an update from the first real 'relaxing' weekend experienced in recent memory...
friday was a unanimously gleeful day with several school assemblies (details which will emerge in, oh, about eight days), lots of media lab mingling, and mugfuls of caffeine. i don't remember much except (ssh!) came to town and (ssh! secret!) in the midst of roast beef + boursin and chocolate dipped shortbread.
niknak + i did a number of things on friday night (not exactly quite dinner and a movie) but we managed to hit the mbta red, green, orange, and bus lines within the span of two hours. we're getting better to our goal.
around 6pm we skedaddled onto the subway en route to south end, where the mills gallery at the boston center for the arts had an opening for its after exhibit. every time i make the stroll from copley place down to tremont, i slip on my own drool with all the gorgeous row houses, meticulous gardens, and lovely eateries. if only the area were not so moneyed and relatively inaccessible, i'd be residing there in a second. inman square satisfies, but south end luxurifies.
i've never been to the mills gallery (though i did scope out the amazing cyclorama nextdoor during the bizarre bazaar several weeks ago), and it's an adorable little gallery up a few stairs from the sidewalk (and home to, we believe, a resident black+white doggie). i didn't know much about the after show before i visited the bca website; the teaser postcard that nick got in the mail for the show had zero, zip, nil description on it whatsoever except for the title and exhibition dates. we soon learned that the pieces in the show illustrate the aftermath of events that range from personal and intimate to cataclysmic and world changing. the space was warm and bright and white; we entered, recognising no one within.
i liked the spatial layout of the works; i found a couple pieces that i especially felt drawn to. easily my favorite was the video in the middle of the room, mary magsamen + stephan hillerbrand's bubble burst and another loop called [something] hunger. the online description reads: their collaboration as artists, and husband and wife, is slyly illustrated with simple bubble gum bubbles, shared and popped. this video still doesn't do the work justice; you have to watch the balletic dialogue between the two artists with the language of chewing gum. the piece hits you squarely and simply; visceral, repulsive, graceful, erotic.
i surprised myself by feeling an affinity with julie levesque's flood, mixed media + video projection. usually i'm not the biggest fan of projected pieces (it's probably something subconscious from my elementary school film projector days), but i adored the carefree, home-video, kids-swimming-and-smiling footage juxtaposed with the sculptured model of a flooded neighborhood. i pretty much grew up as a swimmer, so the paradox of freedom, control, and nature resonated quite strongly. i only wished the the video clips would be more fluid and continuous, rather than flickering in and out every two seconds. the effect is more annoying than provocative. although projecting video toward the ground can be somewhat awkward to view, i liked how the artist took the risk that anyone could just step right on the rows of white houses, destroying the constructed territory. the trust is palpable.
afterwards we skipped town and meandered our way to union square, in hopes of scoring a night of experimental music and performance art. i won't mention the exact names and places to protect the innocent, but within five minutes of getting there, paying admission, and sitting down in the dark, we quickly realised it was going to be really, really bad. so bad that nick and i stared straight ahead, hoping desperately for some truth or explanation to emerge, while holding back a cascade of giggles at the rare times we exchanged glances. i felt like i was in a movie, where the protagonists go to a bizarre modern art event and the scene parodies contemporary art at its worst. it was beyond mirror, father.
so the first act was a camera / video / masked / abstract colors / noise / screaming french / knobs-on-head extravaganza. we tried to understand. we really tried. patiently. it was a duo, where one would pantomime in front of the screen 'in character' and the other would look bored sitting aside and mouse-clicking on an ancient G3. it was completely without context, and no words from the artists about anything they did, or any of the technology they used. only later, eavesdropping, did we hear that they were using motion detection and wearable knobs. if we knew that before, we might be able to extract some meaning, or at least a foothold, of their work. otherwise it's just really really pretentious to make a huge drama in which no one is privy.
the second act was an ensemble of artists who jammed in experimental music fashion. except it wasn't music. it was noise. those two terms can overlap but it was majorly incoherent and deconstructed to the point of there is no point. there were two violinists and a wind controller (electronic clarinet?), a prostrate electric guitar and a voice artist. i felt no connection between the members of the ensemble, neither any sort of emotional response. niknak and i are no strangers to new music, especially in terms of sigtronica and nick's obsession with john cage and experimental sound art, but this performance was extremely inpenetratable. i think what would really help if the artists spoke about their pieces... even titles, or inspirations, or anything. it was as if they were bad for the sake of being bad. it's so hard to judge contemporary work, but for some reason we just sat patiently and couldn't move forward.
we stepped out of the performance space around 90 minutes after we stepped in, and finally had the fresh-air freedom to say, 'wow. that sucked.'
and then, 'yo, let's eat.'
with empty bellies and an adventurous spirit, we ventured to wuchon house setting appetizingly on a corner in union square. it's more upscale inside than is apparent from the exterior, with prices similar to koreana. since they closed later than most, at 11pm, we settled and got cracking on the menu. we got the oyster pancake, stir-fried spicy octopus with onions and peppers, and the tofu + mushroom bi bim bap in a stone bowl (promising lots of luscious crusty bits in the rice, mmm mmm). since i only occasionally go out for korean, i always forget to factor in the bazillion little side-dishes that come with dinner. there were about ten or eleven small white dishes, and i could challenge my memory here... seaweed salad, cold boiled shrimp, kim chee cabbage, bamboo matchsticks, sweet boiled peanuts, radish salad, kim chee zucchini, a bizarre but tasty fruity creamy potato salad.
everything was really tasty and quickly served. the oyster pancake was a lovechild between a spanish frittata and chinese scallion pancake, panfried but soft, with lots of onions tucked within. the octopus was delish, and reminded me very much of the squid hot plate or the XO chicken at quality caf� in chinatown. it's probably the copious (and effective!) use of oil and a tasty salty sauce. and of course, a fried egg capped off the yummy bi bim bap, which i enjoyed with a dash of the side accoutrements spicy sauce and sesame vinegar. i swoon over crusty rice galore.
doesn't take much to make this girl happy.