I was mostly after LCD Soundsystem but after browsing galleries and museums to visit during my planned stay, I found out that Thierry Mugler (whose exhibit I missed in Montreál) was going to be on at Brooklyn Museum.
I’ve been frequenting New York as of late (5th time in 2022). The change of scenery is great for relieving stress and putting things in perspective. I have family there too so I usually stay with them but not on this trip. I just wanted to go and do my own thing. I may or may not have snuck this trip… I suppose it doesn’t matter now since I’m blogging it and they’ll find out lol. It was only for three days anyway but it was jampacked with so much culture.
I was mostly solo on this trip. As social as I can be, I actually really like being alone. We need these times to process what’s going on around us, to quiet the noise and hear our own voice. Sometimes the nuanced misunderstandings that we come across on almost a daily basis, which is arguably a form of culture shock, can be exhausting.
We all experience this to some degree due to the world we’re living in including the kinds of media, we’re exposed to, which all become a part of what shapes our reality (have you watched any of the old-school Disney movies lately? Some of them have statements now before the film starts, that pretty much say, “We know we fucked up but instead of removing the content let it be topics of discussion on how we can form a more inclusive world.” I know they’re a big company and can afford all kinds of losses but I thought it was pretty ballsy of them to own up to it and not take it down. It made me wonder what their thinking/legal processes were that came to this decision. If you have a Disney Plus subscription, check it out for yourself. It also made me wonder how it shaped our biases). In case you haven’t figured it out yet, art/culture/design can be play very powerful roles that instigate social and political change… for better or for worse.
Try to remember that an objective instance isn’t always processed the same way, subjectively. Just as our chemistry with others isn’t necessarily telling of what another may experience with the same person/group, it is influenced and reflected by our own reality. Somebody who watched Disney films in middle America in the 90s wouldn’t necessarily have the same worldviews as someone who watched it in the Phillippines.
In this sense, life is a solo act. Sure, we can belong to communities and families but we’re all ultimately still on our own paths. To me, perspective is of great value, especially when it comes to arts & culture, moulding ourselves and the ways we change, transform, and evolve in this life.
On that note, I’m really diggin’ Brooklyn’s vibe and since I’m drawn to it, I figure it will aid in the whole growth thing. Even if it doesn’t, I knew I was going to enjoy myself so… I did it.
Hotel RL Brooklyn
I didn’t take photos of the place I’m staying in, unfortunately, nor did I bother taking many photos outside the hotel. I’ve just been going there enough times that it’s now become a part of my “normal” so it didn’t occur to me.
I did take a video at the tail end of my trip. It’s in this neighbourhood called Bedstuy and it was right by a subway track with some amazing street art and graffiti.
It’s funny ’cause my cousin who was born and raised there would come visit Toronto sometimes and, to her, Toronto feels like a small town lol. Yeah, I can see that.
When I was fresh from Asia, I felt more at home in New York because of the density, the pace, the pollution, the graffiti, and the grime (which is part of its charm for me). But having lived in Toronto for over 20 years, I’ve gotten used to the space and I’m not sure if I can live here anymore. I like my quiet, relatively reasonable monthly rent (yeah, I know Toronto’s still ridiculous but compared to New York… come on).
I landed around 9:30 but airport security, customs etc had to happen in between so I didn’t get to my hotel until around 11:30. My room wasn’t ready until 2:00 PM. I debated on going out somewhere but I decided to just stick around at the bar, which was closed for service but open for lounging at the time.
I just stayed there for a couple hours since I had my luggage with me too. I pre-ordered some stuff from this metaphysical store in Manhattan that have iron fillings in them. The last time I took them home via carry-on, I almost missed my flight due to security. This time, I decided to do a big order which covered my holiday shopping and check my luggage in even though I was just there for 3 days.
As soon as I checked in my room, I changed my clothes and headed straight to the store which was about 40 minutes away via transit. I love taking the MTA. It’s so sexy.
The TTC just doesn’t have the raw-ness and history that the MTA does. There are delays and issues with both transits but with the TTC, once a subway stops running, you’re stuck with buses as there are no workarounds whereas the MTA would have way more options because their system is so much more robust… just don’t use it after around 10 or 11 at night (4 murders on average per month + other forms of assault and numerous petty crimes).
I ordered a bunch of stuff from a store I ended up loving called “Enchantments.” They market themselves as the oldest witchcraft store in New York City (30+ years).
I actually feng shui’d my condo when I moved in and, during the session, I was re-introduced to crystals and metaphysical things that I got into in my late teens to early 20’s. I didn’t have much faith nor spirituality back then so I just kinda forgot about it. I was intrigued but didn’t really take it too seriously. These days, however, I’ve been taking up more spiritual things and if you’re into carving your intentions and focusing for manifestation, I would totally recommend this place.
I brought my luggage here as the sole purpose of having checked-in luggage was to stuff the candles in it. The last time I carried it with me, I got extensively checked by security due to the iron fillings on the bottom of the candle. I hurriedly packed them at the store so I can go prep for the concert, which I was really giddy excited about lol.
I had about 2 hours to get to the venue after I was done with Enchantments. I went back to my hotel, stored my luggage there, had a change of clothes, and are dinner before Ieft for the concert.
I was about 15 minutes late and freaking out but as it turns out, they weren’t going on ’til an hour after their supposed start time. There weren’t any opening artists or anything so I entertained myself with some merch and the bar.
For those of you who don’t know them, they’re an electronic punk band from Brooklyn. I discovered them just a few years ago but they’ve been big-ish (not quite like Mariah Carey or Beyonce or lanything but they’re too popular now to be “underground” so not sure what category they fit in) since the mid 2000’s. They broke up in 2011 but got back together in 2015 (whew!). If you like Depeche Mode, chances are, you will like their music too.
They come from humble and very punk rock beginnings.
And now, they’re still super punk rock, sans the obscure venues.
Intro – Time to Get Away
Brooklyn Museum, Main Attraction: Thierry Mugler
Thierry Mugler (Strasbourg, France) was a couture fashion designer who started gaining notoriety in the 90’s well into his death (2021).
And in case you want to know how to pronounce it… (2:22)
The first section was an installation art, straight away. It was a projection of the play, “Lady Macbeth” from the 80’s. Thierry Mugler costumed it in the 80’s while Michel Lemieux (Quebec, Canada) worked on the very impressive installation art.
After this Macbeth bit came the clothing and photography exhibit.
The ones right below this paragraph are probably my favourite. Mugler was known for outrageous, crazy shit styles, which I also love but these were the ones that resonated with me the most. Couture isn’t really practical not wearable unless maybe it you’re a celebrity and you’re walking down the red carpet or something. It’s fun to look at because they’re worn pieces of art but for everyday life? Eh… I think these would be the closest “practical” stuff you can wear.
These ones are simple but it’s still got that kick.
There were a bunch of sections but I’m only posting the ones that stick out to me.
Next up, outrageous, crazy shit.
This collection, in particular, actually reminded me of a couple of festivals that I’m familiar with:
“The Sinulog-Santo Niño Festival is an annual cultural and religious festival held on the third Sunday of January in Cebu City and is the centre of the Santo Niño Catholic Christian celebrations in the Philippines.” – Wikipedia
2. The Toronto Caribbean Festival
“The Toronto Caribbean Carnival, formerly known as Caribana, is a festival of Caribbean culture and traditions held each summer in the city of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. It is a pan-Caribbean Carnival event and has been billed as North America’s largest street festival…” – Wikipedia
It’s funny yeah I went through a phase of partying lots and hopped around different crowds and subcultures. I came to realize that there’s no such thing as original. Everything has been done before and if you look through history, it’s all a matter of how ideas and concepts are applied in different contexts, which is arguably what innovation is.
Look at Apple. They took design concepts and applied them to technology, not just on the aesthetics of their products but on the functionality as well.
On that note (veering a bit here), creativity tends to come out during hardships which is why there tends to be a lot of vibrancy that can really come out of oppression and poverty. If we observe the arts & culture that come out from the lower end of the scale (like the ones I came across when I was partying) and then compare it to the couture, fancy stuff, you will notice that the high end stuff resemble the low end ones, polished it up; case in point of what Thierry Mugler’s works reminded me of. He may not have directly come into contact with the environments and settings I speak of but it’s very possible that he came about it via social osmosis. He’s also gay and during his time it was still not as widely accepted as it is now, potentially causing him some oppression. His works that are loud, proud, and colourful may very well have been the parts of him that have been subjugated causing the expressive and creative blowback.
I don’t know Mugler personally nor have I done extensive research on him so if you know better, please correct me if I’m mistaken.
I drew my observations from experience, as an artist, having worked with different people formally in the trade and via informal, collaborative projects.
But speaking of crazy shit, here’s more.
There are plenty of insights within these works. If I were to write about it, it’ll just end up being a fucking thesis paper so if you’re interested in the meanings and motivations of this great artist (and how he impacted his time as he still does now), look him up.
After Mugler’s section, I checked out other exhibits and funny enough, as much as I love the previous works I’ve shown you, this happens to be my favourite because it made me feel a deep sense of peace.
It’s by Albert Biestadt who’s known for his paintings of the American west. This is apparently somewhere in the Rockies and was painted during a rapid development in the 1800’s (ie. colonial times). While those times were shit, it doesn’t discount the fact that coming across this painting, I felt at peace.
It was a nice contrast to Thierry Mugler’s works, especially since it was right beside it. It felt like walking into something completely subjective with expressions coming from deep within (Mugler’s) to something, still subjective (which art isn’t?) but, more objective via a landscape.
I really appreciate both paradigms: the insanity and noise of the city vs the silence of nature. Somewhere in between, lies our own inner voice.