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Friday, May 11, 2007

Bowie Takes The High Line

This week in New York, the buzz is all Bowie.

As the inaugural curator of the H&M High Line Festival (May 9th -19th), David Bowie has become our city's personal guide to the coolest line-up of music, film, comedy and visual art performance. The artists that he has chosen to showcase are as eclectic as Bowie himself from Brit comedian Ricky Gervais ("The Office") to French electro-pop duo Air to visionary Ken Nordine, the 87-year old musician who has been performing his beatnik-style spoken "word jazz" since 1955. Arcade Fire, the Montreal based indie rock band, kicked off the 10-day arts festival with a killer performance at Radio City Music Hall on Wednesday night.

Buddha Bar with Ty KU, a new sake liqueur, played host to the festival's launch with a decadent after-party that followed their one-year anniversary celebration - a 250 person VIP dinner and auction (to benefit The Institute for Civic Leadership) for guests such as Kevin Spacey, Denise Rich, Marc Ecko, and Thom Felicia. Produced by my friends at Experiential Agency, Buddha Bar put on a spectacle of a show - a mix of performance art and acrobatics that descended from the vaulted ceiling - while revelers danced to soon-to-be-released tracks by legendary DJ Sam Popat, creator of the popular Buddha Bar compilations. Check out the NY Times video coverage of the event.

The goal of the annual festival, which continues through May 19th, is to highlight the particular taste of the artist curating it and to introduce New York to talented acts from around the world. Performances and events are being held at different venues near the High Line which runs through the Meatpacking, West Chelsea and Clinton/Hell's Kitchen. A portion of proceeds from ticket sales will go to benefit Friends of the High Line, an organization working with the City of New York to transform the 1930's elevated rail structure in a public space in 2008.

There are still some amazing events coming up. To buy tickets for shows including Polyphonic Spree and The Secret Machines, (photo below, left) visit the festival's web site Claude Cahun's photography exhibit will run from May 18th -20th (photo below, right) in the gardens of the General Theological Seminary (175 Ninth Avenue). Open to the public and free of charge, it is not to be missed.

After seeing the photographer's work in Paris, Bowie was fascinated and had the following to say:

"You could call her transgressive or you could call her a cross dressing Man Ray with surrealist tendencies. I find this work really quite mad, in the nicest way."

Which coming from Ziggy Stardust is truly the finest of compliments.