Bidoun Puts Tony Shafrazi in the Kitchen


In the intervals between Hall of Fame whistler Steve Herbst’s (you read that right) three-octave range performances of Mozart and swing tunes, arts and cultures quarterly Bidoun staged their second annual event of readings and encounters at the Kitchen last week, featuring a roster of contributors from their most recent and most upcoming issues. Senior editors Negar Azimi and Michael Vazquez introduced the event as samplings and miscellany from Bidoun‘s Fall ’08 “Interview” issue, the forthcoming Winter ’09 “Noise” and the wholly unique Bidoun oeuvre-at-large.

Tony Shafrazi. Photo by Rosalie Knox.

Pulling off a successful variety show is no easy task—longer-form essays, read out-loud, are invariably different creatures from their original print incarnations.

Tony Shafrazi, introduced as a celebrated gallerist and art advisor to the last Shah, read early from his Printed Matter-published photo-novella Moogambo (1976), heavily indebted to the oriental-kitsch-drag mash-up of Jack Smith films and photos, inventively soundtracked here with suspenseful classical movements and jungle coos. The sensuous (mis)adventures of Queen Kon Killo and her various courtesans and admirers—from Harlem Honey Juice to Master Tzing Blossom to Misss Echtochrome Bliss—were related with wry asides from Shafrazi. He had been preceded by writer-filmmaker Abou Farman’s paean to the Farsi-dubbed Howard Hawks films of late 1970s Iran, featuring humorous extra coy and catty off-screen commentary not present in the English-language originals. The evening’s proceedings stalled somewhat during Hampton Fancher’s Twenty Questions-style metaphysical interrogation of writer Gini Alhadeff—self-indulgent and punitive for a hemmed-in audience—but the spirit of the night was salvaged by the reading of Bidoun’s Tiffany Malakooti and Lucy Raven’s eulogy to Le voyage du ballon rouge-filmmaker Albert Lamorisse, who died a tragic death in a helicopter crash when filming over the Karaj Dam in Iran in 1970.

Very occasionally, the cultural milieu of the Middle East reaches as far as West 19th Street.