Author: Sante Scardillo --- Date: 10/22/95--- Copyright: ThingReviews NYC

The Soho Arts Festival
Oct. 6, 7, 8

Where were they? 25,000 visitors announced, scores of known perpetrators turned out. It seems Watson & co. spent the $$$ they purveyed from L.A. in public relations, rather than good old banging advertisements: floaters appeared early in the specialized columns of the New York Times, New York Observer and other publications read in Artland. Time for galleries to wonder how much bang they are getting for their advertising buck: it seems the message goes out only to the addicted, who would know anyway. And time for the art "Community" to reckon whether being in the same league of the S. Gennaro feast (Have you seen that festoon misplaced a few blocks west, right on the door of the blue chip Andrea Rosen gallery building?) is not only an unworthy, sleazy gimmick but also a delusion that throngs of punters from the mainstream will ever come. You have to build it first.

Sad considerations covered, I saw interesting spurts, some were actual audience magnets and a welcome respite from the pathetic circus of openings trekking, which many have forsaken.

The J.F.K. Pavilion.

Fantastic and really 'now' quotes from the dead president (the Shakespearean figure whose cult is hushed-up in most households, in this dark age of politics, but is very much alive in most American hearts). Extracted from the J.F.K. Library film archives and transferred to video, they were shown on a column of 3 monitors, running in a 10' loop. The down side: I was the only viewer there during 2 loops, at 7pm on a Friday night. Calling something the J.F.K. Pavilion, smacks of revulsion. Many I know stayed away for that reason. Also, using a bad luck former shoe store location, did not help. If this is the beginning of the counterattack to the philistine cultural warfare coming from the right (and it has the potential for being that, clever ploy and riveting rouse it is), it resembles the route of the New jersey Palisades. But the Revolutionary war both started badly and ended gloriously in Manhattan. The things Kennedy said: the freedom of the artist is a light to all of society and an artist's integrity is the uncompromising pursuit of such freedom. Mesmerizing and truly contemporary. The man had fucking vision!

Agnes B.

Agnes B. had a little show, little show had Agnes (B.). Cute. As we all know, the idea is not so new and credit for this round of pioneering in this post-happening (or is it neo-happening?) era of art exhibitions in actual, functioning retail outfits, goes to Gene Pool (legal name) and his Crest Hardware show in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. And it is a good idea: at least if the art sucks, you can burn your residual desire lusting over merchandise. I am not saying this was the case. I liked the Julia Scher window piece, which I would have at best missed, had I not been there for Jan Avgikos informational talk on the genesis of the piece: a video monitor alternating actual surveillance footage from the store's camera to shots of Scher's friends sampling clothes in the changing rooms afterhours. Other insights gained: Avgikos is now privy to the inevitability of subjective interpretation of works of art. The move to the other Agnes' store had the accompanying surprise of a nice party. All the people who were not needed anyway were uptown for Olden- burg's do at the Gugge, so the atmosphere was relaxed and informal (just like the clothes downstairs, get it?)

Die Klage der Kaiserin
(The plaint of the empress)
conceived and directed by Pina Bausch

It was the last day of Soho week (festival, whatever). The Yoshi Yamamoto theater, er, store, was full. The audience. mostly from the art and the shopping communities, included also a woman in zebra print top and green lime nails and a young white rasta with very long dreadlocks. They were camping in front of a horizontal succession of three video monitors projecting the same images. On the screens, a woman in hip city garb was wading through a sea of sheep covering a hill. After a few intercuts with similarly absurdist tableaux, the same woman is back, dragging a sheep away, this time in urban settings, with a hilarious effect. This and many other different sequences, accompanied by incidental sound and adiagetic music, stigmatize or recognize the serialized daily rituals modern lives are made of. Some are cut with short bits of monologue in a feminine, coarse voice, seemingly under the spell of a powerful hang over, in German, with translation provided on a sheet. It is secondary though; what keeps the magnetism is the cluelessness to what will come next as well as the strength and freshness of each new scene, setting, image. The presence of androids of uncertain sex and other icons of sexual ambiguity, is frequent in the ceaseless succession of scene, visual one-liners l-3 minutes long, some with follow-ups and recalls. Ambiguous androids, uncertain sexes, woolly ovines, dead-pan silence and incidental noises ... where have I seen it all before? Obvious, it's Cremaster 4! But "seen" is not "made". Barney got more than a little inspiration from this unknown 1989 jewel.

--Sante Scardillo

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