Art & Museums
Images in Real Life
In March, there may have been a certain sting in seeing images of life that hadn’t been abruptly put on hold. But as the shock of our circumstances wore off, viewing photographs became the easiest way to remember the world as it once was.
The New York outpost of the Stockholm-based museum Fotografiska was up and running for only a few months when the city shut down. On Friday, the institution will reopen with its second lineup of four solo shows and a group exhibition organized by Vice Media. (The museum recommends reserving timed-entry tickets before your visit.)
Julie Blackmon’s work might immediately resonate as the images portray family life, chaotic and messy as we now more intimately know it to be. The other shows hew toward staged pieces. Cooper & Gorfer’s studio shots put a unique spin on displacement, situating female migrants, pictured like goddesses, into vaunted scenes of utopian privilege. Moving away from photographing celebrities, Martin Schoeller turns to intimate video portraits that spotlight people we often ignore: ex-inmates, or, more precisely, those once wrongly sentenced to death. Naima Green upends the traditional notion of portraiture and who it’s meant to serve with images of the L.G.B.T.Q. community — a strategy Andy Warhol daringly employed years ago in two series that the institution has placed on its website.
Pop & Rock
The Moonman Dons a Mask
How many hands does a Moonman pass through on the way to its recipient? Have those hands been adequately sanitized?
From a Covid-19 compliance officer’s perspective, these most basic mechanics of awards shows are anxiety-inducing. In spite of the challenges, the MTV Video Music Awards will attempt a live broadcast on Sunday — becoming one of the entertainment industry’s first ceremonies to do so. After some confusion regarding quarantine requirements for talent traveling from out of state, the show’s format is confirmed: Artists will perform at outdoor locations around New York City, with the actress Keke Palmer hosting.
Lady Gaga and Ariana Grande lead the nominations with nine apiece. Each is competing in one of two categories created for this unusual year: Best Music Video From Home (Grande, for “Stuck With U”) and Best Quarantine Performance (Gaga, for “Smile” from “One World: Together at Home”). They are expected to sing their hit “Rain on Me,” a contender for more conventional awards, including Video of the Year and Song of the Year. The Weeknd, sitting pretty with five nominations for his chart-topper “Blinding Lights,” will also perform, as will Miley Cyrus, BTS, DaBaby and others.
Watch the V.M.A.s on Sunday at 8 p.m. Eastern time on MTV and other Viacom channels or at MTV.com. Preshow performances begin at 6:30 p.m.
Imparting Their ‘Knowledge Darts’
The Bronx natives Daniel Baker (a.k.a. Desus Nice) and Joel Martinez (a.k.a. the Kid Mero) have honed their hilarious tag-team takedowns of pop and internet culture and current events first through the podcast and web series “Desus vs. Mero”; then with the podcast “Bodega Boys,” episodes of which they continue to release weekly; and most notably with the late-night TV talker “Desus & Mero,” which debuted on Viceland in 2016 and moved to Showtime in 2019.
Desus and Mero have been lauded for how they have adapted their show in the Covid-19 era, and they’re using their newfound Zoom skills to take their banter on the road, so to speak. Their virtual book tour kicked off two weeks ago and runs through Sept. 20 to promote the comedy duo’s first book together, “God-Level Knowledge Darts: Life Lessons From the Bronx.”
Each “stop” on the tour is a wholly improvised, live interactive experience broadcast from the comedians’ homes to those of viewers in different parts of the country, and on Saturday at 8 p.m. Eastern time, they will come to New York City living rooms. Tickets are available at newmediatouring.com for $36; the price includes a pre-ordered copy of the book, which Random House will release on Sept. 22.
SEAN L. McCARTHY
Creature Features From France
Although the French Institute-Alliance Française is not specifically honoring the dog days, it is inviting young people to stream films with charismatic canine heroes.
These features — “White Fang” and “Marona’s Fantastic Tale” — are among the selections in Animation First Rewind, a look back at the three years (and counting) of Animation First, the institute’s annual festival. Geared toward cinephiles 8 and older, the children’s titles are on an Especially for Kids web page, along with links to the corresponding streaming platforms.
Alexandre Espigares’s “White Fang,” which is dubbed in English and available on Netflix, adapts Jack London’s 1906 novel about a dog that is half wolf. Evoking an oil painting that has sprung to life, the film chronicles the animal’s adventures among harsh conditions — and often harsh humans.
“Marona’s Fantastic Tale” focuses on a plucky mongrel with big ears and a big heart who recalls her eventful life in vibrant, swirling colors. Through Sept. 7, the distributor GKids is offering the film, which is in French with English subtitles, along with an interview with its director, Anca Damian, for a $9.99 streaming fee ($6 for institute members).
Children can also witness an insect battle royale in “Minuscule: Valley of the Lost Ants,” a feature without dialogue (available on Amazon Prime Video), and whimsical vignettes in free poetry-inspired short films (on Vimeo).
His Music, Her Story
Few American musicians have been as influential as the jazz saxophonist Charlie Parker. Melody, harmony, rhythm — well before his death at 34 in 1955, his way of hearing and playing had altered them all.
Among the online events celebrating the centennial of his birth this weekend is “Charlie Parker: Now’s the Time” at the 92nd Street Y’s website. On Friday night, you can see a version of his biography in a free streaming of Clint Eastwood’s 1988 film “Bird.” And you can learn more during a Saturday afternoon panel discussion among distinguished musicians, hosted by the Parker expert Gary Giddins. But on Saturday at 7 p.m. Eastern time, the spotlight on Parker widens in a new dance film by Hope Boykin (tickets are $10).
“It’s not his story, it’s my story,” Boykin recently said about the film, “ … a movement. Journey.” The choreographer just retired from Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, which has a piece about Parker in its repertory. By contrast, her work uses Parker recordings — dreamy ballads like “Laura,” revolutionary explosions like “Koko” — to help express her own feelings right now, her own struggle to focus under vastly changed circumstances. The short film is about solitude and what’s missing, about getting up every morning and going through the same motions and being grateful to have made it another day.
Behind the Scenes of ‘Blue’
At last year’s Glimmerglass Festival, the New York Times chief classical music critic, Anthony Tommasini, wrote a rave review of “Blue,” an opera by the composer Jeanine Tesori and the librettist and director Tazewell Thompson about one Black family’s complex and ultimately tragic experiences with policing in Harlem.
My colleague’s take made me eager to see and hear the piece, which had been scheduled for this summer’s Mostly Mozart Festival. In lieu of those performances, Lincoln Center’s Mostly Mozart team has partnered with the radio station WQXR to present a one-hour documentary on “Blue,” available on the station’s website through Sept. 12. It’s a compelling listen, not just because it offers some substantial musical excerpts, but also because it contains incisive commentary from Thompson, Tesori and the musicologist Naomi André.
André’s excitement is contagious, as she describes some early scenes of cheerful conversation between the character of the Mother and other women in the opera. Equally effective is the way that the documentarians give a sense of the dramatic structure that delivers the story’s tragic arc. After the Mother’s son is killed by a white police officer, her friends are asked to engage in a different sort of conversational support; the narrative tenor could not be more different, but the emphasis on a thoughtful communion remains.
SETH COLTER WALLS
Playbill Honors Equality
Since 1971, Women’s Equality Day, which was on Wednesday, has commemorated the passage of the 19th Amendment. This year, a sterling array of artists are honoring the occasion with the webcast “Women in Theater: A Centennial Celebration,” which is available to stream free at Playbill’s website until Sunday at 8 p.m. Eastern time. Donations will benefit the Broadway Advocacy Coalition’s new Artivism Fellowship.
The co-hosts make for an inspired pair: the Pulitzer Prize finalist Heidi Schreck, whose show “What the Constitution Means to Me” explored the connection between that document and her personal history; and Rebecca Naomi Jones, the fearless Laurey of the Tony Award-winning revival of “Oklahoma!”
The event revisits contributions made by women and nonbinary and gender-nonconforming theater makers, but it also looks to the future with excerpts from new musicals like “Gun & Powder” and a performance of “Getaway,” a new song from Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss, writers of the hit show “Six.”
The long list of participants includes not just actors such as Sara Bareilles, Nikki M. James, Ann Harada, Jessie Mueller, Ashley Park and Daphne Rubin-Vega, but the playwrights, directors, designers, composers and lyricists who nurture theater from behind the footlights.