Culture Vulture/Photo Diary: medical artwork at the Rubin Museum

July 24, 2015

(click photos to enlarge)

Last Friday Andy and I went to the Rubin Museum of Art for the screening in their Cabaret Cinema series of Jim Henson’s 1986 film Labyrinth, starring David Bowie, a very young Jennifer Connelly, and a million puppets. While milling around with the Friday night K-2 Lounge cocktail crowd and waiting for the movie theater door to open, we took the time to check out the exhibition downstairs of tangkas (Tibetan paintings) related to medical treatment. They’re very beautiful, intricately drawn and inscribed, and frank enough in their depiction of bodily functions to conjure comic books inspired by Hieronymous Bosch.

Take, for instance, this display of “Herbal and Animal Medications”:

7-17 herbal and animal meds tangka7-17 herbal and animal meds detail 17-17 herbal and animal meds detail 2
Other paintings (the equivalent of those anatomical posters doctors display in their examining rooms) focus on “Urinalysis: Demonic Possession and Divination,” “The Lesser Elixir of Rejuvenation and the Causes of Virility and Fertility,” and “Indications of Physical Decay and Dream Prognosis,” any one of which would make a great album title, don’t you think?

7-17 elegant pooping7-17 dream images7-17 animal droppings7-17 menstrual woes7-17 kissing fucking naked
The art exhibit turned out to be more engrossing than the film, sadly. For some reason, Andy thought it was going to be introduced by the team that created High Maintenance, a web series that we like very much, but the more logical speakers before the screening were Henson puppet masters Rollie Krewson and Connie Peterson, who shared their recollections about the technical challenges the film entailed. The movie itself and Bowie’s performance in particular seemed quite silly to me, but it did lead us to the discovery — Googling at home — that Bowie’s juggling double for the scenes with the crystal balls was none other than the magnificent Michael Moschen.

While we’re on the subject of underwhelming films, I’ll mention that I was looking forward to seeing Noah Baumbach’s While We’re Young because some reviews mentioned that the characters take part in an ayahuasca ceremony and I was curious to see if it would be handled respectfully or if it would be treated as some sort of trendy spiritual fad. Any guesses? A couple in their thirties — Ben Stiller and Naomi Watts — are getting to the last possible moment of becoming parents. Watching their close friends — played by Maria Dizzia and Adam Horovitz — settle into baby-centered middle age freaks them out, and they find themselves befriending a couple in their twenties — Adam Driver and Amanda Seyfried — and suddenly doing things that the young folks do. It’s pretty predictable and ultimately pretty infuriating. But the casting is great; thanks to the amazing Doug Aibel, you get to see wonderful New York performers in small roles, including the playwright Annie Baker.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: