Installment 3: Kymia Nawabi

kimya-sculptureKymia Nawabi stood out at the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council’s Swing Space show. Her whimsical, yet somewhat disturbed drawings, paintings, and sculpture have the illustrative quality reminiscent of Tim Burton, giving characters multiple limbs or mix-matched bodies, and overlapping pattern over pattern –a complex world that begs to be dissected. A first generation Iranian-American, which she explains has contributed to her social anxiety disorder, her work addresses the personal struggles of her identity. Her mythology is given the name “The Nincompoop and The Superior Super Senses Stalkers,” as each of her senses is exaggerated and distorted in an episode of anxiety –whether it be in infancy, childhood, adolescence, or adulthood.

kimya-moleskinMoleskin sketchbooks, which read like storybooks, hang from the ceiling in one corner, while large scale drawings hang in the hallways and the walls of her studio space. Disfigured small-scale sculptures sit patiently on the table, some housed in their own small cupboards, while larger scale sculptures sit free form outside. Each work seems to represent a different episode, or a different manifestation of her feelings as a new character (or doppelganger, as she says). Incredibly detailed and fantastical, she is right in assuming that “the works are initially understood as playful, cute and humorous, but this is merely a polite disguise, just as one uses a smile to hide a despicable body and mind that has gone berserk. Thus, through the lens of my own experience, I direct the viewers’ visions to the complex, deep-level, make-up of who we are, and make us dwell on the abject nature of being human.”

Swing Space is a space grant program that connects artists and arts organizations with vacant commercial space downtown. Studio, rehearsal, office, installation, and exhibition space awards are typically for one to six months and may be accompanied by a project stipend of $300-$3,000, when funds are available. Housed in an expansive upper-level office floor in a skyscraper in the Financial District, the 10th floor of 77 Water Street is the summer home of the Swing Space visual artist studios. Twenty former bankers’ offices lining the nearly 20,000 square foot floor offers selected artists space to complete proposed projects in the visual arts. With sweeping views of the East River, New York Harbor, the Statue of Liberty and the office buildings of the Insurance District, 77 Water Street serves the Swing Space program’s goal to place artists in uncommon and unique environments in Lower Manhattan.

Frida Kahlo Archive Drama

48901846The LATimesChristopher Knight reports on the archive of the “magnetic, self-mythologizing” Frida, little-known and drama enducing.

Barbara Levine displays the few pieces of ephemera by one of the biggest names in Mexico’s Modern art history here.

The findings include: “16 small oil paintings, 23 watercolors and pastels, 59 notebook pages (diary entries, recipes, etc.), 73 anatomical studies (some dated prior to Kahlo’s disfiguring 1925 trolley accident), 128 pencil and crayon drawings, 129 illustrated prose-poems, and 230 letters to Carlos Pellicer, the Modernist poet and Frida’s close confidant, many adorned with sketches — skulls, insects, lizards, birds… a small box holding 11 taxidermy hummingbirds. There are pistols, such as an ornate 1870 Remington; a tricolor Mexican flag, its central white panel altered to celebrate Leon Trotsky (“Troski”) and the Communist Party, to which Kahlo and Rivera belonged; hotel bills; photographs; receipts for sales of Rivera paintings; an embroidered huipil, a traditional Mayan blouse; an intimate diary, with one entry expressing Frida’s intense (and unrequited) erotic attraction to lesbian ranchera singer Chavela Vargas; a French medical text on amputation, painted over with blood-red pigments; and more.”

Laughing Kookaburras and Preserved Fetuses

Thank god the Museum of Animal Perspectives exists to post videos of what it looks like to walk through the woods from the top of a wolf’s head. But actually, this one is pretty good: Laughing Kookaburras

Kookaburras on YouTubeIt was left out of the weirdest museums of the world, but I guess they did alright with the Burt Reynolds and Friends Museum of Florida: “The Museum: You may know him only as the star of Smokey and the Bandit, but residents of Jupiter, Florida, also know him as a generous contributor, establishing a number of theater-centric programs since purchasing a ranch here some 30 years ago. Volunteers run this not-for-profit museum, dedicated to preserving the legacy of “the Bandit.”
The Exhibits: Sure, there are keys to the 10 plus cities he’s received, notes from A-listers like Jack Lemmon and Elizabeth Taylor, and an impressive collection of sports memorabilia, but the pièce de résistance is the sleek black Firebird Trans Am the beer-smuggling Reynolds, a.k.a. Bo “Bandit” Darville, drove in the classic 1977 film, Smokey and the Bandit.”

Fetus models at Palazzo PoggiThe Poggi Palace in Bologna, Italy, stands out to me as one of the weirdest museum experiences in my life. I tragically lost my own photos of the place in a hard drive crash, but the memory of a recreated 18th century gynecologist office, with all of its tools, surrounded by models of the fetus through development, is vivid enough to sustain that loss.

The Palazzo Poggi was given to the Universita di Bologna in 1805 and became a sort of experimental laboratory of human development.  Research and experiments using technology reinvented the organization of the University’s curriculum.  These activities have been absorbed into the palace’s 15th century architecture, and as their website says, not just metaphorically, the building’s cultural activities in the 19th and 20th centuries created an irreversible ambiance.  It’s true, the eerie quality of the building contributes to the absurdity of its collection.

dancing skeletonsUnfortunately, I missed this exhibit of dancing fetuses, perhaps it is a new addition since Spring 2007.

in real life we’re much less bitchy

mappyArt Fag City’s pitting (overrated light artist) James Turrel vs. Alice Aycock in a devestating expose of public sculptures in New York (catalogued via google maps). It’s part of the Let’s Meet In Real Life series that we mentioned a few weeks back with regard to SD Idea Man Jesse Aaron Cohen.

And look, they’re making a zine!

In keeping with the intent of the show — to reveal the behind the scenes operations of online work through the use of public physical space — we intend to use the gallery itself in the same way we employ the Internet: as a method of distribution. As such, the last two hours of the residency will be dedicated to printing out the findings and compiling them as a homemade limited edition zine. This will include individual works found on Google maps, a map locating all sculptures, and a lot of low resolution pictures.

In other google map projects, today we discovered SeeClickFix, which maps civic problems to be reported (by volunteer “fixers”) to 311.

Conference Conference

conferenceNot to bore you or anything but we thought we’d pass this along, a call for proposals from the Museum Computer Network.

Conference Topics

Prospective authors are invited to make submissions in areas including, but not limited to:

* Technology and Information Management Serving the Institutional Bottom Line
* Digital Readiness, Digital Accomplishments, Digital Accountability (Image Capture, Digital Asset Management, Best Practices, Preservation, Access)
* Implementing Systems in Tough Times
* Digital Convergence: Archives, Libraries, and Museums
* Doing More with Less
* Leadership, Sustainability, Accountability
* Social Media
* Superior Content, Superior Delivery

After the shushing’s done

librarians are hawtThe librarian is drinking again. Cute post from the Desk Set’s much improved website, Where DO Librarians and Archivists Hang Out? We know and like most of these local haunts, and look forward to the book swap on March 30th at nearby Pacific Standard.

Cribbed for her pleasure:

Enid’s in Greenpoint and Daddy’s in Williamsburg have hosted us countless times, and always with grace and style. The bartenders are super sweet, the drinks are affordable, and you are almost guaranteed to run into a librarian, archivist or writer every time you set foot into either joint, whether they are serving your drink, spinning the tunes, or reading at the bar.

Black Rabbit on Greenpoint Ave hosted our Library and Literature Trivia night last September, and we’re betting you might spot a librarian or two at their Smiths Speed Dating event tonight! That’s right: speed dating accompanied solely by Smiths songs.

On the other side of the river, the Great Jones Cafe has been known to employ librarians and library students, and they have incredible food, delicious drinks, and the greatest juke box in the city, no doubt.

Urban Librarians Unite, a group of New York City Public Librarians meet up frequently at the Creek in Long Island City – the neighborhood that’s close(ish) to every other neighborhood – to talk shop and have a few beers.

I happen to know that librarians and MLS students can often be found at Harefield Road in Williamsburg, especially on Thursdays.

And Pacific Standard in Park Slope is so dedicated to writers and readers, they have their own in-house Bar Librarian. (barbrarian?) (And the Desk Set is planning an event for readers and writers to mingle and swap books there on March 30th).

PTP (Yeah You Know Me)

progress and technology!Quick heads up ’bout a phun lil’ phundraiser / bar night coming up, for the Progressive Technology Project. This slides more into the netroots arena, but still, information technology nerdlingers such as ourselves are into it. Anyways here are the deets:

March 9th, 6:30pm – 8:30pm!
Huckleberry Bar, 588 Grand Street, Brooklyn, NY 11211 – It’s close to the Lorimer stop on the L train.
Who is PTP?: A nonprofit that works with community organizers around the country providing the tools and training that move the movement for progressive social change. http://www.progressivetech.org

Please consider a donation to PTP in an amount that’s right for you. If you can’t make a contribution this time, please come anyway and meet the PTP folks!

RSVP to kwame [at] progressivetech.org or on facebook http://tinyurl.com/d2wf4a

Real Life vs. Internets Life

Email Exhibition ImageArchivist, SD conspirator, and web-1.0 aficionado Jesse Aaron Cohen has just celebrated the 50th installment of his monthly email exhibition series, a set of curated images and links sent to subscribers once a month for the past several years. Often the material is drawn from his day job as archivist at a yiddish library/archive in Manhattan, but over the years there’s been plenty of other cultural ephemera included in the exhibitions. They are awesome! Subscribe to them!

Slides from all 50 months-worth of exhibitions are going to be shown as part of an upcoming ‘real life‘ event on internet bloggers and artists.

Quoth the Archivist:

A bunch of internet artists and bloggers who will be doing 4 hours ‘in real life’. As part of this guy Lance’s presentation, he is asking several other artists to show their work via slide show, and I am giving him all 50 exhibitions to use. So my exhibitions will be featured alongside a bunch of other projects on 8 March, 12–4pm, at the Capricious Art Space in W-burg.

Capricious Space
103 Broadway
Brooklyn, NY 11211
(between Bedford and Berry)
718.384.1208

Gallery hours
(from March 7–March 28 only):
Saturday noon–8pm
Sunday noon–8pm
And some additional evening hours for special events, see the official calendar for full details.