Swiss institute A friend told me that the opening for Serpas and Alfati took place the day after January 24th, officially declared the most depressing day of the year. I shared this with gallerist Maxwell Graham, who immediately lit up. “That makes so much sense!” He shone. I had the same reaction. After weeks of January melancholia, I felt a feverish break last Wednesday. Others seemed to feel it, too: despite a torrential downpour, the Swiss institute was full – after all, we live in bodies, and these bodies live in a social body, with a shared and often synchronized unconscious. Harry Neff, whom I saw in a Denis Johnson play in December, said he was rehearsing with Parker Posey for Chekhov’s Tragedy. Artforum Editor-in-Chief David Velasco was very wet but happy. Dinner at the Old Tbilisi Garden was celebratory, wholesome, and drama-free—not quite for one person. Artforum Diarist.
The next night, a group of artists gathered at TJ Byrnes. The former after-party space of the now-defunct Svetlana Gallery has been taken over by Matt Moravec and Eleonore Hugendubel (who run tech entrepreneur Matto Perik’s namesake collection) as a venue for candid conversations about art and criticism. First: Dean Kissick and Manhattan Art Review’s one-man masthead Sean Tautoll—frankly, didn’t do himself any favors: “If it [art] “Good, it’s good, if it’s bad, it’s bad,” he said to himself. Kissick had an icebreaker about how television and culture are in a “bad place” right now. “You don’t read Adorno,” Tattol scoffed.
I liked Tatol’s voice: “. . . The smog of criticizing your own work as a defense. (Seth Price, who was in attendance, is always a genius at this.) Second, Tatol shared that he started the blog because he came to the city with no context or friends and wanted to find them through writing. (That’s a glass of honest tea—would any of us write or make art if we were truly nourished by our surroundings?) In an interesting way, this event got me excited about the art world again. I liked the feeling in the room, like people were thirsty for something. It was alive. Price agreed, saying he liked that Tatol was such a romantic.
In a way, Richard Maxwell and the New York City Players sold out. Field of Mars Friday night was a continuation of Dean and Sean’s conversation.
“What’s the song about?” A music critic asks a musician.
“It’s all trauma, man,” replies Jim Fletcher, who plays Jim. “That’s life. . . What is bigger than dreams? Music that makes me remember—that’s what I like.
During intermission, Carol Green said the play puts her in a “weird place” emotionally. Olivia Shao has admitted to having a midlife crisis (and there’s nothing wrong with that—personally, I think a little regression is a sign of progress sometimes). Jason Farago said he was a little nervous about Perric doing the collection talk with Kissick in March. I told him I thought he would be great and that meant it.
In the second half, the two sets of brothers and sisters begin to indulge each other; Then sister devours sister; Brother devours brother; Another brother begins to prey on another sister; Sister and brother love and give birth; Baby devours baby; Sister killed brother; Sisters eat other brothers, babies, brother, etc.
“I am hungry!” Shout out to the humans.
“Kill something!” Scold women.
“I am hungry!”
“Then kill something!”
After the play, I met a friend at El Quijote in Chelsea, where I impressed him by ordering the bartender’s favorite cocktail (nude and famous), while the others joined us after dinner for Charles Atlas. As we piled into a friend’s car to head downtown, Glen Fogel animated about “some girl with an attitude.”
“Who?” I went inside. “Who has an attitude?” (I love a girl with an attitude.)
“My dog,” Fogel replied. “Coconut.”
On Saturday, when I arrived at the Japan Society across from the UN for CFGNY’s runway show, I immediately ran into Dean Kissick.
“Heehee,” he grinned as grandly as the Cheshire Cat, “I saw a beautiful portrait of you.”
“What?” I asked in shock. “Where?”
He pulls out his phone to show her a series of caricatures at Jenny’s gallery for Amalia Ullmann’s new exhibition. Ullman’s boyfriend, Nick Irwin, had hinted to me that the show would be “juicy,” but I had no idea what was coming. The show is cheeky with the anthropological social logic of feuds, romances, and other trappings of loose “downtown” artists, writers, dealers, and restaurateurs (I live in Brooklyn, but am happy to be below Keith McNally). Levi-Strauss is right that we are all cannibals – ex-friends, ex-roommates, ex-business partners, ex-lovers.
Meanwhile, a different constellation assembled at the CFGNY fashion show, where artist models including Korakrit Arunanandchai, Trisha Baga, Stuart Yu, Diane Severin Nguyen and Fifani Luyu scored well with inspired choreography and syncopated beats. Okyung Lee). After sushi and drinks, I headed to Jenny’s after-party at The River with my friend Danny Leder, where everyone slacked off—the one notable exception being Jenny’s Matthew Sowa, who was surprisingly well-behaved. (Two weekends earlier, he had tried to throw me off the second-floor balcony of the Russian Samovar—witnessed by Anne Ochmanek and Caleb Considine.)
Cameos were made by Isabelle Beatty (daughter of Warren Beatty and Annette Bening) and Jordan Wolfson, who was a good kid and good friend to me that night. Marlene Zwirner also comforted this melancholic diarist when I felt uneasy at one point during the rolling night. I think I saw a shadow of Jay Sanders for a fleeting moment; If I had talked to him, I might have had the balls to apologize for sitting on a Jana Euler battering ram sculpture once. For the record, sorry, Jay, Jan. I thought it was a seesaw!
On Sunday, I walked into Rena Spallings and scorned a week of veritable frenzy. The same characters were there again from Wednesday to Saturday, where Morag Kyle, Nicole-Antonia Spagnola and Bedros Yeretsian present a group exhibition of Kyle’s Piss paintings. I brought a health tea from Westville and sipped it thoroughly before even allowing myself a beer—time to back it up and prepare for what I intend to make more drier in February. I asked Ben Morgan-Cleveland how Kyle’s documentary on Real Fine Arts is going (“slow but steady” for all those waiting); In my opinion, it is time to mine the post-2008 Weltanschauung for its decline, albeit algorithmically and spiritually. pleasure.
I had one last cocktail and an order of smashed (not smashed) potatoes at Buckaroo with artist George Egerton-Warburton, psychoanalyst-in-training and self-identified “Lacanian pervert” Lily Randall. The Lacanian perv found me a “textbook hysteric, a dying breed.” The maniac is destroyed (favorably?) by her desire to know what price she is talking about. “She’s extremely funny, but always tries to fix herself, and really has to stay where she is.” Well, on Monday, this maniac cried the entire train ride to her shrink’s office on the Upper West Side. Why, you ask? The fragility of life and love, its pain and beauty – a woman gets on the train with her baby, then sits facing the stroller, which is firmly fixed between her knees. I saw the baby pressing its head into its mother’s lap. This brought forth a new tear.
My analyst for the week, I recounted all the horrible feelings and adventures, then sat down to read fellow hysteric Jamison Webster’s class on psychoanalytic bodies that started this week. During Rena’s inauguration, George had asked what “mental bodies” meant.
“It’s a big container,” I replied.
Last week in New York, one player aptly observed that it “felt like an art fair.” Mentally retarded, perverted, neurotic, hysterical, psychotic, romantic—yes, of course, all of the above—it was originally captured and then exploded.
– Hiji Nam