I'm seating (more like lying) down. Diana made us lasagna. I contributed a lentil salad. Then us three, Clarisse, my hot girlfriend, Diana and I took over the couches to talk art, business, art business projects, life, us, me, you, what's cool, what sells, and how we can do what we want to do. Pretty fucking simple. Pretty fucking good too. All three of us got our "shit that's great" moment. Then they both abandoned me for a cigarette. So. Here I am, lying down like I said. Thinking about Judas - my blog you're reading, not the not traitor. Thinking I do have a bit of a commitment prob. Like, yeaaaaah I wanna do this. But, yeah, til I get bored. So like everyone who owns an iPhone, I look compulsively through it. Total waste of time. But not always. Found this pic I took two days ago. Look below. That's what NY has in store for us, and what it calls spring. 👀🚨 You motherF!!
Ya, ok ok, happy Wednesday to you too. I’m a bit stuck today. Stuck in my head. Too many information, ideas, thoughts. Too little time granted to the process of digesting them. I’d almost ask someone to touch my frontal lobe to check if it hasn’t melted already. What I need now, is isolation. Luxury, to me, is emptiness. Empty spaces. Silence. Which, I had to give up moving back to NYC. Urgh. Silence. Silence brings you back to yourself. I’m thinking more and more than only deeply self-centered people can fully enjoy and crave silence. And, yeah, I’d be one of them. I’m counting the times my phrases start with « I », remembering what my dear mother, a bit anal about the positioning of the self, the presenting of the self to the world, and how others perceive us, has once told me. A message that has haunting my writing till that day. She said, « people who use I a lot have much more chance of dying of a heart attack. Because their focus is too much on their self. » Sweet Lord, thanks maman. So today, I’m testing my luck. I. I. I. I. Oy. It wouldn’t be too bad dying today - at least, my brain would get some rest. But, hey, chill out, not a fucking chance it’ll happen under my watch. Silence. The absolute gift of the loner. When do we ever get a chance to experience an artwork in silence? One that we don’t own, that is?
I have - a couple of times, perhaps, so far. The game of opposites, follow me please. About 10 years ago, Beaubourg was presenting Bill Viola’s Five Angels for the Millenium. I was something like 17. Very hungry for art, for novelty, and for adventures that would build up my mental arts-related bank. My private gallery of images. It was about refining and defining the territory of my taste. This show was a bullet through my brain. It made everything I had intellectually created on the experiencing of art shatter. The piece was a sensorial and visual shock. But it was more than that. I had found my place. And I thought the artwork had as well. Through the how. The seclusion imposed by the scenography, the delimited and palpable blackness of the surroundings, in between the video projections and me, viewer, was decisive to how I think and (physically) navigate art shows ever since. My being had been taken hostage by the merger of matter and anti-matter. The way the viewing space was thought of, and built, and how it related to the work presented was the apex of enhancement, dragging art-wanderers into the Angels’ abyss. Bill Viola’s work demands your body and soul to let go of control, to stop resisting, in order to be snatched. Once you have relinquished your power and submitted to his vision, to the flow of images, to the narrative (or absence of), can you fully delve into the depth of psyche. Bill Viola’s work acts much like a drug, in the way that it’ll change your perception to make you go inwards. But, for that to materialize, you need space. Retreat. Silence. And almost loneliness. The exhibition space must fabricate and protect its sacral environment. Otherwise, us, you, me, viewers, end up packed up in a room, stuck against someone’s body you’d rather not think of. Like at the Grand Palais last year. Wishing everyone around wasn’t born. Because some works, or bodies of work in the case of Viola, are that connected to the personal, the self centeredness, the oneness, and the solitary. What about void? Here’s another notion we could explore more. And play with. Creating with the negative. Michael Heizer, yes. And others. Few others. What about showing art using the void? Cattelan, yes, at the Guggenheim. Solitude, loneliness, void, are mistakenly associated with decay (of sociability), and with death. Whereas those could very well be the scary den that holds in the golden reward: revelation. Of the artwork. Of the self through the artwork. And, of the self.
I used to be out every single night of the week. And weekends, too. Needless specify, I dont remember it all. That was before. Now, to have me leave my home sweet home, in the midst of NY winter, you’d better have something good to offer. I got an email friday, a casual invitation to a video art show. Forgot about it, then thought on monday afternoon: I should definitely leave the house, and get some (freezing as hell) air. I mistakenly had in mind the performance was at the Blank Space thing. Until my girlfriend, Clarisse, exclaimed that the nail salon we were going to was so fucking cool. Wait, what? Had I known before getting ready it was a nail salon hosting the night, and curating it, I’d probably would have blamed it on the cold and not go. I did make a comment just that day on how bad it was that so many stores and cafes and magazines were now turning into art galleries « once in a while. » I’m okay when proven wrong though. Vanity Projects nailed it. Sorry, the word game really was unintentional. Why, and how was it so different from every other space thinking they should add the art trend component to their business?
In theory, I am thrilled that more and more people feel like they « get » art, and so go see art shows - in galeries, museums, fairs, and elsewhere. But it saddens me to notice that the main drive isn’t art itself. The viewer being viewed viewing. That’s the focus. Which, could be a form of art in itself. Which would demand panache, questioning, and doing. Creating. Thinking. Talking. And listening.
I revendique elitism in art. And people then assume I’m just another art snob. And I let them. ‘cause I can be. But let me tell you this. My standards for elitism are not the ones you’d imagine. The elite I wish art spoke to and was destined to, is one bonding around the fairly disregarded, mistrusted, and despised notion of kindness. Don’t get me wrong: I LOVE power. Power seeking is such a major thrill in (my) life. But what type of power? Again, not the one you’d figure yourself. One achieved by stepping on people’s head, or found in the incessant mirror-like back and forth gaze, repeating one same empty praise to one another to feel better about one's achievements: not it. A power that considers kindness as a flaw: still not my type. However. Being brave enough to show honesty of emotions, honesty of showing yourself like you are, honesty of being yourself, honesty vs pretending to be, that’s more like it. My elitism is one of the heart. One of finding, (re)uniting, and celebrating people’s pure love for (the) art(s). And I don’t care if it sounds absolutely corny or naive. Because it’s everything but. Why? Yes! Another question. I love to explain why. What’s a pure love for the arts? One where the hashtag isn’t, like I’ve been seeing it lately, #hypenomatterwhat. Or #hypeatwhateverthecost. Seriously. If you think about it… It’s kinda ironic that after everything that our contemporary history (‘cause who cares about modern, or even classic) has to say, as one kind, the human kind, we now, again, and perhaps more than ever, need to remind ourselves that’s it’s fucking more than okay to be who we are. My own hashtag of choice would be a diptych. #beyou #betrue. The power of being human - as in, showing qualities of « humanity » for the self and others, is my kind of power. And so, it seems like my elitism is a close neighbor of the battle between being true vs being seen.
Back to last night. Vanity Projects was having a nail art night, presenting a performance and video pieces by Martin Guttierez and his alter ego, Martine. It was so good because it was so sincere. Also because Guttierez's work in its whole has much to do with the question of gender - and is approaching the matter with a poetic and almost melancholic delicacy. What’s so delicate about a man dressing (almost) as a woman and dancing to his/her own music, to simplify greatly? His imagery. Of course, you can make parallels and find references of others in his work - we all come from somewhere. But much to my delight, that’s not the first thing you see. The first thing I saw, and was allowed to react to, was Martine. Pure and simple. No game of power transpired from the performance. The performance was all about… the performance. That’s why.
I love seeing people getting excited about the opening of the Armory. Or la Fiac. Or Art Basel. Frieze. Arco (thought this one was long gone, but nope.) I love to see people getting excited about fairs with their core enthusiasm revolving around the highly intellectual feeling of « I’m part of it. I’m cool too. » Everyone can, could, would, should, oughta have some interest for the arts. Art. Contemporary art. That’s today’s trend. And I think, it could, should, would bring out some very interesting points of views from a wider audience reflecting onto artworks. Because fashion journalists, selectors and DJs, and people whose occupations and hobbies have remained mysterious to me, also have something to say about art. Or, should, would, could, oughta. Na. It’s just cool to be there. You have to be there if you want to be recognized as part of that world. You have to be there, and be seen there, even though the majority of people you’ll run into will have nothing to say about the art presented. Nothing that will make me a bit less ignorant then when I walked in, anyway.
And for the past 6 years, I’ve kept on going there. Not because it’s my job. Not because I have to, or wanna be seen there. Not because I dream of meeting fantastic artsy people who will further my career and appetite for power in any way. Please. I keep on going there because it’s tastier than going to an opera-bouffe show. It’s everything that’s so good about junk food. And drugs. And alcohol. And a quickie in the bathroom of that new club. And so, an art fair opening night goes like this: 1. It’s the rush of excitement thinking of what awesome shit might happen, 2. It’s the absolute and cheap high (that doesn’t really last) of actually being there, surrounded by people blabbing such nonsense you could close your eyes and swear they are cartoon characters, 3. It’s the coming down hard once you’ve realized you really did lose your time - and two cab fares.
Seriously though. Who really goes to the fair when you have to pay, and be with « regular people », at « regular hours ». No fucking way. My absolute dream, since no one is asking, is this: there’s a list at the door. And we are welcomed with open arms -and some real champagne. And we are invited to spend the night surrounded by kindred spirits, brighter than us; others who belong here for their passion and love and understanding of art, artists, artworks. Others who will start a conversation and will draw our attention to something we had never thought of, never seen, never envisioned, or were too self-conscious to express in public. Others who will make everything better by having higher expectations: for their surroundings, the company they keep, and the art they chose to collect, critic, review, exhibit.
Until then, lucky me, I can walk that walk and enjoy the insights of my dear Paolo Canevari, like we did a couple of years ago. Holy Moly. I hope he's free that night.
There’s no time to waste. Yes, there are that many stories to relate - I suddenly feel backlogged. So please allow me. That’s the way I’ll do it. I’ll tell it like it is. Like it happens to me, on a daily basis. As this world is my own. It’s my birthplace, my love place, my work place, and my own little hell, at times. But this hell is oh so entertaining. The perks of being a true insider; I get to hear, see, and experience all of that art frenzy with a very sharpened mind. So much you’re missing out on. So why not share it with you, rather than regularly give myself heart attacks.
To hell with it. You want personal, that’s as personal as it gets. I’ll do my best no to fall to the other side: over sharing vulgarity. My mom is Francoise. She is a painter. She also was a dancer. At the Crazy Horse, of all places. The cabaret that presents « the most beautiful women », see? Yeah. Harry, my dad, liked it too. He is a writer, a publisher, an art publisher, ran and owned art galleries in Paris and NYC, and started out as an assistant professor of philosophy in the 70’s. He’d get kicked out of the professors’ lounge as he looked too young, and his hair was way too long for him to be a serious person. That’s my direct family tree. No bros, no sis, thank god.
I’ve always been too young in age for whatever it is I’ve been doing. That’s what I’ve been told over and over and over. Not that it ever stopped me in any way. I started writing by accident, if you believe in those. Evidently, I, don’t. Actually no, here it is: I was published for the first time by accident. That’s more like it. I was 15. I had shadowed Harry to some big shot early art party, where he’d be making very irreverent jokes -his favorite kind- to people who either found him hilarious and acutely intelligent, or plain nuts. He’s a bit of both, if you ask me. Sophie Calle was there. We spoke to each other. I have no memory of what her words were, but I do remember my deep and violent anger after the short conversation. She had no humor. No self derision. And her self-centeredness couldn’t hide a serious lack of… On to the next. Natalie was there too. She was (still is, perhaps) working for an art review, Area. She had been trying to get Harry to write a story for them, the theme of the upcoming issue being parties. And all of a sudden, I am the one being asked to write the story. He had passed it on to me. Just like that. I did it. I wrote the story. I thought the only thing I’d love about it would be to see my name printed in a magazine. That didn’t do it for me. I stayed soft. But super fucking turned on by the writing process, I was. And by being published, and so young. That really did it for my little effervescent and aroused teenage ego.
For the longest time - I’m 28, so a little less than that- I’d follow Harry to those private viewings, gallery openings, after gallery opening dinners, and business meetings with poets, writers, and top-selling contemporary artists. I don’t even need to exaggerate. I’m talking about Tom Wesselmann, Chuck Close, Robert Ryman, or Helen Frankenthaler, to name a few. The latest strongly disliked me. Oh, the 90’s. I was 6 or 7 years old, and after I had told her I liked this (or that) painting a lot, she replied looking at my father: what does a 6 year old understand about art? In your face, kiddo. It’s no surprise I feel like I belong the most when surrounded by people in their 50’s though. And that hasn’t changed for as long as I can remember. My girlfriend is close to that age too. I’ll brag for one second. She is so fucking hot. Her intelligence, her kindness, yeah and her looks too, are the biggest turn-ons ever. But I’m losing my point. I have always loved those people. Loved them for being so raw, impertinent, and for never apologizing when they spoke their truth. See where I’m going with that?
Dear « art world », how did you manage to let go so easily of all that mattered? I could make that previous sentence a bit less dramatic, but drama is my best bet to get you hooked. Let me sum it up this way: what the fuck is wrong with you? Let’s dive in.