Just a few minutes after I entered the Gagosian Gallery location at 555 West 24th Street for a new show of works by Nam June Paik, my phone died. I only managed to snap three quick photos. And that was a real disappointment, because this is the kind of show that really makes you want to get a bunch of photos and share them. Paik’s fusty old TVs — stacked up, or disassembled and hung on a wall — his fake plastic cellos, his happy little robots made out of console radios… it’s all catnip on social media.
The show is called “Nam June Paik: Art in Process, Part 1,” and as the title indicates, it’s the first installation of a big two-part survey devoted to Paik, a hugely influential media artist who was born in South Korea in 1932, was active all over the world, and died in Miami in 2006. The second part opens on July 19 at an uptown Gagosian gallery on Park Avenue.
It’s just plain fun to see Paik’s quirky constructions and psychedelic TV-scapes. He fuses a sort of junk-art packrat mentality with profound contemplation of a future ruled by video communications and instantaneous electronic connection on a global scale – Paik is credited with coining the term information superhighway. It’s also a funny paradox to think about Paik’s clunky TV cabinets and picture tubes feeling dated, while the next room over is filled floor to ceiling with old-fashioned paintings on canvas and sketches.
You’re constantly reminded of Paik’s quirky wit. But the show also includes a few pieces that are arresting for a quieter beauty and poetry, like “One Candle, Candle Projection,” which consists of nothing more elaborate than a single lit candle, a video camera and a series of projectors throwing different views of that flickering flame on the walls close by.
I could have sat and contemplated that piece for quite some time, had Gagosian only provided a chair.
Part 1 of “Nam June Paik: Art in Process” is on view now at Gagosian’s gallery at 555 West 24th Street, and Part 2 opens on July 19 at Park Avenue and 75th Street. ThroughJuly 22; gagosian.com
The concert we’re going to check out this week part of something called Independent Venue Week, in which hundreds of small clubs and theaters from coast to coast are banding together to celebrate their continued survival and vitality as they bounce back from pandemic shutdowns.
It’s also part of the 15th anniversary celebrations at Drom, a nightclub on Avenue A that was opened by two immigrant entrepreneurs, and ever since has been one of New York City’s focal points for global music, progressive jazz, funk, electronica — you name it .
Mostly, though, it’s a chance to be dazzled by one of Cuba’s most talented and charismatic performers, Pedrito Martinez.
Martinez was born in Havana in 1973, started his professional career at age 11, and came to New York City at 25. Since then, he’s performed and recorded with a panoply of superstars: Bruce Springsteen, Eric Clapton, Wynton Marsalis, Isaac Delgado — the list goes on and on.
I had an opportunity to hear Martinez play just a few weeks ago in San Francisco with Con Tumbao, fronted by Delgado, himself one of Cuba’s most revered artists. The band that evening was made up of leading players representing salsa, timba, flamenco and other global styles. And with no disrespect to anyone onstage, Martinez stole the show with his fiery conga playing, his flamboyant solo on the hourglass-shaped Batá drums, his beautiful singing voice and his all-around megawatt presence.
This is your chance to see and hear Martinez play up close and personal — and to celebrate Drom’s anniversary and the continued contributions of New York’s small venues, at the same time. The evening starts at 7 pm with a dance lesson, and Martinez hits the stage at 9 pm A party is absolutely guaranteed. July 14th at 7pm; dromnyc.com