Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Back from NYC

Well I'm back from NYC where I once was a Grad student in the Gundersen Lab. My wife and I try to go back to "the city" once every 3-4 months to "get stimulated" (click here for a description of a previous visit).

So what did we do?

We spent Saturday night at "Chez Bushwick", watching their Shtudio Show ... from the website:
SHTUDIO SHOW offers a smorgasbord of cutting-edge dance, new music and other performance. This is not another burlesque/cabaret show, but rather an evening devoted to maintaining New York's unique legacy of experimentation and underground umph.

Although SHTUDIO SHOW seemed to be frequented by mostly modern dancers, the show included readings, performance art, music (although of the postmodern genre) and of course a dance performance (again very postmodern).

So where is "Chez Bushwick"? Well in Bushwick Brooklyn, NY of course ... from the April 1st edition of the NYTimes:

Williamsburg and neighboring Bushwick buzz with ad hoc entrepreneurship. Artists brave the area's stark postindustrial landscape, and camp out -- often illegally -- in loft spaces. Soon enough, fabulous little health food stores spring up among the carcasses of burned-out cars, rents rise accordingly, and artists push on to the next frontier, leaving in their wake a neighborhood made safe for commerce but too expensive for artists. It has happened before -- think SoHo and the East Village -- and it may well be happening again. Artists in search of affordable space have been pushing Williamsburg's eastern frontier steadily deeper into Bushwick.

Although Williamsburg is gentrifying, Bushwick is all abandoned industrial space. And Bushwick is being invaded by artists, from the same article:

The most visible addition (to the dance scene)was the Williamsburg Art Nexus, a black box theater affectionately known as WAX. A refuge for up-and-coming choreographers that opened in 2000, it reflected the neighborhood's freewheeling, do-it-yourself roots. Unlike Manhattan spaces, where a handful of gatekeepers control access to sought-after sites like P.S. 122, Dance Theater Workshop, Danspace Project at St. Mark's Church and the Kitchen, WAX was uncurated. Anyone with $1,500 and a dream could rent the theater for a weekend and put on a show, until last fall, when the theater closed to make way for luxury lofts.

No site dedicated to dance has emerged in the area with the visibility and professionalism WAX had, but Williamsburg and Bushwick are still full of dance studios that serve intermittently as theaters. Chez Bushwick, Soundance and Studio 111 all have informal monthly performance series, and there has been a flowering of mixed-use spaces, like Galapagos Art Space, the Brick and OfficeOps, offering the occasional dance performance. In addition, some choreographers use their private lofts for showings, and a few art galleries, like the Williamsburg Art and Historical Center and Cave, have regular dance performances.

This flourishing has given the dance world a much-needed boost. Cheap space and ample time have helped young choreographers push past the generic stuff they were churning out in two-hour increments at rented studios, and the multiplicity of informal performance spaces has encouraged irreverence and experimentation.

A documentary on the place is in the works. For more on Chez Bushwick here.

Another visit of note, PS1, MoMa's experimental contemporary art museum located in an industrial section of Queens (right across thr river from Bushwick). With a NYC trip, we almost always make a quick stop at PS1. The most notible installation was John Kesler's The Palace at 4 A.M.
What was it about? It's a room full of moving cameras ... filming you through paper cutouts that depict war, pornography and 9/11. Thus the viewer is viewed and all is distorted (see pic). In one instalation, post cards are slowly ramed into cameras, and on the video screen you're flying into the World Trade Center. Another camera is pointed towards a window where a carboard cutout is hanging ... and on the screen it's the Apocalypse on Jackson Ave. Is terrorism and the war, an ugly pornographic flick? How would we feal if we were there? How is the media distorting all these events?