Swiss Institute Serpas and Conqueror opened one day after January 24th, which a friend told me was officially declared the gloomiest day of the year. I shared this with exhibit designer Maxwell Graham, who instantly brightened. “That makes a lot of sense!” Smile. I had the same reaction. After weeks of the January blues, I had a fever this past Wednesday. Others seemed to feel it, too: Despite the downpour, the Swiss Institute was packed—a reassuring confirmation that we do live in bodies, after all, and that these bodies live in a social body with shared and often simultaneous unconsciousness. Hari Nef, whom I saw in a Denis Johnson play in December, exclaimed that she was now rehearsing alongside Parker Posey on Chekhov’s tragicomedy, and artforum Editor-in-Chief David Velasco looked very wet but happy. Dinner at Old Tbilisi Garden was festive, wholesome, and drama-free – not quite perfect for a class. artforum diarist.
The next night, a variety of artists gathered at TJ Byrnes. Matt Moravec and Eleonore Hugendobel (who run the namesake group of tech entrepreneur Mato Perisch) occupied the former after-party venue of Svetlana’s now-defunct gallery as a place for serious personal conversations about art and criticism. First up: Dean Kesick and Manhattan Art Review President Sean Tatull — who, really, wasn’t doing himself any favors: “If that’s the case… [art] It’s good, it’s good, if it’s bad, it’s bad.” Kesick then ventured to break the ice on how television and culture in general are currently in a “bad place.” “You don’t read Adorno,” Tatul exclaimed.
A couple of quotes I liked from Tatol: “…the guise of criticizing your work is defense-knowledge.” (Seth Price, who was present, was always a genius at it.) Secondly, Tatul shared that he started the blog because he came to town without any context or friends and wanted to find them through writing. (Here’s an honest cup of tea—if our environments really nurture, would any of us need to write or make art?) In a funny way, the event got me excited about the art world again. I loved how it felt in the room, like people are hungry for something. was active. Price agreed, adding that he would love to be romantically involved.
Somehow, the play Richard Maxwell and the New York City Players was sold out field of Mars Friday night was a continuation of Dean and Sean’s conversation.
“what is the song?” asks a music critic of the musician.
“It’s a complete shock, man,” replied Jim Fletcher, playing a character named Jim. “That’s what life is about… What’s bigger than dreams? Music that makes me want to be remembered — that’s what I love.”
During the intermission, Carol Green said the play puts her in a “weird place” emotionally. Olivia Shaw admitted she felt a whiff of a midlife crisis (there’s nothing wrong with that — personally, I think a little bit of a step back is a sign of progress sometimes). Jason Farago said he was having Perić’s set talk with Kesik back in March and that he was a little nervous. I told him I thought it would be great and he meant it.
In the second half, two sets of brothers and sisters begin having sex with each other; then sister fucks her sister; My brother has sex with his brother. The other brother starts having sex with his other sister; sister and brother make love and have children; A child having sex with a child. sister kills brother; Sisters, sisters, children eat brother, etc., etc.
“I am hungry!” shout guys.
“Kill something!” Screaming women.
“I am hungry!”
“So, kill something!”
After the play, I met a friend at El Quijote in Chelsea, impressing the bartender by ordering his favorite cocktail (naked and famous), and others eventually joined us after a dinner for Charles Atlas. When we crowded into a friend’s car to head downtown, Glenn Fogle was snarling animatedly about “some bitch with an attitude.”
“from?” “Who has a position?” (I love a bitch with an attitude.)
Vogel replied, “My dog.” “Coconut”.
On Saturday, upon arriving at the Japan Society across the street from the United Nations to perform CFGNY on the runway, I immediately ran into Dean Kesick.
“Heggie.” He grinned like a Cheshire Cat, “I just saw a nice picture of you.”
“what?” I asked, startled. “where?”
He pulled out his phone and showed me a series of cartoons on display in Jenny’s gallery for Amalia Ullmann’s new show. Ullman’s friend, Nick Irvin, had hinted to me that the show would be “cool,” but I had no idea what was to come. The show is brazenly suspended according to a socio-anthropophageal logic of animosities, romances, and other entanglements within a mishmash of artists, writers, merchants, “downtown” restaurateurs (I live in Brooklyn but am glad to be less than Keith McNally), ex-boyfriends, ex-roommates, ex-business partners, and lovers. Ex – Levi Strauss was right when he said we are all cannibals.
Meanwhile, a different constellation gathered at the CFGNY fashion show, as models including Korakrit Arunanondchai, Trisha Baga, Stuart Uoo, Diane Severin Nguyen, and Fiffany Luu strutted and mimicked the inspiring dances and syncopated beats (the show was masterfully recorded by Okkyung Lee). After sushi and drinks, I headed downtown with my friend Danny Lederer for the after party for Jenny’s at The River, where everyone was drowning – a notable exception being Jenny’s Mathew Sova, surprisingly for his better behaviour. (Two weekends ago, he tried to kick me off the second-floor balcony of a Russian samovar—Annie Oshmanek and Caleb Considine acted as witnesses.)
Cameos were made by Isabelle Beatty (daughter of Warren Beatty and Annette Bening) and Jordan Wolfson, who was also a good boy and good friend of mine that night. Marilyn Zwirner also comforted the doomed diarist when I was feeling uncomfortable at one point in a bumpy night. I think I saw Jay Sanders’ shadow for a fleeting moment; If I had spoken to him, I might have the balls to apologize for once sitting on the battering ram of Jana Euler. For the record, I’m sorry, Jay and Jana. I thought it was a swing game!
On Sunday, I walked into Reena Spaulings, the finale to what was truly a crazy depressing week. The same personalities who were present Wednesday through Saturday were once again present, as Morag Keil, Nicole Antonia Spagnola, and Bedros Yertzian opened a collaborative exhibition of a selection of Keil’s paintings. I had fetched a health tea from Westville and sipped it gingerly before allowing myself a single beer—it was time to put the button back on and get ready for what I plan to make even more draining in February. I asked Ben Morgan-Cleveland how Keil’s documentary on Real Fine Arts is going (“slow but steady” for all those waiting); It’s long overdue, in my opinion, despite the algorithms and ethos, it’s especially time to mine the Weltanschauung after 2008 because of joy.
I had a final cocktail and an order of (not mashed) mashed potatoes at Baccaro with entertainer George Egerton-Warburton and Lily Randall, a trained psychoanalyst who identified himself as a “Laccan pervert.” The Lacanian pervert diagnosed me as a “clerical hysteric, a dying breed.” Hysterical is doomed by her desire to know, the desire to know the cost of which she speaks. “She’s so much fun but she’s always trying to fix herself, when she really should be staying put.” Well, on Monday, this hysterical screamed the entire train ride to her Upper West Side office. Why are you asking? The fragility of life and love, its agony and its beauty—a woman boarded the train with her infant, then sat facing the pram, wedging it between her knees. I could see the baby bending inward to lay her head on her mother’s lap. This heralded a new batch of tears.
I summed up my analysis of the week, all the bloody passions and misadventures, and then sat down to read to my colleague Jamison Webster’s hysterical class on psychoanalytic bodies that started this week. In Rina’s opening, George asks what I think “psychoanalytic bodies” means.
I replied, “It’s a big container.”
So was it last week in New York, where one player aptly remarked that it “felt like an art gallery.” Crazy, perverted, neurotic, hysterical, psychotic, romantic – yes, in fact, he did get pregnant, then exploded, all of the above.