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Ben Rosenfeld to Perform Comedy at the Zimmerli

Rutgers Alum/comedian performs at Art After Hours at the Zimmerli in February as part of its focus on Russian art.

Ben Rosenfeld to Perform Comedy at the Zimmerli

Explore recent history through the eyes of Soviet underground artists at Art After Hours on Wednesday, Feb. 6, from 5 to 9 p.m., at the Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers University.

The event spotlights “Leonid Sokov: Ironic Objects” with a curator-led exhibition tour and opportunity to meet the artist, a stand-up comedy performance by Rutgers alumnus Ben Rosenfeld, and a screening of the documentary “From Gulag to Glasnost: The Art of Resistance.” Admission is $6 for adults; $5 for 65 and over; and free for museum members, children under 18, and Rutgers students, faculty, and staff (with ID).

Art After Hours is the eclectic evening series held on the first Wednesday of the month at the Zimmerli. The February program begins with a 5:30 p.m. tour of the new exhibition Leonid Sokov: Ironic Objects,” led by Julia Tulovsky, Ph.D., the museum’s Associate Curator for Russian and Soviet Nonconformist Art. Lenoid Sokov (born 1941) joins Tulovsky to answer questions following the tour. “Ironic Objects” is the first major United States solo exhibition for the artist, one of the leading figures in Soviet underground and Russian-American contemporary art. A survey of his career from the 1960s to 2000, this exhibition highlights themes and developments in his art. A trademark of the artist’s work is the multi-layered visual and verbal pun that draws upon figures in popular culture from both communist Russia and capitalist America.

Rosenfeld will perform from 6:15 to 7:15 p.m. A Rutgers graduate with a double major in Philosophy and Economics, Rosenfeld returns to perform on campus for a fifth time. Rosenfeld also created and wrote for a satirical website and filmed candid videos with friends.

 “My experiences at Rutgers definitely pointed towards a comedy career, but I didn't put it together until a few years after graduation. At the time, it was just something I did to relieve stress,” he said.

Based on his family’s experiences as Russian immigrants – when Rosenfeld was three, his parents moved him to Connecticut from the then-Soviet Union – the comedian’s characters make witty observations about modern life that inspire the audience to examine the world from a new point of view, so he is eager to visit “Ironic Objects.”

He admires how Sokov combines Russian icons and American pop culture – such as Joseph Stalin and Marilyn Monroe – in one piece. Rosenfeld takes a similar approach with some of his characters. He notes that in one of his popular scenes, he sings the traditional American “Happy Birthday” song with a Russian twist, “which results in a very different mood than audiences are used to.”

Rosenfeld lives in New York City, where he works regularly at Caroline’s on Broadway, Gotham Comedy Club, Broadway Comedy Club, and New York Comedy Club. He also performs at clubs and festivals around the country. To learn more about Rosenfeld, as well as his schedule and other projects, visit  http://www.bigbencomedy.com.

Rosenfeld also emcees student performers and an open mic session from 7:15 to 8:45 p.m. Rutgers students are invited to sign up in advance for a five-minute performance slot at  rupacomedymovies@gmail.com. The open mic is open to all attendees, who may register that evening from 5 to 7:30 p.m.

The evening also features a screening of the documentary “From Gulag to Glasnost: The Art of Resistance” from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. This 2001 short film (40 minutes), directed by Nina Zaretskaya, provides insights into the history of Soviet nonconformist art and the so-called "second Russian avant-garde" that formed after Stalin's death in 1953. Based on a series of interviews with nonconformist artists from the former U.S.S.R., this documentary provides a broad spectrum of Soviet unofficial art by highlighting the diverse backgrounds and styles of these artists and using footage of key works, many of them from the Zimmerli’s Dodge Collection and official Soviet period newsreels. Zaretskaya lives and works in New York and Moscow. She is a founding director of Art Media Center "TV Gallery," a Moscow institution responsible for the appearance and development of video art and the art of new technologies in Russia.

Complimentary light refreshments are available and the Museum Store features 20 percent off all purchases.


The exhibition and related programs are supported by the Avenir Foundation Endowment Fund. Additional support has been provided by the Thickman Family Foundation and donors to the Zimmerli’s Annual Exhibition Fund: Sustainer/Voorhees Family Endowment; Supporter/Charles and Caryl Sills andJerome A. Yavitz Charitable Foundation, Inc. — Stephen Cypen, President.]


The Zimmerli Art Museum is located at 71 Hamilton Street at George Street on the College Avenue campus of Rutgers University in New Brunswick. The Zimmerli is a short walk from the NJ Transit train station in New Brunswick, midway between New York City and Philadelphia.

Hours are Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m., and the first Wednesday of each month (except August), 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. The museum is closed Mondays, major holidays, and the month of August.

Admission is $6 for adults; $5 for 65 and over; and free for museum members, children under 18, and Rutgers students, faculty, and staff (with ID). Admission is free on the first Sunday of every month. For more information, call 848-932-7237 or visit the museum’s website: www.zimmerlimuseum.rutgers.edu 

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