Friday, March 10, 2006

I quit work early today to head out to The Armory Show: The International Fair of Fine Art this afternoon. Everybody who was anybody who'd spend twenty-thousand dollars on a painting a chimpanzee could make was there. You've got your standard Eurotrash. You've got your punk Eurotrash, easily identifiable by their hair, a motley abstract expressionist tapestry of radioactive color that mimics the ostentation of every other superficial counter-culture ninny ever. And you've got your New York literati dipshit reading Vanity Fair, but if you peek over their shoulders it turns out they're just ogling Annie Leibovitz's nude celebrity portraits. And yes, I've always resented the cultural effete for their pseudo-erudite ramblings and their Coldplay ringtones, but I never knew the depths my contempt for them could reach until I was in the midst of New York's entire vainglorious art scene strutting around, literally, as a crowd.

You would not believe how many times this afternoon some art snob walked right into me. Like, we're walking in opposite directions and we saw each other — and I'm sure everybody on the planet has had this experience; so one person moves a few inches to one side and the other person moves a few inches the other way, or you do that awkward little sidewalk dance, but the point is that both of you realize that you've gotta get out of each other's way. I'd see that I'm about to collide with Thousand-Dollar Suit Affected Guy and he sees that he's going to hit me. I alter my trajectory maybe a foot to the right (and by the way, people, can we all just agree and make right the official direction to move in order to avoid sidewalk collisions?) and he just keeps on walking straight and, naturally, bumps into me. It got to the point where I'd see someone coming at me, and I'd just stand still, figuring that maybe coordinating two people's paths was a little too taxing for them. All they'd have to do is walk around, and these idiots would still crash into me!

They weren't trying to push me out of the way in some sort of imperious "Move, commoner!" manner. In fact, I was a little put off at with the my first collector collision, but eventually there became something sad and bookish in these people bumping into me. I'm not sure what it was — if they just have poor spatial reasoning skills, or they're like horses and can't see what's right straight in front of them, or maybe they're unaware that I am a corporeal being and thus they can not walk right through me. I think I should paint a picture explaining this concept. I could probably sell it to them for a good deal of money.

Anyway, I was at the Armory Show and I made the fatal mistake of underestimating how little I care about contemporary art. Or art. I spent time at every single one of the 175 exhibitions, but after about an hour trudging around the huge, huge space with my backpack and laptop and dinosaur of a digital camera, I couldn't muster up much interest. Besides, everyone else was taking notes and chatting with the gallery curators, so there was more than enough enthusiasm to go around. Let's get this out of the way: There were exactly two clever pieces in the whole show. Here's one of them at left, in 2.1 megapixel glory. I don't know who made it or what it's called, but I know it has a cousin. Replace the sink with a bathtub, the soil in the sink with polished rocks, and the lights with working shower nozzles, and you've got an entire bathroom that's no longer functional but sort of resembles a garden. I wouldn't want it in my house, because it would be weird always pooing next to that thing, but it might be cool in someone else's house.

I feel a little guilty for judging this piece a little too quickly.I thought someone was trying to pass bottles of wine off as art. In fact, it's a chessboard. Not really art. Not even really something you couldn't make yourself at home. But in any case, my bad.

Other positive about the Armory Show: not a ton of heavy-handed anti-American imperialism "George Bush is the real terrorist" crap. We do have this thing below, because, like I said before, Eurotrash...
Gee, I can not figure out what the artist is trying to say about America. I am dumb. It's like the artist first heard about symbolism yesterday and is making up for thirty lost years.

For the most part, though, the stuff on the floor was pretty banal. There was a lot of stuff, especially in the realm of photography, that could best be described as "nice." Compared to most museum exhibitions, the Armory Show was thankfully short on grotesquerie, eyesores, and abstract meta-expressionism ("It's all about the question of where the art begins, whether it's relegated to the hand of the artist and to what extent, if any, the viewer participates in the creation of the work.") and bigger on merchandisable pieces, things that look nice on a sitting room wall and impress Dominick Dunne. Like this sculpture here, which is kind of funky and pastel, but I think we all agree isn't complete without the Hanson poster.

Final thought, which I ran across in the bathroom. Looks like somebody's stuff didn't get accepted into the show...