Slumming It at the New Museum


Ah, the Bowery, birthplace of both vaudeville and the electric tattoo machine. And what other place can claim a list of former residents that includes everyone from composer Stephen Foster and writer/eccentric Quentin Crisp to the Ramones and artist Cy Twombly? One of the Bowery’s newest residents–that SANAA-designed stack of gray boxes known as the New Museum–is showing its love for the neighborhood and its denizens with the Bowery Artist Tribute. The project “explores the presence of artists on this famed thoroughfare” through onsite and online resources, publications, and public programming. We’re loving the project’s online artist map, which pokes little hot pink electronic pushpins into the former or current dwellings/studios of artists such as Brice Marden, Robert Ryman, Lynda Benglis, and the Maysles brothers.

This weekend, you can settle in for Bowery-themed fun at the museum. Tomorrow night at 7pm champion beatboxer and sampler Adam Matta will perform “Beatbox Drift,” so prepare your ears for some ear candy that will include a new composition for bike wheel, Walkman, laptop, theremin, and beatbox. Wait…theremin? Apparently it’s a musical instrument that you play without touching it. All we know is that it involves antennae and was originally a project of the Russian government. Sounds good to us!

Then spend Saturday afternoon, well, slumming it. The museum hosts a 3pm screening of Scott Elliott‘s 2005 documentary, Slumming It, which is all about the “sustained myth” of the Bowery. The documentary includes an interview with artist Martha Rosler, whose 1975 performance piece “Semiotics of the Kitchen” still gives us nightmares. We bet she plays a mean theremin.