Art + Culture

What Part of 'No Wave' Don't You Understand?

If you're like us, the answer's probably "most of it." Tonight, Brooklyn's Issue Project Room sets out to demonstrate why—and what—you need to know about this über-stylish art, music, and film movement.
Photo: Getty Images

Give Chance a Piece.

In 1978 Brian Eno packed up his envy-inducing collection of vintage analog gear, moved to New York, and became so intrigued by the brutalist “No Wave” element of the city’s underground music scene that he set out to document it. The result, No New York, introduced aggressively experimental bands like Mars and Teenage Jesus and the Jerks to the more adventurously inclined record-buying public—and has long stood as the movement’s defining relic. But No Wave has been experiencing a revival of late, with a spate of audio reissues (including a disc collecting DNA’s recorded output, with liner notes by GQ Style Guy and original No Waver Glenn O’Brien), photo books, and art exhibits devoted to its subversively stylish devotees. Tonight, Brooklyn’s Issue Project Room kicks off a three-night series about No Wave’s impact on art in general with a rare screening of British painter James Nares’s Super-8 movie Rome ’78. The film, which features dyed-in-the-w00l downtowners like John Lurie and Contortions frontman James Chance (pictured, right, in ’78), restages the Caligula myth in a rat-infested Lower East Side apartment (yes, nudity is involved, but also plenty of the kinds of clothes that are de rigueur among today’s cool-kid set). And Friday: the essential early-’80s NYC band UT gets back together and performs.

Issue Project Room, 232 3rd Street, Brooklyn, NY; 718-330-0313.

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