Darla Villani / multidisciplinary artist nyc

Photo: Dante & Darla Villani

Where do you find your Father?

Have you ever visited the Four Freedoms Park on Roosevelt Island, NYC?
I did a few weeks ago, for the very first time. I had no idea what to expect and I’d never thought it would lead me into such a deep and beautiful story. 

Architect Louis I. Kahn conceived the Four Freedoms Park forty years ago. 
It’s his only work in New York City, celebrating the life of Franklin D. Roosevelt and his vision of a world founded on freedom of speech and expression, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear. This declaration was originally pronounced in President Roosevelt’s famous January 6, 1941 State of the Union speech.

The space is pristine, bucolic and metaphysical all at once. Kahn has designed beyond sculpture and beyond architecture. This is a spiritual space, it is harmonic. It is uplifting, it holds you up. Kahn’s reach to that higher ground is explicit and invisible. It is a deep search.

Photo: Alexisrael (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

My Architect is a documentary made by Kahn’s son Nathaniel
Twenty five years after his father’s death, Nathaniel embarks on a global trek to five of his father’s architectural creations. His mission - to attain a deeper understanding of him as a man and as a father. 

His encounter with the Jativo Sangsad Bhaban (The National Assembly Building of Bangladesh) is nothing less than astonishing. This building, one of the largest legislative complexes in the world was conceived in 1959 and completed in 1983, and was built mostly by hand. It is a mind bending feat of conception, execution and some divine alignment of the cosmos.

Photo: Nathanial Kahn

To witness Nathaniel’s reunion with his father in this form - the conference with the massive exterior and the tender speed and movement of the interior spaces is a powerful and oddly, shared experience. It shakes you. You feel your own ghosts coming over the border. You retrace floor plans, pathways and stairs. Interior maps rise up out of your own personal Atlantis.

Maps & Letters
In some strange way these buildings are letters strewn all over the world waiting for a son to read them. What a wonder to observe this transmission and communication - Nathaniel and Louis’s own language. What a beautiful communion of space, a reunion of physical structure, a brilliant reconstruction of home in the deepest sense. 

Where do you find your Father? 
I rediscover my father, Dante whenever I’m pressing myself into a new technique, system or learning curve – there is a thread of him inside the process of repetition, inside a deep hyper focus, a fragile disassociation. It’s in the few seconds that follow that rigor that I sense him - in that space of stillness. Meet Dante here.

Have a deeper look- watch these:

Nathanial Kahn encounters the Jativo Sangsad Bhaban / 10 min
My Architect - full documentary on Vimeo / 116 min 

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What I have written—and how I came to write it—is most powerfully what I am.


 Hortense Calisher


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(Source: theparisreview)

“Nothing is a mistake. There’s no win and no fail, there’s only make.”

- John Cage

image: John Cage, 49 Waltzes for the Five Boroughs

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Track: Crescent Beach, Maine
Artist / Band: Atlantic Ocean & My Iphone

Message in a bottle.

Ocean, sky, waves and time.


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For all of us, lost and found.

image: Yoko Ono


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The School Of Echoes.

by darla villani
(for web view click right arrow to scroll images)

The Domino Sugar Factory sat into the edge of Williamsburg’s waterfront like a man on death row.
It was built by the Havemeyer family in 1856, and by 1870 it was refining more than half of the sugar consumed in the United States, producing over 1,200 tons a day, ships delivered tons of cane sugar from all over the world to its Brooklyn port.
Look at it now, sitting high above the East River, it’s own abandoned civilization - now repurposed to collaborate with Kara Walker.

The work is entitled;
"Kara Walker - A Subtlety or the Marvelous Sugar Baby an Homage to the unpaid and overworked Artisans who have refined our Sweet tastes from the cane fields to the Kitchens of the New World on the Occasion of the demolition of the Domino Sugar Refining Plant"

What are the echoes of a monument erected, what are the echoes of a monument destroyed?
These were some of the frequencies that snaked between feet, that pulled and crashed history through the cavernous stadium interior, through memory, through bodies. These force fields initiated constant perceptual shifts to the matrix of histories initiated by Walker, the factory, countless ghosts and thousands of visitors that engaged in the event.

A mass work of metaphysical and subconscious choreography, it’s vivid flux kept the role of my participation and perception in flurries of reconfiguration.
The factory and Walker engineered a work that kept recasting space, place, testimony and witness.

In some pockets the atmosphere was rendered disturbingly “Disney” by visitors, in others it was a cathedral, aesthetic acquisition, a holy field, iPhone porn.
Could have been a check point for the gates of heaven, a holding tank for hell, the (un)promised land. White sugar becomes a mirror.  

It’s known that the walls, floors and these sculptures have a very short shelf life here. There’s the shimmer of a funeral, there is an urgency to consume the space, to catalogue each visible thing. All is soon to be demolished, another re-enacted violence, another acquisition for the real estate revolution of Brooklyn. The workers, the workers, the workers. But, for now the space swells in preparation, gains speed and power.

The penetration of sugar or the revenge of sugar?
You breathed it in, it got into your skin. It was the Ash Wednesday of sugar and all visitors were marked.
The factory exhales a century of tainted sugar - you move through it - by the time you leave it’s written on the inside of the body.
Memory and subconscious are highlighted with the neon of - the trafficking, the trade, the murders.
The walls of the factory bled a dark raisin molasses, one hundred years of sugar.
The workers, the workers, the workers.

Look at her. In white.
She is a vessel, a teleport, a warning, The Intrepid. A visitation from the future. She is too vast for language.
The sugar boys - gentle, fierce, her loyal gatekeepers. They scan each visitor, gather data, demonstrate silent confrontations and deliver blessings.
You could feel it, you watched it happen.

Plantation labor - Industrial labor. The labor of women and of children.
Stories pressed out of the walls of the factory, there was silent testimony everywhere. There were things to learn everywhere.
Eyes dart up, and a crowd is corralling her. Looked like a still from King Kong that switched to Mary Shelley and I feel nauseous that I’m taking pictures, that I’m participating in this reacquisition. I exile myself and sit on the sidelines and try to follow this massive equation spinning and rolling in all directions.

The workers, the workers, the workers.

Notes on images:
I still feel ambivalent about posting these images. Perhaps this piece is now casting me as a perpetuator of false claims to authorship attached to the idea that these images are “mine”. The experience has evoked major reflection of the machine of acquisition and the repurposing of others suffering as aesthetic fodder.

"Kara Walker - A Subtlety or the Marvelous Sugar Baby an Homage to the unpaid and overworked Artisans who have refined our Sweet tastes from the cane fields to the Kitchens of the New World on the Occasion of the demolition of the Domino Sugar Refining Plant" is now closed.
More about the project - read on, watch.

The Domino Sugar Factory is being demolished for a 35 story waterfront luxury property.
Read on: Remembering the workers of the Domino Sugar Factory

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"Crown Publishing, a division Penguin Random House, has a new program to make it easier for online book reviewers to get their hands on the company’s latest releases. Blogging for Books allows reviewers to register and receive complimentary copies of Crown Publishing titles in exchange for their honest review. The site currently has over two million books in its collection.The program is open to reviewers who have an active blog, as well as to librarians, booksellers and media outlets.”

Read on.



Giorgio Morandi, my favorite metaphysical painter. 

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Wave Hill’s Visual Arts Program presents the work of contemporary artists who explore the dynamic relationship between nature, culture and site through exhibitions in Glyndor Gallery and the Sunroom Project Space, and through the Winter Workspace Program and generated@wavehill. 

Wave Hill administers two Visual Artist Fellowships on behalf of the Edward and Sally Van Lier Fund of the New York Community Trust. This one-year fellowship is open to New York City-based artists, who are 30 years of age or younger and are not currently enrolled in a degree-granting program. The fellowship provides emerging artists from culturally diverse backgrounds and underserved communities valuable mentorship and exhibition opportunities, including learning from the curatorial staff about the creation and interpretation of exhibitions and arts programming and working with artists and arts professionals to define career paths over the course of the program (January–December 2015). 



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Werner Herzog in Conversation 

"If I had to climb into hell and wrestle the devil himself for one of my films, I would do it."

—Werner Herzog

Be excited. Be very, very excited.
Thursday, Sep 4, 2014 @ 8:00 pm
Peter Jay Sharp Building / BAM Howard Gilman Opera House
RUN TIME: Approx 90min
TICKETS START AT  $25 / Read on.


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Incredible Tiny Books By The Brontës 

Inside the life of these teeny books, Charlotte and Branwell Brontë create fantasy worlds and big adventure.

"In 1829-30, Charlotte Brontë was 13 and her brother Branwell Brontë 12. Creating fantasy worlds they called Angria and Glass Town, the siblings made teeny tiny books. 

Measuring less than 1 inch by 2 inches, the books were made from scraps of paper and constructed by hand.”

Read on.

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Nine Literary Magazines for New and Unpublished Writers

"Seeing your work in print for the first time is a unique thrill. But it can feel like a daunting task to submit your writing to a magazine or journal when you nobody other than friends and family has ever read it. To make the process somewhat less scary, here are 9 literary magazines that welcome submissions from new and never before published writers."

 Read on.

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Bjork Retrospective at MOMA. 

Corporate Art.

by darla villani

I’ve been a fan of Bjork since The Sugar Cubes and if you have too, you’ll agree that her artistry and talent is truly vast and unmatched in her field. Bjork’s body of work is rich and poetic and undoubtedly and undeniably her own voice. 

The Museum of Modern Art announced that it will present a full-scale retrospective dedicated to the artist Björk in 2015. (press release)

Still basking in the success of Marina Abramovic’s "The Artist is Present," MOMA is resetting their lens on generating another smash show, this time sponsored by Volkswagon. 

There is also a major expansion on the horizon. Despite rigorous protest from the architectural world, MOMA is tearing down The American Folk Museum to expand their facilities.

Is there a major corporation that would fully embrace and stand behind Kara Walker's sublime work?

On the heels of her incredible installation, “A Subtlety or the Marvelous Sugar Baby an Homage to the unpaid and overworked Artisans who have refined our Sweet tastes from the cane fields to the Kitchens of the New World on the Occasion of the demolition of the Domino Sugar Refining Plant,” …a retrospective, an opportunity for context, an opportunity to learn more about the power and message of her work would be at base, extraordinary.

Almighty dollar.

Go See; Walker’s installation at The Domino Sugar Factory (thru July 6)

Read: Walker’s interview with The Brooklyn Rail.


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NEIL GREENBURG IS TEACHING @ Movement Research July 14 - 18 2014

Moving and Dancing: Some Strategies  
July 14 - 18 @ Movement Research / 10am-12pm $120

Class will begin by working with information from different somatic approaches, considering body systems in addition to, and in conjunction with, the skeletal/muscular model. Warming up will be a goal here-call this the “technique” focus. We’ll follow this with directed improvisation and full out dancing, working with ideas from my recent dances as springboards: notions of the “queer” and avoidance of censorship;using embarrassment as a fulcrum; and (like a vase) scores that examine the notion of speech metaphors in relation to dance, and/or propose an alternative exploration of the “isness” of the performance moment. Register here and get to class.

 Neil Greenberg: Merce Cunningham Dance Company 1979-86; Dance By Neil Greenberg 1986 - present; Dance faculty - Eugene Lang College, The New School of Liberal Arts (currently), UC Riverside, Purchase College and Sarah Lawrence College (previously); Dance Curator, The Kitchen 1995-99; Fellowships from Guggenheim Foundation, NEA, NYFA, FCA, among other awards; “Bessies” for Not-About-AIDS-Dance (1994) and Partial View (2005); recent projects: Really Queer Dance With Harps (2008) and (like a vase) (2010); upcoming new production at NYLA, December 6-9; influenced by somatic approaches such as Klein Technique™ (studied with Barbara Mahler and Susan Klein) and Body-Mind Centering® (studied with RoseAnne Spradlin). www.neilgreenberg.org 

Register here and get to class.


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