Monday, March 14, 2005

Greater New York 2005 exhibit

Famous or European?
P.S.1 Gallery, Brooklyn, NY

Let us veer for a moment to the world of art. P.S.1 was closed for a while for the installation of its new exhibit, in cooperation with the recently-remodeled MoMA. It's this gallery in Brooklyn (ok, well, technically Long Island City) housed in a building that used to be a school. The entrance way is big and concrete with little rocks on the ground, but then inside it feels warm and cozy and not at all like you may be in trouble.

Art openings in New York are fun because all kinds of thin people come out to participate. I say "thin" intentionally as I saw not one single larger person at this event. No, this was not a cross-section of America in any way. This was a gathering of the hip, the informed, and the international.

Some vignettes are in order. (exhibit a) Well-to-do older couple dressed entirely in black, woman sports those enormous Liz Taylor glasses. Her hair is grey but tastefully streaked with black. (exhibit b) Artist girl with shabby/spendy jean jacket, long tulle black skirt and Converse shoes clomping into the gallery, uninterested. (exhibit c) Band of very short, expensively dressed women who see a piece of art, then rush up to the description card saying "I think I know this guy!" and complain loudly if anyone happens to be crossing their path at that moment. (exhibit d) Pair of guys in their late 20s, both sporting rockstar haircuts, worn brown leather jackets, tall boots, with one of them carrying an ugly Lufthansa Airlines carry-on bag. They stand in the courtyard chainsmoking and waiting to be recognized.

For that matter, it looks to me like a full 15% of the people here could be famous in some way. I lean in to hear a few people talk, and am surprised to discover that they are merely European. So then the question becomes "famous or European?" Since I rarely recognize famous people, it's impossible to tell. Although on our way out my friend does spot David Duchovny driving away in his Land Rover, so there's that.

As with any big event, some folks are here specifically to hate it. There are about a million press people swarming around taking pictures, shooting video, and talking warmly to attendees and artists, all the while composing a blistering review in their heads. I think the negative reviews exist to balance out all the other publications who basically reprint press releases issued by the gallery.

In all, the media event works. P.S.1 gathers the rich, famous, and Euro out to an event (during the day!) where they can mingle with their compatriots and be the first to see Local Art That Matters. Hip mommies and daddies wander with babies strapped to their chests, artists rush around to find their own work, and delighted art patrons croon over and over, "oh my GAWD! I haven't seen you in so LOWNG!"


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