Art Could be Sustainable Luxury, but it Has a Long Way to Go.
Artist Betsabeé Romero honored at LuxuryLab 2022
Exhibition at Museo de la Ciudad de Mexico on view until end of August
(text edited by Delphine Schrank)
As I walked through Cuando el tiempo se rompió (When Time Broke), the latest exhibition by Mexican artist Betsabeé Romero at the Museo de la Ciudad de Mexico, I was struck by the juxtaposition of her most recent works. It suddenly made sense. It was all coming together. The artistic interpretation of movement, migrants, and mirrors. The artist was there, it was a Monday in June, and the museum was closed to the public.
I have marveled at Betsabeé’s work so often in the past. The first time was eight years ago, wandering the streets of the Condesa district. Betsabeé had transformed a car into a playful permanent installation, a human-size toy, really, and planted it on the doorsteps of the hotel Condesa DF. To the left of the white and burgundy car, passersby will find a large silver key. Turn it, and the car will suddenly play a rendering of Agustin Lara‘s Veracruz song.
POST-COVID SPRING BEAUTY
The More You Look The More You See
A solo exhibition of new work by Judith Seligson on view at Galerie Mourlot through June 26, 2022.
16 East 79th Street, Suite 21
Between 5th and Madison Avenue
New York City
When I entered Galerie Mourlot on E. 79th Street two days ahead of Judith Seligson’s new solo exhibition, the more I looked around, the more I saw boxes everywhere, each containing either a painting, a pigment print, or a sculpture Seligson, a geometric abstract artist, created during the pandemic. On one wall, John—the installer—was carefully calculating the distance between two frames: on top, a series of photographs of flowers painted over—snapshots of nature blooming and blossoming despite the pandemic, aptly titled “Covid Spring”—and below a selection of bold striped paintings, or intervals paintings, as Seligson described them to me.
In the center of the room, the artist was busy unpacking and deciding how she wanted the body of work to come together at her second solo exhibition of Galerie Mourlot, a name more associated with the print making for the likes of Picasso and Miro, but which also has a strong contemporary art program. Her daughter—journalist and author Hannah Seligson—was dispensing advice. She became her mother’s unofficial “art agent,” or manager, five years ago.
Hannah marveled at the exhibition slowly taking shape, the new series of what she describes as “hard-edged, geometric abstract paintings,” in which her mother, Judith, explores “her interest in the interactions of colors, patterns, and space that all push the boundaries of the pictorial plane and create a sense of spatial tension.” “The Washington Post once decided it was ‘reminiscent of Stella and Albers,’” Hannah explained.
As I found my way to gallery owner Eric Mourlot’s desk by the tall windows overlooking 79th street, to sit down and take my recorder out of my bag, I marveled at the artistic poetry of the pieces. “It is a musical composition, almost a rhythmic movement,” the 72-year-old artist and author who studied with Flora Natapoff, Philip Guston, Leo Manso, and Victor Candell explained to me. Some of the paintings are small, discreet, miniature even, “a feminist statement,” Hanna said, quoting her mother.
I have always been told people are born artists, so I asked Judith Seligson when she first realized she was an artist and no one else. Before she could utter a word, Hannah interjected: “Mom, tell the story of when you were drawing…”
THE SILENT ODESSA SYMPHONY
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Special thanks to Delphine Schrank for editing this story
Odessa, Ukraine, March 22nd, 2014. A rhythmic beat pulsed from inside the fish market, a strange percussionist melody composed instinctively, on site, and performed by fishmongers scrapping the scales of black sea bass set against the background chatter of myriad overlapping conversations, and the rustle of shopping bags against the coats of men and women shopping for a meal or two.
It was a typical Saturday morning in a vibrant city, a strategic port and a symbol of European culture and unity. Well, not exactly a typical Saturday. A day earlier, Russia had officially ratified the annexation of the nearby Ukrainian province of Crimea, triggering a shock-wave across the rest of the country and Europe that eventually died out in the torpor of an apathetic world response.
Suddenly, a man armed with a double bass and a band of others carrying violins appeared from different corners of the fish market. Without prelude, one after the next planted themselves in a strategic spot, beside a bronze statue, behind counters stacked with cans and olive oils, and among the fish stalls. They started softly with notes from Beethoven 9th Symphony. Amid shoppers still more concerned with choosing between fresh tuna, mackerel or herring, all the marine life of the Black Sea, others were instantly mesmerized, pressing in on the musicians. The group of performers swelled, some with no instruments at all. Like the perceptive tentacles of a giant octopus, they fanned out throughout the market. From the back of the room, the American conductor of the Odessa Philharmonic Orchestra Hobart Earle took his cue. He pushed his way through the crowd to a place visible to the now-dozens of musicians, raised his hands and with matchless coordination folded in the choir for Beethoven’s Ode to Joy, the European anthem.
THE ODESSA TEAR
(The original French version was published via National Geographic France and La Règle du Jeu. Click here to read).
The man from Odessa had taken off neither his coat nor his cap, he was carrying his bag on his shoulder and inside was an umbrella, his hands were tucked in his pockets. He was standing next to a piano still covered with a thick purple cloth that protected it from the dust. We could hear a heavy, repetitive, dull sound, a constant background of hammers and flashlights coming from the scaffolding below. The long gallery we were in was plunged into an involuntary gloom. It didn’t matter to the old and mischievous pianist who was playing standing up. At that moment, nothing could disturb him. He too had kept his long black gabardine on. He was impatient and unquenchable. A thirst of flats and sharps, a musical emergency!
I was standing on the opposite side of the piano, carrying on my shoulder a camera, which I barely knew how to operate. The sound was hesitant, and the underexposed image, blurred and distant—on the screen as in time—has remained to this day a testimony of a brief and joyful moment, the crazy promise of a Ukrainian port on the Black Sea, a city of poets and musicians, Odessa, suddenly free of the Soviet bear hug.
Entretien avec Bernard-Henri Lévy, à l’occasion de la première américaine à New York de son film
Une Autre Idée du Monde—The Will to See à New York le 16 janvier 2022.
Jump to the English version of this post below: Click Here
À la fin de l’année 2019, Bernard-Henri Lévy rentre du Nigeria avec un reportage d’une force rare. Il décrit les actes meurtriers, odieux et terroristes d’un groupe « plus ou moins liés à Boko Haram », « des islamistes d’un genre nouveau » : les Fulanis. De village en village, ils attaquent, brulent et assassinent les Chrétiens du Nigeria. Bernard-Henri Lévy nous présente une de leurs récentes victimes, Jumai Victor. Cette femme, « une évangéliste », se recueille sur une tombe, celle de son mari et de ses quatre enfants assassinés. Elle survit à cette attaque. Enceinte, les Fulanis ont épargné sa vie, mais certains d’entre eux lui ont tranché, l’un après l’autre, les doigts, puis la main et l’avant-bras.