Monday, February 28, 2011

Driven, angrily and otherwise...

I can't even begin to describe the madness that was this past week. And, it being art week in NYC, there will be no rest for the wicked this week. On Tuesday I attended the QT series that Nicholas Boggs curates, where Wayne Koestenbaum was reading alongside Ronaldo V. Wilson. In truth, I have not read Koestenbaum's work. His Jackie Under My Skin has been sitting on my to-be-read pile since D's parents gave it to me for Christmas last year. He read a poem commissioned by the Viennese gallery Coco called 'Didactic Poem.' We were treated to a visual accompaniment, a projected slide-show of Koestenbaum's own vibrant recent efforts in painting and digital image grabs. Sal Mineo dominated most of the non-painterly textual and visual imagery. Koestenbaum invaded the Didactic format - one which he himself proclaimed no affinity for. Sliding surprising and incongruous images upon one another in unlikely couplets, the reading was a fascinating one. After that, I drifted with my fellow attendees - curator Joseph Whitt, writer Frank J Miles and artist Anthony Thorton to what would be the first of a seemingly week-long Boiler Room residency, marveling at the back to back play of extended tracks by Miss Sophie Ellis-Bextor.

Wednesday was, of course, the newest installment of my monthly screening series, Dirty Looks. There was no blizzard this time (though that hardly held them back before) and fifty or so attendees descended upon Participant Inc. for this admix of experimental cinema and pornography. Fred Halsted's The Sex Garage was received very warmly by the cold crowd (we only have space heaters at our disposal, in lieu of central air - an effect which Zach Cole later suggested transported these dirty lookers back to the underground film screenings of yesteryear, where these films were projected in second-run theaters and dingy basements). Well, William E. Jones' Finished followed. It was, in fact, the first time I'd even seen a print of the film - having always engaged with this marvelous title on video. Special thank yous to our wonderful projectionist Sarah Halpern and to MIX NYC master Stephen Kent Jusick for his generosity. I shared many great conversations afterwards with writers Masha Tupitsyn and Robert Smith, Next Film Fest director Bryce Renninger, and artists Roddy Shrock, Mark Golamco, Jake Davidson, Annie Yalon, Chad Dilley and Aryn Zev. Participant director Lia Gangitano confessed to me that The Sex Garage contain a first for her - she'd never seen a man fuck a motorcycle before! In truth, this was a surprise for anyone familiar with Lia's curatorial tastes. As always, I'm happy to oblige. When all was said and done, we reconvened on the Boiler Room for round two of antics - less the Bextor, sadly, who I could not find on the large smart-phone-shaped jukebox. I just could not be more pleased that people are coming out to engage with this work.

The following day I woke up and spent the morning in bed with Gary Indiana's new collection of early writings published by Semiotext(e), Last Seen Entering the Biltmore. I spent some time attempting (in vain) to secure the next title for Dirty Looks but then dashed out of the house. I had to clean up, return the film, do a little shopping. I had one of those charming New York afternoons just drifting about the city and stumbling into people I know. At 6pm I went over to Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts, where D was co-hosting Welcome Artists, a curatorial project with Sally Szwed. The gist is that we're all bushy-tailed when we show up to this sometimes-very-difficult city, so these curators devised a social atmosphere in which newcomers can be introduced not only to their peers, but to curators, institutional directors, writers and the like. Well I liked the delicious wine provided by BOE in Brooklyn... and a handful of artists of course. I may have gone a little overboard with the confetti - hurling it at artists and curators, alike - but really, isn't that what a fete is for?

The following day we hit up a matinee for the UTTERLY LOVABLE NEW NICOLAS CAGE MOVIE. My god was it good. The thing was made for people to like it, for folks to reel and get swept up in the drunken swagger that is its tone. Drive Angry launches at you, in full 3D the tale of a daddy who busts outta hell to avenge the death of his daughter and soon-to-be sacrifice of his infant granddaughter at the hands of none-other-than the peoples' temple leader, Jim Jones. Well... it's not really Jones by name, but by image there is no denying. Amber Heard does a very sufficient job in her teensy shorts and there's a fabulous scene in which a fully clothed Cage kills and army of Satanic peoples' templers mid-fuck with a floozy blond, one finger on the trigger, the other curled around a bottle of JD. Yes. In truth, the film flags slightly in the middle, though it's brought back to life - heh - by the final death sequence in which Jones is hoisted up, á la Messiah, and... implodes into a afterlifeless void as rendered by stoned college freshmen?? It truly must be seen to be believed. In 3D.

We saw the matinee because one of D and my good friends, Scott Kiernan - who runs the gallery Louis V E.S.P. at which we've both had shows (I recreated Luther Price's Meat installation there last May) and at which I hosted that recent television show E.S.P. TV - had a solo show, Once Around the Block (Twice), at Nurtureart in Bushwick. The opening was great, even though there was some last minute drama in which Scott's paintings wouldn't fit through the door. Then we went to see Max Steele and Daniel Sander's band B0dy H1gh perform at Clump at Bushwick's Beauty Bar. Or am I supposed to use their performative pseudonym's Billy Cheer and Daniel Portland? One never can tell

I really wanted to make it out to the new Pin Ups launch for "Seth" at Printed Matter, because Christopher Shultz who publishes the thing is such a supportive dear-heart, but a boy can only do so much. After an afternoon coffee with an exciting upcoming artist for Dirty Looks, I headed over to Millenium Film Workshop where my former mentor, Lewis Klahr, was screening his recent series, Prolix Satori, more cut and paste collage works. The screening was really great - a fortunate technical foible saw Lew screen the two films he showed at last year's Views from the Avant-Garde, in lieu of his (immaculate) False Aging. While that's a totally heartbreaking film, I'd only seen the others the once and settled in for this treat. He finished his night with the 20-minute narrative (ish) film Lethe a really stunning film (which I sometime wish he'd bring to the front of the program). This, he explained was what he had set out to make when he picked up the super8 camera some 32 years prior. Lethe is a very intricate film, dipping and out of narrative coherence. The plot is (literally) torn from the pages of a 40s comic with scientists in lab coats and one blond-haired vixen. Everything goes horribly wrong in their affairs, though it's never quite clear what is allegorical and what "actually" occurs. Not that mimesis is ever the point. The room was full of great filmmakers in their own rights - Peggy Awesh, MM Serra, Abigail Child, Ken and Flo Jacobs and Views curator Mark McElhatten. Lew even plugged me when Abigail asked about one film, explaining how in a studio visit I made comment about his use of the Velvet Underground's "Pale Blue Eyes" that is was too loaded, and so it drove him to create a new film with the identical imagery but a brand new soundtrack. I blushed.

Later that night D and I met up with our friends Herbert, Chad, Mark, Jessica and Roddy and we danced the night away at a party called Gayface. All started out alright, but the music quickly drifted. By the time they played 'Party In the USA' for a second time, it was clear that the party was, in fact, elsewhere to be had. So we bumped into some kids at Metropolitan where my tired ass did not relent until 4-ish, knowing, all-the-while that I was meant to play host to a crew of friends the following morning for my signature bearded french toast (that's french toast with crushed up cornflakes). Well, everything got made and we quickly scurried over to Dan Callahan and Keith Uhlich's Oscar party with my roommate, filmmaker Adam Keleman and friend - who also happens to be a filmmaker named Adam - Adam Baran. See, Keith and Dan are some widely published film folks so the air was thick with anticipation and ire for these awards. The whole ceremony was just appallingly boring, don't you think? And it didn't help that Dan goaded me on that I'd just missed Sharon Stone's red carpet traipse when I arrived. Not once more would that heavenly face grace the screen that evening. Instead we had Anne Hathaway. Well then... I did meet some delightful folks and ate some very yummy macaroni and cheese that I swear someone poured truffle oil into. So all was not lost, even if you're Annette Benning.

This week stay tuned to The Fanzine where I will be covering Art Week, NYC 2011 beginning tonight with the opening of Salon Zürcher, an alternative individual-minded approach to the whole art fair thing. More soon...


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