Sunday, July 27, 2008

Update: BWAC Red Hook Art Show: Meditations on Art and Reality -- Life & Death at Kings County

The Brooklyn Waterfront Artists Coalition opened its HOT! Summer Art Exhibition this weekend at the BWAC exhibition space at 499 Van Brunt Street in Red Hook.

With the sturdy waves of New York harbor lapping against the waterfront shoreline, the BWAC summer show drew a good crowd all weekend.

Some highlights:

-Artist Dawn Robyn Petrlik's installation "The Lonely Death of Esmin Green" which combines the artist's sculpture of a woman's body, collapsed face down on the floor, along with chairs and a video monitor, to create a meditation on the death of Esmin Green, a patient at Kings County Hospital, who died on June 19 in the waiting room, after convulsing on the floor. Ms. Petrlik's notes on the installation indicate that it is her attempt to address the simple important fact of Ms Green's passing, not as "some woman", or "some immigrant" or some "crazy person" but this person."

The audience becomes part of the installation as you walk through the space and see yourself, along with the sculpture, in a video surveillance monitor. Ms. Petrlik indicated that the sculpture, which is not for sale, will "naturally dry out and crumble over the course of the show in a symbolic ashes to ashes gesture." Viewers are invited to make repeat visits to review this process and to remember this story, and this person "with her name and dignity intact."

The late Ms. Green, 49, was the mother of 6 children, ages 14 - 31, in Jamaica. Ms Green came to the US, a church-going member of her community,and was working in day care in order to support herself and her family at home. According to CNN, previous psychological problems may have been exacerbated by loss of her job and apartment, which led to her admission to Kings County, where she died, neglected by staff at the hospital's psychiatric emergency room. A very powerful, provocative and thoughtful work.

For more on this installation:

For more background on the life and death of Esmin Green:

-Red Hook Cine Soiree! On Sunday, July 27th, guest programmer Joel Schlemowitz presented a salon of experimental and underground films from a band of intrepid, avant-garde cine-artists . The program opened with recorded music - 1920s foxtrots played on a wonderfully low-tech, hand-cranked, Victrola. The films ranged from the sublime to the sublimely ridiculous and somewhere in between. Cats and Pants by Jennifer Matotek, featuring, whatelse, cats and pants, proved to be a big crowd pleaser. Robot Movie, by Fabio Roberti, featuring a dancing robot, a circa 1980s guitar player, and a sound track of electro-madness was described by one critic as "Alien Transmission" and there's not much more to say than that, although I for one am a better person for seeing it. Five Haikus for the NY Subway by Zaza M. was sensitive and humorously brilliant. Sometimes, while 8 hours of a camera focussed on the Empire State Building as Andy Warhol did, might make a statement, a couple of others showed that there is art in brevity, notably, Faces in the Flowers by Jennifer McMillan, which was lovely if a bit twee and just a bit too long for this viewer, but with an affecting soundtrack, while Spidery, by Bradley Eros, films of the micro-natural world backed by a score by Karlheinz Stockhausen, clocked in at 5:55 minutes and, while Lord knows I tried to embrace the aesthetic, it just made me think "I'd Rather Be Waterboarding." But Stan Brakhage, for all his avant-brilliance, can test the soul, too, so, there ya go. Despite my facile comments, clearly every filmmaker here had something to say, something worth saying and therefore worth seeing.

Overall a great program on an alternately steamy then stormy Sunday afternoon. More films and programs to come. Visit the BWAC site. Fine programming by Joel Schlemowitz, guest curated by Mike Olshan. More on the films and the programmer:

-Music Saturday by the Big Bang Big Band, a large, percussive and groovy orchestra and blues vocalist, and Sunday by Le Nozze de Carlo, a gentle, thoughtful, and tasteful Latin-tinged pop and jazz ensemble, were highlights of the weekend. More performances to come. Again, check out the BWAC site.

BWAC proves to be a great place to be for art, provocations and entertainment on weekends 1 PM - 6 PM though August 17.

More on BWAC:

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