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July 12 2014

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Modern Art And Kraft

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Minimalism is in the air. Despite Raf Simons’ protestations that he isn’t only a minimalist, the word has hung over his collections and informed the discussion about his taking over at Dior. Meanwhile, one of fashion’s most famous minimalists, Jil Sander, is headed back to the house she founded (and Simons vacated). Minimal chic has ruled the runway these past few seasons, even if Fall brought with it a hint of the baroque. And at the Museum of Modern Art last night, minimal came back in a big way: Minimal pioneers Kraftwerk returned to the stage for the first of an eight-night retrospective. Each night is loosely devoted to a performance and on-screen “3-D visualization” of one of the band’s studio albums, ranging from Autobahn (1974) last night through Tour de France (2003).

Simons, for what it’s worth, is an outspoken Kraftwerk fan who’s created men’s shows inspired by the seminal electronic group. So is Klaus Biesenbach, MoMA’s chief curator-at-large, who dreamed up the retrospective of sound and image for a lucky few. The museum’s Marron Atrium, where the shows are held, has a capacity of only 450 people.

Last night brought together such strange bedfellows as Kim Cattrall and Terence Koh, who danced to a smattering of Kraftwerk’s most influential hits. Opting for a white plastic jumpsuit made by designer Mary Ping, Koh looked the most prepared in the room for any potential effects of “Radioactivity,” which displayed as 3-D text from the stage’s screen while the band played the title song of their 1975 album, which made for the darkest, most political moment of the evening.

Politics aside, for those lucky enough to have tickets to tonight’s, or any of the remaining, performances, prepare to be wowed. The current members of Kraftwerk are in full form, and are as sonically and visually intriguing as ever. And for those still reeling in lament over MoMA’s faulty, non-Ticketmaster-like approach to ticket sales for an event as monumental as eight back-to-back Kraftwerk shows, all hope is not yet lost. As part of the complete Kraftwerk-Retrospective 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8, a presentation of Kraftwerk’s historical audio and visual material will be on view in the Performance Dome of MoMA’s sibling museum, PS1, from today until May 14, which is sure to be almost as maximal as having seen the band live.

Photo: Benjamin Lozovsky / BFAnyc.com

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Dept. of Culture