August 16, 2010

Plus, La Sonnambula in Sydney, The Vizcaya Museum and Gardens in Miami, and more picks to love this week

The Surreal House, Barbican Art Gallery, through September 12
Designed by the critically acclaimed architect Carmody Groarke, this exhibit takes a retrospective look at the twisted stream of consciousness forms that came to encapsulate Surrealism. Every Thursday features talks, performances, and films by those artists at the forefront of the Surrealist movement—Salvador Dalí, Marcel Duchamp, Alberto Giacometti, René Magritte, Man Ray, Joseph Cornell, and Maya Deren. More contemporary figures such as Rebecca Horn, Edward Kienholz, and Rem Koolhas are featured as well. If you”€™ve ever wondered what its like to step into the bizarre disquieting worlds that came to encapsulate Salvador Dalí and Luis Buñuel’s seminal avant-garde film Un Chien Andalous, then the Surreal House should be at the top of your list.

Jacques Magazine
Touting itself as America’s only “€œonly new luxury erotic magazine,”€ this quarterly offers the reader a return to the naturalistic high brow erotica that has long been replaced by siliconized magazines such as Playboy and Penthouse.  Outside of the magazine’s beautiful photographic layouts, this publication also contains revealing interviews, daring pieces of fiction, and original opinion pieces on a range of subjects. Each issue has its own theme, whether its sports, or the latest, Asia. Jacques isn”€™t a magazine to be hidden under the mattress, but rather a piece of art that deserves to be placed on coffee tables next to the latest issues of Vogue and Interview Magazine.  

La Sonnambula, Sydney Opera House, through August 25
La Sonnambula—or “the Sleepwalker” as it is literally translated—is Vincenzo Bellini’s pastoral opera semisiera in which a young maiden about to marry mysteriously finds herself in the bed of another man. Due its daunting and dazzling coloraturas, the title role of Amina is known as being one of the most challenging in the Soprano repertoire, and that only makes Australian opera singer Emma Mathews all the more impressive and delightful to watch. Meanwhile, director Julie Edwardson brings this classic opera to the twentieth century by introducing Freudian themes of the unconscious into a production that is normally known for its quaint setting.

Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, Miami
Constructed by agricultural industrialist James Deering in 1916, the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens contains some of the most beautiful architecture that Miami has to offer. Located on city’s bay front, the estate contains ten acres of formal gardens in the French and Renaissance style. The home, which is meant to mimic classic residential Italian villas, was built with the help of some 1,000 workers, including craftsman from all over Europe and the Caribbean. The estate is a testament to Miami’s quaint beginnings—and the long-gone days of wealthy American industrialists who not only had taste, but sublime taste at that.

Destroy and Create in Sao Paulo, Brazil
A fascinating exhibition in Brazil that explores the unique urban relationship between skate-boarders and their concrete surroundings. These days, street skating mostly takes place in perfectly smooth and pre-manufactured skate parks”€”successfully removing what makes it such an organic and raw activity. Destroy and Create is an ode to what skating should be, closely examining an ever-dwindling art through video, architectural displays, photography, and a specially-created Collective Noh sculpture. May the revival of street skating begin!

Copehnhagen Fashion Week
While Copenhagen Fashion Week is undoubtedly Northern Europe’s most glamorous fashion event, the city itself seldom enters the conversation of fashion capitals. But after this year, it would be a crime if Copenhagen’s name weren’t placed in the same league as Paris, New York, and Milan. Perhaps most intriguing—outside of the beautiful spring and summer lines to be unveiled, of course—is that this year’s shows promise to have what will be the longest catwalk on record to date. The runway is situated on what is already the longest pedestrian walkway in the world, and will be opened by Danish model and former Victoria’s Secret agent Helena Christensen. If bigger truly is better, then the fashion world is in for a real treat.

The Museum of American Finance, New York City
This out-of-the-box museum takes a long hard look at what has ultimately elevated America to—and could ultimately bring the country down from—its powerful global presence in the twentieth century: capitalism, and more specifically, finance. Located on Wall Street in New York City, its setting could not be more fitting. The current exhibit looks at financial crime, from William Duer’s role in the crash of 1792 to Lehman’s downfall just a few years ago. With financial reform on the collective national mind, The Museum of American Finance takes on new levels of relevance and interest.

Brian Wilson Reimagines Gershwin
In what promises to be Brian Wilson’s richest musical undertaking, he will take on his musical hero, one of American music’s most renowned composers: George Gershwin. While initially this may seem a foolhardy endeavor, consider that Gershwin, much like Wilson (without whom there would never have been The Beach Boys), has had an unforgettable impact on popular and classical music. Never mind that he was supposedly the wealthiest composer of all time, consider a world without Rhapsody in Blue, Summertime, or I Got Rhythm. (Twenty bucks says you can’t.) Wilson began the project with a careful study of Gershwin’s catalogue, including more than 100 forgotten or unfinished pieces; he wound up tackling everything from standards to little-known rarities. Much as we love those infectious beach ballads, if George Gershwin hadn’t come first, there may never have been a Brian Wilson—or at least not as we know him.

Solange Azagury-Partridge, London Flagship Store
Azagury-Partridge has had no formal training in jewelry design, but you’d never know it. Or maybe that’s what make her particular set of diamonds so outrageously appealing. After all, it was her decision to design her own engagement ring with a much-admired rough diamond that propelled her career—how much more gutsy and savvy can a woman get than that? She regards that D-I-Y approach as essential to her work: “€œThe advantages of being self-taught are that I have no preconceptions or received opinions about the rules of jewellery,”€ Azagury-Partridge has been known to say. “€œBeing an outsider is my raison d”€™Ãªtre.”€ Indeed, in the last fifteen years she has defined an iconoclastic approach, creating dramatic sculptural settings from unconventional combinations of stones including uncut precious and semi-precious gems. Her London flagship store is well worth the visit: it has a luscious, red-velvet jewelry box feel, the most fantastic feature of which is the brown and white-lined geometric carpet. Little surprise, Azagury-Partridge designed her store interior too.

Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking
This gorgeous 2,400-page journey into the science behind cooking is equal parts The Joy of Cooking and an introductory science text book. Published by the Cooking Lab, it offers the reader insight into the food that has helped propel restaurants like elBulli, The Fat Duck, Alinea, and wd~50 into that rare pantheon of truly original cuisine. Be sure to put away that ordinary whisk and be prepared to use state of the art cooking tools. Some of the techniques introduced include water baths, homogenizers, and centrifuges; along with ingredients such as hydrocolloids, emulsifiers, and enzymes. Although Modernist Cuisine does not come out until December, but make sure to reserve your copy before the holiday season—it’s certain to be a hit.  


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