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Apocalypse . . . Now?
Kim Brandt and Walter Dundervill, Sarah Rapson, and a special report from Eras tour! Plus an irascible Jura Chardonnay
Greetings from New York, where Tuesday night’s lightly erotic asphyxiation, that gentle grip of those Quebec wildfires on our throats, has gone way past our consent.
On Tuesday I went to a dance performance by Kim Brandt and Walter Dundervill at 411 Kent a block off the East River in South Williamsburg; at that point the Manhattan skyline across the water was only halfway gone. The piece involved four dancers in slow, private movements that took on a dreamy quality in the haze. Dundervill performed while wrapped head-and-all in blankets bound together lightly with orange caution tape, crawling blindly along the perimeter of the room. His eyeless, larval quality and the slow-torque strain of the other dancers muscling in unnatural ways became uncomfortable; when one performer prestidigitated a cigarette—a little air quality joke?—the sight of any kind of prop was a relief.
At one point the orange tape on Dundervill’s costume served as a kind of rope for horizontal rappelling, two of the dancers tugging themselves toward each other across half the floor and slowly pushing themselves apart again, then repeating. The themes that emerged from the performance as a whole were finding one’s way in the dark and action at a glacial pace, but my thinking may have been the influence of the apocalyptic twilight filtering in.
If you missed the Taylor Swift shows in New Jersey over Memorial Day weekend, take heart! Spigot dispatched a most perspicacious correspondent on opening night to distill the era-defining event down to a Notes app’s worth of prose. Presenting the jottings of loyal reader Seth on the Metlife stop of the Eras tour:
two words: awe some.
prelim. analysis indicates 85% white girls aged 12-25 plus mom contingent of same. widespread costuming was robust, joyful, fewer home made items than expected but therefore the few extant items felt pleasantly psychotic. general feeling was very jersey, very american, lots of good vibes without creeping aggro energies, tho somehow it didn’t add up to an actual sense of commonality or community. a solid 9 hours of american religion (taylor did four hours herself, plus time for all the other crap like merch and parking).
stage show whipped out every possible stadium rock trick with robotic levels of rapid-fire logistical precision: confetti cannons, towering propane jets of fire, smoke machines, laser show, well-mixed video wall that had live cameras pointing at it and broadcasting to it yet somehow not producing video feedback, robert wilson style performance sculptures, franz west style performance sculptures, squads of honestly psyched-seeming dancers, weird trap doors, clever costume change sleights of hand, meredith monk style shit (huh? what even does that mean), crazy video floor that taylor actually appeared to dive into and then reappeared inside the video, RFID-enabled multicolored LED lanyards issued to concertgoers to enable programmable north korean mass ornament stuff, fleet of luminescent bicycles with riders doing routines, mystery guests, madonna-style “white woman plus posse of black women and gay men” numbers, grizzled now-sober white dudes in black tee and jeans trotted out to “wail” on guitar, wall of actual sparks, acoustic duo ballads, fosse-style dance numbers, busby berkeley style numbers, hydraulic risers moving in wavelike tetris patterns, beyoncé style choreography, CGI vomit that was so bad it was good, spontaneous gift of covetable personal effects to actual baby in front row (plant?), moss-covered cabin that eventually sprouted neon bars and turned into cyber cabin before vanishing, tv party for 80,000 pals to privately debut new video hours before the global drop… you know, “the yoojzh”
Big thanks to Seth, who was incredibly gracious in letting me share his reflections. The friendship bracelet is in the mail!
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Music but Really Art
I’ve been swamped with work lately, dear reader, of the rent-paying sort—art critics are in high demand for catalogue modeling gigs these days, don’t you know?—which has made it harder to slip off the handcuffs of workaday life. If this edition of Spigot seems a little behind schedule, that’s why.
In my down time, I did manage to learn about Sarah Rapson, however.
Rapson had not one but two shows in New York area in recent weeks. One was at Maxwell Graham Essex Street (pictured above), where the work was gnomic, both spare and sensuous, ambiguously personal. A little photo clung taped the wall just inside the entrance—a magazine clipping depicting Rauschenberg and Johns, which cast a quiet spell of both art history and queer romance over the rest of the gallery. Huddled together in half the room fifteen or twenty planklike paintings lean against the wall with others hung in unpredictable places, plus a dead video monitor on a plinth and a couple leaning sticks. Magazine and newspaper clippings appeared over and over; it turns out that the paintings’ lush surfaces are built up on such grounds. The spirit was captured by the next-to-last item on the checklist, Marcel Proust Yves Saint Laurent, a narrow-waisted vertical in brown.
At the same time as the Essex Street exhibition, Rapson had a show up at Bard’s Hessel Museum. It was one of the Center for Curatorial Studies students’ thesis shows. Curated by Liv Cunaberti, Free Admission was equally elegant but totally different in means: one book, one song, one video, perfectly installed in a gallery tucked away like a secret, with the voice of Neil Young luring you around its corner. Rapson’s video, shot on Super 8, combines with the ’70s music to make it seem like a relic, but it’s actually from 2003. A wig-wearing Rapson runs mysteriously through the Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall, then mysteriously shoves a baby carriage through the galleries, while Young’s folky tune “Love Is a Rose” plays. Time is jogged a little out of its tracks nevertheless, further so by the Muybridging of the short film into a black-and-white flip book.
Both shows are closed, but don’t worry: I’ve re-created the video for you here at home. Presenting my tribute to Sarah Rapson, Love Is a Rose, 2003:
L’Étoile, Dom. de Montbourgeau. This wine is from the Jura, which was exciting because I had this whole great story ready to go about Bakunin and his time among the region’s watchmakers as a key influence on the formation of his ideas about anarchism. But it turns out there are two Juras, the one in Switzerland where those noble workers sought self-determination and a fair wage, and another one in France where nothing important has happened in all of history.
They do, however, make some pretty unusual wines. The regional specialty is a grape called Savagnin, used both for table wines and the sherrylike vin jaune. But their Chardonnays take on similar flavors, like mutant Bordeaux. L’Étoile has an almost rancorous quality, prickly beneath its oxidized veil. It has the almonds and apricots people ascribe to Jura whites and a strong tang. Compared to the more well-known Arbois AOC to the north, L’Étoile is a little smoky, like a damp couch on fire—or like the distant burning of Canadian pines. Paradoxically Montbourgeau seems to get colder when you swirl it on your tongue. By day 2, it tastes like a light cognac and goes down easier. It’s not exactly a split-on-bottle-on-the-couch-and-snuggle experience, but if you like a challenge—and creamy cheeses and weisswurst—give it a try.
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