Resistance to Putin’s Olympics includes boycotts, demonstrations, kiss-ins, a Google doodle, and even nail polish. And arrests have begun, too.
Russia has come close to ruining the Olympics. It has sparked a toxic triangulation of progressives versus the Olympics and Russia. But let’s take the Olympics back, and turn that triangle: progressives and the Olympics versus Russia!
So what should cultural producers do? They should produce! Here’s Purple & Gold at Louis B. James Gallery, a design project and one-night exhibition for which New York artists created a “capsule collection” of queer tracksuits. The tracksuits will be available for sale via PRINTALLOVER.ME, the print-a-porter startup founded by Jesse Finkelstein. Proceeds from sales will benefit the Russian LGBT Network.
Designs by Robert Melee (left) and T.M. Davy (right)
Purple & Gold is curated and executed by David Fierman and PRINT ALL OVER ME. Participating artists include Aay Kay Burns, Jibz Cameron, Deric Carner, T.M. Davy , Christian Dietkus, Scott Hug, Casey Legler, Kalup Linzy, Michael Mahalchick, Ryan McNamara, Robert Melee, Lucas Michael, Wardell Milan, David Mramor, Jack Pierson, Colin Self, David Benjamin Sherry, and more.
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.
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.
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
James Franco was there! Where’s my camera? Battery is dead! Quick, help me MacGyve a camera using some girl’s compact mirror and a Heineken bottle! Results are fuzzy, but better than nothing…
Sharp-dressed man Klaus Biesenbach threw a private bash at the Raleigh Hotel to celebrate his new assignment as Director of PS1. As the silver-haired don ushered around his Pineapple Puffin’ Silver-Screen Sensation – mutual fans of each other – the surrounding starstruck aesthetes whispered to each other about Franco: “Is he or isn’t he?” Nobody knew for sure, and those kissing scenes in Milk were just fiction – right? And who will he kiss in the upcoming Howl film? (Insert “beard” pun here…)
(l-r) James Franco confers with Klaus Biesenbach
Video artist/ soap opera auteur/ cocoa cabaret/ Guggenheim fellow Kalup Linzy did her best to rock the mic – in a wig and onesie, she worked it – despite the distracting technical difficulties that cut the mic every few seconds. Still, nothing could cut that look. “Nice package,” someone murmured. (“What did you say, James?”)
Package delivered: Kalup Linzy performs at The Raleigh
And Ryan McNamara seized the night with a Saint-Theresa reverie that entailed gazing misty eyed to the heavens, and then waving and gyrating frenetically through the crowd, pelvic-thrusting and air-humping with a dramatic (and shiny-faced) climax perched on the windowsill, grinding against the glass pane. Keen eyes might have noticed that he was wearing two left shoes, one of which lingered long after the party ended. Maybe it’s still there.
So says the xeroxed playbill for Klaus von Nichtssagend: The Musical, a live performance presented by NYC artist Ryan McNamara:
“See, Klaus starts his first day at the prestigious Old Country Art Academy
Not that he is a particularly talented artist.
His acceptance may just have to do with his mother owning this town’s most prestigious gallery.
On top of that, Frau von Nichtssagend is running for mayor of this fine town.
Oh dear, she heard me. Her ears are sonar when it comes to hearing her name.”
So once upon a time, the earnest art student Klaus wiled away blissful afternoons in the German countryside with Mikke, his schoolmate and soulmate. Enveloped in virginal love, Klaus and Mikke met regularly for “tutoring sessions,” modeling for each other’s drawings and swapping ideas – among other things.
Grand Dame (Miriam Katz)
Foreseeing the inevitability of this impervious passion, Klaus comes forth to his mother, Frau von Nichtssagend, played by the sizzling Miriam Katz doing Roxie Hart doing Cinderella’s Stepmother. A scheming shrew and gallery grand dame, Frau Frown is occupied with “Belgian clients” and political ambitions. Correctly, Klaus predicts her disapproval, not only because Mikke is a six-foot tall wooden ladder: “Mikke is installation and we are exhibition!” she cries.
Ryan McNamara as Klaus von Nichtssagend
What should be an emancipation from his Mother’s icy clutches instead leads to a crueller leash. “Enough about love! What about power?” shrieks the Frau. Choosing political profile over her son’s heart, our heartless harridan trammels him into a corner of the gallery. Ruled with masking tape, the small square cordons him off like a Richard Serra Prop sculpture. There must he wait until after the big election:
“Behind the tape with you!/ Your love is not true/ You are stuck until the votes are in!/ Foolish love will not cost me my win”
Inspired through love’s extrasensory mechanics, Klaus goes all reverse Galatea, posing as a sculpture that needs to be shipped – to Mikke. But his postal plan is thwarted. When the crate arrives, Frau von Nichtssagend leaps out from the package (LOL total Trojan Horse!!! LMAO), armed with a level to “straighten out” our loving ladder. She goes all Klara Liden on Mikke, beating the last breath from his rungs (OMFG!).
Such tragedy! Poor Klaus in a loveless world! Die Leiden des jungen Nichtssagend!
Triumph of the Vill(ain)?
Bereft of his love and his mother’s acceptance, Klaus expatriates himself to Williamsburg. He loves his community, but hates the G train.
“So, Klaus moved to Brooklyn
And he built a gallery
To fill this void
But, that really didn’t work
So he gave the gallery
to Ingrid, Rob and Sam
then he left the country
and ever since that FATEful day
he’s been SKIing in the Alps..”
The cast of this one-night-only, sold-out performance included Ryan McNamara, Miriam Katz, Reid Bartelme, and Sara Marcus; with a clad-in-black-leotard chorus including Sam Roeck, Sabine Rogers, and Myles Ashby. Music and lyrics by Ryan McNamara. [Many of these voluptuous bodies were made for tights (am i right or am i right?). Was that the birthday gift to itself from this gallery born five years ago this month?] Thank you and thank you: Rob Hult, Ingrid Bromberg Kennedy, and Sam Wilson. Happy bday, Klaus.