Archive for June, 2010

Melee Dearest

Wednesday, June 30th, 2010

A Bigger Splash

In 2005, SVA alum Robert Melee hosted his first Talent Show at The Kitchen.  Five years later, he did it again.  Will this be, as Greater New York 2010 is billed, a “quinquennial” event?  And what would happen if you used that word on a first date?

Robert Melee and dancers Lauri Hogan, Rebecca Hermos, Luke Miller, and Jessie Gold (maybe the prettiest girl in NY)

When words fail, we communicate in other ways, and Robert Melee’s Talent Show covered most of them: singing, dancing, composing, and imaging – of both the still and moving varieties.

And these “other ways” don’t expire, if the intergenerational breadth of the show is any evidence.  Nearly half of the acts included survivors of (or references from) many decades past, usually mingled onstage with Generation EY.

Brooke Bryant, Amber Youell, and Yeva Glover in Dido's Lament

The curtains drew first to Dido’s Lament, a lovely and surprisingly sedate meditation choreographed and directed by Austin McCormick, founder of Company XIV in Brooklyn.

Mirror Mirror

Dance was just one dimension of Interiors/Exteriors by the group Mirror Mirror, Ryan Lucero and David Riley.  Hovering above them was a silent projection of a vampiric Rumi Missabu, former-and-now-legendary Cockette, brooding and ritualistically gyrating.

David Riley of Mirror Mirror

Meanwhile, the band Skint wrapped themselves together under a nylon gossamer, animating the membrane to look like a tumbling amoeba.

Poof or a knobby cloud

A highlight of the show was the SAGE choir, selected and lightly choreographed by Ryan McNamara, a star of the current quinquennial.  SAGE’s eight Pride pipers sang a folk anthem to chronicle how the Times They Have A-Changed – for the better.  On the second night, they earned a standing ovation, despite some trouble with the lyrics – senility? (Just kidding, guys; you totally rule.)

MPA (Megan Palaima) stepped onstage and undressed, revealing a long, thick (Phallic?) braid hung from her head and terminating in her carpet.  She cut the braid (Castrated?) and then sat on a chair to pee in a jar (which reminds me of the rumors that Marina Abramovic had a bedpan built into her seat at MoMA).  Relieved, she rolled onto the floor, and then rose to strangle a scored pane of glass between her bare hands while shrieking, invoking both Mime’s Lib and resonant frequency.

Sabel Scities, who moved to NYC only weeks ago, synched Her lips to clips spliced seamlessly from the Shirley Bassey classic This is My Life and the diva dystopia Mommie Dearest.  A masterpiece of classical Drag, it was also extraordinarily physical, pulsing with melodramatic vigor.  YET, after the previous video of the ghoulish andro-wraith Rumi Missabu, so avant, austere, and Ozzy; didn’t this look…conventional?  Whatever.  That queen displayed virtuosic craft, which was more than sufficient.

Blanko + Noiry

And the occult-psych-showtunes of Blanko + Noiry brought us back into the realms of the unreal, while keeping one foot on terra firma through Chris Kachulis’ variation on the standard When Your Lover Has Gone.

The First Time I Met Robert Melee

The climax was Robert Melee’s own The First Time I Met Robert Melee.  Atop plywood boxes, three soliloqueens waxed anecdotally about the Artist – monologues they wrote themselves – intermittently yielding to dancers in choreographed segues composed for “investigation/deconstructon of the hitch kick.”

Robert Melee in front

Just when we thought it couldn’t get any better than this, the house lights dropped out and then slowly reactivated the stage, where the Artist descended on a hydraulic throne, lavishly embellished in a style we can only call Tinsel Baroque.  A cacophonous reveille whipped the dancers – and Robert – into a leaping, whirling freak-out.   Far out.

Take a Bow

Glitter Queens: Robert with artist Xavier Cha

Gray Pride Forever

Friday, June 25th, 2010

One of the highlights from Robert Melee’s Talent Show at The Kitchen: the SAGE choir assembling under the provision of Ryan McNamara, who selected the group and slightly choreographed their crowd-stirring show. Performers include: Marlene Feingold, Bill Schubick, Cheryl Adams, Jennifer Hampshire, Margo Kentry, Cheryl Lisbin, Tom Musilla, Roz Nadel

This Is Your Life?

Friday, June 18th, 2010
Synthetic Slut: A Novel by Bjarne Melgaard at Greene Naftali could instead take its title from the popular T-shirt and bumper sticker slogan “I’m not racist; I hate everybody equally.”
In Melgaard’s narrative, a narcissistic, racist, sex-addicted misanthrope flails in a tornado of excess, irradiating himself with drugs, reckless sex, hate, and corresponding subcultures.
The artist, barely visible behind the character, has an equally insatiable appetite for decadence: in his sprawling installation, no material is too precious for desecration.  He sacrifices Margiela garments and shoes, marble sculptures, pricey perfumes, and spitefully, tubes of Old Holland paint – too expensive for painters you and I know – and any hope of social probity.
The show’s title will condition viewers for fiction, but it seems impossible to exhume the “real” Melgaard from the storied alter ego.  Is Melgaard’s crystal queen/roid rager/sadist a fictional surrogate, like Philip Roth’s Zuckerman?  Is it a “stage” persona Melgaard inhabits while working in the studio, then sheds once he clocks out?  Or is this “really” him?  Moreover, is this the diaristic sample of a sociopath’s lifestyle?  Or is Melgaard actually saying out loud the dark things we’re all too timid to talk about?
To answer one of those questions, Melgaard seems to have relocated from his home and into the gallery his library, his medicine cabinet, his furniture, and his wardrobe.  We also see remnants of the food and drinks he consumed, presumably while installing the show.  Scores of self-portrait photos present the artist at various ages and places, gazing outward toward the other hundred of so self-portraits, creating an echo chamber of self regard.  A canvas bag bears empty cases of drugs from the Duane Reade pharmacy, prescribed to Bjarne Melgaard.
These drugs, synthetic sustenance, shuttle us from the outside to the inside of his fictive slut and back, working as devices for the narrative and materials for the sculptures.  From the outside, prescription drugs enter the body to regulate schizophrenia, anxiety, and insomnia.  Anabolic steroids enter via penetrating syringes to pump up the body with excessive muscles, as if fortifying the interior.  Couture garments elevate the figure and conceal the striated, coarse body underneath.  Fragrances scent  the facade with ornamental fragrances, including Commes des Garcons. (Mere coincidence?: Garcons = boys, scent > consent).  There’s also the abundant Serostim scattered throughout the show, a substance that controls HIV-related facial wasting, that scarlet letter endured by the otherwise undetectable Poz patient.
Each of the sculptures piles heterogeneous materials and familiar Melgaard silver bullets together, often giving hints about the unflinching stories he tells of indiscriminating exploitation and self debasement, in which libido and mortido reach frightful intensity.  But if you think he’s amoral and depraved, just look at his apparent idol, Arkan, who becomes the protagonist’s lover in the story.
In real life, Arkan was a ruthless career criminal, murderer, spy, militia leader, and war criminal.  The violence embodied in that villain returns to Melgaard’s story in the sadomasochistic sexual encounters, and then bubbles up to the surface – literally – through bear claw knives included in a sculpture, and simulated bear claw gashes in at least three of the paintings.
One ensemble in particular proposes a source for Melgaard’s phallocentric contempt (which is confrontational enough to prompt a shorthand feminist intervention by a certain band of lesbian artists).
The sculpture in question includes a photo of the artist looking backward and through a window, as if in the grips of a inchoate memory, along with a pair of girls’ shoes, a canine pup, and a disturbing cartoon in which a naked prowler hides under the bed of a boy sleeping face down.  Together, this ensemble seems to constitute a reckoning with traumatic childhood sexual abuse, an allegation elucidated by three black-and-white paintings of nude boys, photorealistically resurrected from “NAMBLA images” (as identified from the indexical press release), which initially seem out of place among the scattered, expressionistic objects.
Also seeming out of place is the photorealistic painting of two African soldiers, which associates a little too closely for comfort with the armed Planet of the Apes action figures.  The racial epithets scrawled into the paintings and cut into vinyl adhesive letters could be mitigated by their place in sexual fantasy.  Nobody has to excuse his or her private desires, and anyway, the racial shrapnel cuts both ways, from white to black and black to white.  However, given all-too-recent jokes about President Obama, the monkey gag looks venomous.
Which brings us to the platypus, which appears in nearly every sculpture, in one form or another.  The platypus, is native to Australia, where Melgaard grew up, and the male releases poison from a sharp spur on the back of his hind feet.  It won’t kill a person – at least not an adult – but it will cause excruciating pain that can haunt its victims for weeks or even months.  The platypus also belongs to a relatively strange class of mammals, because it lays eggs rather than bearing live young.  It is such a strange animal, that its original discovery 200 or so years ago was thought to be a hoax.  It’s as perfect an icon for misfits as Marilyn Manson.
Synthetic Slut: A Novel by Bjarne Melgaard, 2010
svablogmelgaardinstallation

Synthetic Slut: A Novel by Bjarne Melgaard, 2010

Synthetic Slut: A Novel by Bjarne Melgaard at Greene Naftali could instead take its title from the popular T-shirt and bumper sticker slogan “I’m not racist; I hate everybody equally.”

In Melgaard’s narrative, a narcissistic, racist, sex-addicted misanthrope flails in a tornado of excess, irradiating himself with drugs, reckless sex, hate, and corresponding subcultures.

svablogmelgaardmargiela
svablogmelgaardmargiela

Sharp, Dressed Man

The artist, barely visible behind the character, has an equally insatiable appetite for decadence: in his sprawling installation, no material is too precious for desecration.  He sacrifices Margiela garments and shoes, marble sculptures, pricey perfumes, and spitefully, tubes of Old Holland paint – too expensive for painters you and I know – and any hope of social probity.

If you see a suspicious package...
svablogmelgaardpaint

If you see a suspicious package...

The show’s title will condition viewers for fiction, but it seems impossible to exhume the “real” Melgaard from the storied alter ego.  Is Melgaard’s crystal queen/roid rager/sadist a fictional surrogate, like Philip Roth’s Zuckerman?  Is it a “stage” persona Melgaard inhabits while working in the studio, then sheds once he clocks out?  Or is this “really” him?  Moreover, is this the diaristic sample of a sociopath’s lifestyle?  Or is Melgaard actually saying out loud the dark things we’re all too timid to talk about?

...see something, say something...
svablogmelgaardgrandma

...see something, say something...

To answer at least one of those questions, Melgaard seems to have imported his library, his medicine cabinet, his furniture, and his wardrobe.  We also see remnants of the food and drinks he consumed, presumably while installing the show.  Scores of self-portrait photos present the artist at various ages and places, gazing outward toward the other hundred of so self-portraits, creating an echo chamber of self regard.  A canvas bag bears empty cases of drugs from the Duane Reade pharmacy, prescribed to Bjarne Melgaard.

These drugs, synthetic sustenance, shuttle us from the outside to the inside of his fictive slut and back, working as devices for the narrative and materials for the sculptures.  From the outside, prescription drugs enter the body to regulate schizophrenia, anxiety, and insomnia.  Anabolic steroids enter via penetrating syringes to pump up the body with excessive muscles, as if fortifying the interior.  Couture garments elevate the figure and conceal the striated, coarse body underneath.  Fragrances scent  the facade with ornamental fragrances, including Commes des Garcons. (Mere coincidence?: Garcons = boys, scent > consent).  There’s also the abundant Serostim scattered throughout the show, a substance that controls HIV-related facial wasting, that scarlet letter endured by the otherwise undetectable Poz patient.

My Empire of Dirt
svablogmelgaardpile

You could have it all/ My empire of dirt

Each of the sculptures piles heterogeneous materials and familiar Melgaard silver bullets together, often giving hints about the unflinching stories he tells of indiscriminating exploitation and self debasement, in which libido and mortido reach frightful intensity.  But if you think he’s amoral and depraved, just look at his apparent idol, Arkan, who becomes the protagonist’s lover in the story.

Nationalist Gothic
svablogmelgaardsoldiers

Nationalist Gothic

In real life, Arkan was a ruthless career criminal, murderer, spy, militia leader, and war criminal.  The violence embodied in that villain returns to Melgaard’s story in the sadomasochistic sexual encounters, militant nationalist come-ons, and in dormant bowie knives and bear claw knives.  Simulated bear claw gashes rake across at least three of the paintings.

Sharp, Dressed Man
svablogmelgaardbearclaw

Sharp, Dressed Man

One ensemble in particular proposes a source for Melgaard’s phallocentric contempt (a scathing sentiment confrontational enough to have prompted a shorthand feminist intervention by a certain band of lesbian artists).

Reads "FEMENISM" (sic)
svablogmelgaardfeminism

Reads "FEMENISM" (sic)

The sculpture in question includes a photo of the artist looking backward and through a window, as if in the grips of an inchoate memory, along with a pair of girls’ shoes, a canine pup, and a disturbing cartoon in which a naked prowler hides under the bed of a boy sleeping face down.  Together, this ensemble seems to constitute a reckoning with traumatic childhood sexual abuse, an allegation elucidated by three black-and-white paintings of nude boys, photorealistically resurrected from “NAMBLA images” (as identified from the indexical press release), which initially seem out of place among the scattered, expressionistic objects.

Adopt?
svablogmelgaardcub

Adopt?

nice
svablogmelgaardhand

nice

Also seeming out of place is the photorealistic painting of two African soldiers, which associates a little too closely for comfort with the armed Planet of the Apes action figures.

Too Close for Comfort
svablogmelgaardape

Too Close for Comfort

The racial epithets scrawled into the paintings and cut into vinyl adhesive letters could be mitigated by their place in sexual fantasy.  Nobody has to excuse his or her private desires, and anyway, the racial shrapnel cuts both ways, from white to black and black to white.  However, given all-too-recent jokes about President Obama, Henry Louise Gates, Jr., and countless other people, the monkey gag breaks the skin.

Nietzsche: "this path is now forbidden, since a monkey stands at its entrance"
svablogmelgaardmonkey

Nietzsche: "this path is now forbidden, since a monkey stands at its entrance"

Which brings us to the platypus, which appears in nearly every sculpture, in one form or another.  The platypus is native to Australia, where Melgaard grew up, and the male releases poison from a sharp spur on the back of his hind feet.  It won’t kill a person – at least not an adult – but it will cause excruciating pain that can haunt its victims for weeks or even months.  The platypus is the only living member of its genus, mainly because unlike most mammals, it lays eggs rather than bearing live young.  It is such a strange animal, that its original discovery 200 or so years ago was thought to be a hoax.  It’s the perfect spirit animal for misfits beyond redemption.

svablogmelgaardcups
svablogmelgaardcups

This Is Your Life?

Friday, June 18th, 2010
Synthetic Slut: A Novel by Bjarne Melgaard at Greene Naftali could instead take its title from the popular T-shirt and bumper sticker slogan “I’m not racist; I hate everybody equally.”
In Melgaard’s narrative, a narcissistic, racist, sex-addicted misanthrope flails in a tornado of excess, irradiating himself with drugs, reckless sex, hate, and corresponding subcultures.
The artist, barely visible behind the character, has an equally insatiable appetite for decadence: in his sprawling installation, no material is too precious for desecration.  He sacrifices Margiela garments and shoes, marble sculptures, pricey perfumes, and spitefully, tubes of Old Holland paint – too expensive for painters you and I know – and any hope of social probity.
The show’s title will condition viewers for fiction, but it seems impossible to exhume the “real” Melgaard from the storied alter ego.  Is Melgaard’s crystal queen/roid rager/sadist a fictional surrogate, like Philip Roth’s Zuckerman?  Is it a “stage” persona Melgaard inhabits while working in the studio, then sheds once he clocks out?  Or is this “really” him?  Moreover, is this the diaristic sample of a sociopath’s lifestyle?  Or is Melgaard actually saying out loud the dark things we’re all too timid to talk about?
To answer one of those questions, Melgaard seems to have relocated from his home and into the gallery his library, his medicine cabinet, his furniture, and his wardrobe.  We also see remnants of the food and drinks he consumed, presumably while installing the show.  Scores of self-portrait photos present the artist at various ages and places, gazing outward toward the other hundred of so self-portraits, creating an echo chamber of self regard.  A canvas bag bears empty cases of drugs from the Duane Reade pharmacy, prescribed to Bjarne Melgaard.
These drugs, synthetic sustenance, shuttle us from the outside to the inside of his fictive slut and back, working as devices for the narrative and materials for the sculptures.  From the outside, prescription drugs enter the body to regulate schizophrenia, anxiety, and insomnia.  Anabolic steroids enter via penetrating syringes to pump up the body with excessive muscles, as if fortifying the interior.  Couture garments elevate the figure and conceal the striated, coarse body underneath.  Fragrances scent  the facade with ornamental fragrances, including Commes des Garcons. (Mere coincidence?: Garcons = boys, scent > consent).  There’s also the abundant Serostim scattered throughout the show, a substance that controls HIV-related facial wasting, that scarlet letter endured by the otherwise undetectable Poz patient.
Each of the sculptures piles heterogeneous materials and familiar Melgaard silver bullets together, often giving hints about the unflinching stories he tells of indiscriminating exploitation and self debasement, in which libido and mortido reach frightful intensity.  But if you think he’s amoral and depraved, just look at his apparent idol, Arkan, who becomes the protagonist’s lover in the story.
In real life, Arkan was a ruthless career criminal, murderer, spy, militia leader, and war criminal.  The violence embodied in that villain returns to Melgaard’s story in the sadomasochistic sexual encounters, and then bubbles up to the surface – literally – through bear claw knives included in a sculpture, and simulated bear claw gashes in at least three of the paintings.
One ensemble in particular proposes a source for Melgaard’s phallocentric contempt (which is confrontational enough to prompt a shorthand feminist intervention by a certain band of lesbian artists).
The sculpture in question includes a photo of the artist looking backward and through a window, as if in the grips of a inchoate memory, along with a pair of girls’ shoes, a canine pup, and a disturbing cartoon in which a naked prowler hides under the bed of a boy sleeping face down.  Together, this ensemble seems to constitute a reckoning with traumatic childhood sexual abuse, an allegation elucidated by three black-and-white paintings of nude boys, photorealistically resurrected from “NAMBLA images” (as identified from the indexical press release), which initially seem out of place among the scattered, expressionistic objects.
Also seeming out of place is the photorealistic painting of two African soldiers, which associates a little too closely for comfort with the armed Planet of the Apes action figures.  The racial epithets scrawled into the paintings and cut into vinyl adhesive letters could be mitigated by their place in sexual fantasy.  Nobody has to excuse his or her private desires, and anyway, the racial shrapnel cuts both ways, from white to black and black to white.  However, given all-too-recent jokes about President Obama, the monkey gag looks venomous.
Which brings us to the platypus, which appears in nearly every sculpture, in one form or another.  The platypus, is native to Australia, where Melgaard grew up, and the male releases poison from a sharp spur on the back of his hind feet.  It won’t kill a person – at least not an adult – but it will cause excruciating pain that can haunt its victims for weeks or even months.  The platypus also belongs to a relatively strange class of mammals, because it lays eggs rather than bearing live young.  It is such a strange animal, that its original discovery 200 or so years ago was thought to be a hoax.  It’s as perfect an icon for misfits as Marilyn Manson.

Synthetic Slut: A Novel by Bjarne Melgaard, 2010

Synthetic Slut: A Novel by Bjarne Melgaard at Greene Naftali could instead take its title from the popular T-shirt and bumper sticker slogan “I’m not racist; I hate everybody equally.”

In Melgaard’s narrative, a narcissistic, racist, sex-addicted misanthrope flails in a tornado of excess, irradiating himself with drugs, reckless sex, hate, and corresponding subcultures.

Sharp, Dressed Man

The artist, barely visible behind the character, has an equally insatiable appetite for decadence: in his sprawling installation, no material is too precious for desecration.  He sacrifices Margiela garments and shoes, marble sculptures, pricey perfumes, and spitefully, tubes of Old Holland paint – too expensive for painters you and I know – and any hope of social probity.

If you see a suspicious package...

The show’s title will condition viewers for fiction, but it seems impossible to exhume the “real” Melgaard from the storied alter ego.  Is Melgaard’s crystal queen/roid rager/sadist a fictional surrogate, like Philip Roth’s Zuckerman?  Is it a “stage” persona Melgaard inhabits while working in the studio, then sheds once he clocks out?  Or is this “really” him?  Moreover, is this the diaristic sample of a sociopath’s lifestyle?  Or is Melgaard actually saying out loud the dark things we’re all too timid to talk about?

...see something, say something...

To answer at least one of those questions, Melgaard seems to have imported his library, his medicine cabinet, his furniture, and his wardrobe.  We also see remnants of the food and drinks he consumed, presumably while installing the show.  Scores of self-portrait photos present the artist at various ages and places, gazing outward toward the other hundred of so self-portraits, creating an echo chamber of self regard.  A canvas bag bears empty cases of drugs from the Duane Reade pharmacy, prescribed to Bjarne Melgaard.

These drugs, synthetic sustenance, shuttle us from the outside to the inside of his fictive slut and back, working as devices for the narrative and materials for the sculptures.  From the outside, prescription drugs enter the body to regulate schizophrenia, anxiety, and insomnia.  Anabolic steroids enter via penetrating syringes to pump up the body with excessive muscles, as if fortifying the interior.  Couture garments elevate the figure and conceal the striated, coarse body underneath.  Fragrances scent  the facade with ornamental fragrances, including Commes des Garcons. (Mere coincidence?: Garcons = boys, scent > consent).  There’s also the abundant Serostim scattered throughout the show, a substance that controls HIV-related facial wasting, that scarlet letter endured by the otherwise undetectable Poz patient.

My Empire of Dirt
You could have it all/ My empire of dirt

Each of the sculptures piles heterogeneous materials and familiar Melgaard silver bullets together, often giving hints about the unflinching stories he tells of indiscriminating exploitation and self debasement, in which libido and mortido reach frightful intensity.  But if you think he’s amoral and depraved, just look at his apparent idol, Arkan, who becomes the protagonist’s lover in the story.

Nationalist Gothic
Nationalist Gothic

In real life, Arkan was a ruthless career criminal, murderer, spy, militia leader, and war criminal.  The violence embodied in that villain returns to Melgaard’s story in the sadomasochistic sexual encounters, militant nationalist come-ons, and in dormant bowie knives and bear claw knives.  Simulated bear claw gashes rake across at least three of the paintings.

Sharp, Dressed Man
Sharp, Dressed Man

One ensemble in particular proposes a source for Melgaard’s phallocentric contempt (a scathing sentiment confrontational enough to have prompted a shorthand feminist intervention by a certain band of lesbian artists).

Reads "FEMENISM" (sic)
Reads "FEMENISM" (sic)

The sculpture in question includes a photo of the artist looking backward and through a window, as if in the grips of an inchoate memory, along with a pair of girls’ shoes, a canine pup, and a disturbing cartoon in which a naked prowler hides under the bed of a boy sleeping face down.  Together, this ensemble seems to constitute a reckoning with traumatic childhood sexual abuse, an allegation elucidated by three black-and-white paintings of nude boys, photorealistically resurrected from “NAMBLA images” (as identified from the indexical press release), which initially seem out of place among the scattered, expressionistic objects.

Adopt?
Adopt?

nice
nice

Also seeming out of place is the photorealistic painting of two African soldiers, which associates a little too closely for comfort with the armed Planet of the Apes action figures.

Too Close for Comfort
Too Close for Comfort

The racial epithets scrawled into the paintings and cut into vinyl adhesive letters could be mitigated by their place in sexual fantasy.  Nobody has to excuse his or her private desires, and anyway, the racial shrapnel cuts both ways, from white to black and black to white.  However, given all-too-recent jokes about President Obama, Henry Louise Gates, Jr., and countless other people, the monkey gag breaks the skin.

Nietzsche: "this path is now forbidden, since a monkey stands at its entrance"
Nietzsche: "this path is now forbidden, since a monkey stands at its entrance"

Which brings us to the platypus, which appears in nearly every sculpture, in one form or another.  The platypus is native to Australia, where Melgaard grew up, and the male releases poison from a sharp spur on the back of his hind feet.  It won’t kill a person – at least not an adult – but it will cause excruciating pain that can haunt its victims for weeks or even months.  The platypus is the only living member of its genus, mainly because unlike most mammals, it lays eggs rather than bearing live young.  It is such a strange animal, that its original discovery 200 or so years ago was thought to be a hoax.  It’s the perfect spirit animal for misfits beyond redemption.