July 11, 2010

Plus, Olivia Munn makes you laugh (until you cry), Pitchfork launches a new music blog, and Australia celebrates winter

Serpentine Gallery Pavilion, London, through October 17
This year, Hyde Park’s Serpentine Gallery celebrates its 40th anniversary, and with that, a new pavilion designed by renowned French architect, Jean Nouvel, who has built the Copenhagen Concert Hall, the Ferrari Factory in Modena, Italy, 40 Mercer Street in New York, and the extension to the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía in Madrid, among hundreds of other buildings. The commission, for the Park Nights series, had a six month deadline, and is part of the Serpentine’s unique and ambitious architecture series, this is the tenth commission, and the architects first British project. Nouvel made use of lightweight materials and metal cantilevered structures. The building is red, likely inspire by iconic British images of telephone boxes and double-decker buses. The building is a series of geometric forms, large retractable awnings and a freestanding wall that climbs 12 meters above the lawn, sloping at a gravity defying angle. Nouvel has used fabric, glass, and polycarbonate to create a versatile system of interior and exterior spaces. Around the pavilion, red ping pong tables, chess, frisbees, and kites are available for the public throughout the summer. Tonight, July 12, Nouvel discusses his cutting-edge design at a free event in the new pavilion.

Gilbert & George: The Paintings, Kröller-Müller Museum, Netherlands, through November 21
Those mad London artists Gilbert and George are at it again, but this time they are not exhibiting their best-known photos but their rarely seen paintings. The Paintings (With Us in the Nature) is a single work consisting of six large-scale triptychs produced in the winter of 1970-71. A recollection of the the previous summer, the triptychs are about seven meters wide, each one depicting the two artists in the “€œoverwhelming presence of nature”€. The venue, which is situated within 5,000 hectares of woodland within the Hoge Veluwe National Park, is seemingly appropriate given the subject matter of the work. The museum, referred to by staffers as the “€œmuseum in paradise”€, designs much of its collection as a reflection of the landscape. The Kröller-Müller Museum is attempting to purchase the work from the artist, but as a condition of negotiation, the artists demanded an exhibition before any sale could be finalized.

Slake: Los Angeles
Former LA Weekly editors Laurie Ochoa and Joe Donnelly are determined to change the landscape of print media with the launch of their new literary magazine, Slake. Its debut edition, Still Life, is perfect-bound and a hefty 232 pages—designed to make a statement: that print is beautiful and long-form journalism is viable. It’s meant as a collectible, not disposable; destined for the bedside table instead of the recycling bin; and so seductive in its looks and content that readers will find it irresistible. Some of the nation’s finest writers, photographers, and artists have contributed to Slake, including Pulitzer Prize-winning food writer Jonathan Gold, House of Leaves novelist Mark Z. Danielewski, and author of the drugs-and-Alf memoir Permanent Midnight Jerry Stahl. Still Life also features photos from Sandow Birk. Find a copy in a local LA bookstore or order it online, and look for readings, gallery shows and other events with SLAKE writers and artists throughout the summer.

Mad Men: Season 4, premiers June 25
Plot details about the shows highly-anticipated fourth season have been kept mum (despite the fact that reviewers have received screeners, creator Matthew Weiner has a tight gag on the who, what, when, where), but this much we do know: it will be good, and it will not be disappointing. In a sense, this season premiere is much like a second series premiere—so much of the game has changed. The old business hierarchy is gone, a fresh new company is in place, and—wait for it—Don is single. But while much of the external experiences for the characters have changed, the characters themselves haven’t, and watching our beloved and nuanced mad men (and women) cope with said changes should be nothing short of delightful, if the show’s history—never mind all its accolades—has anything to do with it.

Rivane Neuenschwander: A Day Like Any Other, New Museum, New York, through September 19
Brazilian artist Rivane Neuenschwander’s latest exhibit spotlights her distinct contribution to Brazilian conceptualism and reveals her wide-ranging, interdisciplinary practice—which merges painting, photography, film, sculpture, installation, collaborative actions, and participatory events. Three of the installations involve direct visitor participation, the most compelling of which is “First Love.” Neuenschwander hired a forensic artist to sit with visitors and draw portraits as they describe old boyfriends and girlfriends from memory; the portraits are then hung on the walls of the gallery for the duration of the exhibition. Also included are two immersive installations, Rain Rains, an environment of leaking buckets that are controlled from flooding by a Sisyphean recirculation tended to by museum staff in four-hour cycles; and The Conversation, pays homage to Francis Ford Coppola’s revolutionary 1974 film of the same name. Neuenschwander’s work is oddly charming. Don’t miss this chance to leave your own mark on it.

Baalbeck International Festival, Lebanon, through August 7
If you”€™ve ever been to the Roman temples of Baalbeck on the outskirts of Beirut, you know that they are among the most beautiful. Walking around the site one is struck by how magnificent the ruins must be lit up at night. The mystery of the stones, and the history of the country only add to the intrigue. Of course this is nothing new to chic Lebanese, who have been attending this now classic cultural event for some time.  Whether one prefers classical music, opera, rock or jazz, there is a concert for almost anyone. This year, performers include: Mika, the Kevin Mahogany Quintet, Odean Pope’s All-Star Nonet, the Krakow Symphony Orchestra to celebrate Chopin’s bicentenary, Boris Eifman’s Ballet Theater of St Petersburg performing Anna Karenina, and Naseer Shamma with the Arab Oud Orchestra. Don”€™t miss this, but if you do, make plans for next year so you get to see these amazing ancient stones under the night sky.

cnt_id=10134198674147510&CURRENT_LLV_EXPO<>cnt_id=10134198674147510&pageId=1&bmLocale=en”target=”blank”>Roads to Arabia, The Louvre, Paris, through September 27
Visiting Paris? Sick of European art and architecture? Why not dip into more than 6,000 years of Saudi Arabian history? The exhibition features over 300 artifacts including statues, stele, jewelry, manuscripts, textiles, glass, and bronzes. The show seeks to dispel the idea that Arabia is a closed country. Conceived as a series of waypoints along trade and pilgrimage routes between Africa, Asia, and Europe, the show focuses on the region’s commercial and cultural history between ancient times, Arabia from 5000 B.C. until the advent of Islam; Islamic Arabia, from the time of Muhammad to the 17th-century; and the foundation of the current Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Most interestingly, archaeology in the Arabian peninsula is relatively undiscovered, though excavations of sites like Taymâ and Hégra have produced evidence of civilization. We know that with the rise of Islam, trade routes became routes of pilgrimage. In this exhibition, two sites in particular are examined%


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