The New Museum’s “Festival of Ideas for the New City,” took place from May 4th- 8th, 2011 off the Bowery, in downtown Manhattan. Promoting the ideas of community, diversity, collaboration, dialogue, and change, this effort was carried by several institutions, including universities, grassroots groups, museums, arts oriented spaces, businesses, and the city. The festival, by delivering many conferences, shows, and street performances, created a very unique and somewhat mesmerizing ambiance to the neighborhood, as it was temporarily transformed into an exhilarating forum of expression, where the simultaneous manifestations of different artistic ideals and perspectives, derived into a multitude of individual and collective experiences, for both participants and audiences.
more story and images after the jump…
Among the 100+ participants were: Anthology Film Archives, Bowery Poetry Club, Cabinet Magazine, Cooper Union, Creative Time, French Institute Alliance Française, Invisible Exports, Collective Show, Joe’s Pub, La MaMa Galleria, Nuit Blanche New York, Performa, Rhizome, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and Swiss Institute. One of the biggest events of Saturday night was Flash:Light, organized by Nuit Blanche. This intervention included the New Museum’s facade being turned into a screen, where the interplay of light projections with sound and performance presented a re-interpretation of the urban imagery; projections and performances carried in St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral; installations in Mulberry Street and Times Square.
One of the screenings organized by Flash:Light was the premiere of Marco Brambilla’s Civilization in 3D, which took place in the interior of St. Patrick’s Cathedral. This project was originally commissioned by The Standard Hotel, to be installed and played in the elevators. Civilization recontextualizes Dante’s journey through Hell, Purgatory, and Heaven as depicted in The Divine Comedy, by replacing the original tropes with pop mythology. In Civilization, the ascendance path from Hell to Heaven turns out to be a sardonic cycle, where salvation and damnation are perpetually above and below each other. The whimsical categorization of imagery–whether who or what belongs to which level–leaves room for a lot of interpretations, most of them irreverent. The fact that such a spectacle took place in a Cathedral, brings notions on the success of Nuit Blanche’s curatorial efforts, as they drew the possibility of an interesting dialogue between the visual artwork and the ideological space that contained it.
A Children’s Playground by the Rockewell Group and the New Museum