Christmas in NYC, and avant-garde director Robert Wilson’s latest


One of NYC’s many treasures, the Park Avenue Armory. (Photo: Zygmunt Malinowski) 

Here’s the Christmas I’m missing in New York City (I’m also missing one in Amsterdam, St. Petersburg, Rome, and Madrid…)  I just received a holiday message from photographer Zygmunt Malinowski, with this photo.

“Living in New York City, I still surprise myself that there is a place or a street that I haven’t seen before. I passed Park Avenue Armory so many times but hadn’t been inside,” he wrote. “It’s known for its Gilded Age beauty with wonderful architecture and fine decorative elements, as you can see on my photo.”  It was also the site of Robert Wilson’s latest production, the opera The Life and Death of Marina Abramović, which he attended last weekend (I’ve written about the avant-garde director here).


Robert Wilson at Stanford, 2008 (Photo: L.A. Cicero)

“Marina pioneered performance as visual art form (she had a retrospective at MOMA in 2010), and the actor Willem Dafoe had one of the leading roles. The opera sold out quickly but I caught the last performance,” he wrote.

The New York Times had mixed feelings about the the critically acclaimed re-imagination of the Belgrade-born Abramović’s biography, saying that “much of what takes place in Life and Death defies easy exegesis, or even simple comprehension”:

The rigorous, elemental aesthetic that has defined Ms. Abramovic’s own works here has been amplified by the manifold contributions of her collaborators, resulting in a show whose lavish effects tend to keep the woman at its center at a distance, atop a glossy pedestal instead of uncomfortably in our faces, as she is in her solo performances. The Life and Death of Marina Abramovic feels more like the gilding of an icon rather than the illumination of an artist’s experience.

Zygmunt, however, was sold: “Robert Wilson, the innovative theatre director, staged a Solidarity anniversary in Gdansk shipyard three years ago that I attended, but it was disappointing. However, he redeemed himself in the current production. It was awesome.”

More about the production below.

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