Author: Claude Wampler --- Date: 03/08/96 --- Copyright: ThingReviews NYC


145 Avenue of the Americas, NYC
Feb. 15 - March 3rd

Members of the CULT OF CLAUDE:
Chivas Clem, Heather Vernon, Matt Wilson, Brucina, Tim Partridge, The Reverend Jen, Chris Hallstead, David Latham, Monica Mohan, Robert D. Tucker, Marisa Sullivan, Chris Freeman, Kaethe Fine, John Tremblay, Dwight Ewell, Denise Rabalais, Leon Blitshtein, Michael Portnoy, Henry Baumgartner, Mark Barton, Joanna Adler, Anthony Fine, Terri Dewhirst, Pinky Brown, Julie Peppito, Bradley Rubenstein, Mike Kelly, Alan Tibbetts, Martina Keig, David Letwin

Conversation with a friend:

It seems that some people are really upset about this whole cult thing or maybe it is just what all curators, organizers, directors put up with because there are two kinds of people-- those who like their parents and those who do not. The ones that don't, have problems with authority that seems to effect all dealings with leadership. Just simply showing up on time or completing a task that they have committed to becomes an opportunity for rebellion.

Curating this show was like babysitting (a bunch of brats). I started the whole concept of the CULT OF CLAUDE 1) To see if I could convince artists whose work I appreciate to be in a cult 2) To create a group or heading under which there could occur subversive artistic activity 3) To work out, publicly, my ideas about, and difficulties with being the center of attention and having power over the people that I surround myself with. I have always been the center of attention in my family, for many perverse reasons, and now am uncomfortable in the big real world whether I am taking center stage or not. My natural impulse to get what I want from people is to make them worship me in some way and then intimidate them into being what I consider cool. So, in trying to counter act that, I created a new CLAUDE to be the Cult Leader. She is 12 years old, sticky sweet, all embracing, completely accecepting and very encouraging ("The CULT OF CLAUDE is what you make it. Whatever you choose to do is the perfect choice. Your beauty is apparent.") I think I would have had much more success being the real Claude Wampler, CONTROLLING CLAUDE. Anyway, maybe I didn't make any of this clear to the members or the audience but, you know, nobody bothered to ask any questions either. It is like the card that was sent out to announce the show; I spoke to many people after they had recieved it and was asked questions like "When is the opening?...Who's in it?...When do the Worship Services begin?" all of which are answered right on the card if they had just read the damn thing. Why don't people read? And more importantly, why don't they have any shame about not reading? I would be embarrassed to ask questions that were answered in print right in front of my face. I don't mind, in fact I respect someone making a conscious choice to ignore certain details or certain things all together but when it is a symptom of big fat apathy, I have nothing but hate for that someone.

Oh, and speaking of apathy, is it a curator's (or Cult Leader's) job to supply artistic integrity? I found that some of the artists in the show, between intiation and the opening, lost steam. Artists that were very enthusiastic and had such great ideas somewhere along the way became disenchanted and consequently slacked together any old thing or hung unfinished work or got on stage totally unprepared and I thought to myself, "OK, they don't like this show anymore because it is not what they cracked it up to be..." or "Well, they think the other artists in the show are stinky and perhaps feel that this is not the greatest show on earth so they didn' t put much effort into their own work." If that is the case, that is fucked. What about shining? What about standing out in the crowd, being the ONE, "Wow that show was kinda weak but so-and-so's piece was the balls!" or " I thought the whole cult thing was a stupid excuse for a show but so-and-so's work was really amazing!"

Don't get me wrong, I love a lot of the work in the show. Martina Keig created a perfect and quite disturbing suburban foyer-like installation (Claude up Close,) with gorgeous computer-color-enhanced portraits and a photo album that collected dust in the saddest way. John Tremblay's svelt silver painting, Runway, is very seductive and the secret about it (the punctures in it were made by me walking the length of it in silver spiked heels) was only revealed to those who attended Worship Service #1 where he screened the making-of film. Brucina's hidden and pretty piece (Cake Spore/Tom Hompertz,) on the floor behind the pillar was definitely the tiniest! It's cake-ness interacted well with Terri Dewhirst's The Body of Claude: An Ode to David Wojnarowicz, also pink but with the added cruelty of straight pins baked in. Pinky Brown (which is merely an alias for Trudie Reiss) made paintings (Piercing Appearance Speaks Not, Seeking to Understand, Peering Through Lines of Encapsulation, Sipping Bubbles of Life in a Cloud of Disappearance,) that someone described perfectly as being what 13 year old gay boys doodle on their notebooks. Trudie's Untitled with Camera performance at Worship Service #1 was a great idea to see actualized (nothing better than watching sexy boys cry because their being subtly abused by Fierce Trudie) but, it went on and on. Chivas Clem's Untitled (Storyboard for Hotel Story,) was a favorite of mine with its moody Hitch-COCKY quality with a twisted end (and his open end). I'm Bart Simpson, have sex with me , is such an excellent title and the last line of the video that Kaethe Fine made, housed in a robed and hooded structure that added mystery to the relatively straight forward but intriguing interview on the video.

Chris Holstad became one of the characters in his newspaper drawings for Worship Service #2. Dressed in his brown and tan plastic seagull suit with a shrink wrapped head and a blow-up seagull following close behind was quite a poetic sight but best was the sound made when he stepped on a rubber bath mat suction-cup-side-up. Tim Partridge's isolation room (I'll have a bit of everything,) was very tricky because making the audience put on a protective suit and latex gloves scared many people away from even trying it but those who did found a very pleasant, adorable and almost comical experience inside. Heather Vernon's 3 Tech Guys that made appearances at Worship Service #3 were brilliant and also contained a secret that only very few knew; These men were on Kathy Starr's payroll and setting up for an important performance by her that was actually occuring in the gallery- Kathy TV. Chris Freeman just exhausted himself, working so hard in his performances, Work in Progress, Billy Dude, Homan's Dock , Shining Armor, and the big fav, Dream, in which Chris tried to achieve the beauty of slides of incredible snowboarding moves on stage. For me, with Chris Freeman (President Elect ,) it is his intense effort that makes him interesting. Joanna P. Adler's bloody installation was a great take on the whole cult thing and it also contained her very own pubic hair, another instance of only a priviledged few knowing the gory details.

Allan Tibbetts did two very beautiful performances for Worship Services #1&2. Only a Rose, was a channeling of Edie Beale, or was it Allen Tibbetts being channeled through the memory of Gray Gardens, and the personal and heart-warming memory of Edie Beale that that film provides us with? No More Angels, had the same tragic effect but instead of remembering Edie from the past we are forced to remember those from the future who will be dead as a result of the A.I.D.S. epidemic. Mike Kelly performed two versions of Act IV, Scene V of The Tulips, for Worship Services #1&3. The audience, having only heard the final line of some intense but terribly dull Chekovian play, then had to sit through the roaring applause and endless curtain calls of the ever gracious actor (Mike Kelly). It was irritating for most but I could have watched it for hours because there was a whole absurdist play going on in the subtlety of his changing expressions.

Which brings me back around full circle... it is very hard to get people to expend energy on anything that is the least bit slippery, therefore potentially difficult. Maybe I'm wrong.

-Claude Wampler

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The one thing that Claude failed to give herself credit for is her willingness to leave the position of curator and creator of a show up to chance, which is the impression one got when seeing both the art show and the performance series, and to spite it's awkwardness,it was a fresh experience.

-- ed

the sheep is the only harmless thing in the picture

ian --

I am very interested in the performance ONLY A ROSE that Allan Tibbetts did. Where could I find out more information? Does anyone know what has become of Edie Beale?