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“We’re never going home”

Women's March on Washington, January Twenty First, 2017, Washington DC — We made an unlikely trio: an artist, a banker and an architect. I knew them better by their Twitter handles than by name, having met long ago in the faceless context of Internet fandom. Bound together by a deep love for tennis and the irresistible appeal of Rafael Nadal, it wasn’t the US Open that had brought us together on this chilly morning, but the results of the US Inauguration. Gathering in the 4 AM darkness of a January morning, we proudly clutched homemade signs and posters like precious homework assignments. Sleepily joining a long bus line in our pink hats and slogan-driven T-shirts, groups of drunken youths occasionally stumbled past us, … [Read more...]

Martin Creed: The Art of Installation

The Back Door, Park Avenue Armory, June 8th-August 7th, 2016— You’re The One For Me (2012) It may be 2016 but it is still surprising to be confronted by the medium-less methodology of truly conceptual artists. Even today, as the lines between art and culture blur daily, artists who define themselves by concept rather than medium, continue to be unique. The latest installation at the Park Avenue Armory by the conceptual British artist Martin Creed (b. 1968), teases viewers with every form of art imaginable. There are videos, wandering minstrels, paintings and drawings, “sculptural interventions,” installations, balloons, metronomes, and woven textiles, making the exhibition seem like a surrealist carnival. Within this massive … [Read more...]

Rounding the Corner: Rome to Russia

The plane captain tells us before takeoff, look right, then left, at the beautiful city of New York. Total flying time to Madrid: 6 hours and 25 minutes. It could be bumpy. It's spring.  In Madrid, a woman overhears me telling a young opera singer, bound for Amsterdam on his first trip to Europe, that I’m traveling alone. Over coffee in the airport, she gives me two pieces of advice: always talk to strangers and always eat at the bar. It’s after midnight in Rome and I’m watching aging waiters close their Hosteria. They’ve left me a bottle of wine, a box of tissues, cookies, and a single chair. As one of them empties a bucket of dirty water into the planter boxes outside, he looks at me and says, “It's better this way. … [Read more...]

After A Decade

I vividly remember flying west to California for Christmas after my first semester at college, packing my cameras with the expectation of documenting all that was familiar and nostalgic. A professor of mine quenched my naive documentary excitement by informing me that it was too soon to search for sameness. He suggested instead I look for what had changed, and I discovered it wasn’t familiar buildings and storefronts that had morphed into something new, but the markers of childhood: our house, old friends, aging parents. A decade later, I find myself retracing my steps in reverse, flying from the east to the Midwest to revisit my collegiate stomping ground after a decade of absence. This time I hoped to find what, if anything, was still the … [Read more...]

The Master Framer

A Week with Wim Wenders, March 2015 —   MoMA’s recent career retrospective of Wim Wenders—the iconic, modest, humorous, down-to-earth filmmaker with an uncanny knack for bringing magic to the ordinary aspects of life—screened 20 restored films and numerous shorts in sixteen days this March. The retrospective kicked off just weeks after Wenders was given the lifetime achievement award at the 65th Berlin International Film Festival. In New York City for the screenings, speaking before and after each showing, the retrospective gave an eclectic set of followers the chance to see Wim Wenders' films in their rightful format, as well as hear from the man himself. I found myself surrounded nightly by a familiar set of faces, and … [Read more...]

Portraits of Mexico City: A Missing Identity

Growing up third or fourth generation Mexican American in Southern California is as usual an occurrence as 70-degree winters, Santa Ana winds and scorching summer fires. It’s an ethnic identity so common that it doesn’t feel like an identity at all. Spanish streets, cities and surnames are as omnipresent as we are, and yet my mixed ethnicity followed and shaped my childhood. My father’s attitude toward day laborers standing pensively on suburban street corners to his overly respectful interactions with policemen, gave me a sympathy and wariness I subconsciously internalized. Moving away—to the midwest, abroad, down south, back east—this identity faded as quickly and unexpectedly as childhood. With so much Native American mixed into my … [Read more...]

Shakespeare’s Sonnets: BAM Next Wave

“I don’t want to know why I do anything, I just do it and look at it and then do something else.”   —Robert Wilson In a darkened theater at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM), a lone bard, standing beneath a spotlight wearing Elizabethan garb and exaggerated, Kabuki-like makeup, delivers the opening lines to Shakespeare’s Sonnets. In charismatic German she sets the tone, as all prologues should, for the evening yet to unfold. A production directed by the notoriously stylistic Robert Wilson, scored by the singer/songwriter/composer Rufus Wainwright and performed by the Berliner Ensemble, famously founded by Bertolt Brecht in 1949, Shakespeare’s Sonnets was imported from Europe this fall as part of BAM’s Next Wave Festival. Five years … [Read more...]

A Train From Marrakech

Morocco looked the way I’d imagined it, full of tiny twisting streets that are old, narrow and confining, and where being lost is simply a part of tourist life. Dead ends, doors that look exactly alike and giggling teenage boys lurking in shadow, watching bemused as you wander astray were daily occurrences. Summer in Marrakech is dry and cracked, and I felt sorry for the nested storks perched atop the old city walls. The souks are thronging during the day and shuttered in the afternoon, and only animals and unwise tourists are caught outside at midday. Riads, cool and quiet, are enclosed sanctuaries, more calm and beautiful than any castle I’ve ever seen. Sitting on a rooftop, surrounded by skulking cats, you are overlooking history. … [Read more...]

Notes From Paris: JR’s Au Panthéon

This summer, the Parisian street artist known semi-anonymously as JR installed his massive, black and white portraits inside the classically built Panthéon, tackling that age old divide between art and architecture. Erected in the latter half of the 18th century in the Latin Quarter of Paris, the Panthéon was intended to be a neo-classical church and ended up as a famous mausoleum. The Panthéon has an ornate, Gothic exterior embellished by Corinthian columns and beautiful stonework, and inside boasts lofty domed ceilings, religious murals and stunning marble floors. Glass windows and skylights fill the galleries with natural daylight, giving the interior the hushed feeling of a religious space. For the duration of the exterior renovations … [Read more...]

The Characters of Paris

Travel can tell you more about who you are than it might about the places you visit, and can be the best way to look for who you were. A decade after I lived in France, this felt like the perfect summer to revisit and revaluate, to dust off old memories and sentiments of a place that was once familiar and yet foreign. Who changed more, I wondered while crossing the Atlantic, myself or Paris? While I was away, I soon discovered, Paris had become warm and friendly, outgoing and uninhibited. It was more expensive than I recalled but also more beautiful, as rainy patches gave way to brilliant sunshine. Café culture was as seductive as ever, and the lifestyle, as I remembered, seemed less exhilarating but more enjoyable. The pace of life is … [Read more...]