May 11, 2010

10 Picks for the Week

A Patch on My Evil Eye, May 6 – May 26, The Arab-British Centre, London
A showcase of paintings, photographs, prints, and sculpture by young artists from the Middle East and Britain. A Patch on My Evil Eye purports to challenge the stereotypes too often associated with the Arab world. Exhibiting the latest work by Noor Al Suwaidi, Ruba Asfahani, Daniel Louis MacCarthy, Hazem Harb, and the celebrated Palestinian photographer Yazan Khalili, curator Juan Carlos Farah presents abstract interpretations of the Middle East’s turbulent socio-political scene with figurative insights into the lives of Arabs abroad.

The Beauty of Distance: Songs of Survival in a Precarious Age, Sydney, Australia, opens May 12
The biennale makes use of the Sydney Opera House, Harbour Bridge, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Cockatoo Island Prison, and its original 1839 powerhouse to exhibit 200 artists from around the world. The sites were chosen because of their historical significance, and several artists are creating site specific pieces for the biennale. High profile contributors including Bill Viola, Paul McCarthy, Steve McQueen, Rodney Graham, Isaac Julien, Louise Bourgeois, John Bock, Raqib Shaw, and the collective AES+F will appear alongside the work of Australian artists. Artistic director David Elliott highlights what he describes as “the level playing field of the cross-cultured international art scene”, in so doing, acknowledging the brutal history of Australia’s colonization. Elliott says the theme for the biennale discusses “the social phenomena of distance no longer being seen as daunting, due to affordable mass travel and global communication”.

The Vogalonga, Venice, May 23
Since 1975, rowing revivalists have been racing about St Mark’s basin in a bid to stop motor boat pollution. Today the Vogalonga boat race is one of Venice’s biggest events. It takes place near Ascension Day, and coincides with the old ceremony of the Doge’s symbolic marriage to the sea. As the cannon shot rings out over the water more than 5000 eager rowers begin their 30 kilometre journey across the lagoon to the island of Burano and back. Over the years it has become a carnival procession, sporting challenge and an affirmation of love for the city and its maritime culture.

White Nights Festival, St. Petersburg, Russia, May 20 – July 15
Belyi Nochi characterizes St. Petersburg’s midsummer mood. The sun never quite sets and an eerie half light bathes the streets in the early hours. Under a seemingly perpetual twilight, the city puts on firework displays, all-night parties, and cultural events. The Stars of the White Nights Festival at the Mariinsky Theatre is the center piece of the city’s cultural calendar. It is also wedding season in St. Petersburg, and brides in flowing white dresses abound across the city. A twilight boat tour down the River Neva is a pleasant way to enjoy this unique phenomenon. The city’s famous canal bridges are a sight to see, but beware, they open during the night, and it is common for visitors to become stranded across the water from their hotels after a particularly late night on the town.

Monaco Grand Prix, May 13 – 16
The Monaco Grand Prix is the most glamorous event of the Formula One calendar. The track winds through Monte Carlo and over some of the most famous streets in motor racing. Those fortunate enough will be watching the event from their gin palaces in the Monte Carlo harbor, though a seat in the grandstand is by no means the worst place to be. Others will catch a glimpse from the circuit-side terrace, or the Fairmont Hotel which overlooks the Loews Hairpin, F1’s most famous corner, where drivers slow to a crawl, then emerge speeding out of the tunnel. Although the races tend to be devoid of overtaking—the streets really are too narrow—the thrill of the Grand Prix is a must for the Flavio Briatores of this world.

Collected Stories, New York City, through June 13
Donald Margulies”€™ play, about an acclaimed and crotchety short-story writer and her eager and submissive fiction-writing student, is as relevant and enticing today as when it was first written sixteen years ago (it was a Pulitzer finalist in 1997). Questions of intellectual and emotional ownership”€”for instance, is a writer entitled to his or her own experiences or can another writer appropriate them”€”are illuminated by Linda Lavin and Sarah Paulson, who give the contest their all. Their harrowing sparring and cuffing, first with mother-and-cub affection and later with venomous resentment, make this performance a can”€™t-miss.

Pilgrimage to Fatima, Portugal, May 12 – May 13
As the story goes, on May 13, 1917 the Virgin Mary visited three shepherd children in the fields near Fatima. Today several million head to the Sanctuary of Our Lady of the Rosary of Fatima to take part in a pilgrimage. The Lady originally appeared to the children in a flash of light asking them to return six times on the 13th of each month, promising to tell them who she was and what she wanted. Initially, there were many skeptics. Although only the children have ever seen her, by the date of the last appearance 70,000 people had gathered in the town to witness what became known as the “Miracle of the Sun”. Eye witnesses reported that the skies cleared to reveal a sun which grew into a blinding ball of fire where miracles took place. The three “Secrets of Fatima” are messages of peace and a vision of hell, which were related to the First World War. Most visit around the anniversary of the first visit in May but there are smaller pilgrimages on the 12th and 13th of each month. During the Night Vigil there is a Eucharistic procession and International Rosary culminating with the Adeus procession. As the Virgin Mary is carried from the high altar to the Chapel of the Apparitions, the crowd waves farewell with white handkerchiefs.

American Woman: Fashioning a National Identity, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City, through August 15
We all know the Met Gala disappointed this year, but what was lacking on the red carpet is made up for in the annual high fashion exhibit, this year at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Brooklyn Museum. “American Woman: Fashioning a National Identity” at the Met is loaded with evening attire that ranges in date from the late Gilded Age to mid-century Hollywood, and enhanced by seductive hand-painted murals designed by Nathan Crowley and the extravagant wigs of Julien d”€™Ys. Over in Brooklyn, “American High Style: Fashioning a National Collection” features the hat fashioned from green velvet drapes and heavy gold fringe by the impoverished post-war Scarlett O”€™Hara in Gone With the Wind, a reproduction of the black silk twill gown that Queen Victoria wore in a famous 1896 family photograph, and Charles James”€™ astounding “Diamond” evening dress, among other “rarities,” as the museum is calling them.

Wine in a Box
Once upon a time, boxed wine meant frat parties, entry-level salaries, and a beverage that tasted more like juice than fine alcohol. No more: European boxed wines are vacuum sealed (read: tasty), eco-friendly, and 33 percent larger than a normal wine bottle. Plus, as Vanity Fair points out, they have the added advantage of portability. There are “no glass bottles” signs at beaches and hotel pools, but who has ever seen a sign prohibiting foil bags and cardboard boxes?

Psychonaut, M + B, Los Angeles, through June 5
In the artist’s words, it is as if she “threw the photos in the air and cut them all up as they were falling down”. Psychonaut is a collection of one-of-a-kind assemblages without editions and without using Photoshop. Her most personal work to date, Lisa Eisner, an avowed psychonaut of the California-by-way-of-Wyoming variety, is a photojournalist, fashion editor and co-founder of Greybull Press. She is a frequent contributor to Vanity Fair, W Magazine, and The New York Times among others. Eisner draws inspiration from the kindred spirit of Buckminster Fuller and his geodesic domes, Native American culture, geometry, nature, birds, and a homegrown spirituality. What emerges is a handcrafted, three- dimensional psychedelic explosion that is alternately bright and soothing, meditative and disorienting.


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