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Dragana Kršenković Brković is a writer from Podgorica, Montenegro, who is in NYC as an Inbound Resident from March 19 – April 18, 2014.
CURRENT INBOUND RESIDENT
 


James Yakimicki is a NYC-based artist who is in Bangkok, Thailand, as an apexart Outbound Resident from March 1 – 30, 2014.
CURRENT OUTBOUND RESIDENT
Apr 6

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To learn why to meditate in our daily life and what the Meditation Sutra means is much more about learning the art of living with wisdom and freedom, said Yuri Dhara to a small group of participants at her introducing session in the Union Square neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City.

A session took two and a half of hours in a quiet and sunny room.      Yuri emphasized that “meditation actually is reflection on the nature of self; a practice of contemplation and technique that leads to deeper layers of man’s being”.

Also, Yuri explained her method of proper understanding and practice of meditation that she has been teaching for years. She told that her focus has been on the people who have wanted to live with strength, courage, love and kindness. “Meditation brings us to the harvest of benefits in our day-to-day life”, she said finally.

The Yuri’s session was very pleasant, inspiring, and equally joyful.

Apr 6

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The Magnet Theater is a small theater located in Chelsea, Midtown West in New York City. Its main stage features improvisational comedy and performances. Also, the training program is an important part of the theater’s work.

I went to an improvisational class taught by Nick Kanellis at the Magnet’s training center a block from the theater. At the very beginning Nick said to a group over 20 people that learning to improvise might be one of the most worthwhile and pleasing things a person’s ever did. Also, improvisation is a powerful tool, bringing out the best in the people and is useful in every aspect of men’s life, he pointed out.

After that the group started practicing. One exercise was changed by another in a friendly and funny atmosphere.

At the end it was visibly - this improvisational class have also been reflected by the positive Magnet’s community vibrations.

Apr 6

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On the second floor of the large hall of the Asia Society Museum, there is an extraordinary exhibition titled “Transgressions II, 2009” by an Indian artist Nalini Malani.

As soon as a visitor enters the room he/she starts moving through the shadows. A blue elephant, leaves, the powerful deity Shiva, a monkey, a snake, a man pointed a gun at someone – all this figures are on the move across the wall, the visitor himself/herself. They seem to be in the air too… There are Sanskrit letters sliding down the wall like a slap shower…

All this is followed by women’s and girls’ voices. They repeat certain sentences, while the light changes – white becomes bright red, then yellow, and blue at the end. Pieces move together, shadows blend one into another; the voices merge with the lovely subtle drawings made by the author.

A special world inhabits the Asia Society Museum’s exhibition room.    The Nalini Malani’s world is a world of violence and change, deception and illusions, but also it is the world of beauty.

The Malani’s wonderful Video Installation is based both on the ancient tradition of the theater of shadows and on new technology. She creates a dramatic world of colors, shadows, signs, symbols, and beauty.

The exhibition also features a selection of Malani’s artist books.

The Malani’s painting titled “Listening to the Shades”.

Apr 4

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Independent Curators International  and The Vera List Center for Art and Politics, the New School, hosted recently Maria Hlavajova, the general and artistic director of BAK /basis voor actuele kunst/ from Utrecht, The Netherlands. She held a presentation titled “From Curator’s Perspective: In the Times of Interregnum”.

Maria Hlavajova spoke to a group of people at the Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Auditorium. Her main question was – what our art to do in a turbulent time characterized by crisis and dying of old values, as well as in time where new values cannot be born.

Theoretically she drew upon her research within two interwoven projects she has engaged with, “Former West” and “Future Vocabularies”. She questioned if the notion of institutional disparity addresses the asymmetry between power and politics today on an international stage then how this analysis can help us to understand what can be done in terms of rethinking of notion of institutional infrastructure?

There is a fatal disconnection between global power and local politics, she said. It manifests itself in difference between conflicting powers with no political control on the one hand, and powerless politics on the other. I addition, she wondered how we wish to organize ourselves in artistic and intellectual practice, so that we might get society we desire.

 

Apr 4

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On a recent Friday in the spring sunny day, I had the privilege of visiting an important work by Walter De Maria in SoHo. It is an interior earth sculpture titled The New York Earth Room (1977) which has been maintained by Dia Art Foundation for decades.

The work’s caretaker Bill Bilworth gave to me and Albert Mobilio, who joined to me on this tour, a short history of the De Maria’s art genesis – from his first works and fascination with the Minimalist’s new aesthetic through his later works such was The Lightning Field.  

“The New York Earth Room” is on the second floor of an office building. It has been covered wall to wall by twenty inches of dark soil. Smell and color of ground are very intense. According to Bill Bilworth, “The Earth Room” has been kept barren. All plant, fungi, or animals have been removed so some apocalyptic images call to mind. It seems that the room suggests to which a degree of calamity the people’s destruction leads.

De Maria used an entire first floor, but he left much of the space empty. The room is lit by the building’s windows. In some way the object and location melded into one entity. It is a peaceful quiet place which has become one of the New York’s landmarks for decades.

At the end, Bill Bilworth pointed out that although the De Maria’s Earth Room has been interpreted as an important piece of Land Art and Minimalism, the author never called his work “land art” but simply “interior earth sculpture”. Also, Bilworth said that De Maria refused to comment on his work, so one can only consider on the installation true meaning.

Apr 4

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The Rubin museum of a Himalayan art is located in Chelsea, on the West side of Manhattan. In the Chelsea Art District there are over 350 art galleries, many performance values, producing organizations of dance, or movement based-art organizations.

There is a theater in the basement of the Rubin museum. A chair and a table covered with a beautiful eastern rug were on a stage, in front of a big screen.

The calligrapher and artist Tashi Mannox appeared very soon. He started that event honoring his teachers in Tibet, Akong Rinpoche, Sherab Palden Beru, and Lama Pema Lodrup.

In a friendly and unusual warm atmosphere Tashi spoke to the people  demonstrating the Medicine of Buddha mantra through vocal and calligraphic expressions. He emphasized the living quality of Buddhist art, its ability, he said, to stimulate an emotional pressure in viewers.

Pointing out that the Tibetan calligraphy is a contemplative practice in healing the practitioners for thousands of years in Tibet and the region, Tashi moved to the practical demonstration of calligraphic writing.

This part lecture/demonstration, part workshop was a very interesting evening with an artist which work endeavors, on the one hand, to preserve the Tibetan Buddhist calligraphy and iconography’s long tradition and the art of temple decoration, and on the other, to bring closer the ancient art of Tibetan Buddhist philosophy, and antique Tibetan and Sanskrit scripts to the West.

Apr 3

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The Asia Society Museum is located at the Park Avenue on the Upper East Side. It is an international organization dedicated to promote both traditional and contemporary Asian art.

Two exhibitions are settled on its first floor – “Mandala Sand Painting: Creating an Enlightened World” and “Golden Vision of Densatil: A Tibetan Buddhist Monastery”.

A sand mandala – a sacred cosmogram – is an unique artistic tradition of Buddhism. The exhibited stunning mandala at the Asia Society Museum was made a month ago by five Tibetan monks of Drepung Loseling Monastery, South India.

Monks painted by applying colored fine stream of sand during ten days. A movie airing at the same room offers to a visitor the possibility to follow that process of patience and prayer.

The exhibition of the Tibetan Buddhist monastery is the first one which explores its history, iconography, and art.

Numerous statues from thirteenth through fifteenth century depict the spiritual journey toward enlightenment.

Apr 3

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The Greenwich Village is located on the west side of Lower Manhattan. It is a small area below 14th Street and west of Broadway. For over a century the creative, rebellious, and Bohemian have been attracted by this place. This image still lingers so many artists live here.

The Cherry Lane Theater is the New York City’s oldest continuously running off-Broadway theater. This small theater is on one of the most appealing streets in the West Village that I have seen, at Commerce Street. Originally constructed as a farm silo, it has become a beautiful little theater for decades. The exposed-brick-and-wood decor is both cozy and inviting. It’s really nice and charming place.

The Greenwich Village residents proudly point out that the Stonewall Inn is a tavern considered as a place where the gay liberation movement started fighting for their rights.

The Café Wha is cornered in the heart of the Greenwich Village. It is well known place where Jimi Hendrix, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Peter, Paul & Mary, and many others debuted during the sixties starting his musical career.

The Jefferson Market Library is a branch of the New York Public Library. Its unique building is featured as a new architect style in New York City.

Apr 3

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There is an interesting museum in the heart of Manhattan, on the opposite side of the Madison Square Park – the National Museum of Mathematics (MoMath). It’s only museum dedicated to math in the United States. It was founded by Glen Whitney, a mathematical logician, who wanted to find a way that men discover a side of math never seen before.

The museum’s exhibitions allow visitors to experience math in exciting ways - through hands-on displays they can understand topics such as algebraic equations, mathematical formulas, constants, or variables.

For example, there is a ride on a Square-Wheeled Trike that illustrates notions of geometry; or the Polypaint digital canvas through which one’s can learn about fractals. The exhibits are very appealing and easy for using although very little real world application is on display.

The National Museum of Mathematics is a great place where the abstract mathematics is explained in an entertaining way. Obviously, this institution attempts to compel visitors to get greater appreciation for math in their own life.

Apr 2

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An interesting concert was held in the Greenwich Village, at the Judson Memorial Church, opposite the Washington Square Park, on the last day of March. It was organized by the Movement research (MR) organization.

The main goal of the Movement research – exploration of contemporary dance forms – was part of the Monday performance, too. It was held in an original space – a large hall on the first floor of the Judson church.

The evening of experimental dance started with Lindsay Reuter. Her performance was focused on exploring possibilities of her body. She used silence as an important part of her presentation, as well as the Elton John’s song “Good Evening, Strangers”. During her dance, Lindsay depicted human loneliness in an almost provocative way.

Donna Costello and Bob Eisen performed a dance titled “jon4sud”. This performance looked into contemporary issues of how two human beings relate to one another, from agreement and understanding all the way to open conflict and misunderstanding. Donna and Bob’s performance explored movement, silence, sound, and improvisation.

Gabrielle D’Angelo, Emily D’Angelo and Jessi Lalomia performed a work-in-progress titled “(step) on (ing) in”. This movement-based dance experimented with rhythm, relations among the three dancers, and, again, the vital role of silence.

The Movement research’s concert on Monday night confirmed that there are no strict boundaries in dance. Searching for their own space, dancers conveyed a feeling that artistic creation offers the biggest form of freedom.

Apr 2

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The Manhattan landscape changed as soon as the bus QM2 crossed the Queensboro Bridge. Factory chimneys and low houses extended to the end of the horizon.

Going farther, all the way to the north shore of the Long Island and the Fort Totten which was my destination on Sunday afternoon, the bus drove along wide avenues. Stores with colorful inscriptions were on both sides of the road. It seemed as if the stores’ owners competed amongst themselves to attract customers by using ever taller and more colorful boards. An occasional passer-by was in a hurry, hiding the face from strong winds.

In a spacious backyard, wind hurtled the flags hung high above the cars for sale. One woman sat leaning against a wooden horse, calmly smoking her cigarette. She apparently did not mind the wind too much.

After half an hour the landscape changed. The bus drove up to a neighborhood with beautiful homes and nice lawns heading towards the north shore of the Long Island and the Fort Totten.

Formerly a military fortification, built in the early 19th century to protect the entrance to the East River, the Fort Totten has been abandoned for decades and turned into a park. It now offers events and educational programs to attract visitors.

In the silent Fort Totten, only squirrels can be seen.

Explorers of the fortress will come across the sculpture called ‘Heroes Among Us’.

This two story building is a home of the Fort Totten Officers’ Club.

This park is another proof that New Yorkers preserve memories of their past with great care.

 

Apr 1

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The Silver School for Social Work , the New York University, is located at the corner of Washington Square and Waverly Place. Here a visiting scholar Dr. Robert Walker of Oxford University held a lecture titled “Poverty and Shame” on Monday afternoon.

Walker spoke to a group of over 50 people at the School’s parlor. The Sun illuminated a room with a fireplace at the center and two oil paintings on the wall so the atmosphere was almost intimate.

Mary McKay, the McSilver Professor of Poverty Studies and director of the McSilver Institute for Poverty Policy and Research, introduced Walker as a researcher who has been working on poverty for decades.

An Oxford University study team, led by Professor Walker, has found that the condition of being poor is universally linked with feelings of shame. The research was carried out in eight countries – in China, India, South Korea, Uganda, Pakistan, Norway, Germany, and the UK. Through interviews face-to-face with more than 600 people Walker spoke to adults and children who live in poor conditions, as well to the people from richer background to find out how they viewed poverty. Research also was focused on representation of poverty in media, and on language and practices used by agencies responsible for implementing social programs.

Interviews point out that people living in poor conditions in each of these countries feel that they are stigmatized as lazy. They are made to feel ashamed because of the attitudes of their family, the media, or the government.

At the end, Professor Walker revealed to us howbeing judged harshly because of experiencing poverty is common occurrences. He said his research suggests that, in future, policymakers need to treat people with respect. Without respect maybe this problem will be perpetuate.

New York is a city where tall skyscrapers constantly ‘pull’ your view up, in height. As if the whole city strives for sky and clouds.

Nevertheless, if you looked down at the sidewalk, you might reveal not small surprises.

If you go along 41th Street, from the Grand Station to the New York Public Library, one of these surprises is the Library Way. Both sides of sidewalks are paved by plaques at which quotes of many writers are imprinted. About meaning of beauty, literature, reading in our lives…

«The universe is made of stories, not atoms», I read the Muriel Rukeyser’s words on one plaque. I would say – «Stories also choose who will read them». What a wonderful manner that stories look up a way towards their readers!

Behind the New York Public Library’s building another surprise was waiting for me – Nikola Tesla Corner. It is located at the intersection of 6th Avenue and 40th Street.

This great inventor spent many years in New York. On the left side of the Bryant Park is West 40th Street where many historical buildings within a one block radius are connected to the life of Nikola Tesla.

The Tesla Laboratory Building at 8 West 40th Street was the Tesla laboratory around 1900, when he was building his Tesla Tower in Shoreham, Long Island, from 1900 through 1905.

            

Walking through Broadway many churches can be seen.

St. Grace Church is a two hundred years old church. It was built in Gothic style by James Renwick, Jr., the same author who designed the Smithsonian Institution castle.

This elegant building is decorated by stunning stained glass.

St. Mark’s Church in-the-Bowery was built in 1795. It is interesting that this Episcopal Church supports modern dance, experimental theater, and poetry. Also, it is a community gathering space for the East Village.

The sculptures of lion and two Native American Indians are in front of the church.

Many Broadway’s bookshops are located close to each other so I decided to take a walking tour of Broadway to find out what kind of books they offer to readers.

The Strand Bookstore is a large space located at a corner of Broadway and 12th Street. When I entered I could read on a wall that this store is «a home of 18 miles of books – new, used, rare, art, out of print books…» Shelves from floor to ceiling at both front and rear of the bookshop have proved that this probably was not just advertisement.

St. Marks Bookshop is a small store at the East Village. It is a place with interesting choice of books. Their specialties include political science, drama books – from ancient authors, Sophocles and Euripides, through Ibsen and Shepard, then comics, etc…

McNally Jackson Books is a bookshop where interested New Yorkers can find – among others – a large selection of books by European writers. On its shelves are books of Dostoyevsky, Gogol, Milosz, Danilo Kiš, etc.  An interesting designed chandelier hangs on in the middle of the room!

Among Broadway’s bookshops I prefer the Housing Works Bookstore. It’s situated in a quiet almost hidden Crosby Street at SoHo.               The bookshop has a great collection of fiction, historical books, and music records. Also, there is a pleasant place at the rear of the store where one’s can read, work, or just relax with music and a cup of coffee. Charming place!