Barrett Barrera Projects Team Recommendations for the Month of April
The Barrett Barrera Projects team rounded up some of their favorite ways to spend time while at home recently and are sharing them with you! Stay tuned for more recommendations each month.
Susan Barrett, President
Dapper Dan: Made in Harlem: A Memoir (2019), a memoir by Daniel (Dapper Dan) Day
I believe that in the future we will artistically understand the 1970’s as the Age of Hip Hop just as we now understand the Renaissance. The Renaissance defined a new level of understanding artistically and culturally. Growing up alongside technology, Hip Hop has done the same. And the fashion DaVinci of Hip Hop is Dapper Dan. Dapper Dan re-appropriated brands and labels creating not only a new fashion, but creating a new identity. I was able to meet Dap last Fall through a series of finely orchestrated events. And to read his biography after knowing him a little is humbling. This is a story of growth, self-awareness and redemption. His is a story of optimism and inspiration.
Kelly Peck, Vice President
Grey Gardens (1975), a documentary by David Maysles
I really love documentaries that center on people in extraordinary circumstance. This particular film, in which a mother and daughter live amidst the chaos of their formerly well-to-do lives in an East Hampton home overgrown and in decay, foreshadows so much of our modern consumption of reality personalities and taste for the plight of others. Perhaps it is the extra time in my home due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the idea of what could happen if we all just got a little too comfortable shuttering in and embracing chaos that made it a timely choice for me. Of course, the flamboyance of Grey Gardens is not so far from Netflix’s The Tiger King (which I also recently watched with the rest of America) and I found the main characters in both to be in self-created worlds of delusional grandiosity but simultaneously desperate for approval. These sort of characters are exactly what I love about well-done documentary-style films.
Bridget Melloy, Senior Director, projects+gallery
The Newsroom (2012-2014), a television series written by Aaron Sorkin
This fall over my maternity leave I watched all of the political drama The West Wing and because 7 seasons of Sorkin writing was not enough, I have been loving this 2012-2104 show The Newsroom. The show stars Jeff Daniels and Emily Mortimer. It is about a team of passionate TV journalists putting together an evening cable news show. While the show is about a fictitious television network, the Atlantis Cable News, the plots of the episodes revolve around real news events including the killing of Osama Bin Laden, the Boston Marathon bombing and the Deepwater oil spill. The frosting on the cake is the great character development of Will, MacKenzie and the supporting cast that has you rooting for their success.
Jessica Baran, Director of Curatorial & Program Development
Berlin Alexanderplatz (1980), a miniseries directed by Rainer Werner Fassbinder
In the words of the late, great John Prine, “blow up your TV.” I’m at a point where, like many I’m sure, I want to do just that, having consumed so much televisual noise in an effort to drown out this moment that it all now feels like one exasperating howl. So, what’s felt right: Berlin Alexanderplatz, Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s exquisitely weird 1980 adaptation of Alfred Doblin’s modernist novel. This 15-hour miniseries, originally aired on West German television, follows the alternately despicable and operatic plight of the low-life everyman Franz Biberkopf as he navigates the hedonism and desperation of Weimar Germany between world wars and amidst the rise of the Nazi party. Aside from its political parallels, its embodiment of time fits this moment — languid shots of Franz staring out of decrepit apartment windows, observing the banal machinations of his neighbors before and after falling for every short-sighted scheme presented to him. There are no cliff-hangers, no active forward thrust — I’m not even sure one could describe the story as having a conventional plot. Rather, an entire episode may be overlain with, say, a single plaintive piano score, making all the dialogue (of which there’s a lot) and action (if you could call it that), feel unified — like the way these days, our days, feel suddenly indistinguishable from one another. I guess I’m comforted by this pacing, this unflinching realism that’s also arch and theatrical, this intense focus on a small life that would otherwise be perceived as disposable, unremarkable, and certainly never something to make a TV series about.
Nic Cherry, Director of Facilities & Logistics
Church of Scars (2018), studio album by Bishop Briggs
Although her sophomore album Champion is much more recent, the vinyl found spinning on my record table during this house shuttered social distancing era we’re in is Bishop Briggs’ debut album Church of Scars. Bishop straddles the line of confessional singer-songwriter and beats driven pop chanteuse, a welcome fusion that is not only approachable, but deeply cathartic. The driving rhythms help give me the energy I need to get through another day, while her too honest lyrics offer some strength. Standout tracks for me, since seeing her perform the album live in 2018 at Marathon Music Works in Nashville, are “River,” “White Flag,” and the ear worm inducing “Hi-lo (Hollow).” Church of Scars is sonically rich and full of vulnerable anthems with grounding percussion, also highlighting how strength comes from sharing our vulnerabilities so we don’t feel so alone- a reminder we all need these days.
Claire Grothe, Research & Systems Manager
College Behind Bars (2019), documentary directed by Lynn Novick
While in quarantine, I’ve been catching up on everything I’ve been meaning to watch on our streaming services! College Behind Bars profiles New York prisoners who are studying for Associate and Bachelor degrees through the Bard Prison Initiative. The students they follow are incredible, and it’s fascinating to see how their experiences in prison affect their view of the coursework, and how the education process inspires their plans for themselves and their future. Plus, in a time when we’re all feeling a little constricted and deprived, it’s a great reminder of the privileges I’ve had (and continue to have)–educational and professional opportunities, cultural enrichment, and (at least when we’re not living through a pandemic) the ability simply to go where I want.
Eric Repice, Preparator
Love (2016–), created by Judd Apatow, Lesley Arfin, and Paul Rust
I have not been watching a lot of television while sheltering-in-place because I have mostly been listening to music while working on paintings. However, Love is a series I have been re-watching after having binged it a couple of times previously. It’s kind of like comfort food—the grilled cheese and tomato soup of shows for me. I really enjoy when the quirky main character Gus and his friends hang out and compose and perform theme songs for movies that don’t have theme songs. The Perfect Storm, Carlito’s Way, and While You Were Sleeping to name a few. Music bonds the group and it’s fun and silly. There is also a scene at a house party where Gus and others do a hilariously campy version of Paul McCartney’s “Jet.”
Margaret Sherer, Associate Curator, projects+gallery
Annihilation (2018), directed by Alex Garland
In lieu of the love worn TV sitcoms and serial dramas I usually fall back on when I’m tired of endlessly browsing the streaming options, recently I decided to commit to a full feature-length film that had piqued my interest when it first was released a couple of years ago, but that I had never gotten around to seeing. Annihilation falls within the sci-fi genre, but also rejects a strict classification as such. The film follows a biologist named Lena (Portman) and a team of 3 other women as they breach the confines of ‘The Shimmer,’ a phenomenon that surrounds an area of land after what appeared to be a meteor crashed into a lighthouse nearby. Initially a relatively straightforward plot line, the narrative structure quickly fractures and at times loses almost all coherence, but as we explore the fever dream of The Shimmer further the journey becomes more exhilarating than confusing, leaving the viewer with a multitude of questions and possible conclusions to draw. CGI-enhanced scenery sets the disorienting tone throughout the film, transfiguring a familiar coastal woodland into an alien world of genetic aberration, fraught with danger but simultaneously captivating.
Kasper Woldtvedt, Project Manager
Life (2010), a memoir by Keith Richards
I’m not much of a reader, but music, that’s my thing and The Rolling Stones, they’re my favorite. So, I read Life, by Keith Richards. Long book, but I actually finished it. Full transparency, via Audible—but hey, you’ve got to find what works for you. Life gives detailed back stories of the resulting songs that have become ingrained in the fabric of our culture. And while Richards opens up about love and loss romantically, he concurrently explores the relationship with his true love, music and life on the road. Sex, Drugs and Rock ‘N’ Roll have taken on a new meaning for me. This autobiography took an icon off of an unattainable pedestal, grounding Keith Richards to offer me a level of relativity that was inspiring and motivating.