Alejandro Almanza Pereda’s Escape Plan


Our third and, sadly, final New York Close Up film on artist Alejandro Almanza Pereda premieres today. Though the urge to make Return of the Jedi references was very hard to resist, we fully embraced another, slightly more obscure piece of pop culture: John Carpenter’s 1981 classic Escape From New York. Check out the full video to see what I mean:

WATCH: Alejandro Almanza Escapes from New York

And even though this episode’s a bit longer than the norm, as usual there’s some great stuff we couldn’t include. In particular the sometimes tortured backstory behind Alejandro’s underwater photography project that’s highlighted in the film.  Dramatic above-water highs alternate with equally dramatic under-the-surface lows. It would have made a great extreme sports movie; but, alas, we’ll have to make due with a choice selection of photos and interview material.


Alejandro Almanza Pereda setting up a camera in his Hunter College studio (Manhattan, 12.21.15).  Production still from the series ART21 New York Close Up. © ART21, Inc. 2015. Cinematography by Andrew Whitlatch.

ALEJANDRO ALMANZA PEREDA: I had an idea of this project back in 2007. I was in Mexico City at the time.  I got a grant for making underwater sculpture from the National Fund for the Arts in Mexico. My idea was to just to kinda experiment with materials and objects underwater and to see how they behave and create these kinda structures. Like my older work, kinda counterbalancing [objects], but in a different environment.

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If You Happen To Be In Lisbon


We’re proud to announce that Temps d’Images Premios de Cinema para Filmes Sobre Arte – a Lisbon-based film festival – will be screening a couple of New York Close Up episodes in the next couple of days.  Louise Despont Draws Deep on November 13, and Bryan Zanisnik Keeps It in the Family on November 14. We’d love to say we’ll see you there but  . . . . we’re a little too busy here at Art21 HQ in New York City. Be on the lookout for new films on artists Erin Shirreff, Bryan Zanisnik, and Danny Gordon in the coming months.

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Abigail DeVille’s Midsummer Update


Quick note to all our friends up north. Project artist Abigail DeVille has been busy lately, creating the totally immersive, totally Mad Max-ian set design. Peep the above pic. It’s for a production of “A Midsummer’s Night Dream,” part of the very big deal Stratford Shakespeare Festival in Stratford, Ontario Canada. It premieres July 24 and runs thru September 20. Peter Sellars directs, collaborator Charlotte Brathwaite is also involved, and it’s gonna be staged in a local Masonic Hall. Need we say more? (Abigail’s definitely stepped it up since constructing the set for a Brooklyn-based production of Adrienne Kennedy’s “She Talks to Beethoven” back in early 2014; that work was featured on our first film with her.)

Quick note to all our friends closer to home. Abigail’s currently got some big and super-trashy and very beautiful sculptures at the Studio Museum in Harlem. It’s part of the “Material Histories” exhibit, this year’s edition of the annual Artist in Residence show. That runs thru October 26.

Photograph courtesy Stratford Shakespeare Festival, 2014.

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Row Row Row Your Boat to Governors Island


This Sunday, June 29th from 4:30 to 6pm, ART21 is screening seven films at LMCC’s Arts Center as part of the River to River Festival. Artists Mary Mattingly, Jacolby Satterwhite, and Bryan Zanisnik will be in attendance for a post-screening discussion with Melissa Levin, Director of Cultural Programs for the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, and New York Close Up co-creator Nick Ravich. Films about additional artists include Martha Colburn, LaToya Ruby Frazier, Liz Magic Laser, and Shana Moulton. Best of all, the event is FREE and takes place on scenic, summery Governors Island.

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May “The Six-Sided Force” Be With You


Opening this Sunday from 5-8pm and on view through August 2014, Louise Despont’s exhibition The Six-Sided Force at Pioneer Works in Red Hook, Brooklyn, includes many of the works featured in the New York Close Up film Louise Despont Draws Deep. This show is buzzing with good vibes. ART21 has been documenting the installation, and we plan to check out a few of the upcoming events associated with the exhibition, such as “Herbal Remedies for Honey Bees” and “Sacred Geometry and the Architecture of Well-Being” Hope to see you there!

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