Every year Vogue's reigning terror Anna Wintour organizes the star-studded Costume Institute Gala to celebrate the opening of the institute’s new exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. This year’s punk theme was gloriously embraced across the board, making it one of the most memorable Met Ball red carpets in years.
Here are a few of our favorite looks:
Miley Cyrus in Marc Jacobs
Amanda Seyfried in Givenchy
Christina Ricci in Vivienne Westwood
Florence Welch in Givenchy
Kristen Stewart in Stella McCartney
Rooney Mara in Riccardo Tisci
Nina Dobrev in Monique Lhuillier
Sarah Jessica Parker in Giles Deacon
Blake Lively in Gucci Première
A VERY ‘GOOD PERSON’ INDEED
How can you be a good person when the world can seems like its out to ruin you? Are people even supposed to be good? What is goodness?
These universal moral questions are the core of Bertolt Brecht’s timeless masterpiece, Good Person Of Szechwan. Brecht, a visionary of the 20th century avant-garde wrote the play in Germany during World War II. In the face of intense evil unfolding all around him, he challenged audiences to contemplate their actions in society. Brecht had no interest in simply entertaining people, his theatre was designed to keep you with one foot in the story and the other deep in self reflection.
In todays culture of escapism and excess, this technique of deliberately alienating the audience is difficult for contemporary theatre makers to pull off. Modern revivals of avant garde masterpieces often feel antiquated and academic. However, The Foudry Theatre's production of Good Person currently playing at LaMama's Ellen Stewart Theatre is a triumphant testament to the power of Brecht’s idea’s and a pungent parable that left me struggling with issues of morality and existentialism.
NEMO PREPARATION GUIDE
Everyone is losing their shit over Nemo, the snowstorm that has just started to fuck up everyone’s day in the Northeast. It’s pretty insane; not the storm itself, just the myriad of ways that people are going crazy about some snow. Everyone is stocking up on bread and milk and cheese puffs and Weather.com has really dramatic background music playing and lots of flashing red alters. But worry not, we’re here to tell you the best ways to prepare for this meteorological event.
Skip work. Why would you go through torturous cold and ice to sit at your desk and check Facebook for a few hours. You can do that at home.
Eat a lot. You’ll need to fatten yourself up for warmth.
Crank the heat. So what if you’re electric bill makes you wet your pants next month?
Get REALLY stoned. This one sort of speaks for itself.
Man up and party. Don’t let Nemo ruin your night, there are plenty of events still going on tonight and if you’re going to spend all day tomorrow watching Netflix in your Slanket, you might as well get crazy tonight.
Find a cuddle buddy. No matter how warm that Slanket is, body heat is always better.
CULTURE CORNER WITH SHANE SHANE: GREETINGS FROM THE ORIGIN OF BEAUTY
Isn’t it funny how art that is supposed to make you feel beautiful is often really really ugly?
I’m thirsty for art that validates bodies—fat bodies, queer bodies, bodies of differing ability, bodies of color, bodies of all genders. Unfortunately, lots of art that purports to do this ends up being patronizing and schmaltzy, or—even worse—attached to an insidious commercial message. It seems that for every brilliant piece like Hana Malia and Glenn Marla’s My Wife’s Ass, there is a “Beautiful" by a Christina Aguilera; for every genius like Mark Aguhar there is an ad campaign cloaked as a social movement.
In this cultural climate, which leaves me pining for work that is simultaneously empowering and….well, good, Mickalene Thomas’ first solo show Origin of the Universe was a revelation. Thomas’ show at the Brooklyn Museum included photography, installations, artifacts, and video pieces, but her large-scale painting/collages shined brightest. Literally. They were covered in huge clusters of rhinestones that sparkled and winked as you moved around the gallery.
Thomas’ work draws heavily from poses and tropes found in classical Western paintings that she re-appropriates through a lens of feminist Black Power. Her huge paintings, whose physical largeness speaks to the cultural space Black women are so often denied, take elements that are often dismissed as ugly—rhinestones, wood paneling, clashing patterns, 70’s decor, Black femininity—and demands that we see them as beautiful. The ease with which she assembles these inspirations into pieces infused with such power, reverence, and harmony is cause enough for celebration. But Thomas takes it to a whole new level by creating backgrounds that are deliberately broken into fragments. The effect, which reads as large-scale collage, reveals the deliberateness of her construction of beauty. We too, then, are invited to construct our own ideas of what is beautiful. Notice how hokey that last sentence reads? Like I said, it’s hard to find work that is both good and empowering.
The show struck me as particularly urgent in the context of my viewership as a White gay man. The relationship between White gay male culture and Black femininity is a complicated one. While many of my White gay brethren worship at the proverbial temples of Black female icons, there is a thick streak of derision and appropriation that often bubbles beneath the surface of that admiration. I don’t doubt the sincerity of many White fags’ professed love of Black womanhood, but the fact that Black women themselves are often absent from the spaces where this “admiration” takes place effectively renders them as abstract objects in our own construction of gay identity (see also: our collective obsession with Paris is Burning and Vogue culture).
To walk into Origin of the Universe was to step into a temple that honored and reified Black femininity. Literally constructed by a Black woman, for a Black woman, Thomas’ exhibit was a physical testament to the Black woman as subject rather than object. It was an experience that was as precious as it was rare. It should happen more often.
Walking into Mikalene Thomas’ gallery was a refreshing step into a space of Black female subjectivity. It’s an experience that, sadly, is not immediately available to New Yorkers any longer since her solo show closed on Sunday. But I have a feeling that we’ll all have a chance to bask in Thomas’ beauty again for years to come.
CULTURE CORNER WITH SHANE SHANE: ME TALK FASHION ONE DAY
If you go out at all in New York, you’re going to end up hanging out with gay men. If you hang out with gay men, you’re going to end up hanging out with fashion queens. If you hang out with fashion queens, you’re going to have to listen to people talk endlessly about clothes. Ergo, if you have any interest in culture or nightlife in New York, you’re going to have to listen to people talk about what they’re wearing, so you might as well learn to bullshit your way through a conversation about your own pants.
We have a new EXCLUSIVE column with Next Magazine in which we share all of the exciting queer performance art happening in NYC/Brooklyn. You can check out our first post here. Who runs the world? Culture Whores, duh.
UNDER THE GUN WITH ROSCO BANDANA
I go and see a fair share of young music in the city. Since I never really know what I’m in for, it’s a hit or miss pursuit. Perhaps I forgot to check out the group’s bandcamp, and I end up spending $12 on a dime-a-dozen indie quartet with too much reverb on their guitars, a drummer who is “killing me loudly,” a bass player who’s always overcompensating, and lyrics that mean the world to the singer but little to the audience, whether we can understand them or not. Or maybe the band is a well-oiled, experienced machine, but the venue’s PA is bogus, there’s no monitors for the musicians, and the gentleman behind the board hit his bowl one too many times to even give a shit. All things considered, you’ve got about a 15 percent chance of coming across a quality band who’s chosen a quality venue and is able to hit it off with the sound guy and an audience full of strangers. All things considered, Rosco Bandana was a total shot in the dark.
THE BEST OF CMJ 2012
Culture Whores, rejoice! CMJ is over and, while we are still pretty hungover and need about 40 more hours of sleep, we have selected the absolute best from a week of truly outstanding music. We saw some great shows, here are some of the people you should know:
SMITH&BROWN AND SMITH&BROWN
Described by author Victoria Miguel as a novella about boredom, Smith&Brown is structured as a dialogue between two characters (the titular Smith and Brown) who seem to have no other reason for being other than waxing poetic about the disparate, yet connected, things that make up the substance of their minds. Smith and Brown, locked in a vacuum where only they exist, allow us to peek in on their mental gymnastics as they flip from the Dewey Decimal System to ransom notes to clock mechanics and a study on the perception of yellow.
DOUBLE DUCHESS DOUBLE TEAMS NYC
“From Castro to Outer Space / We’re popping up and taking over the place”
There’s been a bunch of talk lately, especially on this blog, about an explosion of queer rappers in New York City. However, Double Duchess, a queer-hop duo from San Francisco, have been tearing it up all around the world for years and they want you to know it. Krylon Superstar hails from the legendary 90‘s Michael Alig Club Kid scene and DavO from the progressive Baltimore underground electro/hip-hop music world. Together, they are a force of nature, guaranteed to heat up the room and speed up your heart.
HOFESH SHECTER IS A POLITICAL MOTHER (FUCKER)
Sometimes a piece of art hits you so deeply that you know it’s the start of a real love affair. Friday night, I saw my first Hofesh Shechter dance piece, Political Mother, and my feet haven’t touched the ground yet.