April 18 2014

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the moving image



Being an established artist who also dabbles in a creative side project or two may seem par for the course these days, particularly when it comes to photography—see Karl Lagerfeld, Patti Smith, and Bryan Adams. Add dancer/actor Mikhail Baryshnikov to the list. “Merce My Way: The Merce Cunningham Dance Company in Photographs,” which opens today at Manhattan’s 401 Projects, showcases Baryshnikov’s work behind the lens. Though initially loath to shoot fellow dancers (he preferred black and white portraits and travel photography), Baryshnikov changed course after a bit of study. Inspired by the work of Alexey Brodovitch and Irving Penn, he chose to forego crystalline stills in favor of blurred edges. The result is a series of colorful abstracts—swooping, lunging bodies that easily suggest the frenzied time Baryshnikov spent running back and forth shooting Cunningham’s dress rehearsals. So what about the legendary choreographer appealed to one of the most acclaimed dancers of the last century? Baryshnikov sums it up succinctly: “His unpredictability.”

Photo: Mikhail Baryshnikov, courtesy of 401 Projects

listen up




The indie kids are still sleeping off their South by Southwest hangovers, so is stepping into the breach this week to give you your download marching orders. Two dynamic duos release new albums today: She and Him, the kismet pairing of actress Zooey Deschanel and folkie troubador M. Ward, and him and her, a.k.a. the Kills, a.k.a. Jamie Hince and Alison Mosshart. “Volume One” by She and Him is 100 percent Pitchfork-approved indie stuff—winsome, vintage-y, lightly country-fried songcraft that Deschanel and Ward pull off with catchy and melodically original aplomb. Music geeks have been rooting for Ward since, well, basically always, and fashion folk who caught Deschanel’s set at the Erin Fetherston show last year found out that this is one ingenue with the chops to quit her day job, if she wanted to; together, they’re a match made in heaven. Courtesy of a certain Miss Moss, meanwhile, the Kills have all the fashion following they’ll ever need, and Hince and Mosshart are courting the new fan base on “Midnight Boom” by finally stepping out of the long shadow of the Royal Trux and indulging their taste for beat-driven pop. The bluesy stomp of previous Kills records has been traded in for a fresher industrial crunch, notably on the clubby “Cheap and Cheerful” and the sexy, no-holds opener “U.R.A. Fever.”

night vision



Although most of us are passingly familiar with "The Twilight Zone," it takes a real Rod Serling fanatic to name-drop "Night Gallery," the impresario’s seventies follow-up to his iconic TV hit. Artist Megan Pflug is that fanatic. "None of the images I used are taken from the show, but you know, I was Netflixing ‘Night Gallery’ for a while and stuff kind of filters in," explains Pflug of the oblique inspiration behind her new work, which goes on view today at the V&A gallery (her second solo show at the space) in Chinatown. Pflug’s works on paper and sculpture combine "disparate-seeming" types of art in order to create an opening for viewers to come up with their own interpretations of her references. "What I really like are images that can send people in a variety of directions, like a digital capture I made of a still from Roman Polanski’s ‘Repulsion.’ It’s just two hands, one young and one old, grasping together across the sky. And you might think, oh, Catherine Deneuve. Or you might think, Sistine Chapel, or you might think, cheesy religious greeting card. But really, who knows?"

Photo: Megan Pflug, courtesy of V&A

compose yourself



Next Wednesday, when Prada premieres James Lima’s “Trembled Blossoms” to a crowd of Hollywood heavyweights at its Epicenter on North Rodeo Drive, a mix by DJ Frederic Sanchez will accompany the short film, replacing the CocoRosie song that was featured at the New York screening. Aspiring DJs, pop stars, and composers who’d like their own original music—no copyright issues, please!—to accompany the movie on Prada’s Web site should get to work. We hear that the company is launching a contest beginning on March 19 and running through April 20, the winning score of which will be featured on “indefinitely.”

lost cause



Pretty much any artist will tell you that their best stuff relies on a combination of hard work and happenstance. Patricia Iglesias, for example, had for years been developing “a series of forms,” as she puts it, but wasn’t entirely sure to what end until she stumbled upon a trove of tossed-out floor plans for a hospital in Brooklyn. “The fact that these were hospital rooms really spoke to me,” the New York-based, Buenos Aires-bred artist explained on Friday night, at the opening for her show “On the Absent” at Fake Estate. “I think of a hospital as a place where you lose things,” Iglesias continued, gesturing to one of the pieces she made using those defunct blueprints as her canvas. “You lose people, you lose body parts, you lose consciousness. You might lose your mind. So those forms I’d been working on, when I saw the floor plans, I knew that there was a way to bring the two things together, the dream world and the measured world, to show the ghosts.”

Photo: Courtesy of Fake Estate