Friday, August 8, 2008

ICA - Live music, silent meditation, and Anish Kapoor

I found myself at the ICA last week experiencing music and art. At first, I lounged on The Back Patio watching the water while listening to live music. The atmosphere was great despite the stuffy air. I wish I lived closer because I would definitely take advantage of the free music and the beautiful surroundings on Thursday nights. I was with others, but I spotted people by themselves just unwinding after work with books or dreamy gazes. The music wasn't great. I think I was expecting something with more Brazilian beats and tempos, but it just sounded like "easy listening" jazz, which I don't enjoy. If the musicians don't want to challenge ears with unusual beats, silences, or noise, I prefer to hear tried-and-true swing and/or samba. But, I still enjoyed myself because a soul can buy drinks and just camp out on the benches overlooking the water. The vibe reminds me of Bryant Park in New York. But, it's much tinier and more obvious when you people watch. And, I don't wear sunglasses.

The ICA really does have one of the best views in town, and I'm very appreciative that there's a way to appreciate it without having to enter the museum. I just love watching the water, and seeing how the sun sets. One of the best things I observed was this tiny girl in a rocking outfit. She must have been six or seven years old. She was dressed in black--a black halter top with a red heart paired with frilly black pants. The pants had tiny ruffles from the waistband down to the hemlines. The pants were so adorable, and she totally rocked her look. Her hair was in a sharp bob and her feet were shod in purple crocs. She attracted a lot of attention as she dashed madly around adults. Normally, I find the presence of young children annoying when cocktails are being served. But, the bold fashion and haphazard running just enhanced my chill.

We were at the ICA to see a performance linked to the special project exhibition, Momentum 11: Nicholas Hlobo. Hlobo has art installed in one of the galleries on the top floor at the ICA. I admired his art that was installed in the gallery. The three-dimensional object that inserted itself through one of the gallery walls was beautiful, and instantly reminded me of Petah Coyne. It was a giant hanging rubber organ that bulged midair but narrowed as it approached the wall, cut into it, and then burst out on the other side with entrails of ribbon, plastic and rubber. Wall pieces consisted of large unmounted paper pierced by ribbon in a lacing pattern. From far away, it had the effect of an incomplete topographical map. Closer, the art had more of a sensual impact. In addition to the ribbon lacing (immediately I flashed back to my Montessori preschool's lacing toys), Hlobo would blend in some crocheted yarn or rubber pieces to the work. I found the built-up forms fascinating, especially has I had done something familiar with Baba Lala's house. I'm remembering that the gallery's light was diffused by pink gel. I don't know if the pink lights were meant to either differentiate the space from the other galleries (walls and the art usually do that for me) or enhance the art experience (I find that a bit stagey).

The performance consisted of Hlobo appearing in a natty costume and attaching himself to another wall piece. This piece was in the corner and consisted of ribbons entwined with rubber emerging from the wall and terminating to a headpiece lying on a mat of what resembled moss. Hlobo appears without introduction, sits on the mat, and meticulously puts on the headpiece to completely cover his bound dreadlocks. He then meditates for a time. I'm not sure what happens afterward because I left after watching him sit silently and/or fidget with the headpiece for 15 minutes. I'd rather have my attention arrested by a piece of art and lose track of time and space that way.

I couldn't help compare Hlobo's performance to last summer's performance piece by Ernesto Pujol, The Water Carrier. Both performers wore costumes referencing the past--Pujol in his 15th century sailor costume, and Hlobo in a black robe ornamented by a ruffled collar--and both performers linked themselves to the building. Pujol started his performance piece as if he were a piece of the museum, as if a memory had awakened and detached itself to complete a journey. Instead of detaching from the museum, Hlobo plugs into the wall. I wondered if he heard the same cranky complaints that Pujol reported on his blog. I wondered if the building was in a better mood this summer. But, I'll never know because Hlobo silently remains on the moss pad with crossed legs and no expression. His audience is left to contemplate him and come to their own conclusion. My conclusion was to check out and look at the Street Level exhibit again.

I also quickly romped through the Anish Kapoor exhibit and I was mildly disappointed. It was a like a funhouse exhibit. There were loosely formed lines to "experience" the art, and people were very animated--lots of movement and talking. But, I found it irritating. Too much like the P.S. 1 part of the Olafur Eliasson's retrospective in New York. It was a scene, it was not an exhibit. I looked around to see where the funnel cakes and cotton candy were being sold. I'm a huge Kapoor fan, but I had a better experience viewing his work in his Soho gallery.

Friday, August 1, 2008

At least I didn't have my firebomb scenario...

I went to see Step Brothers starring Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly. It was surprisingly glorious. I have to say the man-chemistry between Ferrell and Reilly is so awesome. They just made it onto my man-couples list:

1. Peter Falk - Alan Arkin
2. Vince Vaughn - Jon Favreau
3. George Clooney - Brad Pitt
4. Will Ferrell - John C. Reilly
5. John Amos - Jimmie Walker
6. Paul Newman - Robert Redford
7. Bill Murray - Jeffrey Wright
8. Brad Pitt - Robert Redford
9. Robert De Niro - Al Pacino
10. Jerry Orbach - Benjamin Bratt