Review of Jewish Museum Show A Crack in Everything

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lightning
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Review of Jewish Museum Show A Crack in Everything

Postby lightning » Sat Apr 20, 2019 7:59 pm

Seems like they made Leonard into Disneyland. It made this reviewer want to puke but he liked Sylvie Simmons Hallelujah essay. Too many gimmicks and kitsch. I haven't seen it yet, and I'm not in a hurry after this review, but someday I may check it out.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/amphtml/ ... story.html
oldfriend28
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Re: Review of Jewish Museum Show A Crack in Everything

Postby oldfriend28 » Sun Apr 21, 2019 12:49 am

Thanks for telling us about it.
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Re: Review of Jewish Museum Show A Crack in Everything

Postby Mabeanie1 » Sun Apr 21, 2019 2:08 am

lightning wrote:
Sat Apr 20, 2019 7:59 pm
Seems like they made Leonard into Disneyland. It made this reviewer want to puke but he liked Sylvie Simmons Hallelujah essay. Too many gimmicks and kitsch. I haven't seen it yet, and I'm not in a hurry after this review, but someday I may check it out.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/amphtml/ ... story.html
Each to their own of course but those of us who saw the exhibition in Montreal loved it. I even made an extra trip back to Canada to spend more time at the MAC and I have booked a trip to see the exhibition again in Copenhagen at the end of November. Maybe it doesn't travel well or maybe the reviewer missed the point. Of course there were some pieces that didn't appeal and that I hurried past but there were others that I visited multiple times and got more out of them at each visit. I certainly wouldn't describe the show as full of gimmicks and kitsch and it's no Disneyland.

I would recommend going to see it to judge for yourself. If you don't like it, all you've lost is the entrance fee and a bit of time.

Wendy
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Re: Review of Jewish Museum Show A Crack in Everything

Postby LisaLCFan » Sun Apr 21, 2019 7:27 am

I got this far in that review: "It’s true, his deep voice and monotonous melodies can begin to grate. But when you tire of Cohen’s music, there is still the idea of him ... to fall back on. "

Seriously? Anybody who thinks that about Leonard Cohen is not someone who's opinion matters to me. Leonard's deep velvety voice and inspired melodies never grate on me -- they are always a joy, and even a balm, when my soul needs it -- I never tire of hearing Leonard's voice and music.

I've not had the pleasure of seeing this exhibit, but I hope that one day I will be able to experience it.
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Re: Review of Jewish Museum Show A Crack in Everything

Postby mutti » Sun Apr 21, 2019 6:55 pm

I agree with Wendy and Lisa! I went twice in Montreal and spent 5 hours one day and still only got through 3/4 of it. I loved it and it brought so much of Leonard back into my life. Some of the exhibits weren't for me but so many were just great. I would suggest anyone who lives in NYC or visiting to go see it. I understand it is smaller than Montreal was. The best for me was the 1 hour big multi screen of Leonard at different ages singing some of the same songs, the Depression Chamber and the piano with Leonard reading from the Book of Longing. Knowing that this is not an exhibition of Leonard's art or music but what others have put together and some experimental helps before you go. How lucky are we to get to hear Leonard's voice again in this unique way. I was going to go to NYC but for various reasons doubt that will happen but plan to go to San Francisco when its there. Well worth it friends!
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Re: Review of Jewish Museum Show A Crack in Everything

Postby Joe Way » Mon Apr 22, 2019 1:32 am

We returned last night from our trip to NYC to see the exhibit (with a side trip to Washington D.C.). I can only speak for myself but the trip was worth it in so many ways. The videos were the highlights for me-the first one with screens on three sides of the room is probably the best summation of a life well lived that I've ever seen. It incorporates everything from Leonard on his little tricycle to the last interview from "You
Want it Darker." I watched it twice in Montreal and it still evoked tears in NYC.

One of the guilty pleasures that we indulged in was the room with Leonard's drawings (most from Mumbai)-there were many we had not seen before. We sat there for almost a half hour to see them all.

The reviewer's summation of the Candice Breitz exhibit was the most off. It was a brilliant capture of fandom while also highlighting the greatness of the album-the Synagogue choir alone with their background vocals deconstructed the songs while at the same time evincing the humorous heart and deeply sacred soul of this wonderful, I guess "Come Back" album.

Anne & I, hopefully will see it again-perhaps in San Francisco. Anne & I still haven't done the Depression Chamber and we really haven't listened to the covers.

If you can see it, don't let this negative review prevent you from going.
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Re: Review of Jewish Museum Show A Crack in Everything

Postby rike » Mon Apr 22, 2019 9:27 pm

LIsa wrote: I got this far in that review: "It’s true, his deep voice and monotonous melodies can begin to grate. But when you tire of Cohen’s music, there is still the idea of him ... to fall back on.
"Seriously? Anybody who thinks that about Leonard Cohen is not someone who's opinion matters to me."

Absolutely agree with you, Lisa. I hope to see the exhibit once it comes to a city close to me.
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Re: Review of Jewish Museum Show A Crack in Everything

Postby its4inthemorning » Mon Apr 22, 2019 9:40 pm

So here we have two options for determining whether to visit the exhibit in New York:

(A) Rely on thoughtful posts by folks who viewed the exhibit in Montreal not as a work assignment, but to revisit and reconnect with someone who touched their lives.

(B) Rely on a professional reviewer from the same elite group that has been so wrong about Leonard and his work on so many levels for so many years.
2010 DECEMBER 10 - CAESARS COLOSSEUM, LAS VEGAS / 2012 SEPTEMBER 28 - L'OLYMPIA, PARIS
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2013 APRIL 6 - RADIO CITY MUSIC HALL, NEW YORK CITY / 2013 JULY 9 - PIAZZA NAPOLEONE, LUCCA
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Re: Review of Jewish Museum Show A Crack in Everything

Postby ddanyc » Tue Apr 30, 2019 6:43 am

After seeing the show a week ago, I am afraid that the Washington Post review is more accurate than not. While the video installations are quite enjoyable (not least the Last Tourist in Havana), the rest of the exhibition feels gimmicky and pointless. A communal humming of Hallelujah? Sitting in an uncomfortable room to listen to covers that you could listen to at home? A keyboard that plays random poetry readings? This is not compelling material.

Those who saw the exhibit in Montreal should note that (a) several pieces of the exhibit did not travel to NYC and (b) the Jewish Museum, which is housed in the original Warburg Mansion, is not really a great venue for a multimedia exhibit, certainly not in comparison to the MAC. For example, viewing the fine three-screen video montage will require 55 minutes of standing or sitting on a most uncomfortable floor.

A tip for those seeing the exhibit in New York: The Jewish Museum is free on Saturdays.
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Re: Review of Jewish Museum Show A Crack in Everything

Postby mutti » Wed May 01, 2019 3:51 am

A keyboard that plays random poetry readings. This is not compelling material.
The random poetry readings are read by Leonard himself and are all from the Book of Longing! Now that he is gone hearing his voice out of the blue after pressing a piano key was so special...to me.
We are all different and yes maybe the venue makes a difference as you say.
I also loved seeing the huge screen of Leonard at different stages in his life singing some of the same songs.
We each have our own tastes and that is good. I for one am looking forward to seeing it in San Francisco.
8)
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Re: Review of Jewish Museum Show A Crack in Everything

Postby oldfriend28 » Wed May 01, 2019 8:08 am

Thank you for your positive report, Mutti.
:)
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Re: Review of Jewish Museum Show A Crack in Everything

Postby sebmelmoth2003 » Wed May 01, 2019 11:32 am

from the financial times - arts section.

Leonard Cohen at New York’s Jewish Museum is an engrossing but often vexing hagiography

‘A Crack in Everything’ is less about the artist than the adoration he inspires

Ariella Budick

April 25, 2019

Take your smartphone to the Leonard Cohen exhibition at New York’s Jewish Museum — you’ll need it if you’re not the kind of fan who knows his entire catalogue by heart.

Cohen’s fissured voice emanates from speakers as he reads his poetry, murmurs his songs, or shares his thoughts in deadpan interviews. But if you want a more comprehensive picture of the Canadian bard and his decades-long career than these fragments provide, you’ll have to root around online (or in Sylvie Simmons’ excellent biography, I’m Your Man).

The museum’s engrossing and often vexing hagiography, Leonard Cohen: A Crack in Everything, presents both too much and too little of its subject. Organised by Cohen’s hometown institution, Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, it has works commissioned from a slew of devoted artists, from multichannel mash-ups to a participatory humming experience. (“Mmmnh” into one of the gallery microphones, or into your laptop anywhere to join the one-world fun.)Kara Blake’s “The Offerings”, culled from archival material, has Cohen speaking about deep things on five screens at once.

George Fok’s hour-long “Passing Through” knits together live performances through the decades. We hear “Suzanne” evolve from a young troubadour’s resonant supplication to an old man’s despondent rasp. The sound either grows on you or drives you bananas.

The man certainly knew his audience. In advance of his 1961 volume The Spice-Box of Earth, he pinpointed his target demographic in a letter to his publisher: “I want an audience of inner-directed adolescents, lovers in all degrees of anguish, disappointed Platonists, pornography-peepers, hair-handed monks and Popists, French-Canadian intellectuals, unpublished writers, curious musicians etc, all that holy following of my Art.” That final capitalisation was revealing, the description of his devotees prescient and shrewd.Born in Montreal in 1934 to upper-crust Jewish parents, Cohen was a literary prodigy, publishing his first book of poems, Let Us Compare Mythologies, in 1956 while he was still an undergraduate at McGill University. He drifted to New York and London, and in the mid-1960s washed ashore on the Greek island of Hydra.

His creativity flourished amid the sun-scraped houses, as did his singular blend of asceticism and voluptuousness. He would fast for days, basking in self-induced hallucinations. Or, in more Dionysian moods, he indulged in drugs and muses.Amphetamines fuelled his novel Beautiful Losers, which mixed piety and profanity, the arcane and the obscene. Published in Canada in 1966, it met with memorable disdain. The Globe and Mail described it as “verbal masturbation”; the Star, under the headline “Leonard Cohen’s nightmare novel”, slammed it as a “book of ravings”, adding that it was “the most revolting book ever written in Canada”. Sales were poor.

Desperate for funds (and approval), Cohen reinvented himself as a singer-songwriter. Bob Dylan had opened the door for a gravel-throated prophet handy with a guitar and a metaphor, and Cohen eagerly stepped through. His first album in 1967 gave him stardom, even though, at 33, he was older and squarer than his peers. (Britons embraced him quickly, but his despondent vibe was a harder sell in the US.)He nurtured no qualms about turning pain into pay.

A TV interviewer (documented in Blake’s “The Offerings”) asks him: “What happens to your own personal anguish when you see it spread across the country and you know you’re making money from it?”“Well,” Cohen answered, “if you can sell your anguish, then you’ve probably done one of the best possible things you can do with anguish.”The Jewish Museum focuses heavily on the early years. Christophe Chassol, in his video “Cuba in Cohen”, investigates a bizarre episode from 1961, when the poet snuck off to Havana, grew a beard and dressed as a revolutionary soldier.

He was present on the day of the Bay of Pigs invasion, for reasons even he never quite understood — he was, he quipped, “fighting on both sides” — and he barely made it out alive. Chassol chops up a clip of Cohen reading his poem “The Only Tourist in Havana”, computer-processes the recitation into a melody of sorts, and haloes it with back-up vocals, thereby sapping the words of all meaning.The verse receives more loving treatment from Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller, who have built an interactive “Poetry Machine” out of a vintage Wurlitzer organ, an array of old speakers and a gramophone horn.

Touch middle C, and Cohen incants a poem from his 2006 volume The Book of Longing. Press a different key, and he reads a different page. Strike a chord, and Cohen’s priestly baritone pours from many speakers, a polyphony of one.

The piece captures the show’s kaleidoscope aesthetic. Throughout the museum, the loner with a guitar gets fragmented and multiplied into a crowd of Cohens. One large gallery cycles through cover versions that pay homage to his sincere monotone with synthy drones and lugubrious chants. When the Canadian singer-songwriter Ariane Moffatt sings “Famous Blue Raincoat” she makes an already depressive tune sound downright catatonic.

Exhibitions crammed with this much music and video often devolve into jangling cacophony; here, each installation comes swaddled in copious amounts of foam, keeping it acoustically separate. That sense of intimate connection with an onscreen presence culminates in Ari Folman’s “Depression Chamber”, which accommodates one person for a private communion with “Famous Blue Raincoat” (again!). You lie on a couch in a darkened room filled with Cohen’s godlike rumble.

Lyrics dance across the wall and decompose into a cloud of letters and symbols, gradually reforming into a pixelated image of the man himself.A Crack in Everything is really less about Cohen the artist than the adoration he inspires, which can be infectious. The show’s warm heart is Candice Breitz’s “I’m Your Man”, a video installation in which Cohen fans, all males of a certain age, croak, croon and growl numbers from his 1988 comeback album.

It’s touching to see all these men, on separate channels and separate screens, backed by a synagogue choir, share their love for this music.

To September 8, thejewishmuseum.org


reviewer's twitter account : https://twitter.com/ariellabudick?lang=en
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Re: Review of Jewish Museum Show A Crack in Everything

Postby anneporter » Wed May 01, 2019 1:08 pm

I am compelled to add my voice to the chorus of praise: I spent many, many hours at the MAC in November 2017 and would have gone back every week or every day if I lived in Montreal. I lay in the Depression Chamber at least 10 times: paradoxically, one of the most uplifting experiences of my life. And I can still tune in to the acoustic memory of the voices from around the world humming Hallelujah in the “ Daily Tous les Jours” installation. But the high point had to be Candice Breitz’s work “I’m Your Man”. I watched and listened to the album all the way through at least 10 times also: sometimes from within the round room surrounded by the lifesize videos of the fans singing their hearts out; sometimes from the antechamber watching Gideon Zelermayer and the Shaar Hashomayim choir singing those exquisite high harmonies; and sometimes from a small room nearby where Leonard self- portraits were flitting across a screen. Time well-spent indeed!
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Re: Review of Jewish Museum Show A Crack in Everything

Postby LisaLCFan » Wed May 01, 2019 5:24 pm

Perhaps, for those people who don't "get" this exhibition, it might be useful to remind them of the original intent of the MAC exhibition, in order to clarify what it is and what it is not. Here is a description from one of the first news releases on the project:

"A life's work revisited through contemporary art: A truly multidisciplinary exhibition combining visual art, virtual reality, installations, performances, music and writing, Leonard Cohen – Une brèche en toute chose / A Crack in Everything offers the public a collection of brand-new work commissioned from and created by local and international artists who have been inspired by Leonard Cohen's style and recurring themes."

And, here is a quote from John Zeppetelli, Director and Chief Curator of the MAC:

"When we came up with the idea for this exhibition, we went to seek the agreement of Leonard Cohen, who was thrilled with the project and the angle we were proposing. It was important for him that this exhibit would not be of a biographical nature. From the start, the project was thought as a contemporary artistic exploration of a life's work, and in that sense, he was thrilled to be able to inspire other artists through his art. It has also become a tribute to this global star. "

As with any exhibition of contemporary art, some of it may not be to everyone's tastes, and/or some of it may be puzzling (to some), but there will usually be quite a variety, reflecting the creative visions of the contributing artists. That is the nature of art, and of contemporary art in particular. Perhaps those who find this exhibition puzzling might try to visit another contemporary art exhibit, to see the types of works often represented, and then it might make more sense, or at least, it will provide a broader context for what contemporary art is.
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Re: Review of Jewish Museum Show A Crack in Everything

Postby tvrec » Fri Aug 09, 2019 8:19 pm

This week's podcast of Studio360 has a segment on the NYC installation of the show. A brief write up, some pictures, and the audio download can be found at the following link:
https://www.pri.org/stories/2019-08-08/ ... uiet-power

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