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 just...um...really 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.