Sophie Blackall, Missed Connections and Love at First Sight
January 5, 2012, 1:00 am
Filed under: Art, Literature, New York City | Tags:

You were wearing an average office suit with an admirably messy haircut. I was the girl with brown curly hair and a blouse with horses on it. We did that awkward back-and-forth shuffle of two strangers trying to pass each other on the street; then you grabbed me and gently swirled me in a mini waltz in the middle of the lunchtime shoppers and angry passersby. I would understand that moment if it happened now – two people sharing a delicate second in a day that hadn't gone to plan. But no, when it happened I was in my awkward early-twenties, so I just frowned, trudged away and hoped no one had noticed. Thanks for making my day.

It only took a few weeks of me moving to New York over three years ago to find out about Craigslist’s famous Missed Connections and subsequently secretly wish I might catch someone’s eye on a random train ride. If it ever happened though, I never knew, I didn’t check the personals enough to know. Still, love at first sight remains in the back of many of our minds as the ideal way to find a significant other. Sophie Blackall first started illustrating the hopeful ads on her blog, Missed Connections, and its success was so big, it’s now a book, Missed Connections, Love Lost & Found. How ironic that in a place with a no-nonsense reputation like New York, we’d be such suckers for sentimentality? Not that romanticism makes no sense, but it’s the exact opposite of the precision of the city’s cherished grid system and individualistic mentality. Blackall’s whimsical take on the Craigslist ads paints a more idealistic light on New Yorkers and their needs of the heart.

New York’s reputation is often defined around the world because of the famous line, “If I can make it there, I’ll make it anywhere.” We usually understand it to be referring to professional success. But could our compulsion to post (and live vicariously through missed connections) exist because we believe that if we manage to find love in the huge maze that is New York, we might have hit a bigger jackpot?


The Year 2011 in review by Sedera
December 22, 2011, 12:59 am
Filed under: Art, Exhibition, Film, Life!, New York City, Theater | Tags:

Taken inside WNYU, courtesy of Talia Kazarian @ WSN

I can’t believe 2011 is already ending. I know that’s what everyone says whenever a year ends, but I think the speed of time has hit me harder this year because the stakes at the end of the day are higher: now, I’m half-way through my senior year, meaning that I’m only a few short months away from having to start a real job search and being a financially responsible adult in a market that doesn’t seem to really be able to take me in at the moment. I’ve never been too scared of time passing but the closer I get to reaching that end-of-college milestone, the more reasons I find to freak out.

So it was nice to take some time to look at the year past and remember the new things I learned, the awesome people I met and the great conversations we had, which may all start with art, but all end up touching upon other seemingly distant subjects and social issues. As the fatigue of this hectic semester finally starts taking its toll on my body and energy, this exercise was a nice reminder that I better continue making the most of the months ahead of me.

To a wonderful new year!

For these interviews in full, you can click here, here, here and here! But, we have many many more shows for you to listen to if you search around the blog…

Alexis Tryon and Artsicle
November 24, 2011, 12:59 am
Filed under: Art, New York City, Photography | Tags:

My house growing up was full of paintings, Van Gogh prints and even later some fusain portraits of me and my family. All in all, I was very spoiled because I grew up in an environment where art was important and something to cherish.

However, now that I don’t live at home anymore and that most of the money I have goes either to tuition, loans or groceries, my art budget is particularly low. I would ask to have some things shipped from home, but because I live in a dorm, the investment seems hardly worth it if I can’t even put a hole in the wall to hang paintings.

Artsicle appealed to me because it made me think that if I ever had a little bit of extra funds, I could constantly re-arrange and remodel my living space according to my artistic affinity of the time, which sounds like an unattainable luxury if art is only available at gallery prices. I also strongly believe that art is a lot more enjoyable if it can be lived with, as opposed to just existing during the working hours of a museum.

Artsicle also has the added benefit of being as good to its customers as it is to its artists; it’s a win-win!

The Chindia Dialogues, an interview with Siddartha Deb and Jianying Zha
October 28, 2011, 9:17 pm
Filed under: Art, Literature, Opinion | Tags: , , ,

Especially in New York do we have trouble mentally transcending the confines of the city and our own personal routines. Wrapped up in subway lines, e-mail chains, and power cables, not only is New York City a veritable maze to navigate through in itself, but living in it also creates a psychological web of signification in our heads. New Yorkers develop an involved sense of awareness in order just to function. It makes sense that intelligent and diligent people thrive in this city. One troubling side effect is a distendency to extend our awareness from matters that don’t directly effect us, even if they’re just downtown.

Fortunately, groups such as The Asia Society facilitate a means for New Yorkers to get informed and involved with matters outside the general realm of consciousness we adopt living in the city. From November 3rd through November the 6th, The Asia Society will be hosting “The Chindia Dialogues,” a series of panels and lectures about modern dynamics in two of the world’s largest, fastest developing, and most influential nations. The festival features the work and thoughts of leading intellectuals in global culture. Two of these scholars joined me on Citywide.

My two guests, Siddartha Deb and Jianying Zha, were a fascinating pair. They’d worked in close proximity for some time and have been aware of each other’s work, but in the studio at WNYU is the first time they’d met. They’ve also coincidentally each published a book in the last year in which they summarize the conditions growing up in their home nations of India and China, becoming writers, attending college in the United States and returning to write about their countries of origin. Both books then go on to represent the modern conditions of India and China respectively via detailed profiles of individuals. The method is effective as these writers delve deep into a nation’s role in forming an individual. They also find a way to connect the lives of these individuals to a global condition, one experienced everywhere and especially visible in the Occupy Wall Street movement.

 Not only are the stories they share (including their own) interesting and enlightening, but so is their perspective. This was a very unique interview for me to record, because I knew my questions would have little to add except to start a conversation between two people who have studied and thought about their home nations for their entire lives. It is amazing to see how conflicts between bordering nations translate to each other. How one populace sees the domestic woes of their neighbor as potential salvation if instituted at home. How a revolution enflames diverging and vibrant cultures. It is a great treat to hear these two thinkers in profound conversation. Please enjoy the interview below-

The Chindia Dialogues will take place at 725 Park Avenue (at 70th street) between November 3rd and November 6th. For a complete program, please visit Siddartha Deb and Jianying Zha will form a panel with two other scholars in conversation about shared culture between nation-states on Sunday November 6th. Citywide will give away free tickets to this event to the first person who e-mails or comments on this blog post!

About the authors:

Jianying Zha (查建英)-
A writer, television commentator, and China Representative of the India China Institute at The New School. She is the author of two books in English, China Pop: How Soap Operas, Tabloids, and Bestsellers Are Transforming a Culture and Tide Players: The Movers and Shakers of a Rising China, and five books in Chinese: three collections of fiction and two non-fiction books, including Bashi Niandai (The Eighties), an award-winning cultural retrospective of the 1980s in China. The recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, she has published widely in both Chinese and English for a variety of publications, including The New Yorker, The New York Times, Dushu and Wanxiang. Born and raised in Beijing, she was educated in China and the United States, receiving degrees from Peking University, University of South Carolina, and Columbia University. She divides her time between Beijing and New York. She has appeared frequently in television talk-shows in China as a commentator on social and cultural topics.

Here is a review of her latest book, Tide Players, in The New York Review of Books (very interesting article):

Siddartha Deb-
Indian author born 1970 in Meghalaya and raised in Shillong of northeastern India. Siddartha attended school in both India and the United States at Columbia University. His first novel, The Point of Return, is semi-autobiographical in nature and is set in a fictional hill-station that closely resembles Shiillong. His second novel, Surface, also set in Northeast India, is about a disillusioned Sikh Journalist. His first non-fiction book and most recent work, The Beautiful and the Damned: Life in the New India, was published in June 2011 by Viking Penguin. He has also contributed to the Boston Globe, The Guardian, The Nation, The New Statesman, Harper’s, the London Review of Books, and the Times Literary Supplement. He currently teaches at The New School in New York.

Lucas Green

An Introduction to Fluxus At NYU’s Grey Art Gallery
October 12, 2011, 11:59 pm
Filed under: Art, New York City | Tags:

I’m ashamed to say it but before preparing for this interview, I had never set foot in the Grey Art Gallery. After three years at NYU and countless classes taken at the Silver Center, I still hadn’t visited the campus gallery.

As embarrassing as that is, I am happy to report that this first visit was extremely informative. Of course, that then makes me wonder about all the knowledge I missed out on from my years of not going there, but that’s a different story. Visiting Fluxus and the Essential Questions of Life and Fluxus at NYU: Before and Beyond, which was curated by my guests NYU professor Julia Robinson and CAS ’11 alum Ellen Swieskowski, made me discover a sort of missing link in my knowledge of art history: Fluxus.

Of course, I’m not an expert in 20th century art in any respect, but walking around the gallery and seeing echoes of concepts of modern art brought up regularly such as the blurring of life and art and the breaking down of the boundaries between artist/performer and spectator made me wonder: How have I not heard of this before? Where can I learn more?

Julia Robinson and Ellen Swieskowski answered those questions in the interview so I won’t spoil it, but I’ve always loved the idea of art as play so learning about Fluxus was particularly fun for me. Hopefully it will be for you too.

“Fluxus and the Essential Questions of Life” and “Fluxus at NYU: Before and Beyond,” will be up at NYU’s Grey Art Gallery until December 3rd at 100 Washington Square East in the Silver Center. For more info about the exhibits, visit

Sedera Ranaivoarinosy

Pearls on the Ocean Floor, A Documentary by Robert Adanto
September 28, 2011, 11:59 pm
Filed under: Art, Film, Photography | Tags:

"After You, A series of 24" (2007) by Sara Rahbar

The media is rough on Iran. Consequently, it’s hard for us viewers of the 24-hour news machine to see the country with a fresh eye. But after a little digging, it’s clear that Iran’s history is richer than anything currently being said about the Islamic Republic today.

Pearls on the Ocean Floor explores the myriad ways in which that spirit and culture expresses itself in the art and lives of female Iranian women. Some of them live and work in Iran. Others have left and are not always so keen on going back. But their Iranian heritage is inescapable and their (however conflicted) attachment to that homeland shines through their photographs, paintings, collages or textile works.

Robert Adanto’s documentary showcases powerful work made by powerful women. It’s easy to dismiss art as simply decorative but they carry a message that more of us should hear: while the mainstream circles show one version of Iran, theirs deserves the equal amount of attention. They are recording history too.

Pearls on the Ocean Floor will be screened tomorrow evening, Thursday September 29th, at 7pm at the NYU Cantor Film Center at 36 East 8th Street. It will be followed by a panel with my guest Robert Adanto, Iran analyst Hadi Ghaemi and NYU professor Shouleh Vatanabadi, moderated by journalist Laura Secor.

RAW/COOKED, an exhibition at The Brooklyn Museum
September 27, 2011, 2:23 pm
Filed under: Art, Exhibition, New York City, Uncategorized | Tags:

I love the Brooklyn Museum. They’re so smart. The genius in the basic formulation of the Brooklyn Museum is that it places new work from great contemporary artists along side great works from ancient artists. Subsequent to browsing classical Roman sculpture, you can find yourself in front of a Paul Klee. It’s a phenomenon common in most major museums, but at the Brooklyn Museum you often don’t have to even leave a room of Ancient Egyptian artwork to confront a modern (within the last months even) interpretation by a new artist of the canonized work surrounding you. That the Brooklyn Museum strives to create a timeline that only ends at the immediate present engenders constantly original juxtapositions. Perhaps that is why curator Eugenie Tsai titled the new year-long exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum Raw/Cooked (It also might be a reference to Claude Lèvi-Strauss’s The Raw and the Cooked which aptly investigates ethnic mythologies). Eugenie is very conscious of this unique propensity of the Brooklyn Museum; she says it is “a place showing what artists are doing today in the context of what has been done in the past.”

Kristof Wickman (American, b. 1981). Self-Portrait, 2010. Neoprene ball, cast silicone. 35 x 35 x 35 in. (88.9 x 88.9 x 88.9 cm).

Raw/Cooked strives to accomplish this goal with a particular focus on Brooklyn. Eugenie Tsai visited dozens of studios within Brooklyn to find work that she found exceptional and appropriate for a show that is intrinsically entwined with the museum itself. Over the next year, the five artists she selected will create new work with the freedom to incorporate and respond to the existing space and content of the museum. One artist is actually using museum materials to create a monument to the museum Listen to the interview below to hear from the artists themselves how they plan to manifest the dialogue that pervades this show.

Raw/Cooked began September 16th and will continue to show throughout the next year one artist at a time. Currently on view until November 27th is Kristof Wickman, whose work is depicted above.

Enjoy the show.


Lucas Green