Monday, September 13, 2010

The Harlem globetrotter

I spent a good part of today, Sunday, in Harlem. The bad part of the day I spent back at my desk, working.

Last year I found a great Baptist Church on Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard, just a few blocks up from 125th Street and the famous Apollo Theatre. I went back this morning … and man, that place rocks! They have a great gospel choir and band. The Reverend Dr Calvin G. Sampson, the resident pastor/preacher, was on fire. And the ladies in the congregation were totally rocking! I spent a lot of time watching one woman with waist-length braids and a jaunty hat with a feather in the side. She was giving it everything! I went across and said hello to a woman I saw three times last year. She's very dignified looking, and always wears a great hat. I left feeling very uplifted, as if I'd been to a great band gig.

Back on 125th Street, I went to the Studio Museum in Harlem. This is where I discovered the video works of Kalup Linzy last year. I'm a huge fan of his now and hope there'll be an opportunity to see him perform while I'm in New York.

Today I liked the exhibition of portraits of migrant workers in their homes by the South African artist Zwelethu Mthethwa, and former artist-in-residence at the Studio, Lauren Kelley's stop-motion animated videos using action figures and Barbies. My sister would really enjoy Kelley's work.

From Lauren Kelley’s “stories are visually and stylistically reminiscent of children’s programs that were launched in the 1970 and ´80s. Using dolls and claymation, Kelley’s visual technique contrasts with the disenchanted, sexualized narratives of a cast of discontent and struggling ingénues. Through commonplace, if not clichéd, circumstances, Kelley explores the female disposition in a demanding and oversexed world…. Lauren Kelley uses stop-motion animation to explore stereotypes of femininity and race. By using her voice to speak for a cast of black dolls, Kelley breathes life into plastic characters while poignantly and humorously addressing issues such as gender, womanhood, and the human condition. Whether telling stories of unplanned pregnancy or exploring the world of flight attendants, Kelley’s work introduces its viewers to a world in which dolls and puppets are caught in endless streams of consciousness and are trapped in a bizarre theater of the absurd.”

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