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9 posts tagged "Kalup Linzy"

The Artist Was Present



If fine art wasn’t already the ultimate status symbol, it certainly is now. Yesterday afternoon, the reigning king of hip-hop and all-around tastemaker Jay-Z brought together the crème de la crème of New York’s art, fashion, and entertainment worlds for the marathon six-hour-long shoot of his video for “Picasso Baby,” off the new Magna Carta…Holy Grail album, at the Pace Gallery in Chelsea.

“I just met baby Picasso, baby!” enthused Jenna Lyons, pointing out the late painter’s granddaughter, Diana, who participated in the action along with Judd Apatow, Jim Jarmusch, Alan Cumming, Adrian Grenier, and Jemima Kirke. Further upping the event’s street cred were Rosie Perez, Fab 5 Freddy, and Michael Kenneth Williams (a.k.a. Omar from The Wire). Naturally, the art world was well-represented, too. An established collector of Basquiat, Warhol, and Hirst, Mr. Carter worked with his personal art adviser, Jeanne Greenberg Rohatyn, to bring in contemporary stars such as Richard Phillips, Elizabeth Peyton, Rob Pruitt, Aaron Young, Kalup Linzy, Jane Holzer, and Klaus Biesenbach. Each took a turn vibing alongside Mr. Carter during a live performance of the song that was being filmed by Mark Romanek (who was also behind “99 Problems”) in the format of Marina Abramovic’s The Artist Is Present show. Notoriously transgressive photographer Andres Serrano, who was rocking his signature flattop hair and a vintage cowboy ensemble, told, “I’m just going to wing it when I get up there and go off of him. “‘Big Pimpin’ has to be my favorite song of his.”

At the end of the track, Hova would huddle up all the eager onlookers. The vibe was amped up, but it wasn’t high enough for Jay. “Y’all call that energy?” he boomed into the mic, which reminded people to stop Instagram-ing and Vine-ing.

The clear highlight of the production was Jay’s interaction with Abramovic herself. The two locked foreheads, as if in a performance-art mind meld, and stared each other down while circling the room. And when their powers combine? The artist Laurie Simmons’ verdict is likely the one the two were courting: “Simply genius.”

Photo: Brittany Adams

The Pheelgood Performance of the Year

------- contributing editor and party reporter Darrell Hartman circles the city and, occasionally, the globe in the line of duty. In a new column, he reports on the topics—whatever they may be at whatever given moment—that are stirring the social set.

Earlier this summer, I became a doctor. Not any old doctor but Dr. Goodpheel, a character in Kalup Linzy‘s wacky online soap opera, Melody Set Me Free. I was in this season’s first and second episodes, and the thrilling finale just went live. I met Kalup last year, at a Chanel dinner for the Tribeca Film Festival. After that we’d say hi at art parties, and next thing I knew we were shooting scenes together in his collector and socialite Stacy Engman’s art-filled Soho pad.

Melody is a hilariously tangled web of storylines, but you don’t have to follow them all that closely to enjoy it. “I try to frame the stories so people can just come in anywhere and have something to pick up on,” Kalup told me by phone the other day from California’s Headlands Center for the Arts, where he’s doing a summer residency. The subplot I’m in involves music-industry legend KK Queen, one of about a half-dozen characters expertly played (in drag) by Kalup. A jealous rival shoots KK Queen in the—well, let’s just say in a very sensitive spot—and he goes into a coma. Being a compassionate and responsible doctor, I keep a close eye on her recovery. Maybe too close an eye, in fact. And things get interesting…

As everyone on the show does, I lip-synched to dialogue written and pre-recorded by Kalup. Unfortunately, this doesn’t entirely mask the fact that my acting skills haven’t evolved since I played Scrooge in fifth grade. Nonetheless, I can now boast that I’ve shared an acting credit with Natasha Lyonne and January LaVoy of One Life to Live—and potentially even James Franco, with whom Kalup has collaborated plenty of times before. (Melody airs on Franco’s Web-TV site.)

Kalup grew up in Central Florida watching tons of Guiding Light. With his catchy tunes and love of divas, he’s been a natural fit for the fashion world. Proenza Schouler—for whom he’s made music videos starring Chloë Sevigny and Liya Kebede—and Diane von Furstenberg are among his fans. (Kalup told me Sevigny demurred when he asked her to act in Melody: “She says she don’t like to lip-synch.”) And he’s sure to make a splash with that crowd again in September, when he performs at the opening of the Met’s big Regarding Warhol exhibition.

Also in his future: Frieze in October, and convincing Cindy Sherman (an obvious inspiration) to play one of his many ingenious characters. She’d certainly be a step up from yours truly.

Photo: Courtesy Photo

The Can’t-Miss Funeral Of The Season


The annual Whitney Art Party always lures a strong contingent of the fashion crowd, and this year should be no exception. If there’s a bit more buzz than usual, chalk it up to the evening’s entertainer, performance artist Kalup Linzy (pictured). A friend and collaborator of James Franco—who’s helped to publicize him and his work—Linzy has also been embraced by the fashion world, creating a video for Proenza Schouler’s show at Pitti and getting fitted personally by DVF. For the Whitney, Linzy will be bidding adieu to one of his longtime characters/alter egos, Taiwan, with an elaborate funeral. (Original plans called for a casket procession through the city.) In honor of the occasion, checked in with Linzy to talk about the end of Taiwan (live, at least; he’ll live on in video), the beginnings of his new character Kaye, and why design is best left to the designers.

I’ve heard that Wednesday’s performance will include a funeral procession and Whitney Houston songs. Care to fill in a few blanks?
It’s not going to be a funeral procession, per se, but I am paying a tribute to my character Taiwan and I am performing most of the songs I composed. But because Whitney is one of my favorite artists, there will be Whitney songs played too. There will be a video playing the whole time and in the background there’s a casket. That will be closed until the ritual happens, but something does happen during the performance. When I started my proposals like a year ago, they wanted to have the casket literally driving through the city.

For those not keyed in, tell us a little bit about the origins and evolution of Taiwan.
Taiwan is a soul singer. He was part of my thesis video in 2003 and then I started performing him live. The first live performance that got a lot of attention was at PS1 in 2006. Other big highlights were the performance in New Orleans with the Art Production Fund and then the videos for Proenza, then T, then working with James Franco.

He’s been a big part of your body of work. Why are you putting him to rest?
Taiwan was just an avenue that I would tap into but I don’t feel like going on stage and being like that anymore. For now, I have done all I can to stay true to the character. I could force it but I don’t think it would be the same, emotionally, as what people were getting before. Now I want to do something lighter. I feel like the stuff that drove Taiwan is not there or in the same place anymore.

Clothes and fashion play a very big role in your work. How do you see fashion in relation to your art?
The clothes help define each character—it’s an essential part. Even thrift store shopping, I find I am imaging them. It’s an emotional, visual response to what each should have on. Personally, I am really a T-shirt and jeans guy, but I think fashion is a type of performance art. Designers come up with clothes with a particular character. These days, they [don't want the models] to have personality, but back in the day the supermodels had personalities that went into selling the clothes, too.

And what will you be wearing for the performance?
He has a curly wig and a black suit from Theory they sent me yesterday. And I don’t know about the shoes yet.

Kaye, your newest character, features into the new film you’re working on. Will you be collaborating with someone on a collection for him?
Kaye is a fashionista but I don’t know if I want to have someone pull clothes or work with a designer formally because that can take forever. I have been talking to Cynthia Rowley about doing a full-on collab, but really I am focused on the film right now. It has crossed my mind to do my own clothing collection but it would probably be a hot mess. I studied art, not fashion, so I wouldn’t have that point of reference that real designers have. I can’t really transcend if I don’t know the history and I don’t want to imitate, you know? I trust designers with that.

Photo: Courtesy Photo

Designers And Artists On The MOVE!


At Visionaire‘s Halloween party on Saturday, an elaborately costumed crowd took to the sweaty dance floor to cut loose. The designers on hand deserved it. They’d been in the museum all day, installing MOVE!, an exhibition curated by Visionaire‘s Cecilia Dean and journalist David Colman that paired artists and designers to create—well, whatever they wanted.

MOVE! is a unique experience of art and fashion, where one is a reflection of the other,” explained Italo Zucchelli. “Reflection” was literal in the case of the “live sculpture” he and Terence Koh created: two silver-painted and -cloaked men (above), walking continuously toward and away from one another. “Bringing the future into history and presenting it as a perfect present,” Koh described it in a rare moment of verbosity.

Performance artist Ryan McNamara—who recently completed five months of public dance lessons for a project called Make Ryan a Dancer—took the weekend off to act as instructor. McNamara and 11 dancers, in costumes designed by Robert Geller, taught museum-goers everything from strip dance to traditional Korean moves. “We created this McNamara/Geller carnival of dancers, with Ryan as this kind of crazy Andy Warhol carnie directing the whole thing,” Geller said. “Sometimes art and fashion can be too serious. This was meant to be fun, and even a little funny.” Continue Reading “Designers And Artists On The MOVE!” »

Be A Man, Wear A Dress


Kalup Linzy, the (male) performance artist and collaborator du jour (he’s performed at Proenza Schouler’s Pitti show and rocked out with pal James Franco) is no stranger to a dress—he’s slipped on more than a few for the soap opera videos that he exhibits at venues like MoMA’s PS1. At a party a few months back, I couldn’t resist asking him who he’d love to wear. I expected one of the hot young things—a Proenza or an Altuzarra. But Linzy didn’t miss a beat: Diane von Furstenberg, he said.

Now he’s getting his chance. For MOVE!, an exhibition-turned-party at PS1, curators Cecilia Dean (of Visionaire) and David Colman (of The New York Times) paired artists with fashion designers for an on-site installation. Dean made a few of the matches herself, but Linzy put in his own request—guess who. The soon-to-be-wrap-dressed performer will take the stage on the weekend of October 30 and 31, but until then, here’s an exclusive video of his fitting with DVF.