CITYWIDE


Citywide in Paris: Saint Denis’s 6B
July 19, 2012, 7:37 pm
Filed under: Art, Exhibition, Projects | Tags:

The 6B jungle

Last night I might have spoken a bit too fast when I said that Paris was finally sunny. Though I have not felt any raindrops today, the sky has been decidedly grey and the few rays of sunlight that have managed to come through had to fight a hardy battle to push through the fluffy layer of clouds.

It might seem a bit off-topic to insist on commenting on the weather when, really, this post is meant to concentrate on what I discovered when I visited the 6B, an art center in the parisian suburb of Saint Denis but, I swear, there is a link.

You see, during my conversation with Julien Beller, the founder and director of the space, a lot of time was spent talking about the way the 6B is becoming and increasingly strong influence in the city of Saint Denis, as well as the cultural scene of the Paris area. “Ça rayonne” was the expression that kept being repeated: it shines.

Beller, courtesy of the JSD

The use of that word is not a manifestation of its founder’s arrogance; the verb “rayonner,” to shine, is actually the given term used in French to describe the repercussions of one entity’s energy on others. When used to talk about the 6B, that verb takes on an even stronger signification.

A different work of art is placed on this spot each month.

This space was not created to be the CoolHipArtsy place for Paris. Beller found the location, worked out a deal with the owner to rent a small part of the building then called up his friends to see who would want to be part of the project. It was just born out of a simple desire to work together. As Beller says,

I really couldn’t have cared less about speaking to people who lived in Paris itself. I didn’t come here thinking, ‘We need a new spot, it needs to be bringing in a ton of people, all the parigots [Paris-only minded people] have to be here as well as famous artists…’ I just wanted a space that had meaning and fulfilled the community’s needs. Turns out a lot of Paris people came and found a second wind because they had room to work, they met new people… Since we opened a lot of people have ended up moving to Saint Denis, but others still just come here to work, sometimes after a commute of an hour and 30 minutes.

Along the path, across the way from the 6B

That genuine and organic gathering of like-minded people really does turn the 6B into a bright spot in the neighbourhood. The walls of the pathway along the water that leads you to the center is covered in colourful graffiti and the little signs pointing the way, thus reassuring you that you’re not just walking to a dead end–before seeing the building, I could just see a lock on the canal in the distance, convincing me I’d gone the wrong way–are in fun, pastel colored paint and written in a soft, round-lettered font.

The Fabrique à Rêves’s watering hole

You truly get a sense of how unique the place is when you actually enter inside the gates and are face to face with the Fabrique à Rêves (or Dream Factory), a large outdoor installation made to host concerts, performances, and playful activities of all kinds. This is where you’ll see the residents getting lunch on warm, sunny days as well as the sheep of the sheep barn and the guerilla vegetable patches!

Someone’s growing fennel in a little crate outside…

The 6B also shines a new light on an area often dismissed because it still carries the burden of a violent, drug-filled past and the feeling that its population, often of humble or immigrant background, was never made to feel like they belonged. With his constant desire to integrate the many and to fill the gaps in the resources offered by cities, Julien Beller and his crew managed, through their work at the 6B, to ignite a new fire in the area by giving it a place where homegrown culture could grown and radiate far beyond the borders it was once confined in.

For more info, visit www.6b.org.

Sedera

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Citywide In Paris: Futur en Seine
June 22, 2012, 6:29 pm
Filed under: Exhibition, Technology

On my first day on my freshman year floor, our RA Jenna chose “Two Truths and a Lie” as our inaugural icebreaker. When my time came to make my new floormates what my lie was, I told them that my uncle was a huge rockstar in Madagascar and that I loved computers (I can’t remember what I gave as a third option). Immediately, everyone guessed the computer one was the lie. They were right; other than their practical nature, I saw nothing particularly appealing about computers then–try to tear me away from it now though and you might have a different answer. I thought I had been so smart by putting in something ridiculous to throw them off, but I guess my un-techy-ness was visible from the get-go, even to complete strangers.

All this to say that Futur en Seine, the digital innovation festival going on in all of the Parisian region until the 24th, is not at first sight a place where you might expect to find me. Even though I have now warmed up to what the digital culture has brought for us and feel much less of a need to be hostile to the technological innovations around me, a lot of what gets discussed in these circles is way beyond my level of understanding.

Luckily, I went to the festival’s inaugural fair at the CentQuatre on the two days it was open to the public, when kids were running around everywhere  and many curious souls erred, which forced all the people presenting their work to make what was often probably very complex technology seem intelligible to simple minds like mine. Also, thanks to a plethora of tactile screens and Kinect-based games, a good amount of stations ended up being somewhat interactive, even though a lot of it was aimed at children. For example, I passed in front of one screen that detected bodies going in front of the camera and added Iron Man suits on the image that was then formed on the screen. Another station allowed you to embody a flying creature in a videogame if you spread your arms out and bent side to side to mimic flight. Thinking back on it, the whole Kinect experience was doubly unreal. The center where the fair took place, the CentQuatre, used to be a morgue so with these games, huge crowds of people played with these almost ghostly, mirror images of themselves while standing in a place with a bit of a haunted history. I realize as I’m writing it that it sounds rather morbid, but I’m keeping it because I still find it quite fascinating.

However, the most fun application of that technology was shown during a workshop for children who had recorded and filmed a few video samples during an after-school program. One of the program directors would put up some of the pictures they’d taken on the screen and as a few girls volunteered to dance in front of the camera (their song of choice was Danza Kuduro), any big arm movement would make the picture superimposed over their feed change shape so that as you saw the girls moving around to the rhythm, the picture on top would also then follow that same beat. So a much more alive use of Kinect, this time.

While Futur en Seine wasn’t a place where I thought I’d find much artistic inspiration (going there was really just an excuse to go see my sister and hang out), I was pleasantly surprised, because there was still a lot of creativity at work once you looked past the more commercial ventures present. Below, you’ll see videos of some of the projects I talk about in the piece that aired on the show in case my description of them didn’t give you a full idea.

Here’s Object Avatar by Digitalarti‘s Jason Cook:

And Jules Hotrique’s Dualo:

With my new, more open mind, I look forward to telling you about more Parisian adventures!

Sedera



The 2012 Vimeo Film Festival with Jeremy Boxer and Eliot Rausch

The online video-sharing platform Vimeo signifies much about the current relationship between art, society, and technology. Users of Vimeo utilize the site to share originally produced video content on a high-quality player for free. For independent filmmakers, artists, and documentarians, who may have spent zero to hundreds of thousands of dollars creating a video, to share their work in the way it deserves to be seen without having to pay a distribution company or rent out a theater. It is a way for people to get their work noticed without taking the risk of submitting to film festivals, which sometimes only accept films on the condition that they do not screen at any other festival or be seen online. This may be true of just about any video-sharing site, but the quickest glance at Vimeo exhibits its uniqueness as a media platform.

On Vimeo, you will not see television or popular movie clips, you cannot search for any song you want to hear and expect to find a video file of it, and you do not find commercials. Rather Vimeo contains only the original work of its users, most of them aspiring artists or media creators. As such, the site is rife with music videos, lyrical documentaries, tone poems, tutorials, clever/cute animations, etc… There is no shortage of beautiful and entertaining content in the age of DSLRs, prosumer editing software, and easy access to educational resources. While technical quality and formal qualities do vary between extremes, the site is curated to an extent. In short, Vimeo has found a new way to contribute to the elimination of exclusivity in art.

This being the case, it can be pretty easy to get overwhelmed by the massive amount of video art with immediate availability. No one wants to become sensitized to beauty and artists have good reason to feel reluctant exhibiting work on a platform absolutely flooded with high quality, original work. Premiering video online can be just as risky as preparing a film for a festival. Thus the Vimeo Film Festival.

The Vimeo Film Festival goes against many accustomed film festival traditions. First, it is among the few festivals in existence that even allow screenings of films that have premiered online, and it is one of even fewer that focus on internet-released films. The festival also follows an opposite format to most festivals by holding the award ceremony at the festival’s opening rather than its conclusion. Jeremy Boxer, the festival’s co-founder and director as well as creative director for Vimeo, states the reason for this as an attempt to celebrate the winning filmmakers throughout the festival, which culminates in a winner’s screening at the end of the event where attendees can see all the films that have risen to the top without feeling like they missed out. The awards, too, go to less conventional categories like ‘Advertising, Lyrical, Action Sports, Motion graphics, and Remix; categories meant to reflect the work of Vimeo’s community.

This year’s festival also features many workshops and lectures from illustrious members of the film industry including Ed Burns. It is the work of these people and those like Jeremy Boxer who create a channel for people with passion and a message to express themselves freely. It has always been possible, but it was never the popular path. Filmmakers these days are beginning to take advantage of the fact that they do not have to tailor their work to appeal to someone who can give them a job. Platforms like Vimeo and its associated film festival create an infrastructure for art to disseminate off of its own merit rather than the approval of a single curator or “taste-maker.”

Listen to the show to hear Jeremy Boxer discuss the highlights of this year’s festival and previous Vimeo Film Festival Grand Prize, winner Eliot Rausch, talk about what Vimeo has been able to do to propel his own career forward. The trailer for his new film “Limbo” appears below and below that is his award winning film, “Last Minutes with Oden.”

Eliot Rausch, director of “Last Minutes With Oden” and the forthcoming “Limbo”

 

[audio https://files.nyu.edu/ltg219/public/Eliot%20Rausch.mp3]

Lucas Green



Citywide in Paris: European Museum Night
May 23, 2012, 8:23 pm
Filed under: Art, Exhibition

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With NYU always boasting about how many study abroad sites it has, it’s somewhat ironic that Citywide’s programming has stayed so New York-centric. However, the reason why the show is expanding to France a bit for the summer has nothing to do with study abroad. I’m just one of those lucky people who get to call Paris home and since I’m here for the next three months, I want to ensure I’m doing something fun.

Here are some pictures I took during Saturday’s Paris edition of European Museum Night, when museums, galleries and cultural centers opened their doors until the late night hours for people to rediscover permanent collections and admire some special exhibits for the evening.

For a little more on exactly what I did, you can listen below:

The Rodin Museum and its jardins à la française:

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Here it is: The Thinker!

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Katarzyna Kozyra’s “The Rite of Spring”

The line at the Louvre:

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On to the Museum of Public Assistance:

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Poet Corinne Malfreyt-Gatel and saxophonist Gaëtan Bigarré

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The sadly (and also hilariously named) “murderous” baby bottle: Invented at the end of the 18th c., this baby bottle was a success because it allowed babies to feed themselves. However, the rubber tube the liquid traveled through was complicated to clean and it was hardly done, turning the bottle into a bacteria haven. The bottle was finally banned in 1910.

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This is a costume made by an AIDS patient at the Bichat hospital in 1993. It is made of IV tubes.

More from Paris later!

Sedera



An interview with Dee Dee Halleck from Paper Tiger Television

Citywide aims for progressive programming. We bring many people onto the show who stand to make a change in the world in whatever way they strive to do. This can take place in a number of different ways. Some of our guests are out there trying to improve conditions for less privileged parts of our society as well as spreading a humanitarian message, see our post on Immortal Technique. Some of our guests are actively trying to expand on what the human being can physically be, like recent guest Genesis Breyer P-Orridge. Some of our guests have represented a change itself in being an original artist, like Mykki Blanco who was on last month.

These are people our program has brought on for our audience to check out and have something different to think about. Paper Tiger Television, our feature this week, is another weekly program in the City which doesn’t just discuss the people who are doing progressive work this day, the people on the show itself have been pioneering and innovative since the show’s formation in 1981. PPTV recognizes that there must be an aggressive front to counter a mainstream media that is largely controlled by large corporations. Formed entirely by volunteers who share the concern of what control mass media has over today’s culture, PPTV has been one of the most consistent and driven organizations of people who insist that there be a source of criticism and information outside the commercial world.

I spoke with one of the founders of Paper Tiger Television, Dee Dee Halleck, who took me through some of the early years of the new form of media activism which PPTV represented at the beginning of the 1980s. It is important to note about PPTV that while that not only did they set a new precedent for activists trying to reach a mass audience, they also set an important precedent for the mediums of public cable television which was just emerging at the time. And while programs such as The Coca Crystal Show and Glenn O’Brien’s TV Party (“The TV party that could be a political party”) had already fought to claim the medium as one belonging to the people, PPTV ensured that the medium would balways be used to also speak for the people.

It’s an extraordinary organization that continues to do extraordinary work. Greatest of all is that they are always accepting volunteers. Check out their website and see what you think about the work they do; see if maybe you even want to help. You can also watch many of the programs tand documentaries they have produced. That’s right here.

PPTV is currently celebrating it’s 30 year anniversary with an exhibition at Fales Library at New York University. This is the exhibition’s website. Here is a video about the 30 year history of Paper Tiger Television-

Dee Dee Halleck also told me about a great new effort of hers to unite activists with similar causes around the world. Check out Deep Dish Waves of Change for more information about that. This program derives from another project of Dee Dee’s called Deep Dish TV, a similar organization to PPTV, doing with satellite what Paper Tiger did with cable television.

Dee Dee told me some wonderful stories herself. Check out the interview here-

[audio https://files.nyu.edu/ltg219/public/DeeDee%20Halleck.mp3]

Here is one of the first PPTV programs, Herb Schiller reads the New York Times-

Lucas Green



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…



Mikhail Baryshnikov archives at the New York Public Library
December 15, 2011, 1:17 pm
Filed under: Dance, Exhibition, New York City | Tags:

I’ve said it before: Mikhail Baryshnikov is my hero in many ways. And the little time that I got to spend at the Library of the Performing Arts in Lincoln Center looking through the archival preview of the newly donated archives of video, letters, magazines, pictures and books of him reminded me once more of the endless number of reasons why.

From very early videos of him dancing as a child in the USSR, to his dancing duet with Gregory Hines in White Nights, his performance in Roland Petit’s Carmen, or even just by looking at his handsome face in his old yearbook, his magnetism radiates through the various screens and vitrines of the exhibit.

I realize that I sound like a little fan girl, but I’m not the only one who’s excited about him and his talent. Take a listen to the conversation I had with Jan Schmidt, the curator of the dance division, after I met with Kate Stober, a press representative of the New York Public Library.

You can visit the this delightful little archival preview at the Library for the Performing Arts, the NYPL branch located at Lincoln Center, until December 20th. After that, they’ll be getting processed and entered into the collection over a few years. For more information on the library and when to see the exhibit, visit the branch’s website, www.nypl.org/locations/lpa/jerome-robbins-dance-division.

And for your viewing pleasure, the man at work with Zizi Jeanmaire, dancing Carmen: