Well another Dirty Looks under the belt. This event saw an amazing turnout, with something to the tune of 80 people showing up for Ulrike Ottinger's Madame X - An Absolute Ruler. f.p. boué's exhibition currently up at Participant featured a black and gray ziggurat on which folks perched for the film. There to introduce, Gary Indiana shared some amazing insights in our dialogue. Gary's really a lovely individual, it was great to have him come out (and great to see him read new work the night prior at St. Mark's books). Filmmakers Larin Sullivan and Adam Keleman showed up, as did curators Buzz Slutzky, Joseph Whitt, Bryce Renninger artists Mark Golamco, Aryn Zev and writers Louis Jordan and Masha Tupitsyn, to name but a few. People seemed genuinely entranced, though at 2 1/2 hours, I fret that some attested to the Time Out blurb on the event, that Madame "will delight the converted and annoy the mighty fuck out of everybody else." It's tricky to program an epic lesbian pirate adventure on a school night and not have some drop off. That factor, the drop off, is understandable, especially given Dirty Looks educational focus, but it's still something vexing that I am grappling with as a curator.
The next night I had early evening (happy hour, I suppose they call it) drinks with a new friend, writer Louis Jordan, who is hard at work on an article surrounding Tuesday Weld. An apt subject. I sipped on Lime Rickies at Julius as Louis regaled me with the details of her life. I shared with him the sordid details of these wacky, mildly related recent finds, The Mafu Cage and The Manitou. And of course I built up the new Britney. We drifted over to the home Mr. Jordan shares with Wilson Kidde to watch a Maria Montez movie that I had never seen! For shame. In this one, Gypsy Wildcat, Maria's a gypsy. Black hair never suited her that well, though she does have a marvelous dance with a tamborine and turns in some very potent acting. "She moves and acts in this one!" I hollered. But the bootleg dvd stalled midway and I had to move on. I really couldn't get over the transition from exotic sands to gypsy caravans also, to a probably annoying tune.
I met up with friends at a Marc Jacobs party. My pal Hayley works there. We drank some free specialty cocktails that somehow all tasted like amoxicillin. But they were free. Which always gets me into trouble. Too many people remarked vaguely at my plaid baseball cap. A long and turbulent night began that found us at the Triple Canopy party at NP Contemporary Art Center then over to Urge and the Boiler Room, where I finally had to resign. On my trip back home, I slipped on the wet subway stairs and landed on my tush, a fall that's left me in great pain for these past couple days, and left an imprint of the zipper teeth to my Commes Des Garçons wallet in my ass. At first there wasn't a bruise and I complained to Lia at Participant that if I was witnessing the pain, I would prefer that there be visual proof. The next day, I got my wish.
On Friday, I attended the benefit for Birdsong Micropress at Brooklyn Fire Proof, which featured a performance by my friend Zan's band Little Victory. It was good to see the ever ravishing Tommy Pico, who just returned from a Southern road trip. I talked about Dodie Bellamy (who was just in town reading from her fabulous new book, The Buddhist) and Radical Fairies with Max Steel and Daniel Sander outside, both of whom contribute to the Birdsong zines under noms de plumes. When I got home around 1 or so, D was watching Alien 3, you know, the super nihilistic one that starts with the autopsy of her surrogate child, so I went into the bedroom to watch some Drop Dead Diva and promptly passed out.
The weather smiled on us this New York weekend, so I took to the streets, well, galleries, with D and my curator friend, Herbert Mendoza. I actually like taking a back seat when we do these gallery hops. Both Herbert and D make little maps and I let them show me around. Never before have I been in such a place of such little investment in visual art. Maybe it's a lack of interest in the community. Cause I always have something to say.
We sipped margaritas in the tacky little Mexican place on 23rd thinking through the shows afterwards - three shows in particular that seemed to dash totemic issues consumerism and colonialism, all installed in high end gallery spaces. Does the moneyed environs of a space like Yvonne Lambert dismantle some of the charge behind Nick Van Woert's drip busts? In the pieces, Woert (an American artist despite the Euro airs of his name) drizzles colorful, plasticine materials on the backs of classical busts. The goo collects in a gratifying pool, which, when placed vertical, become somewhat glorious circular whorls. There a kind of clever material iconoclasm at work in these pieces (Woert's other sculptural objects in the main room are decidedly youthful endeavors that showcase an excitable artist in need of some editing skills) though the delicious fetishism of the shiny plastic tends to undercut the conceptual disavowal that these pieces tend to suggest. Josephine Meckseper's exhibition at The FLAG Art Foundation continues her reign of great shows, installing vitrines, mirrored pedestals and mirrored wall racks that offer sexy objects, total signifiers of 80s consumption all with a kind of hoaky Claire's Boutique quality to them. Mecksepers work just radiates sexiness, seducing the viewer into this courtship of objects. But how much is this representation of erotic consumer sensibilities destabalizes consumerism and how much of it just hitches a ride on the object's potential for fetishistic gratification? I LOVE Meckseper's shows, her aesthetic is startlingly confident, though the critical potential of these works, which are sold before they even leave her studio, lurks in a more uncertain space for me.
Surely the most heated topic over our frozen margaritas was the colonialism sent up in Folkert de Jong's installation at James Cohan Gallery. Operation Harmony employs Styrofoam and polyurethane to mold sleek, Disney-esque creatures, Dutchmen and monkeys. The title piece, which borrows from Mondrian and Jan de Baen’s painting “The mutilated corpses of the de Witt brothers, hanging on the Vijverberg in the Hague” from 1672, graphically pierces the black bodies of these brothers with severe, modernist pink foam. The Dutchmen in the front room brandish booty in the form of tacky blue plastic pearls. They smile grimly. How effective is expensive art aimed at making buyers feel bad about their own colonial history. That was the question at the table. It seems like many of the artists to take to task colonial history in the contemporary art world, are also some of the most blazing new big money art stars. Thinking to the 2005 piece written by A. O. Scott for the New York Times ("The Discreet Masochism of the Bourgeoisie") that observed a cinematic trend for targeting art house (bourgeois) cinemagoers with "feel bad" movies (like Caché or Maderlay) aimed at their own political involvements or histories. I argued that the representation of this colonial shadow renders that guilt in a commoditizable, which is to say, abstract form. And it stultifies the charge of the original guilt. Which may be somewhat cynical of me. They did not have very good guacamole at the restaurant.
We visited a fete staged by Zane Louis, who was recently included in a Whitney exhibition timed for the groundbreaking of their Meat Packing District space. Guess what it's called? "Groundbreakers." After some white wine was sipped, we dipped over to our friend, Mark Golamco's studio in the same building, where he was preparing a new woodcarving piece and got into a heated debate over, oh, you know, everything. I left somewhat early and watched Kylie Minogue videos into the early morning.