Inc. was just published in Na'amat Woman magazine.

Stein's most recent series, Holocaust Heroes: Fierce Females focuses on women who represent different aspects of bravery during the time of the Holocaust. While many people have been recognized for their courage in facing this horrific period, less attention has been placed on the women who made a difference.

The key message-throughout the exhibition, accompanying catalog, film and public programs - will address "bravery" on both life-and-death and everyday levels. The artist says, "I want to inspire people to think about bravery in their own lives: the opportunities they have to resist scapegoating and discrimination; what it takes to stand up for victims being bullied; how empathy and compassion is needed to risk failure while taking on 'heroic' tasks."

Read essay (http://lindastein.com/new/about/bio/linda-stein-the-making-of-an-artist-activist-feminist-jew/) and see how its author, Amy Stone, was inspired to confront hostile youths in the subway, becoming an "accidental upstander."
The entire magazine is available here: http://www.naamat.org/magazine/. It is dated Spring 2015.

The article itself is on Linda Stein's website here: http://lindastein.com/new/about/bio/linda-stein-the-making-of-an-artist-activist-feminist-jew/



18. Nicolás Dumit Estévez, Project 59, FF Alumns, at Bronx River Art Center, opening June 3

The Bronx River Art Center Presents
The third exhibition in the series
Food Systems, Surroundings & Sensibilities,

The Economy of Food
June 3 - June 20
Opening reception: Friday, June 3, 6-9pm,
305 East 140th Street, Bronx, NY.

The exhibition will feature:

Jonathan Blaustein
Michele Brody
Alberto Bursztyn
Andrea Callard
Patricia Cazorla &
Nancy Saleme

Nicolás Dumit Estévez
Martine Fougeron
Lisa Hein
Project 59
Ian Trask
Chee Wang Ng

The Bronx River Art Center (BRAC) is pleased to announce The Economy of Food, the third exhibition in a two-year series of ten, entitled Food Systems, Surroundings & Sensibilities that will run through 2016. The exhibition opens with a reception on Friday June 3rd, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at BRAC's temporary gallery space in Mott Haven, the Bronx.

The exhibition analyses the economics of the food system, the multifaceted operation for sustaining of our lives and existence, reflecting on food economy's major parts: the economy of food production, the economy of trade and food distribution, the economy of food consumption and the economy of recycling the aftermath of all the above.
Economy of food system is our inescapable environment. We all take part in it on an everyday bases. Participating in the exhibition artists respond with installations, photography, performance and video work to number of related to the economy of food issues. They trace, underline, critique or mock corporate vs. substantial farming, undocumented immigrants and child labor in food production, specifics of local food distribution in the Bronx; geopolitics of food supplies; food value of money, attempts to balance low budgets providing nutrition and feeding families in "the hungriest borough in NYC"; multinational customs and food related traditions; commercial and creative recycling of food waste and packaging.

Curated by Irina Danilova, The Economy of Food is part of BRAC's larger curatorial effort to draw attention to food as a creative medium muse and indicator of culture, and to highlight social and political issues, especially those impacting the Bronx community.



19. Irina Danilova, FF Alumn, at the National Center for Contemporary Art, Ektarinaburg, Russia, thru Aug. 30

Currently my work is in the exhibition "Lived whole life and still alive", a tribute to B. U. Kashkin in the Ural branch of national Center for Contemporary Art, in Ektarinaburg, Russia through August 30. Thank you. Irina Danilova



20. Diane Torr, FF Alumn, at Plateau Gallery, Berlin, Germany, May 29

DIANE TORR, FF Alumn, is performing in Berlin's Month of Performance Art on May 29. As part of an exchange between Glasgow and Berlin, fully funded by Creative Scotland, 4 performance artists (including Diane) from Glasgow are collaborating with 4 performance artists from Berlin from May 20-29. The performance project will culminate in a performance on May 29 at Plateau Gallery, Gottlieb Dunkelstr.43 at 8pm. Entrance Fee is sliding scale. For more info, http://cargocollective.com/uber-teuchter



21. Annie Sprinkle & Beth Stephens, FF Alumn, summer events 2015

(Feel free to forward and post.)

Dear Friends and Colleagues Extraordinaire,
Greetings from the redwood forest. We are writing to, 1.) say 'hello', 2.) inform you of our new projects, 3.) and extend an invitation to join us.
WATER MAKES US WET! We are launching several projects about the pleasures, politics, and importance of WATER! Perhaps you are up for doing something fun? Perhaps you, like us, love and take pleasure with water, and are concerned with the drought and the way water is being exploited and polluted? Join us in expressing your thoughts and feelings about water.
NEW FILM! After the success of our first documentary film, we are, GULP, starting another film! Goodbye Gauley Mountain-An Ecosexual Love Story (2013) played some great festivals, won some awards, and was picked up by Kino Lorber, a great distributor. Best part was that the film raised awareness about the destruction of mountain top removal coal mining in West Virginia and introduced all kinds of audiences to ecosexuality and the idea of Earth as lover. We want to extend this idea into a new film about water. This is where YOU come in! We'd like to invite you, and your friends, to create some performance pieces with us, and be in our new film.
PARADE PERFORMANCES! We're doing two Pride parade contingents in June, officially adding the E (for Ecosexual) to GLBTQI, in Santa Cruz and San Francisco. These events will kick off with ribbon cutting ceremonies, water toasts, and some special short performances by special guests. Then we make our way along the parade routes. We'll be dressed in black with blue accents as fierce, punk-rock-ish, sexy water warriors. La Pocha Nostra's co-director Saul Garcia Lopez will direct us. Guillermo Gomez Pena and his beloved Balitronica are the godparents of this SF piece. Artist Sandy Stone is our Santa Cruz project angel.
CALL FOR COLLABORATORS! We seek performers, flag bearers, safety monitors, marchers, makers, make-up artists, hair artists, production assistants and more. We welcome humans of all body types, ages, genders, sexual preferences, colors, nationalities, mobilities and eco-proclivities. Find all the juicy details here:
Santa Cruz's Ecosex Contingent Performance for June 7th: http://theecosexuals.ucsc.edu/santa-cruz-pride/
San Francisco's Ecosexual Contingent performance for June 28th: http://theecosexuals.ucsc.edu/sf-pride
ECOSEX WALKING TOURS--We are also performing Here Come the Ecosexuals!Walking Tour of Bernal Hill, directed by Joy Brooke Fairfield. June 21st we will film the 10:30 a.m. walk and would love to have you in our audience. (Free!) There's also a tour at 5. Come get your ecosexual gaze on! Tour info here: http://theecosexuals.ucsc.edu/pop-up-performance/
OUR SF HOUSE & BOULDER CREEK CABIN FOR RENT: In July, we will take off on a road trip around Northern California, exploring more about water with our film crew. To help fund our film crew and travels we are looking to rent out our houses for bits of July through September. If you or anyone is interested, contact us for more information. bethandannie@sexecology.org
A Ph.D. & A NEW BOOK! Beth is scheduled to defend her Ph.D. dissertation in October. Then at the end of this year, we have a book about our work due. Its called Assuming the Ecosexual Position, and it will be published by the great University of Minnesota Press. We expect photos of the above projects (perhaps with you in them) to be in the book.
We are busy bees here at Pollination Productions. Our greatest joy would be to have some quality time with YOU, soaking in the hot tub, hanging out at the beach... going swimming... Water makes us wet!

With sunshine and daffodils,
Beth Stephens & Annie Sprinkle



22. Lawrence Weiner, FF Alumn, receives 2015 Roswitha Haftmann Prize, Zurich, Switzerland

Congratulations to Lawrence Weiner, FF Alumn, who has won the 2015 Roswitha Haftmann Prize. Full details here: http://www.roswithahaftmann-foundation.com/en/prizewinners/default.htm



23. Ashton Applewhite, FF Alumn, in Salt Magazine, inaugural issue

I've just been included in a list of 100 inspiring women, along with Arundhati Roy, Aung Sang Suu Kyi, Germaine Greer, Rigoberta Menchu, Naomi Klein, Pussy Riot, and other remarkable activists. The list appears in the inaugural issue of Salt magazine, a publication aimed at "celebrating authentic leadership and those who are committed to making a difference." It's exciting to see my work on ageism recognized like this, and I thought you'd like to know about it.

All best,

Ashton Applewhite
author • speaker • activist



24. Julia Scher, FF Alumn, at apexart, Manhattan, opening June 3, and more

videos in town,

"Profiled: Surveillance of a Sharing Society"

June 4 - July 25, 2015

contact Mary Coyne

Opening Reception:
Wednesday, June 3: 6-8 pm

Featuring work by:
James Bridle
Paolo Cirio
Jenny Odell
Willem Popelier
Julia Scher "Mothers Under Surveillance" 1993
Jens Sundheim



The Scandinavian Institute
ID Theft
Opens June 11th

Scandinavian Institute
83 Canal St. # 207
New York, New York, 10002


Featuring work by:

Julia Scher "Television Security Show, Screen Test" 1996-7

and as a reference




25. Coco Fusco, FF Alumn, at MoMA, Manhattan, June 4

The Artist as Activist"

We are pleased to invite you to post presents: The Artist as Activist

Artists can be activists but can art be activism? Coco Fusco, Oleksiy Radynski, and Ram Rahman-artists who have all engaged with activist practices-will discuss relations between art and politics in Cuba, Ukraine, and India.

Thursday, June 4
6:30 p.m.

The MoMA Library
The Lewis B. and Dorothy Cullman Education and Research Building
4 West 54 Street (between Fifth and Sixth avenues)
New York, NY 10019

Admission is free with your RSVP. However, space is limited and seating will be offered on a first-come, first-served basis. Please arrive early to be guaranteed a seat:

RSVP: contact_c-map@moma.org

Ram Rahman is a photojournalist, artist, curator, designer, and activist, and co-founder of the Sahmat Collective. Sahmat is an acronym for the Safdar Hashmi Memorial Trust and the Hindi word for "in agreement." The Sahmat Collective was founded in 1989 in response to the murder of the political activist, actor, playwright, and poet Safdar Hashmi, during one of his street theater performances. The collective is a platform for exchanging ideas and voicing resistance.

Oleksiy Radynski is a filmmaker and writer based in Kyiv. His latest films include Incident in the Museum and Integration. Radynski is a member of Visual Culture Research Center, an initiative for art, knowledge, and politics founded in Kyiv in 2008. Since 2011, he has been an editor of the Ukrainian edition of Political Critique magazine. His texts have recently been published in e-flux journal and in the books Soviet Modernism 1955-1991: Unknown Stories; Post-Post-Soviet?: Art, Politics and Society in Russia at the Turn of Decade; and Sweet Sixties: Specters and Spirits of a Parallel Avant-Garde.

Coco Fusco is an interdisciplinary artist and writer who combines performance and media in a variety of formats. Her work has been included in various biennials, including the current Venice Biennale, and has been presented at The Museum of Modern Art, Tate Liverpool, The Walker Art Center, and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Barcelona, among others. Fusco is the author of English Is Broken Here: Notes on Cultural Fusion in the Americas, The Bodies That Were Not Ours and Other Writings, and A Field Guide for Female Interrogators. She is also the editor of Corpus Delecti: Performance Art of the Americas, and Only Skin Deep: Changing Visions of the American Self. She is currently working on a new book entitled Dangerous Moves: Performance and Politics in Cuba.

post is an online platform developed by The Museum of Modern Art, and managed with an international network of partners and contributors. It was launched in February 2013 with the aim of publishing research resources and artistic projects that engage with narratives falling outside art history's familiar accounts. Broadening the scope of MoMA's collection and exhibitions, post explores experimental practices in Asia, Central and Eastern Europe, and Latin America and the Caribbean.

post grows out of Contemporary and Modern Art Perspectives (C-MAP), a cross-departmental research program begun in 2009 at MoMA to facilitate a museum-wide study that reflects the multiplicity of modernities and histories of contemporary and modern art.

C-MAP is supported by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and The International Council of The Museum of Modern Art. Additional funding is provided by Patricia Phelps de Cisneros, Adriana Cisneros de Griffin, and Marlene Hess.



Goings On is compiled weekly by Harley Spiller