The Guggenheim

I finally made it to the Guggenheim yesterday. I’ve been working a block away for coming up to a year and this is my first visit, pretty pathetic really.

The main exhibition was ‘The Eye of the Storm’ by Daniel Buren. The star of the show was definitely the museum itself; all Daniel Buren has done is embellish the place with pieces of colored gel. There is gel on all the windows and you can look at Central Park in red, yellow etc… it looks kind of cheap from the inside. The roof looks nice, especially from the outside, which no one can see. A broker from our office took the below shot; she just happens to be selling an apartment with this stunning view.

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Here is the roof as it looks from the inside:

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There is also a huge right-angled mirror stretching from the ground to the roof of the atrium. This is a little disorientating as you can see.

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This is a postcard I got with a wide angled shot:

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I also got to see a Klee exhibit (my 10th or something; everywhere I go there seems to be a Klee exhibit – and I never see the same paintings twice!). I was impressed with the Kandinsky gallery; I didn’t think I liked him, but there were a couple of paintings that really struck me. I always liked his earlier landscape paintings but found the geometric works too stark. The paintings that caught my eye reminded me more of Miro, in that they were warmer and more playful than I thought he was capable.

Moving on, there were smatterings of Picasso, Pissarro, Van Gogh, and all the usual suspects in the other galleries. I dutifully stood in front of each, but was much more interested in exploring the building. I circled my way up and up until, at the top, I found an exhibit called ‘The Doppelganger Trilogy’ by Slater Bradley. This consisted of 3 video installations, which I usually HATE, as they look so tacky. To me, art should be visually striking; quality is key to this and the medium of video just isn’t up to the job. Not yet anyway. This exhibit was different though, as the poor quality was the point. To my great surprise, I suddenly heard Joy Division blaring out of the darkness. One of the rooms had a barely visible Ian Curtis performing ‘Decades’ at full volume against the back wall. You could just make out the ghostly figure of his body as he shifted slowly back and forth occasionally reaching for the mike stand.

Factory Archives imagines Ian Curtis, lead singer of the short-lived punk band Joy Division, through the grainy haze of aging video stock. As if retrieved from the vaults of Factory Records, this fragment depicts an elusive performer just before the dawn of MTV, when the choreographed music video would forever change how culture consumes its rock ‘n’ roll.

This was definitely the highlight, I sat through the video twice—until my eyes lost focus and the hypnotic effect made me feel queasy. It is odd that I found Manchester on the top floor of two New York art galleries in the space of 1 month.

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The Raveonettes in Brooklyn

I went to see The Raveonettes tonight; not because I really wanted to see them, but because they played at Southpaw, the venue that is less than 1 minute from our front door. I still can’t quite get my head around this; it is like a fantastic dream living so close to a music venue. Best of all, I can go home to use the bathroom. This is especially useful at Southpaw, as the cubicles don’t have doors they have curtains. There are no locks on curtains.

I saw the Ravonettes last year and they were astonishing, they were riding high after the (relative) success of their ‘Chain Gang of Love’ Album—a retread of the Jesus and Mary Chain’s ‘Psycho Candy’, or as they have it, Ramones inspired. Their new album ‘Pretty in Black’ attempts to broaden the appeal with very few successes. The best tracks are the ones that stick most closely to the JAMC template, and these are few and far between. One exception is ‘Ode to L.A.’ a great pop song that was one of the highlights of the evening.

They were never original, but they played with such enthusiasm that you couldn’t help getting caught up in it. ‘Little Animal’ was my favorite track tonight, and brought back memories of last year. The new songs don’t work in the same way and they didn’t seem half as confident as they used to. They looked awkward, like they wished they were someplace else. Someplace grander. I kept turning off and daydreaming.

Here they are toward the end of 2003, I got the picture from their website.

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A small bugbear of mine, something that has really started to irritate me, and the main reason Heidi refuses to come to concerts, is how long you have to wait for the band to begin. There were 3 bands tonight and the doors opened at 8PM. I went down there at 10PM thinking I was pushing my luck a bit. I had to stand through about 8 songs from the second support. I have never, ever discovered a band through a support slot, they always suck. The only time they don’t is when the band you are going to see are the support band, tonight was no exception. Any thoughts on this?

After the second band finished, at about 10:30PM, The Ravonettes were nowhere in sight. They waited another hour to come onstage. Why???? It drives me crazy. My back was killing me by the time they came on. I am no spring chicken anymore; I can’t stand in the same spot for hours with no end in view. The doors open at 8PM the main act comes on at 11:30! It is madness; it is a weeknight, I am tired! And you can’t just take this into account, think to yourself “ah, a lesson well learned” and go later the next time, as sometimes they come on early.

I think the venues should have to advertise what time each band will be playing. This would make the experience a whole lot more enjoyable. When ‘The Magic Numbers’ played Sin-E they were the third act, and the time they were playing was advertised. I planned it like a military operation, I went in as they began, and left as soon as they were done. The whole trip into Manhattan and back was completed in fewer than 2 and a half hours. That is what I’m talking about.

Oh, and I am deaf. My head is screaming. God, I am getting old.

All in all, a pretty unsuccessful night, time for bed…

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Bad News

We got cable! For free! Well $20 a month. It’s not even illegal cable; our landlord is paying the lion’s share and got us an extra box. There is about 800 channels, too many to count and far too many watch. And, unlike our rubbish satellite TV, it works in the rain. We even have BBC America On Demand, the shows are all crap though – Monarch of the Glen etc… I am bleary eyed after watching Terminator 3 for the third time on HBO. I’ve done nothing productive all night and feel very guilty. HBO, SHOWTIME, IFC the list is endless, it is 1:41am and I hear the call of the TV. Season 4 of Six Feet Under is on HBO on demand; one button and I could be watching it… AAAAAAAHHHHHHGGGG!!!!

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