March Madness with Culture Lust
Monday, March 12, 2012
Credit: Sony Pictures Classics
What feels like the longest winter will come to an end soon enough. The promise of spring is near and with it comes exciting new arts and culture findings. This is the year of transformation and, consequently, artists and culture-makers everywhere seem to be mixing it up in magical ways. Dive in to these 10 picks that reflect a changing of the seasons.
Cindy Sherman at MOMA
New York’s Museum of Modern Art presents a retrospective of photographer Cindy Sherman through June 11. While Sherman is best known for her Untitled Film Stills, the exhibition showcases her body of photographic and film works from the mid-late 1970s till now—from the creepily configured mannequins to the over-the-top, eerie "real housewife"-types. Though critics and non-critics alike have discussed her work, my inner-art historian is antsy to fly across the country to see Sherman once more in her various guises.
PBS’ Off Book
I recently came across PBS’ Off Book web series/Tumblr and was pleasantly surprised. Each short episode explores an interesting facet of art, in all its forms, ultimately questioning the age-old question of what defines art. The second episode “The Evolution of Music Online” considers the role of the music critic in a time defined by music blogs. Everyone’s a critic, but Off Book still delivers a refreshing take on it all.
San Francisco-based Girls has been a personal favorite (for many reasons) for a while now, yet with each show I’m more and more blown away. Lead singer Christopher Owens encapsulates a certain ‘90s angst and always mixes up his look (i.e. a mom-style denim skirt circa 1995). The band's recent show at the Birch North Park Theatre didn’t include its soulful back-up singers, but it was equally stunning. I highly suggest checking out Girls for all its mystique and a real honest time.
Damsels in Distress
Whit Stillman’s latest feature film “Damsels in Distress” looks promising, smart and hilarious on many levels. The trailer alone pulled me in with the fantastic line: “Do you know what’s the major problem in contemporary social life? The tendency to always seek someone cooler than yourself.” With a cast of twenty- and thirty-somethings, including Greta Gerwig, Aubrey Plaza and Adam Brody, along with tap-dance numbers, what more could you ask for? It’s time for some quirky collegiate vibes.
Berlin-based curatorial journal, The Exhibitionist, offers an interesting take on the practice of exhibition making. The bi-annual journal features texts from contributing curators in museums all around the world—from South Korea to San Diego. The most recent issue features curatorial reviews of “Pacific Standard Time,” the Getty Museum’s recent art initiative showcasing Southern California art produced from 1945 to 1980. Why not consider art from a completely behind-the-scenes, curatorial perspective?
The United States of Tara
Though Showtime’s original show "The United States of Tara" ended after three seasons last year, I’m still completely obsessed. I was a little late to discover the show, starring Toni Collette as “Tara,” a woman with multiple personalities. As one might expect, it’s a completely fascinating roller coaster. Like Don Draper of "Mad Men," the ultimate puzzle is figuring out just who Tara really is.
Rare Warhol Polaroids at BAM/PFA
Earlier this year, the Berkeley Art Museum/Pacific Film Archive (BAM/PFA) acquired rare Polaroid and black-and-white photographs that Andy Warhol took from 1970 to 1987. It’s interesting to see unseen Warhol works of non-celebrities. Perhaps these functioned like his Screen Test film series or maybe they had a completely different meaning. Either way, they certainly add fuel to the fire of the Warhol myth.
Local band Delta Spirit consistently delivers a rough, loud good time. Following their 2010 album "History from Below" comes their latest self-titled album, out March 13. Whether they’re banging on trashcans or serenading trolley car goers, there’s something about them that sticks. Plus, lead singer Matt Vasquez’s raw sound makes me want to become a street performer.
They’re, Like, Way Ahead of the Linguistic Currrrve
Last week, the New York Times published an article about trends in vocal patterns among young women. From “like” to “you know” to talking in question form, there’s certainly something cutting-edge about the way girls talk. While many of these trends have turned into parodies, the latest trend “vocal fry” may be the most intriguing. It’s hard to explain, but imagine that growling, exhausted noise that Ke$ha makes—she’s a connoisseur of vocal fry for as long as it’s here to stay.
Grimes, aka Claire Boucher, is a Canadian-based musician who has quickly risen to Internet buzz-worthy level…and for good reason. The 23-year-old embodies a certain other-worldly quality with ethereal tunes perfect for spacing out or having a dance party. Her latest video for “Oblivion” recalls spontaneously awkward dance parties in a sea of bros.
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