By Simona Rabinovitch - Tuesday, April 17, 2012 - 0 Comments
Two multimedia artists, Joshua White and Gary Panter, are lighting up Detroit
Some visual artists use paint, others, clay. But for multimedia art pioneers Joshua White and Gary Panter the material of choice is light. The New York-based duo, who’ve been working together since the late 90s, has recently collaborated on Joshua White and Gary Panter’s Light Show; a 2,044 square metre immersive installation at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (through April 29).
White, a born-and-bred New Yorker—who famously performed at Woodstock and has done live light shows for The Doors, Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix— has a background in TV production and has designed a light show for the exhibit. Panter, a renowned graphic artist and painter best known for his boundary-breaking comics, album covers and set design on Pee-Wee’s Playhouse, has used both light and sculpture to build a “fun house of the imagination.” They’ve also invited various musicians, comedians, “mad scientists” and other artists to perform in the space. On a sunny New York afternoon, the animated duo talked with Maclean’s about light, life and the importance of always trying new things.
Q: Joshua, you’ve been doing the Joshua Light Show, where you improvise multi-media projections during live concert venues, since 1967. You’ve always had many artists in your crew, correct?
JW: I’m the leader of the Joshua light show because my name is on the door, but what’s lovely nowadays is that we all do it. There’s nothing nicer than not leading; just making sure everything is all right and letting everybody else do it. We know our instruments. It’s just like musicians. We really know how to play our lights.
Q: Is the process like a band where the guitar player always plays the guitar?
JW: We can switch up, but each person seems to have an area they’re passionate about. In the course of an actual performance, we move around and help each other. The thing that Gary and I did in Detroit—and informs what I do—is improvisation. It’s theatre games, where you always listen and never negate. It’s very important that we react and listen to the music. We don’t have to hear it ahead of time as long as we have some knowledge of it. We do some things that are similar but it’s very much a sport of improvisation.
By Simona Rabinovitch - Monday, March 26, 2012 at 11:54 AM - 0 Comments
An immersive Shakespeare production in a Chelsea hotel has taken New York by storm
I saw the orgy twice: four writhing bodies in various states of undress dancing wildly to techno music while a strobe light pulsed all around us. One fellow, naked but for a decapitated ram’s head, jumped on top of a table as the others groped each other. There was blood, a knife and, if my eyes weren’t playing tricks on me, a newborn baby. As the frenzy wound down, one of the women, a witch, stared into my eyes as she pulled her dress up over her breasts and ran down a dark staircase. I ran after her. Others followed with the discretion of stampeding elephants. She led us down a dark hallway and into a secret room with a mossy green forest full of trees, branches and a bucket of river water. As she gave herself a sponge bath, the witch gazed at me again. I stared back, mesmerized, and emboldened by my anonymity, thanks to a face mask. When she walked over to me and placed her hand on my cheek, her face was so close I thought she might kiss me. (She might have. When I later removed it, I saw what could have been a lipstick stain.) Her eyes filled with tears and her lips formed a smile. Or was it a smirk? You can never be sure with witches.
This psychosexual frolic was neither pagan fantasy nor acid trip but one of many mind-bending scenes that swallowed me whole at Sleep No More. No wonder this “immersive theatre” production based on Macbeth has taken New York by storm. Created by site-specific British theatre company Punchdrunk, Sleep No More takes place in a custom-built Chelsea venue, the McKittrick Hotel (à la Hitchcock’s Vertigo, another key Sleep No More reference) and tells its stories through movement, dance and emotions—not words.
By Simona Rabinovitch - Friday, December 23, 2011 at 12:26 PM - 0 Comments
Visual artist Daniel Arsham created cloud-inspired decor for Merce Cunningham Dance Company’s final performance
Thousands of of coloured balls, connected to one another to form giant clouds, fill half of contemporary artist Daniel Arsham’s Brooklyn studio. The other half of the open space is occupied by Snarkitecture, the collaborative art and architecture practice between Arsham and architect Alex Mustonen. “A lot of my work is about manipulating architecture and causing it to do things it’s not supposed to do,” explains Cleveland, Ohio-born Arsham. As an example, he cites the dressing rooms he designed in 2005 for Dior Homme’s Los Angeles boutique, which erode the surface of the walls.
As for the cloud formations, they will be suspended in Manhattan’s Park Avenue Armory to serve as decor for the final six performances of the renowned Merce Cunningham Dance Company (Dec. 29 through 31). Once the show is over, the company will disband in accordance to the wishes of its founder Merce Cunningham, who died in 2009 at age 90.
By Simona Rabinovitch - Wednesday, November 2, 2011 at 6:29 AM - 0 Comments
The Montreal artist on working with giant figures in Connecticut and creating a ‘timeless’ sculpture for the Montreal Museum of Fine Art
For artist David Altmejd, multiple heads are better than one. “I want to have as many heads as possible,” says the Montreal-bred New Yorker. He’s speaking, of course, about the work in his new show, opening Nov. 5 at the Brant Foundation Art Study Center in Greenwich, Conn. (Viewings by appointment only.)
Known for his large-scale installations and anthropomorphic sculptures—werewolves, disembodied heads, winged creatures—the 37-year-old recently unveiled a permanent public sculpture commissioned by the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts for the exterior of its new wing.
His work, which explores such themes as bodily transformation, caught the attention of media mogul and art collector Peter Brant at the Venice Biennale, where Altmejd represented Canada in 2007. The Brant show features works old and new, including the largest plexiglass sculpture he’s ever made, giant figures displayed on high pedestals, heads galore, and creatures made of resin grapes and coconuts. Yes, coconuts!
Maclean’s caught up with Altmejd at his Long Island City studio.
By Simona Rabinovitch - Friday, October 7, 2011 at 5:13 PM - 1 Comment
Clark’s vision of the blues recalls Hendrix and the White Stripes
Once in a blue moon, a music fan is lucky enough to catch a glimpse of the future. I was just so lucky a few weeks ago. Opening for The Roots at a private event in New York, a young singer, songwriter and guitarist from Austin, TX, blew my mind. His name: Gary Clark Jr.
Clark radiates that extra little hocus-pocus that makes the hairs on your neck stand on end. The searing riffs and soulful grooves are reminiscent of Jimi Hendrix or Stevie Ray Vaughan with a little White Stripes thrown in. It’s powerful stuff, cool and joyful, and Clark makes it all look effortless. Continue…
By Simona Rabinovitch - Tuesday, September 20, 2011 at 12:03 PM - 0 Comments
Vladimir Restoin Roitfeld and Andy Valmorbida are putting exhibits that cater to collectors and skateboarders alike
Last weekend in Manhattan, an eclectic international crowd of 2,000 poured into upscale auction house and gallery Phillips de Pury & Company for the opening of Richard Hambleton: A Retrospective. The three-day show featured 50 works by the pioneering street artist, from 1982 to present. Presented in collaboration with Giorgio Armani, the “pop-up” gallery was the latest of those put together by Vladimir Restoin Roitfeld and Andy Valmorbida.
Working with just a few artists (such as Los Angeles graffiti artist RETNA, French painter Nicolas Pol and Ivory Coast ex-pat Ouattara Watts), the international duo function as curators, dealers, managers and party-throwers. Since their first show in 2009, their openings around the globe have become can’t-miss events for uptown collectors and downtown skateboarders alike. Rocking nice tans and good hair, the friends turned business partners are part of a trend making quality contemporary art more accessible—and more fun. Continue…