Philadelphia Weekly, January 4, 2011 Forget the ham-fisted stunts of Michael Moore and other soapbox documentarians. Kazuhiro Soda’s frank, taboo-busting “observational documentaries” immerse viewers in the action, forgoing dictatorial narration in favor of allowing the audience to form their own opinions about what they’re viewing, be it the operations of a Japanese mental-health clinic or the machinations of a local election. Tonight, Soda conducts a master class about his Buddhist-inspired, cinéma vérité filmmaking, introducing Philadelphians to the zen and no-frills honesty that has guided his oeuvre. For homework and follow-up, head to International House for the Monday night screening of Soda’s 2008 documentary Campaign and Tuesday night’s Mental, his disarmingly candid exploration of psychiatry in a society that associates mental illness with shame. (Lauren Smith) Tuesday Jan. 11. 5pm. $15-$25. Scribe Video Center, 4212 Chestnut St. 215.222.4201. scribe.org
Philadelphia Weekly, January 4, 2011 Terrible disfigurement apparently makes for great entertainment—at least, that’s the basis of TLC’s primetime lineup. But before there were Little People in a big world and a girl Born Without a Face, there was Joseph Merrick—freak-show attraction, specter of the London streets and eventual toast of Victorian high society. The notorious Elephant Man roamed 19th-century England with a burlap sack over his bulbous head, gawked at by circus attendees, recoiled from by nurses and doted upon by socialites (tragically deformed people were the Pomeranians of the hoop-skirted set). Merrick rears his giant head in Philadelphia in Fever Dream Repertory’s production of Bernard Pomerance’s 1979 Broadway version of the fabulous freak’s sad life. Wade Andrew Corder follows in the footsteps of role originator Philip Anglim and modern-day iconic weirdos David Bowie and Mark Hamill, portraying Merrick sans makeup and prosthetics, depicting his deformation entirely through tortured movement. -Lauren Smith Through Jan. 20. 8pm. $20-$25. The Adrienne, 2030 Sansom St. 267.997.3799. adriennelive.com Photo: Matthew Hurst.
Philadelphia Weekly, October 5, 2010 Of course—two of DesignPhiladelphia’s best events are on the same night. You could join once and future Kensington Kinetic Sculpture Derby victors for an exhibit and discussion of their wackiest vehicles, be they buggies for undead Amish or giant bike-mounted octopuses. The peddlers will reveal all the bicycle-rigging and creative daredevilry behind their vehicles. Learn the tricks of the trade and, come May, you too could be teetering through Kensington with a parade float attached to your ten-speed. Or you could go underground with Marianne Bernstein, the force behind last year’s Welcome House in Love Park, and a team of video artists for the opening reception of The Philadelphia Underground and witness the transformation of Dilworth Plaza into a subterranean cinema and dancefloor, with the opening party music supplied by Broadzilla DJs. The installation will project site-specific films onto the walls, sculptures, and even waterfalls of the often dismal sunken plaza. Take your pick. But if you try to make it to both, we recommend taking the subway instead of a zombie buggy. -Lauren Smith Derby: Saturday, Oct. 9. 6pm. Free. Skybox, 2424 E York St. 215.925.7676. kinetickensington.org Underground: 7pm. Free. Dilworth Plaza, near the Broad Street and […]
Philadelphia Weekly, October 5, 2010 Just weeks after conjuring up the spirits of Bono and company, BCKSEET Productions continues its tributary Sunday night concert series by resurrecting the leper messiah himself—David Bowie’s fluorescent-haired, glitter-spangled alter ego—for a performance of The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars. The most sparkly account of the apocalypse ever (take that, Revelation), the eleven songs document the arrival of a prophetic, guitar-playing Starman to a doomed earth, his rise to rock superstardom and his death at the hands of his fans. All through October, BCKSEET founder Greg DeCandia will lead the collective’s own extraterrestrial spiders through a Moonage Daydream to a final, hollering rock ’n’ roll Suicide, proving once and for all that there is life on Mars. It just happens to wear cherry-red platform boots and spandex kabuki gear. (Lauren Smith) Saturday, Oct. 10. 7pm. $15. L’Etage, 624 S. Sixth St. 267.603.3533. bckseet.com Photo from BCKSEET Productions.
Philadelphia Weekly, September 28, 2010 This month at Jolie Laide, brushstrokes hatch out patterns, yarn explodes into knitted bedlam and insulation is caked in Neapolitan stripes. Though their choices of medium are different—paint, yarn, building materials—Andrew Holmquist, Mike Andrews and Easton Miller share a delight in dynamic textures and surfaces. Holmquist plays with the possibilities of paint application—grimacing faces bite into his textural paint blurs, with jagged teeth and sharp eyes reminiscent of de Koonings’ women. Andrews creates tangled tapestries—knitting mishaps and unhinged potholders raveled into outlandish quilts. His works are messy eruptions of yarn: Sheila Hicks’ wall hangings unspooled and grafted onto Grandma’s homemade sweaters or gigantic scarves knitted by Timothy Leary. And Miller has apparently riffled through fabric stores, Home Depots and coin-operated toy dispensers to turn up the textiles, polymers and keychains he incorporates into his painting-sculpture crossbreeds. Foam insulation crawls in contours over and under lattices of acrylic paint, rabbit’s-foot keychains dangle from canvases of basketball covering and red eyes glare out of a noodly plane of fireplace and pond sealants. Their triple stare is penetrating: This is art that encroaches on your space—and looks back at you. (Lauren Smith) 6pm. Through Oct.30. Jolie Laide, 224 N. […]
Philadelphia Weekly, September 21, 2010 This weekend, Fleisher Art Memorial makes original artwork and philanthropy affordable for the recession-dogged masses. Offering tiny, anonymously exhibited originals on a first-come-first-served basis, the fourth biennial Dear Fleisher exhibit and sale strips the marquee-name hype and caviar-set exclusivity from the art-buying racket. No blue blood or even positive bank balance are required to own one of these baby originals at $50 apiece, they have miniature prices to match their itty bitty, 4-by-6 inch sizes. That’s about $2 per square inch—a bargain even in real estate. All proceeds will support Fleisher’s arts-education programs. It’s a rare opportunity to purchase an original, decorate your bathroom and fund the arts, all without spiraling into Chapter 11. (Lauren Smith) Sunday, Sept. 26. 1pm. $5. Fleisher Art Memorial, 719 Catharine St. 215.922.3456. fleisher.org
Philadelphia Weekly, September 21, 2010 Dust off your headscarves, practice your flag dance and remember to feed the raccoons—the Edies are back. American aristocrats and Kennedy cousins, the kooky mother-daughter duo of Edith Ewing Bouvier Beale and Edith Bouvier Beale became camp idols with the 1975 release of Grey Gardens, the spooky, sad documentary of their lives in flea-infested East Hampton squalor. Now the cult classic about the craziest of the cat ladies gets a fresh projection as part of the Clay Studio’s Old City Film Series. As these high-society dropouts squabble, rot and dream of cabaret stardom, they expose the moth-eaten underbelly of old money affluence. But Little Edie, prancing around in upside-down skirts and bathing-suit-and-pantyhose ensembles, is unquestionably fabulous—a completely cuckoo fashion plate. -Lauren Smith Thursday, Sept., 23. Dusk. Free. Flagpole Park, 139 N. Second St. 215.925.3453. theclaystudio.org
Philadelphia Weekly, September 21, 2010 Philly Pride busts open closet doors and takes it to the streets to mark National Coming Out Day. Loud, politically-charged, and glitter-spangled, OutFest (Oct. 10, phillypride.org) is an irrepressible, “Here and Queer!” celebration of sexuality and Philly’s incandescent bright LGBTQ culture—a coming-out party on a citywide scale. It’s also a typical street festival with a little Gayboorhood twist. Here, drag races run on pancake makeup and high heels, eating-contest competitors gobble down penis-shaped bagels and the dogs are dyed DayGlo colors. Vendors will be hawking rainbow gear, the thumpa thumpa will be pounding, and the politicians will be schmoozing. Whether you’re part of the acronym or an ally, it’ll be a sparkling good time—and a very beautiful day in the Gayborhood. (Lauren Smith)
Philadelphia Weekly, September 14, 2010 After 20 years and almost as many albums, Over the Rhine’s “aw, shucks” demeanor and workmanlike devotion have worn into a soft patina of modest indie greatness. The married duo of Linford Detweiler and Karin Bergquist play finely crafted, genre-straddling songs, as unassuming as their Ohio origins. Bergquist bends her smoky voice around jazz-dappled torch songs and sturdy alt-country tunes. She sings like Billie Holiday with a river town lilt: the molasses ooze of her alto conjures up both back porch strumming and basement cabarets. Despite their troubadour-like touring, Detweiler and Bergquist still have their feet deep in Cincinnati soil and their music reflects it: songs like “Nobody Number 1” are salt of the Earth Americana with a little Rust Belt grit. (Lauren Smith) Friday, Sept. 17. 7pm. $25-$40. World Cafe Live, 3025 Walnut St. 215.222.1400. worldcafelive.com Phone by James Stewart on Flickr.
Philadelphia Weekly, August 24, 2010 Finnish cellists Apocalyptica have all the head-banging verve and smoke machine theatrics of a metal band—and all the classical chops of a chamber quartet. The conservatory-trained quartet began as an offbeat Metallica cover band but soon branched out into original material, wrangling some major names in metal and alt rock (Bush’s Gavin Rossdale and Slayer’s Dave Lombardo) into the studio to provide vocals for their string trash. Nonstop touring and YouTube videos of their hair-flipping, “Final Countdown”-esque performances have won the band a cult following both here and in Lapland, and their most recent album Seventh Symphony is already stirring up fervor among the metalheads and overgrown orchestra kids. YoYo Ma never played cello this fiercely—and he didn’t do it shirtless. (Lauren Smith) Saturday, Aug. 28. 8pm. $25-$28. With Dir en Gray + Evaline. Electric Factory, 421 N. Seventh St. 215.627.1332. electricfactory.info Photo by kalavinka on Flickr.