This month’s New York At in Place highlights three wildly different places (and equally different events there): trash, tragedy, and fancy dress, respectively at the Brooklyn Museum, the Park Avenue Armory (for the second time in this column), and a notorious former mob hangout.
Descendant of Thieves, 247 Mulberry Street (formerly Ravenite Social Club)
Matteo Maniati, founder and creative director, Descendant of Thieves
“Having a store on the old Ravenite Social Club site feels like we’re really stepping into New York history…even if it’s the dark side of it. People often come to the place just to experience it.
We were hesitant to rent because it seemed too cliche with the trademark Descendant of Thieves. We don’t want to associate our brand with organized crime…or even unorganized crime.
After doing some research, we decided to embrace the location’s history by reaching back to when it was a turn-of-the-century Italian neighborhood espresso bar. Hints of the historic storefront can be found throughout our store, including the original tile floors, tin ceilings and a vintage hand-pull espresso machine that sits atop a central bar. Side note: We only offer single shot espresso; no milk on the premises.’
Until April 23, 2023
DEATH TO THE LIVING, LONG LIVE GARBAGE, Brooklyn Museum
Duke Riley, artist
“I’ve called Brooklyn home for the past 25 years. The first time I visited the Brooklyn Museum was to see the Sensation exhibit from 1999. The exhibit expanded my understanding of what art could be. Arnold Lehmann’s brave defiance of Rudy Giuliano’s attempts to censor the show taught me how powerful art is and its ability to change things.
When Anne Pasternak became the new director, she increased that energy and completely transformed what a museum could be: a voice that directly addressed the most important issues facing the surrounding community and the world at large. The Brooklyn Museum is a benchmark for social engagement for others to follow.
It’s easy to forget that New York is an archipelago. Most of the trash used in this show was collected from the Brooklyn waterfront. Many of these places are unfamiliar even to lifelong residents of Brooklyn and the border communities most affected by industrial pollution and climate change. It is important to look at these discarded items alongside artefacts from the museum’s collection to understand what we will leave behind for future generations long after we are gone.”
Until August 13
“Hamlet” / “The Oresteia”, Park Avenue Armory
Hildegard Bechtler, costume and set designer
“The design of the two plays was originally a space created in the Almeida Auditorium [in London].
The Oresteia was staged at the Almeida Theater in 2015. It was my first collaboration with Robert Icke, so it was a new conversation for us. Having already designed about ten previous productions in this atmospheric and emotional space, I was very familiar with the site-specific environment. We both instinctively agreed not to hide the beautiful old brick world of the Almeida, but to include it.
As for the materials, I felt that the stone, marble and glass not only felt appropriate for the Greek environment, but also matched the brick world of the Almeida in a non-painterly way. Once I introduced the glass corridor into the model, it stayed and allowed for smooth, restless movement during production.
Hopefully the design looks simple, but actually using all the elements from the actors is anything but. Rob had the completed model during the rehearsal process with the actors to work out the fluid use of the glass panels. We took the risk of using a very special glass that can turn transparent or opaque in an instant. The challenge of reusing it in Hamlet was deliberate. Fortunately, that picturesque connection is really what made this double bill.
And now this entire auditorium has become a building within a building!
In Hamlet, the feeling of being watched, or observing countless corridors, entrances and exits in multiple locations, added to the general sense of unease. The discomfort in this now vast space, designed specifically for the scale of the Armory, only reinforced these explored themes.