Sunday, May 20, 2007

Look Back (Preferably) WITHOUT Anger

19 May 2007

When my editor asks me where the latest post is – I KNOW I’m really dropping the ball. I really meant to post last night – but got home later than expected with a slight case of food poisoning (or who knows?). It’s a given I’m under some deadline pressures (see previous post) – pressures I have may have exacerbated myself by philosophically over-dissecting the Marta Edmisten show I was reviewing. (Just to forewarn artillery readers – they may have to wait on that one. Let me just say that I take it a few steps beyond the issue of transgression or voyeurism (which would be a misreading anyway: it’s not really voyeuristic).)

What can I say? – it’s been an exhausting (and frankly not very productive) week. Am I allowed to say that? (she asked rhetorically) In this paradise of the work ethic and workaholism? That’s what happens when there’s not enough playtime. awol not only goes awol; she just drops down a black hole. I did not go to the Eileen Myles reading. I did not attend Curtis Harrington’s funeral, which friends told me – with the benefit of 20-20 hindsight – was a conflagration of Old and New Hollywood I really should have dropped everything to attend. The notable atrocities included Kenneth Anger’s attempts to disrupt the proceedings and Donna Deitch’s filming of both Anger’s antics (e.g., Anger kissing Curtis’s embalmed face – notwithstanding , or perhaps because, they apparently reviled one another) and other parts of the funeral. The show, Curtis would be comforted to know, went on – but not without Anger’s calumnies hurled casket-ward. That’s one thing I’m glad I missed. I’ve only met him a couple of times; but needless to say, he looks nothing like the angelic creature of M-G-M’s Midsummer Night’s Dream or the dreamy guy of his own Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome. One of my more (or not so) recent encounters was actually in the company of Tulsa Kinney herself (ah, those were the days) – at a MOCA opening (Man Ray, as I recall). Anger really needs a keeper now. Maybe Joel-Peter Witkin would be up to the task – what with all that Aleister Crowley business he’s (I mean Anger) up to his eyeballs in. (My source for all this, by the way, is Gregory Poe – who designed a beautiful funerary urn for Curtis.)

And no, gentle reader, I didn’t go to the Barbara Stanwyck tribute at the Academy (what? – and miss another chance to see The Lady Eve or – be still my beating heart – Forty Guns???). Oh honey – if you only knew – I am sooooooo over guns. I swear I’m going to submit my own amicus brief if another Second Amendment case gets cert at the Supreme Court. (Yeah – I guess that goes for you, too, Joe Deutch.) I’m not sure what pushed me over the edge; but lately when in doubt I just blame everything on Bush – who I’ve decided is The Manchurian Candidate. (Barbara B. of course is the sub-sub-glam version of the character played by Angela Lansbury.) Or is it Damian?? Anyway I’m sure there’s a 6-6-6 tattooed somewhere on his pointy head. But no – I’ll never get over Stanwyck. (And I’ll have a chance to see some of her films at the Billy Wilder Theatre at the Hammer over the next couple of weeks.)

And no – I didn’t get out of town for the Tuesday and Wednesday night sales. You have to hand it to him: Toby did more than just pull one out of the hat (i.e., the Rockefeller Rothko). The Bacon record owed something to what I call idea and early-spark-of-genius values; and speaking of idea value, you may have noticed the Baldessari, too, fetched a record price. Barbara Jacobson’s Wesselman smoker was another record-breaker. Ditto Basquiat. But they were hardly the only highlights of the sale – which included some outstanding Richters. Personally I was fixated on that amazing Marlene Dumas self-as-baby-portrait. I still haven’t checked the hammer price. The real proof of Meyer’s overall coup de chefs-d’oeuvres, though was the total sale figure. Sotheby’s doubled its previous May contemporary sales record. The next evening, Christies set its own record – for that Warhol Green Car Crash (over $70 million – a mere shade lighter than the Rockefeller Rothko). The sale total was over $380 million.

Instead of hammer prices, I hit the Hammer again on Thursday. I didn’t really catch Lynda Benglis – which would have been fantastic – because I was communing with the Pittmans and Shaws in Eden’s Edge. Last night I went to the Identity Theft show at the Santa Monica Museum. – which features late 1970s identity/performance work and documentation by Eleanor Antin, Lynn Hershman and Suzy Lake. It’s a good show – though in certain respects the Antin section is inevitably overshadowed by Howard Fox’s brilliantly curated LACMA show; and the Hershman section focused more or less exclusively on the Roberta Breitmore project and documents – ignoring for example the Dante Hotel installations, her pioneering interactive work, Lorna, as well as many other interesting digressions in this vein (e.g., her ‘hero sandwiches’, robotics and tele-robotics, films, etc.). You can’t really blame Finkel for this. There’s just way to much to wrap one’s head around much less cram into a couple of museum galleries. Hershman is probably overdue for her own full-scale retrospective. It’s inevitably an intimidating prospect. In terms of the scope of her work on every level – cultural, technical, philosophical – she’s almost without peer. Perhaps it could be split between two museums here – e.g., Hammer & LACMA – or even with the Museum of Television & Broadcasting. Something like that. Presumably it would travel – here, nyc (i.e., Whitney or MoMA), SF (where I believe Hershman is still based), perhaps UK (Tate? Hayward?), Paris? (Pompidou? Palais de Tokio?) Maybe Microsoft and Apple could compete to put up the big underwriting bucks – non? Somebody call Bill Gates and Steve Jobs; better yet, Paul Allen and Eli Broad. (That was me doing my Irving Blum impression – hey all in the spirit of things, no? Come to think of it (speaking of auction success) -- hey Irving -- can you spare a megabuck?)

The Suzy Lake “identity borrowing” photographs were fascinating – very difficult to produce in their pre-PhotoShop era – involving series of double exposures – with some pretty creepy results. The specimens she chose – no doubt deliberately – were just a bit aesthetically challenged, which only heightens the sense of strangeness, alienation.

Anyway I showed up on time (for a change) for Jori Finkel’s preview, expecting to hook up with one of my Italian pals – only to find out from a mutual pal that she’d already left for Roma. No sooner had I learned this then I turned around to see Carla Weber – with whom I’ve made and broken more dates than we can count – for once our schedules were in synch. She was with Sandy Gray – still modeling and oh-so-fabulous. Sandy was fascinated with the special edition vinyl wallets Lake and Hershman had done for the show (she bought a Hershman “Breitmore account” wallet); and we all remarked on how they reminded us of what might have been the template for this sort of thing – those fabulous wallets and accessories Gregory Poe designed for Fiorucci – which are probably museum pieces themselves now. Speaking of fashion, I wondered why a number of people looked remarkably Chanel (Laurie Franks was wearing a jacket I would have sworn was Lagerfeld a couple years back – but she confessed it wasn’t). As it turned out, a significant segment of the crowd was headed over to the Santa Monica Airport for the Chanel resort collection show and after-party. Laurie suggested I join the Lagerfeld legions; but (again for a change) I decided not to play hooky and fall back to Eden’s Edge (which will probably seem like hell’s kitchen by tomorrow night), though not before having another margarita with Carla and Sandy (who went against the Chanel wave in something very Ralph Lauren-ish – or maybe it’s just her look; she could probably double for Ricky Lauren). Speaking of Sotheby’s (wasn’t I?) or maybe just the fabulous, one of my real estate/architecture mavens, Jackie Tager, was also there. Ditto Carol Kino (we chatted briefly about the sales) who’s in town on a Getty/Annenberg fellowship.

It was quite a parade – not unlike the Incognito crowd. There was a certain poignancy for me, too, here – seeing someone from my past with whom I’d parted on somewhat traumatic terms. I was relieved when she didn’t recognize me – as I suspected she probably wouldn’t. Carla and I played at identifying the star-lettes we’d glimpsed in 10 minute chunks from television shows, like Laura Innes from the NBC adrenaline-fest, ER. Ah – those were the days. I have no idea what my cats watch lately.

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