Sunday, February 25, 2007

todd, do you not know that i get farty and bloated with a foamy latte?

that would be the latte of the new york art world, folks, and this weekend it was extra foamy, fatty and -- to you lactose intolerant jews out there -- just a little more fart inducing than normal. that's because surrounding the annual holy grail of new york contemporary art fairs, The Armory Show, there were 7, yes 7, other shows trying to get in on the action. i was able to hit up 4, and i consider that somewhat of a feat.

so, no, given that i contributed quite a chunk of my precious time to these monsters of art commerce, i don't consider them total hooey. i wanted to, lord, i ever and truly did want to. but it's just that there are a helluva lot of artists out there with damn creative visions and a lot of the stuff on display was good. some general qualifications that i personally use for "good": not heavy handed, subtle, not trying too hard, beautiful, original, about something, unpretentious, political. my favorite piece was i think this tiny, intricately woven basket that was hanging from a wire that turned slowly in a circle, and there was a light pointed at it that made woven shapes appear on the wall behind the basket as it turned. i donno, man, that shit was cool. i looked at it for a while.

i liked this one, too. the artist is kimberly clark. the piece is a hipster chick in skinny jeans kind of prostrating herself. there was another hipster chick sculpture in a jesus-like position looking up at the sky in agony. heh.

and really liked this video by kate gilmore of her smashing her head through a star-shaped hole. she eventually makes it. hooray.

pretty wax! - jolynn krystosek

so anyway the 4 shows i went to were armory, pulse, scope and fountain and out of the 4, the one that was least conducive to looking at stuff was the armory. it was a sweaty zoo! and here's something else: the more stuff is touted, the more stuff needs to make a splash, the more you can correctly assume that the balance between bullshit and not will favor bullshit. this was certainly the case at the armory show. at none of the other shows did i wonder whether crumpled up food containers were part of exhibitions (turned out they weren't), but at armory, that may have been the case. a lot of the stuff on show appeared like it was trying very pointedly to be "high art per se," whereas even though the other places were aiming for a certain level of exclusivity, they just didn't feel as hifalutin. they were also smaller and more accessible. the armory was ginormous and overwhelming. if i were a dealer exhibiting art, the armory would be the last place i'd choose. hopefully in years to come armory will lose its crown and the fairs will become even more dispersed. that would be nice. [an amusing star sighting at armory: leo koenig talking to jean reno. and a disturbing one: roberta smith's butt being patted by her gentleman companion as they pushed through the throng.]

aside from the art which, as i've said, i found to be much more impressive than i'd expected, it was interesting to be in these places. it was sort of like mackage coats, my most favorite and coveted brand of coat -- because of their high cost, i can only dream of one day owning one, yet i see them on women all over the streets of new york. who are these women that pay so much for coats, and how can there be so many of them in one city? same thing with buying these crazily priced pieces of art that cost so much -- much more than a mackage coat. how the hell can so many dealers be raking it in? the question arises every time i go to chelsea, and after having been to these shows, i'm still not any closer to the answer.

but i do know this: the art world, just like the music world, the fashion world, the book world or any other "arts" world, needs fodder -- enthusiastic, often young, totally believing fodder to make the money and do the PR for the producers of the art. that's what dealers are, and for the life of me i can't understand why anyone would want to be one. i mean, i appreciate the service they provide, because god knows if i were an artist i'd want to stay as far away from the commercial aspect of my trade as possible (too foamy and fatty). but it's such bullshit, placing these outrageous sticker prices on pieces of poop, and then convincing rich people to buy them. but, yeah, whatever floats your boat i guess.

i'm not saying that all artists are these virtuous creatures that need to be protected, unsullied from the reality of commerce. one must always be on the lookout for artists who are full of shit, for they are everywhere. and the fact of the matter is that even the not-full-of-shit ones are kind of full of shit because they think they can make a living by creating random weird stuff that no one actually needs. and that's why i disagree with the statement above. the art market is one big fuck fest, mister artist man, on both sides. so get over yourself.

i could go on, but i'll end with heaven:

Saturday, February 17, 2007

possible to be mean to plants??

so, i'm a plant lover. every couple of weeks or so i allow myself a flower or potted plant splurge. right now, it's a purple hyacinth that just started blooming.

the thing about it is, these hyacinths flop in the direction of the sun, and it annoys me that they don't want to stand straight up, so what i do is, i let them flop and then i turn them around and they flop in the other direction back towards the sun. it's like i'm teasing the plant, making it work really hard when all it wants is the basic nutrients to which, as a plant being, it is entitled. i mean, it didn't ask to be born, did it? does it really need to be harassed by me? on the other hand, it might completely fall over if i didn't discipline it to distribute its weight on all sides of the stem. on the other hand, is my making it work so hard decreasing its life expectancy? on the other hand, it only stands straight up for a few moments on its journey to the opposite flop. so am i really getting anything out of this wicked game?

there's another plant that hangs from the ceiling above the heater in the living room, and i swear to god it kind of curls away from the repressive heat that radiates up toward it. these two things are only examples of being physically mean to plants, and research has been conducted into whether plants experience fear, akin to the fear animals feel when their lives are in physical danger. but some people even think it's possible that plants sense emotional meanness/kindness. i don't really think that's true, but then again, i do kind of believe that there are lots of dimensions we can't perceive in the universe. like, totally crazy, alternate versions of reality, man. and it is altogether plausible that plant feelings exist in one of these. so, the point is, ya know, watch yourself, because plants could be watching you.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

like, yeah

it's because of art that we're totally stoked we're not hunter gatherers anymore.


Thursday, February 08, 2007


burlesque -- suspect. dita von teese performed at the opening of "a curious chocolate shoppe" in the west village tonight, an event that just *happened* to coincide with the launch of Altoids' newest product (chocolate covered mints), which just *happened* to coincide with valentine's day. the result: a fabulous cross-marketing PR opportunity for many factions, which means free drinks, appetizers and entertainment for "press professionals" willing to indulge publicists with their presence.

so dita stripped out of a fabulous glittery outfit and poured dom perignon all over herself and got into a bathtub full of bubbles. there are ways of getting people to give you the benefit of the doubt if you're doing something as shallow as striptease. for example, claiming to be a purist about the "historical" grounding of the "art of striptease," or, for example, claiming to be making a "parody" of something as shallow as striptease. i don't really buy either (and also, her boobs are fake). what follows takes dita von teese way too seriously -- she may not be trying to elevate herself at all. but whatever.

firstly, the fetishization and elevation of "retro" styles as "historical" is cheap. cheap cheap cheap. it's an attempt to give meaning and substance to style/fashion, which are, by their very nature, about surface. it's disingenuous. also, i think that always hearkening back to older styles in such a pointed way stifles creativity and original thinking. i'm not saying that having influences is wrong -- everyone does -- but simply reviving something old just isn't that interesting. it doesn't get her the benefit of the doubt as a stripteaseress (because there really is no way of getting the benefit of the doubt as a stripteaseress).

and secondly, onto the whole parody thing. you really can't take the art of striptease seriously as a historical phenomenon and then purport to be making a parody of it. but let's just say she is purporting to be making a parody. if she is, then this is a truly unsuccessful parody. the guys get turned on, the girls can't take their eyes off of her, she is hot, etc etc. she isn't making people think twice. so she uses cliche props, like champagne, a bathtub, feathers and a martini glass in what is, at its core, a cliche undertaking. it can still be taken seriously, and i would argue that it is.

i don't actually think she's making a parody of herself, but the capacity for so many artists to use parody as a way of elevating what they're doing, garnering for themselves the benefit of the doubt and critical respect, should be stripped the f---away. when brainy critic types perceive something as a parody, then they feel in the know and, in a partnership of sorts with the artist ("yeah, i get you"), become incapable of criticizing. it's a symbiotic little cycle between the full-of-shit artist and the full-of-shit critic, with the artist's motivation critical acclaim, and the critic's motivation a desire to be perceived as, and to feel, perceptive. it's an old game -- academics play it with their jargon-filled writing, and critics have played it, and will continue to play it in the art world, forever. but it's worth getting annoyed about every now and then.

on a final note, i kind of think that the only person who was able to make a parody of his entire life was andy warhol. and, well, maybe andy kaufman too...but that's the subject of another essay. goodnight.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Truly Perplexing: Tales from the bowels of NYU Coles

have you ever wondered at people's capacity to enjoy showering and luxuriously lotioning up in steamy, disgusting locker rooms? i sure have. it's happening every time i go to Coles, NYU's wonderful, dumpy sports center at Bleecker and Mercer. my general rule about the locker rooms is get in and get out as quickly as possible, but some women enjoy hanging out in there butt ass nekkid for long periods of time, showering (barefoot!), shaving, lotioning, doing the entire bathroom routine on wooden benches shoved between 10 other sweaty/dirty/wet girls/ladies/very mature women. truly perplexing.

also perplexing: the co-ed volleyball and basketball teams. at first this intermingling of the sexes was heartwarming, but then i noticed that the girls get almost zero play time with the balls (yes, balls in both senses of the word), and when they do, the guys let them score without trying to stop them. granted, the guys outnumbered the girls at about an 80%-20% ratio, but it was depressing, not least because the girls weren't as good as the guys. part of it seemed to be that the guys were more willing to be aggressive with their bodies in a way that the girls weren't, and that isn't to say that girls can't be aggressive: in all-girl games, i have seen some dirty, dirty shoving. but it's different when the teams are co-ed. maybe neither gender feels comfortable pushing the other in that way. it's ironic that as much as people were trying to break out of gender roles by playing sports together, those roles came to the surface in a more painful and embarrassing way (at least to me, watching) than they would have if they were separate.

i hand it to those girls for trying, though, because what they were doing -- essentially running back and forth across the court over and over and over -- didn't look too fun, and i imagine (maybe wrongly) that the guys are annoyed about having them on the team. i mean, it adds a dimension to the game that isn't about the game, and that isn't fun for anyone, girls included. so the question is are the only teams available co-ed ones, or do these girls and guys specifically choose to integrate? perplexing.

Thursday, February 01, 2007


Sometimes, maybe usually, the expectation thing works against you in movies. But with Perfume, I had low expectations and high hopes, and that turned out to be a winning combo.

There were problems with the movie for sure -- the rapturous smell moments lagged towards the middle, Grenouille's epiphany about himself came too late, the last two scenes were a a tad difficult to take seriously, and the very last scene wasn't necessary. Some of the historical staging was really transparent and not so believable, and some of Hoffman's scenes were laughably bad -- his accent was like half-Brooklyn, half-bad Italian -- though he managed to play the character really endearingly at other moments. So what that all boils down to is three things:

1) I wanted to like the movie so badly that I was able to look past those things
2) Tom Tykwer is an incredible director
3) Ben Whishaw is a hypontic screen presence and he was perfect for the part

Truthfully, despite all of the problems, I do think it's possible to be totally enthralled by this movie. There are many beautiful moments in it -- especially this one of Laura riding a horse from afar, that was a breathtaking shot -- the acting for the most part is spot on, the story is as incredible as the book it came from. Tykwer's imagining of the rapturous smell moments is genius. But you have to be able to let go and allow yourself to fall into a very story-ish, sometimes exaggerated reality. It asks as much of you almost as The Lord of the Rings does in suspension of disbelief, and it isn't a fantasy per se. That's not easy for everybody to do, especially with so many other flaws, but if you can, the rewards are worth it.