Works voicing strong criticism of the current administration,
including a six-minute sound piece by Bjørn Melhus, who
crafts a catchy synth-pop tune by layering snippets of Rummy’s
press conferences over a Kraftwerk- style backing track. Other
artists include Melanie Baker, Christoph Draeger, and Guy
Roebling Hall, 390 Wythe St., Williamsburg,
Brooklyn, 718-599-5352. Through 9/6.
The Forbidden Pictures: A Political
Larry Fink’s photographic series shows a George Bush
look-alike engaged in a variety of Dionysian activities.
powerHouse Gallery, 68 Charlton St., 212-604-9074,
ext. 100. Through 9/4.
The year’s oddest and leftiest independent theater packed
into two weeks. Highlights will include Rome, by Herman
Daniel Farrell III—about two couples who fought it out
during the 2000 Florida debacle and meet again on 9/11—and
How to Save the World and Find True Love . . . in 90 Minutes,
a musical in which a U.N. tour guide falls in love, by Random
House editor-in-chief Jonathan Karp.
various venues, see our
coverage. Through 8/29.
Elected: Campaigning for the Presidency
In an election year that’s seen the marketing
of John Kerry flip-flops (the footwear, that is) and a pair
of underpants bearing the slogan MY BUSH WOULD MAKE A BETTER
PRESIDENT, those I LIKE IKE buttons look more restrained and
straightforward than ever. The buttons are on display, along
with coffee mugs, kerchiefs, and all manner of partisan ephemera
from Washington to W., in If Elected: Campaigning for the
Presidency at the New-York Historical Society, open right
up until November 3.Karen Rosenberg
New-York Historical Society, 2 W. 77th St.;
212-873-3400. Through 11/3.
Billed as a “countercultural county fair,” this
down-and-dirty riot of East Village bohemianism has 1,500
artists and a terrific slate of political films and performances
by downtown artists like Stephin Merritt, Karen Finley, and
Carl Hancock Rux. (And a minimum—fingers crossed—
various venues, see our
I'm Gonna Kill the President!: A Federal
Hieronymous Bang, the pseudonymous creator of
a play called “I’m Gonna Kill the President!”:
A Federal Offense—which reprises last fall’s
Brooklyn run in an East Village theater this month—won’t
reveal his real name or the venue (the audience is asked to
gather on a local street corner, whence it will be escorted
to the show). But he will say this: “It’s very
funny, greatly influenced by the work of the Muppets and the
Yippies, and everyone should come expecting a laugh riot in
every sense of the word.” Plotwise, there’s a
revolutionary who kidnaps potus and resists the temptations
of a literal puppet government and bourgeois society at large
(as represented by a body-snatching sleeping bag). The show’s
growing popularity in light of the coming Republican convention
means “we are expecting to be sabotaged by the right
wing,” says Bang, who has a Southern twang and a penchant
for simple declarative statements. “They’re conspiring
on the blogs as we speak.” Boris Kachka
Meet nightly at 9:30pm at south sidewalk,
10th St. between Aves. A and B., 212-802-7446. 8/17-9/4.
Protest in America 1965-2004 & Memorials of War
This year’s Whitney Biennial was widely
criticized for, among other things, not being political enough—cloaking
antiwar sentiment in myth, fantasy, and generational nostalgia.
As if to respond, the museum is mounting two shows that rival
even the Kerry campaign’s trove of Vietnam imagery,
just as the first Republican delegates file into the city.
WAR! Protest in America 1965–2004, a film series
curated by Chrissie Iles and artist Sam Durant (whose wobbly
drawings of sixties protest scenes polarized Biennial critics),
combines the anonymous documentaries of Third World Newsreel
with experimental films by Stan Brakhage, Carolee Schneemann,
and others. It also features two films about the war in Iraq:
Julie Talen’s Sixty Cameras Against the War,
and Brigitte Cornand’s Not in Our Name (a series
of interviews with artists on the eve of the conflict, including
the leading voice in Vietnam-era protest art, painter Leon
Golub, who died on August 8). Meanwhile, Memorials of War
mines the Whitney’s holdings for work that grapples
with Vietnam and its legacy: Ed Kienholz’s sand-and-straw-filled
soldier’s uniform, Robert Morris’s lithograph
series War Memorials, and a blurry Memory Rendering
of Kent State Shootings by Vik Muniz, among others. Both
shows should serve as rallying points for activists old and
young—the Whitney’s real intergenerational conversation.
Whitney Museum of American Art, 945 Madison
Ave., at 75th St.; 212-570-3676. War! Protest is America is
on view from 8/26-10/24. Memorials of War is on view from
Honor-Bound to Defend Freedom
Is the theater scene about to have its own Fahrenheit 9/11?
“I wouldn’t be so bold,” says Victoria Brittain,
a veteran London journalist who conducted interviews for Guantánamo:
Honor-Bound to Defend Freedom, which begins previews at
45 Bleecker on August 20. “If it has the same kind of
impact that it had here, we would be very happy.” The
project, conceived by director Nicolas Kent, transferred from
his Tricycle Theatre to the West End after glowing reviews
and packed houses. It consists of a series of reenacted interviews
(co-starring Kathleen Chalfant in the New York production),
wherein family members, officials, and British detainees tell
of being jailed and harrassed under inhumane conditions on
evidence that ranged from flimsy to absent. Kent may have
a history of turning government documents into political theater,
but Guantánamo is a far cry from Michael Moore–style
agitprop. For one thing, Brittain and fellow interviewer Gillian
Slovo didn’t have to pick and choose among detainees
to find those falsely accused. “We took the families
who were immediately available,” says Brittain. “We
were completely gobsmacked at the fact that with every family
we saw, it was quite clear that nobody had anything to do
with Al Qaeda. It was just one cock-up after another.”
Soliloquies are plainspoken and addressed to the audience;
the drama comes from the stories. “Almost every interview,”
says Brittain, “we would come out and say, That could
be a play by itself.” Boris Kachka
45 Bleecker Street Theater, 212-307-4100.
Begins previews 8/20 for a 8/26 opening.
Masterpieces of American Jewelry
The city will be decked with thousands of flags next week,
but none more spectacular than this Cartier brooch in Masterpieces
of American Jewelry at the American Folk Art Museum. Bursting
with bands of diamonds, rubies, and sapphires set in platinum,
the 1927 piece should put a twinkle in the eye of Tucker Carlson.
American Folk Art Museum, 45 W. 53rd St.;
Works by Critical Art Ensemble, Leon Golub, Jon Kessler, and
others; the gallery also hosts a variety of protest-related
activities during convention week.
Van Brunt, 819 Washington St., 212-243-8572.
The Right Stuff
Sample humor: “Now they’re calling illegal aliens
undocumented workers. Soon they’ll be calling burglars
Laugh Factory, 669 Eighth Ave., 818-207-2997.
Festival of Arts, Issues & Ideas
A multi-genre romp featuring the liberal intellectual-entertainment
complex (Lewis Lapham, Alec Baldwin, Eve Ensler) plus a few
unusual suspects, like eye-patched rapper Slick Rick.
Margaret Cho, recently uninvited
to a prominent gay-and-lesbian rally during the DNC (owing
to fears that she might pull a Whoopi), kicks off the festival
with her world tour, “State of Emergency,” at
the Apollo on 8/28.
For the Freedom of Expression
National Monument, architect Laurie Hawkinson will help construct
a gigantic red megaphone in the financial districts
Foley Square, onto which any New Yorker may step up
and speak up. (8/17-11/13.)
Marisa Tomei plays the lead in a staged
reading of Sophocles Elektra, to be followed
by a discussion on violence, retribution, and compassion.
8/30, 6:30 p.m.
Sketch in the City,”
an evening at the Art Students League combining dancing with
life-drawing from nude models, as a rejoinder to the Justice
Department’s draping of suggestive statues. 8/28.
Architectural walking tour of Abraham
Lincolns New York including Haughwout
Store . . . which Mary Todd Lincoln favored for the purchase
of White House china. 8/28, 3 p.m.; 8/30, 6 p.m.
Spike Lee’s We
Was Robbed, about the 2000 Florida election. 8/28.
Iraqi Civilians, 2004. (8/30-9/2)
Robert Altman’s Secret
Honor, a cinematic riff on the Watergate scandal.
American Oligopoly, in Washington
Square Park, allows participants to join in an interactive
theatrical “game” played on a gigantic Monopoly
Acclaimed storytelling collective
The Moth hosts a story slam at the Bitter End. 8/30.
Gone Wild has Taylor Mac, the Dazzle
Dancers, and others lampooning the administration’s
obsession with patriotism. 9/1.
In perhaps the most ambitious
(or at least masochistic) festival happening, artist Marshall
Weber performs NYC Odyssey and
The Iliad, a marathon reading of Homer’s
epics while riding the Staten Island Ferry, which is expected
to take two days. 8/31.
various venues, see imagine04.org.
E. L. Doctorow, Calvin Trillin, Jane Wagner, and friends try
out their own version of the Capitol Steps in the political
shtick of Thalia Follies, running every night of the convention.
Symphony Space, 2537 Broadway, 212-864-1414.
A Demonstration in Words
Grace Paley, Sonia Sanchez, Carl Hancock Rux, Katha Pollitt,
Marie Ponsot, Cornelius Eady, Eileen Myles, and others read
to protest the Republican National Convention.
St. Mark's Church, Second Ave. at 10th St.; 212-674-6377.
Dan Bern, John Nichols, Joe Garden,
Local musician Bern reads from his debut novel, Quitting
Science, and performs tracks off his new anti-Bush album,
My Country II. He's joined by Nichols, reading from
his book Dick: The Man Who Is President, along with
Garden and Randy Ostrow, reading their satire Citizen You!:
Helping Government Help Itself, written with Nichols.
Housing Works, 126 Crosby St.; 212-334-3324. 9/2.
My Life in Politics
For his latest project, My Life in Politics, Tim Davis
traveled the country looking for banal traces of activism:
a stack of files in a Planned Parenthood office; a camcorder
capturing a mock protest at a communist summer camp; a mural
linking the civil-rights movement with the quest for a perfect
taco (pictured, One People . . . , 2002). It’s
a clever update of Walker Evans’s American Photographs,
a search for the political center that takes him to the cultural
Bohen Foundation, 415 West 13th St., 212-414-4575.
Ross Bleckner, painting faces? Will Cotton, decorating cookies?
Matthew Barney, roasting a pig in the back of his pickup truck?
The art world goes down-home for Downtown for Democracy (pictured,
Guy Richards Smit’s poster Kerry Victorious,
2004), turning a gallery-laden stretch of West 22nd Street
into the Liberty Fair. Bring the young’uns to this wholesome
block party; at Friedrich Petzel’s “Kid Convention,”
a day of arts and crafts culminating in a mock election, they’ll
even be old enough to vote.
22nd St. between Tenth and Eleventh aves. 9/12.
8/20: Documentary Uncovered: The War on Iraq
8/21 to 9/4: “The Experimental Party Disinformation
Center” at Luxe Gallery
8/24 to 9/3: “Peace Signs: The Anti-War Movement
Illustrated” at Chisholm Gallery
8/25: Deborah Harry and pals perform in support of
gay marriage at Central Park’s “Summer of Love
Concert” THIS EVENT HAS BEEN CANCELED
8/27 to 9/11: “The Unconvention” theater
festival, featuring Hillary and Monica
8/27: Bush’s Brain, a documentary about
Karl Rove, opens
8/29 to 9/12: “A More Perfect Union,” a
protest-poster show organized by Downtown for Democracy, at
8/31: The Dazzle Dancers present “Fahrenheit 5-6-7-8!”