08 January 2009

The Not-So-Smart Set: Things to do in NYC in January

The Smart Set already has their weekly list of things to do in New York. The list that follows highlights events happening in the city this month for the rest of us:

9 January-15 February: Emily Newman’s show “4,000 km from the Mouth” will be up at Klaus von Nichtssagend Gallery. The press release describes the work of seven videos on four channels as follows:

The explorations manifest in scenes of St. Petersburg street traffic, Soviet-era weekend homes (Dachas) in a post-Soviet context, exhibits in a Russian ethnographic museum, and footage of Newman's own son in a Russian nursery school. Cultural access is of key importance to each exploration, and Newman attempts different ways to break through the barrier of her own outsider status. One entry point is through her toddler son who, having been born after her arrival in Russia, has been raised more fully immersed in the culture, complete with a Russian nanny and Russian schooling.
The gallery opening is this Friday.

16 & 31 January: Song from the South Seas, a recent Kazakh production, will show at MOMA. The synopsis sounds amazingly simple and harsh:
Two couples, one Russian and one Kazakhstani, are neighbors in a beautiful, semi-desolate region adjoining the arid grasslands of the Great Steppe. The couples live in intimate proximity, sharing one another's joys and woes, but when the fair-skinned Russians give birth to a boy with a decidedly darker complexion, the couples enter into a fifteen-year period of suspicion and acrimony.
Suspicion, inter-ethnic tension and family drama. You can’t go wrong with that formula.

19 & 21 January: Lukas Pribyl’s Forgotten Transports, the story of a band of Czech Jewish women in Estonia during World War Two, shows at the Jewish Film Festival:
Put to forced labor in the port, they meet ordinary Estonians, Russians and Germans. Friendships and romances develop beyond the bounds of ideology and racial hatred. Swedish sailors even offer to smuggle some of the women out. Yet escape is unthinkable: they have been warned that their parents will be punished if they try to run away. Among many other powerful episodes, the documentary reconstructs the astonishing unknown story of a concentration camp Romeo and Juliet. A cruel commandant is transformed by love for his beautiful prisoner, assists her and her friends, and even tries to leave the SS. The lovers themselves inevitably meet a tragic end.
Southern Californians get a crack at some culture, too.

Until 15 February: The central branch of the New York Public Library has an exhibit on Yaddo, the storied retreat for writers and artists, that presents a portrait of the institution through artwork, photographs and documentation of James Baldwin’s attempted dodge of a $35 phone bill. The bit on Yaddo and anti-Communism especially tickled my fancy, with a great picture (right, apologies for low resolution) that shows Agnes Smedley at Langston Hughes’ right shoulder while Carson McCullers sits just below his left elbow. Go order some books in the main reading room and stroll down to the first floor to check this out while they page your material.

Until 16 February: “Measuring Your Own Grave,” a show of South African painter Marlene Dumas’s work, is up at MOMA. I haven’t checked it out yet, despite my promise to a friend that I will make the effort after she convinced me that it really is worth the trek from Sunset Park to Honkyville Manhattan.


Culturaddict said...

Thank you so much for mentioning the terrific Yaddo Exhibition at The New York Public Library:

Did you know that President Obama's choice for the Inaugural Poet Elizabeth Alexander was a Yaddo resident in 1990 and 1991 ?