Some of the words that came to mind again and again when I visited the new Deana Lawson exhibit at MoMA PS1 in Long Island City were “majesty” and “dignity”.. Lawson was born in Rochester, New York, in 1979, and her work primarily focuses on rejecting and subverting conventional modes of representation of black people through photography. MoMA PS1, Lawson’s first-ever solo exhibition in a museum, has just arrived from the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston.
One of the most appealing things about the show is how it upsets your anticipation that the photographs are merely documenting reality. Lawson poses black men and women dressed in casual clothes — or sometimes without clothes at all — in mundane settings like kitchens, bedrooms, and living rooms. His sitters shamelessly occupy the space, like dignitaries in a grand portrait painted by an old master.
But then you start noticing the little details that Lawson uses to complicate his stories. You might wonder about the hidden meanings in the clutter she litters a table, the curtains she hangs on an unfinished wall, or the ankle monitor adorning one of her most majestic models. The longer you linger, the more you are drawn into the delicious complexity of the imagery created by Lawson. Until September 5; moma.org/ps1
Director David Lynch specialized in surreal mystery and suspense early in his career, directing idiosyncratic classics like “Eraserhead”, “Blue Velvet” and “Mulholland Drive” – not to mention his classic TV series. worship. “Twin Peaks”, whose surprising revival in 2017 is among the director’s most recent works. It surely attests to his enduring popularity that major buzz erupted on Twitter about a month ago when sources insisted he had a secret new film screening at the Cannes Film Festival (which starts the week next), and that it features one of its most compelling collaborators, Laura Dern.
While everyone waits, perhaps in vain, for a new Lynch film, the last one he finished is on the screens again: “Inland Empire”, a three-hour mystery assembled without a script and shot with a portable digital camera. The film obliquely and callously deals with the way women are treated in Hollywood. It’s terrifying and unnerving even by Lynch’s enigmatic standard, and it features an extraordinary performance from Dern.
A 4K restoration has been doing the rounds lately, allowing everyone to see “Inland Empire” as if for the first time. It’s screening this weekend at the IFC Center, but a one-time special screening Wednesday at Lincoln Center’s Walter Reade Theater has the added benefit of a live talk from the New York film critic. Melissa Andersonwho wrote a brilliant little book about the film and, more broadly, the creative spark between Lynch and Dern. May 11 at 7 p.m.; filmlinc.org
Jazz icon Ron Carter is the most recorded bassist of all time, with over 2,200 credits to his name. He has worked with everyone from Thelonious Monk, Milt Jackson and Miles Davis to Roberta Flack and A Tribe Called Quest. He even came to Radio City Music Hall in April to perform with Grateful Dead veteran Bob Weir. (You can see a recent NPR article on Carter here and check out her new Tiny Desk Concert here.)
Carnegie Hall is home to Ron this Tuesday night, when he takes to the big stage in the Isaac Stern Auditorium to celebrate his 85th birthday. He will play with three of his own groups: his Golden Striker Trio with pianist Donald Vega and guitarist Russell Malone, a quartet with saxophonist Jimmy Greene and a group of eight musicians including four cellos. Fellow bassists Stanley Clarke and Buster Williams will be on hand to pay their respects, and the program includes jazz standards and Carter originals. May 10 at 8 p.m.; carnegiehall.org