Edit – December 2018
Kayode Ojo at Martos Gallery
You look up and realize you've rounded a corner — the year is about to end. When did it get so cold? The biting air encourages a thorough assessment of where we have been, where we are going, what we can do better. In the interest of a richer 2019, bid the year farewell with stout nutrition for both mind and body: Maggie Nelson's commentary on Sarah Lucas's eye-goggling New Museum show, celestial tempura at Secchu Yokota, and music from Kranky Records and Lensk should satisfy the palette nicely.
INTERVIEW: NANCY KWON
- Read the Interview
At Totokaelo, we have had the honor of receiving exclusive work from master ceramicist Nancy Kwon. While her pieces tell fascinating stories themselves, we asked her to do us the extended honor of letting us in on how and why she tells her tales through the clay medium. She agreed, and we traveled to her studio at Sculpture Space NY to explore her process and lay hands on her beautiful new creations.
JEWELRY: THE BODY TRANSFORMED AT THE MET
- Date Nov 12 - Feb 24
- Location Metropolitan Museum of Art
In a purely technical sense, adornment is not vital to our survival (one does not need an intricately wrought silver snake twined around one’s neck or a hooded tunic of ruby-encrusted silver chain-linked paillettes, per se) yet the creation and use of jewelry is among the oldest of human practices, predating even cave painting by centuries. And while an exhibition on jewelry is always a glamorous pleasure, there has not yet been a show that has sufficiently addressed jewelry’s virtually bottomless significance until now. The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s latest exhibition, Jewelry: The Body Transformed, discusses the relationship between jewelry and the human form with unprecedented depth, exploring the history of precious objects made for the body and their links to various aspects of the human experience: death and immortality, rank and status, magic and spiritualism, sex and social life. The collection of 230 pieces ranges in date from present day to 2600 BCE, from an ancient Celtic gold and iron war torque to the gilded full-body covering of the pre-Columbian Cauca Valley ‘Golden Man of Calima’ to Elsa Schiaparelli’s 1934 silk and resin clasped hand belt. In context with various works of painting, sculpture, prints, and photography, we are able to assess adornment with proper care — not to mention the dazzling splendor of it all.
NO EXCUSES: MAGGIE NELSON ON SARAH LUCAS
- Date Dec 13
- Location New Museum, New York City, NY
If you have not had the chance to stop by the Sarah Lucas show at the New Museum, you must go as soon as possible. The multi-level collection is the first stateside survey of Lucas’s body of work — “body” being a fitting word for the oeuvre, filled with bodies as it is, represented with equal measures of humor and horror in the form of extraterrestrial nylon lumps, insouciant self-portraits, blown-out tabloid collages, and one jaw-dropping cigarette Christ, among other subject matter. In a masterstroke of programming, this month the New Museum will host renowned author and scholar Maggie Nelson (Argonauts, The Art of Cruelty, Bluets) for an assessment of the exhibition in her own words. One can scarcely imagine a more appropriate facilitator for such a discussion — Nelson’s frank, genre-agnostic voice offering a perspective as refreshing, empathetic, and provocative as Lucas's own.
First Unitarian Congregational Society
119 Pierrepont Street, Brooklyn, NY, USA
- Date Dec 7
The words ‘classic’ and ‘timeless’ get thrown around a lot. Usually, their application is in terms of a style universally acknowledged as good, hinging on simplicity and purity of form to preserve their appeal through the ages. In our view, however, the word ‘classic’ is best applied to that which is so unique and complex as to be undeniable. Annette Peacock is one person for whom the label may be suitably used — utterly singular, she is a pioneer in the musical world, the first person ever to modify the human voice with a Moog synthesizer in the late ‘60s and universally praised by the great musical minds of the last century. Her music feels as fresh and challenging now as it has throughout her half-century-long career. Performances are increasingly rare, so we advise against missing her upcoming solo show at the stunning, intimate, and acoustically perfect First Unitarian Congregational Society in Brooklyn, where Peacock will share current and past works, her voice accompanied only by her keyboard and piano.
SATOSHI KON'S TOKYO GODFATHERS ON 35MM
Japan Society Film
333 E 47th St, New York, New York
- Date Dec 7
We can seek out media to warm our hearts as much as we like, but all too often we come up saccharine — improbable scenarios, oppressively normative families, and disingenuous morality purport to jerk tears but end up leaving only a sour aftertaste. Honesty and reality, then, prove incredibly refreshing, and you've never seen a holiday film (much less an animated one) like 2003’s Tokyo Godfathers, which follows an unlikely crew of vagabonds as they discover an abandoned infant on Christmas Eve and seek out her parents through the city’s gritty, beautifully textural streets. As part of its “Monthly Classics” series, the Japan Society’s cinema center is set to air the film on glorious 35mm.
- Date Always
- Location 199 East 3rd Street, 1st Floor, New York, NY
Possibly due to the general reputation of fried food in the States, tempura frequently and wrongly gets less respect than other Japanese specialties. In Tokyo, you'll find numerous upscale restaurants devoted to the art of the fry, and their tasting menus will rival many kaisekis in both craft and quality. At the East Village's Secchu Yokota, Chef Yokota has been working hard with his dedicated team to change tempura’s reputation in New York, and he is doing so by only involving the absolute freshest ingredients in his remarkable fusion of Japanese and Western techniques. The bulk of the meal is traditionally quick-fried pieces of tender scallops, mushrooms, sea urchin, and much more — all gently placed in front of you at the small wooden bar. You’ll find the real creativity in the creation of the appetizers and conclusion plates, with dishes like house-cured bacon in ravigote sauce or duck with chilled green tea soba that will bookend your meal with truly exquisite flavor combinations.
Barcelona-based record label Angoisse demonstrates another stunning example of deconstructed electronics in the form of a new release by producer Lensk. These compositions veer wildly between a sense of hope and a sense of dread, which are both understandable feelings to channel when making work so firmly focused on the future. Even the tape’s packaging resembles a cryptic version of space food wrappers, which represent both scientific advancement as well as potential dystopian reality — much like this music. This already potent mass of experimental compositions is taken to a new dimension via a remix by Polish producer Gran, who buries drum breaks under a wave of oppressive noise, making the track sound like some ancient artifact that won't be discovered for another thousand years.
KRANKY RECORDS 25TH ANNIVERSARY WITH AMBIENT CHURCH
St. Ann & the Holy Trinity Church
157 Montague St,Brooklyn, NY
- Date Dec 15
There are very few record labels that have achieved longevity and success without ever betraying their initial vision. Kranky is one of those labels, having released some of the most lauded records in the underground for 25 years, which they will be celebrating with some nationwide events. The West Coast saw shows headlined by possibly their most prolific recording artist in Grouper, but the lineup in New York has plenty to be excited about in December, with synth line masterminds Forma (pictured below in photo by Lena Shkoda) joining the emotionally emotive Earthen Sea as well as Christina Vantzou and Saloli. The series is being produced in collaboration with Ambient Church, who are experts at turning places of worship into cosmic playgrounds, and their transformation of Brooklyn’s St. Ann & the Holy Trinity Church will likely be worth the admission price alone.
INTERVIEW: MS MIN
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In a zeitgeist dominated by hype and lacking in quality, a fashion designer whose priorities are trained on quiet femininity and high-caliber tailoring are increasingly rare. Min Liu of MS MIN provides a welcome exception to the rule, with quietly stunning collections season after season that address the question of what modern femininity is made of with rich nuance. We were fortunate enough to chat with Min on the topics closest to her, from the dilemma of elegance and her experience living and working in the quiet city of Xiamen, China to her growing family.