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Culture Index: RuPaul Returns, Jim Jarmusch’s Iggy Pop Doc, Whitney Biennial and More

Six great things you should check out this week

Culture Index: RuPaul Returns, Jim Jarmusch's Iggy Pop Doc, Whitney Biennial and More

Tired of refreshing your Twitter and watching the nightly news? Want to escape from all the weirdness for a short time? This week you have plenty of opportunities to do that, whether it’s watching RuPaul’s queens do battle, one of the biggest art events in America returning or binging on both Dave Chappelle standup specials at once. 

Whitney Biennial

Installation view of Rafa Esparza's "Figure Ground: Beyond the White Field," at Whitney Biennial 2017.

Matthew Carasella

Whitney Biennial

After a three-year hiatus, the Whitney Biennial – with its grand intention of capturing a snapshot of what matters in American art – has returned for its inaugural run at the museum’s new space at the base of the High Line in New York City’s Meatpacking District neighborhood. The sprawling survey encompasses 63 artists and collectives and the displays don’t disappoint for their epic scope, eclectic bona fides and cultural criticism. Much of the artwork “is about the artist or a self in relation to the tumultuous world that we’re in,” says Christopher Y. Lew, one of the co-curators. Rafa Esparza’s adobe brick installation also contains the work of other gay, queer, Latino artists’ works. A faux stained glass wall installation by Raúl De Nieves will certainly be Instagrammed by the throngs, but there are also the creepy, private moments, such as Jordan Wolfson’s “Real Violence,” a VR experience that requires goggles and headphones to immerse participants in a brutal virtual world. Saxophonist/composer Kamasi Washington’s “Harmony of Difference” is a 32-minute multimedia piece that encompasses a six-part composition for Washington’s crew, the West Coast Get Down, complemented with extra musicians and accompanied with video filmed by A.G. Rojas.

On view through June 11th in New York City.

RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 9

Lady Gaga and RuPaul


Lady Gaga on ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ Season 9 Premiere

During past seasons, we’ve witnessed aspiring drag superstars attempt to channel Mother Monster during “Snatch Game,” the recurring segment of celebrity impersonation, despite Mama Ru warning them that it’s no easy feat. Or queens would lip-synch for their life to one of Lady Gaga’s upbeat tracks while executing exquisite death drops. Now the pop star will finally appear as a judge on the season 9 premiere of the Emmy-winning RuPaul’s Drag Race for what’s been promised to be a “shocking opening that will go down as one of the most jaw-dropping moments.” We wouldn’t expect anything less as the 13 queens – including Trinity Taylor, who won the title of Miss Pulse in 2011 at the Orlando nightclub, and London-based performer Charlie Hides – pack up their sequins and stilettos as they compete to be America’s Next Drag Superstar. 

Airs March 24th at 8 p.m. ET on VH1.

Dave Chappelle’s Netflix Specials

Lester Cohen/Netflix

Dave Chappelle’s Netflix Specials

The world can always use some Dave Chappelle, but there’s just something about these very unfunny times we’re currently in that basically demands him. The two new specials, The Age of Spin and Deep in the Heart of Texas were filmed in 2016 and 2015, but considering how well most of Chappelle’s stuff from 15 years has aged, a year or two doesn’t really impact how hilarious both sets are. 

'Turned Out a Punk' Podcast

‘Turned Out a Punk’ Podcast

Damian Abraham might be best-known for his work as the singer of the hardcore band Fucked Up, but his podcast that he’s been doing over two years, “Turned Out a Punk,” has turned into one of the best things to listen to on a weekly basis. Basically the best ongoing audio-zine interview you’ll hear, Abraham has had guests from Lou Barlow to Craig Finn come on and talk about how punk changed their lives, but this past episode with New York Hardcore legend John Joseph is especially entertaining. You can pick and choose episodes you want to go and listen to, but Abraham is a good conversationalist who is prone to nerding out a lot, making each interview worth your time. 

Jim Jarmusch's 'Gimme Danger'

Jim Jarmusch's 'Gimme Danger' is avilable on Amazon Prime now.

Tom Copi

Jim Jarmusch’s ‘Gimme Danger’

Jim Jarmusch’s acclaimed documentary on Iggy Pop and the Stooges hits Amazon Prime this week, and the story of how the band that basically invented punk came up from Ann Arbor, barely survived, made three albums that changed the landscape (for the few people that heard the albums, at least) and as Pop puts it during an interview, “helped wipe out the Sixties.” 

Melissa Moseley/Netflix

‘Grace and Frankie’

Charming, insanely funny and full of love, Netflix’s Grace & Frankie has had the iconic pairing of Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin finding both confrontation and solace in one another for two seasons now, with the third being released on the streaming platform this Friday. The septuagenarian roommates have long moved past the bitterness of being thrust into each other’s lives after their husbands revealed a decades-long affair with one another in the first season, and now they’re looking to explore something new for their freshly rebooted lives: a sex toy line for older women. Given the raw, unfiltered honesty with which the show addresses aging and having to restart a life after heartbreak, the creative venture is sure to be handled with no-holds-barred humor and resilience by Fonda and Tomlin as they portray the titular characters.

Season 3 will be released Friday, March 24 on Netflix.