Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Weekend highlights, lowlights

In the stead of this weekend's blank slate, here are last weekend's reviews. . .


Didn't care for Matthew Bourne's Play Without Words at BAM, perhaps due to my longstanding bafflement for all things theatrical. PWW has been well-reviewed (see here; scroll down a little to the second set of links), and it's easy to see why it's a crowd-pleaser: the show is extremely handsome—the sets and costumes are gorgeous—and smart, and very cinematic (the work is based on The Servant, a Joseph Losey film from 1963). [The link to the film takes one to the British Film Institute's very good "definitive guide to Britian's film and TV industry," and is well worth a visit.]


At the Whitney, thumbs up for

  • Ellen Gallagher's DeLuxe, a portfolio of sixty prints (in an edition of twenty at $175,000 per set, apparently already sold out—wow! that comes to $3.5m) hanging at the small ground floor gallery in the back. Her work is gritty and evocative, and is still employing wig ads and yearbook pages from the 1960s—however, the alterations are metastasized into something bigger and edgier than doll eyes. She's building an impressive body of work; and

  • Cy Twombly's drawings before the middle of the 1980s, especially those concerned with mythological figures, gods and goddesses often concerned with beauty and sensuality.

Thumbs down for

  • Cy Twombly's drawings after the middle-eighties: more decorative and undistinguished than the earlier works;
  • Tim Hawkinson's big fourth-floor survey: I don't care for his scientific aesthetics, except for a lovely and surprisingly delicate "bird egg" fabricated from fingernails; and
  • "Political Nature," a small collection of works that examine "the use of nature as a metaphor to reflect and comment on mankind." (I'm working on a short piece on political art, so more on this later.)

  • Lukewarm on Employment, debut disk from the Kaiser Chiefs, one of latest (and most polished) in the new crop of MTV-friendly British guitar band with eighties stylings. (Note boomlet for Great War imagery, with Jeunet, the Chiefs, and ol' Franz Ferdinand. More to be mined there!) They can play, and Ricky Wilson can sing, but only about half of the singles stick.

  • More from Sublime Frequencies: Folk and Pop Sounds of Sumatra Vol. 2 is terrific, better than the other 2005 releases I mentioned in previous dispatches, and infused with Arab rhythm and vocals, but leavened with folk music and instruments from the regional subcultures (including Bali). Beautiful and haunting in parts, but good-'n'-poppy. Less satisfying is Streets of Lhasa, a spare and folky entry.


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