Monday, September 19, 2011

Upcoming Observatory Events This September

19th century-inspired immersive amusements at Coney Island! Kraftwerk multi-media presentation! Erotic Death in Victorian Art and Fashion! Hope to see you at one or more of these great upcoming Observatory events.

The Making of a 19th Century Spectacle: Artist Talk at The Coney Island Museum
Date: Thursday, September 22
Time: 7:30 PM
Admission: $5
Presented by Morbid Anatomy and The Coney Island Museum
***Location: Off-site at The Coney Island Museum (1208 Surf Avenue, Brooklyn)

On an average day in Coney Island around 1900, a visitor might be able to experience: A midget village modeled on 16th century Nuremberg and featuring its own parliament, hotel, stables with midget ponies, vaudeville house, and midget fire department rushing off to put out imaginary fires; A recreation of the destruction of Pompeii by volcano, San Francisco by earthquake, Galveston by flood, and/or Titanic by iceberg; A recreation village of the head-hunting Bontac Tribe of the Philippines with real tribes-people on display; An immersive spectacular which staged tenement fires every half hour and featured a cast of 2,000; A Boer War reenactment featuring real Boer War veterans; A trip to the moon, under the sea, or to heaven and hell by way of being buried alive in a glass coffin; and, as they say, much, much more.

In the exhibition The Great Coney Island Spectacularium, Observatory's Joanna Ebenstein and artist Aaron Beebe seek--via installation, artifacts, and newly commissioned artworks--to explore, celebrate, and evoke turn of the 20th Century Coney Island as the pinnacle of pre-cinematic immersive and spectacular amusement. The centerpiece of the exhibition is The Cosmorama of the Great Dreamland Fire, an immersive 360 degree spectacle based on the great panoramas and cosmoramas that populated Coney Island in the 19th century. It tells the story--in an immersive blend of image, sound, and light--of the most spectacular disaster in Coney Island history: the complete and dramatic destruction of Dreamland, one of the three great parks that made up turn of the century Coney Island, by fire 100 years ago in 1911. Dreamland was never rebuilt, but had it been, Ebenstein and Beebe are certain it would have given pride of place to a disaster spectacle that allowed visitors to experience the great fire that had once destroyed it. The Cosmorama of the Great Dreamland Fire is their attempt to create this attraction that should have been, and to allow contemporary audiences to experience a 19th century-style immersive spectacle of the sort celebrated in the exhibition.

This Thursday September 22, the crew behind the conception and construction--which include Observatory's Joanna Ebenstein and Wythe Marschall as well as sound engineers, scenic painters, lighting designers, and artisans from the Metropolitan Opera and other institutions--will be on hand at The Coney Island Museum to discuss the making of the piece, answer your questions, and lead guided tours of the exhibition.

World of Kraftwerk: A Journey In Music
Multimedia presentation with musician and writer Stephen Vesecky
Date: Friday, September 23
Time: 8:00 PM
Admission: $5
Presented by Morbid Anatomy

The Autobahn; The Man Machine; The Model. Rising from the ruins of post-war Germany, Kraftwerk created a new artform of sound and light, drawing not on the dominant American culture, but instead looking back to the utopian futurism of Fritz Lang and the Bauhaus architects. Defiant of the rock 'n' roll leviathan, they fashioned their own electronic instruments, with which they invented a new language for pop music. In so doing, they created a blueprint for the musical landscape that we see around us today; hip hop, synth pop, global dj culture, modern dance music--all were inspired by Kraftwerk's obsessive electronic poetry.

Tonight, join musician and writer Stephen Vesecky for a multimedia presentation celebrating and elucidating the unlikely but true story of this incredible band. Dr Maz of Mondo and DeLuxe will spin Kraftwerk-inspired records for the after-party.

Stephen Vesecky has played and toured with many new wave/indie bands including Poundsign, Mahogany, the Aisler's Set, and Still Flyin'. He now writes music for his current project, Strega, DJs at Lolita Bar in Manhattan and Bar Reis in Brooklyn, and creates music for soundtracks and promotional videos.

Erotic Death in Victorian Art and Fashion
An Illustrated Lecture with Professor Deborah Lutz
Date: Friday, September 30th
Time: 8:00 PM
Admission: $5
Presented by Morbid Anatomy

The Victorians had a different relationship to the dead body and dying than we do today. Painters in the late-Romantic style created beautiful men and women ravaged by death; they depicted dying as a moment of climax and aesthetic perfection. Locks of hair were snipped from the corpse and woven into jewelry: a form of mourning that revered the body and its parts, even after death. Body-part stories told of the deep desire to possess the pieces of the famous dead. We will look at some of these paintings and objects, with a view toward recuperating this willingness to dwell with loss itself, to linger over the evidence of death’s presence woven into the texture of life.

Deborah Lutz is an Associate Professor at Long Island University, C.W. Post. Her first book—The Dangerous Lover: Gothic Villains, Byronism, and the Nineteenth-Century Seduction Narrative—traces a literary history of the erotic outcast. Her second book—Pleasure Bound: Victorian Sex Rebels and the New Eroticism—explores mid-Victorian sexual rebellion. She is currently working on a book about the materialism of Victorian death culture and “secular relics”: little things treasured because they belonged to the dead.

Image: Victorian hair plume palette work brooch with seed pearls and curled wire work, circa 1870. Found on the Morning Glory Antiques website.

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