In 2005, Zaq Landsberg created a new nation in rural Utah called Zaqistan, on the premise that our ideals around governance were worth re-evaluating. In Harlem’s Morningside Park, his yearlong installation “Reclining Liberty” — a 25-foot-long Buddha-like version of the Statue of Liberty — is another re-examination, this time of a quintessential American symbol.
A more subtle evocation of the Statue of Liberty is a tree Ibrahim Mahama planted atop his sculpture of an industrial tank, which will be on view until March on the High Line at 16th Street. Inspired by a smokestack he saw in a train workshop in his native Ghana, Mahama’s “57 Forms of Liberty” references his country’s fight for emancipation from British colonial rule.
The oldest Black republic, Haiti, is the centerpiece of the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s billboard project: “A Return: Liberation as Power.” It will be displayed on the BAM sign at the corner of Lafayette and Flatbush Avenues through Monday in conjunction with the DanceAfrica festival, and features images from six Haitian artists depicting what freedom looks like to them.
Leave it to Federico Fellini to spin his own fears of creative paralysis into a creative tour de force. By more or less common consent, “8½” (1963) is his masterpiece, or at least the phantasmagorical summation of all things Felliniesque. It frequently shows up on lists of the greatest films ever made, particularly among directors, who no doubt relate (or want to relate) to Fellini’s surrogate, Guido (Marcello Mastroianni) — a filmmaker circled by women and artistic collaborators and suffocated by his own doubts as he braces for a postponed shoot.
Last year was the centennial of Fellini’s birth, which means that theater closures denied New York audiences a parade of revivals similar to the one that accompanied Ingmar Bergman’s 100th in 2018. In deferred recognition of the occasion, Film Forum is showing “8½” starting on Friday. Please consult the guidelines outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention before watching movies inside theaters.
Swinging in the Park
In recent weeks, the nonprofit organization Giant Step Arts has been presenting free concerts in Central Park, in hopes of nursing the city’s hard-hit jazz scene back to life. A vital, organic energy surrounds these shows; the audiences tend to be a mix of fans who come on purpose and parkgoers who happen upon the music and find themselves entranced.
This Saturday’s show, starting at 1 p.m., will include a headlining performance by Abraham Burton — a powerhouse New York tenor saxophonist with decades of experience as a bandleader — and his trio, featuring the bassist Dezron Douglas and the drummer Eric McPherson. The next day, at the same time, Antoine Roney, another post-bop tenor player cut from a similar cloth, will headline.
Though they might be recorded for later release (a component of Giant Step’s organizational mission), these shows won’t be streamed. The way to experience them live is by heading to the Seneca Village Site, just off the entrance at 85th Street and Central Park West, and following your ears.
Going Back to the Clubs
Carolines on Broadway, the last of the city’s major comedy clubs to reopen, is the first to feature a full headliner weekend, with Donnell Rawlings performing sets from Thursday to Sunday (tickets start at $38.25). Rawlings was a regular on Comedy Central’s “Chappelle’s Show,” and over the past year, he has returned to Dave Chappelle’s side as an opening act and hype man on shows and podcasts. Rawlings also voiced Dez, the barber, in the Oscar-winning animated movie “Soul” and was a guest star on the Netflix series “The Cabin With Bert Kreischer.”
With pandemic restrictions easing, this weekend you can find stand-up showcases at all of Manhattan’s other major comedy venues (Comedy Cellar, Comic Strip Live, Gotham Comedy Club, New York Comedy Club, the Stand, Stand-Up NY). Check with each club for lineups and Covid-19 guidelines.
SEAN L. McCARTHY
Not Just for Sleepyheads
For children, a pillow fort may be a dreamlike destination, but for Treehouse Shakers, it is also an inspiring point of departure.
This dance-theater troupe shows just how far you can go with fabric, cushions and a bountiful imagination. Written and directed by Mara McEwin, the company’s co-founder, and conceived and filmed by John Noel, “Pillow Fort” combines live action, animation, puppetry, music and movement into what will ultimately be a nine-part web series for ages 3 to 7.
Each six- to eight-minute adventure, which can be streamed on Vimeo for $1.99, expands beyond its comfy setting. The first three visit places like an enchanted wood, a lighthouse and outer space. Two newly released episodes — “Hibernation” and “The Train Ride” — introduce characters that include a balletic bear and a jaunty conductor.
With music by Anthony Rizzo and choreography by Emily Bunning — audiences can dance along — “Pillow Fort” comes with downloadable instructions for related projects, like making asteroid pancakes or building a cardboard locomotive.