U C U event at 79 Vandam Street
Summer in New York is usually very interesting in a behind-the-scenes way. While all the swells migrate to the Hampton's or Europe, the artists and dealers start prepping for the next season. There's also a lot of youthful activity and experimental shows which get lost in the Fall sales blitz that centers around the contemporary auctions. Two parties this Summer create a bookend indication of where the art world is at right now. One is the party for Nan Goldin's photo work for Matsuda concurrent with an exhibit of her work at the Matthew Marks gallery, the other a three person one night show and party downtown by the artists Kevin Clarke, Wolf-Dieter Stoeffelmeier and Petra Maitz. The Nan Goldin show was faux bohemian to the hilt. Her posed pix of "marginal" people for fashion powerhouse "Matsuda" is ludicrous. Never mind that she's plundering a punk aesthetic from the mid-seventies. What the original artists did from passion and desperation Goldin has gussied up for mass consumption. Worse is the fact that the original artists never received recognition and were largely ignored in the mad rush to market painting in the eighties. The downtown show/ party by Wolf-Dieter Stoeffelmeier, Kevin Clarke and Petra Maitz is the genuine article. You won't be able to see these works any time soon. The artist's are not represented by galleries. But as I said one of pleasures of New York in the summer is the freshness of unexpected events. Petra Maitz showed a rear projection film in B & W and color of Venice Italy. The B & W showed the architecture in a European post war film style. Very cerebral. This was juxtaposed with color beach scenes and people relaxing on boats etc. What is portrayed is a sensation of timelessness. The buildings and the people exists in the present but it could just as easily be fifty years ago or fifty years in the future.
All the works in the show present a distancing of the viewer through a mechanical filter. In Petra's case an 8mm movie camera. Wolf-Dieter Stoeffelmeier shows lushly polished large scale pieces constructed of B & W computer printouts mounted behind plexiglass. The images are scanned photos shot from the TV. The cool-eyed synthesis is hallucinatory. Kevin Clarke showed his large scale cibachrome portrait of a Bosnian artist. No ordinary portrait this, Clarke takes blood from his subject, has the DNA analyzed and at the same time produces an archetypal photo image that abstractly represents the person with the DNA code superimposed on the picture. The image is manipulated in the negative and in an over-the-top move Clarke painted a burnt-orange rectangle to place the photo on. By the way the party was terrific fun. People talked to each other sweated up a storm in the heat and ate fresh sushi. Bookend number one; the fashion scene has money to spend on art but only in terms of corporate parties and publication promos. Bookend number two; artists mount a small gathering financed out of their pockets to share their excellent efforts with their peers. Although out of the public eye and away from the "real" money I'd choose the downtown scene any time, it's where the real passion lies.
Works by(upperleft) Wolf-Dieter Stoeffelmeier and (upper right) Kevin Clarke. Photos by Kevin Clarke.
I don't go out to parties but I'm sure I would agreed with you. That is if I went to parties. But then I like Kevin more than Nan. The elevation of Nan Goldin to her present Whitney-esque status is unfortunate. Her work is the presentation of it and it's too bad some attempt can't be made to at least recreate the original power I sensed when I first saw her present her slide show. I'd met and not much liked many of the people she photographed. Maybe that was it. She did like them even though they were awful. Both her and her work now seem detoxed. Well, that is good for her I suppose. I do hope that sushi was fresh.