Darcy James Argue will be at the Jazz Gallery tonight, Nov. 7, for two fantastic sets. What a great excuse to look back on Brooklyn Babylon, one of the best shows (and later a recording) of 2011. George Heathco did the talking…
What drew you to a project like Brooklyn Babylon?
In the fall of 2009 I was summoned for a meeting with the powers-that-be at BAM. I was told this was going to be a very casual, low-key meet-and-greet sort of thing, and I sort of naively took that at face value. Then people started patiently explaining to me that “a very casual, low-key meet-and-greet sort of thing” at BAM means “you’d better come prepared with something to pitch, you moron.” So I had to spend some time thinking about what type of large-scale project I’d be most drawn towards, and I eventually settled on the idea of collaborating with a graphic novel artist.
I had a friend who worked as an editor at [the comics company] Vertigo and she kindly provided a list of NYC-based artists whose style was more or less in my wheelhouse. As soon as I saw Danijel Zezelj’s work, I knew instantly that he had to be the one. His gritty, expressionist-influenced imagery, full of powerful light-and-shadow contrast, hit me right in the gut. I absolutely had to work with this guy!
My contact at Vertigo slipped me an advance copy of his graphic novel with Kevin Baker, Luna Park. And so when the day came, my meeting at BAM actually turned out to be a very casual, low-key meet-and-greet type of thing. It was only at the very end, as I was just about to walk out the door, that they very casually happened to mention that if I ever had an idea for a large-scale project that might be suitable for the Next Wave Festival… and so I very casually reached into my bag for my copy of Luna Park and said, “Well, funny you should mention, it just so happens I have with me… ”