Peake Performance

Stromboli
07.28.17

Dancers Francesco Russo, Sara Lupoli, and Valeria D'Antonio with artist Eddie Peake, poet Holly Pester, and dancers Emma Fisher and Kieram Corrin Mitchell. (All photos: Linda Yablonsky)


VESUVIUS WAS OFF-LIMITS.

Rival factions of the Camorra, the crime syndicate that rules sanitation and trade in the Gulf of Naples, had set waste dumps on the slopes ablaze and the town was heating up, in more ways than one. It wasn’t just the mercury that was sizzling. People were going around naked.

Cue Volcano Extravaganza 2017.

Fiorucci Art Trust director Milovan Farronato and founder Nicoletta Fiorucci annually import this summertime bonding-in-art experience from their base in London. The Vinyl Factory returned as producing partner for the Extravaganza’s seventh edition (July 13 to 16), an unbridled (and partly unclothed) festival of dance and sound conceived by British artist Eddie Peake to be, literally, transporting.

Cue fun.

Past Extravaganzas have lasted ten days or more and taken place on the island of Stromboli. There, a guest artist-curator and collaborators produce events and exhibitions—including dances on the lip of Stromboli’s very active volcano, Iddu, scripted dramas, movement workshops, and a parasol parade—and even a perfume.

This year Farronato and Fiorucci made an inspired choice in Peake, whose selected title, I Polpi (The Octopuses), was as descriptive as it was symbolic.

Left: Designer/stylist Gulio Ceruti and collector Nicoletta Fiorucci. Right: Casa Triangulo director Rodrigo Editore and Fiorucci Art Trust director Milovan Farronato.


Clocking in at an epic ninety-six hours, the festival requisitioned eight different sites on and between Naples and Stromboli. Conditions rivaled a Matthew Barney film shoot, minus the camera crew. Making a feast of it were 150 artists, dealers, curators, collectors, and photographers from Rome, Milan, Madrid, São Paulo, Brussels, Basel, Zurich, Los Angeles, and Naples, as well as London.

If these receptors exhibited vanguard tastes—Milanese stylist Giulio Ceruti designed and modeled a loud new outfit for each performance—Naples remained old school. Churches dated back centuries. In shops, cafés, and apartments, air-conditioning was optional. Cigarette butts outnumbered the tourists filling the cobblestone streets by day, while gangs communicated in coded bursts of fireworks by night.

Vesuvius had disappeared in the haze when I arrived a day early, but all was calm inside San Giuseppe delle Scalze a Pontecorvo, an abandoned seventeenth-century church in the city’s historic heart. Guided there by Farronato, Peake was rehearsing dancers Francesco Russo, Sara Lupoli, Valeria D’Antonio, Emma Fisher, and Kieram Corrin Mitchell; poet Holly Pester; and Gwilym Gold, one of two DJ/composers participating in I Polpi.

The performers were a pickup company of three preternaturally fit Neapolitans and two equally splendid Londoners who auditioned for the job. Their task was to perform Peake’s newest work, To Corpse, in five variations in as many settings, on rough, hard, filthy, steamy, or stony terrain, repeating the same six sequences in each location, but in different costumes and soundscapes.

Left: MADRE director Andrea Viliani and architect Antonio Keller. Right: Dealer Lorenzo Xiques.


We all got acquainted that evening at an impromptu pasta, buffalo mozzarella, and salad dinner hosted by architect Antonio Keller in his seemingly endless apartment, one floor of a shabby but grand palazzo. Though the evening was organized on short notice at Farronato’s request, Keller provided not just a meal but also a fab female DJ. Guests included MADRE director Andrea Viliani, dealer Lorenzo Xiques, and collector Giuseppe (“Beppe”) Morra, whose foundation would host the Extravaganza’s opener the following night.

While new arrivals checked into the Renaissance Mediterraneo Hotel, Naples was the lure, from the favela of the Spanish quarter to the Capodimonte Museum, high above the city, to the grand Excelsior Hotel on the bay.

One morning, when the sun was less likely to cause heatstroke, artist Mathilde Rosier (a veteran of previous Extravaganzas) guided Pester and this vacationing writer through the historic quarter, past churches, including the proto-Brutalist Gesù Nuovo, and over excavated streets built by the ancient Greeks in search of Seven Acts of Mercy, a masterpiece by the seventeenth-century fugitive Caravaggio.

None of this prepared us for the novel twist that Peake gave to Gli Animali (The Animals), beginning his Volcano at Archivo Casa Morra with a five-a-side soccer game—played entirely in the buff.

Just before dusk, spectators staked out viewing positions around the broad interior courtyard of the former Palazzo Cassano Ayerbo d’Aragona. Neapolitan kids play soccer in such places throughout their adolescence. But these players were clad only in shoes and socks.

I don’t think anyone closely followed the game, which was fought to a 7–7 draw. Let’s just say eyes were not on the ball. Yet both teams played with the seriousness of uniformed professionals. “I just told them to play as if it were a real game,” Peake said, “and not to think about what they weren’t wearing.”

Eddie Peake's Gli Animali (The Animals) in action at Casa Morra.


The whole thing—the perspiring crowd in cocktail dress, the bare-assed athletes, the grungy courtyard—was comical. Yet the battle grew intense. One could pity the exploited players or cheer their bravado, though it was also interesting to see the tables turned on the male gaze. Ultimately, their nudity became a costume, and somehow that made the audience feel naked.

The athletes’ only pay was dinner (and dancing) on the rooftop of the Mediterraneo. Dealer Lorcan O’Neill, who hosted with White Cube director Mathieu Paris, gave the toast to Peake. “All of your work is about how we cover up who we really are,” he said. “And this performance made the point beautifully.”

Cue applause.

The next day, collector Maurizio Morra Greco gave a small group of us a preview of his foundation’s expanding quarters in a thirteenth-century monastery. Moving through empty frescoed rooms, which had been in the possession of a single family for centuries, felt a lot like living a scene from Luchino Visconti’s The Leopard—or a hallucination unlikely to repeat come fall, when the revamped foundation opens to the public, and is filled with new art and new people.

Finally, at the hottest point of the afternoon, To Corpse, Variation One made its debut in the outdoor courtyard of the MADRE. (“To corpse” is slang in British theater for a moment when actors break character and collapse into unscripted laughter.) Again, the audience arranged itself around two sides of the courtyard, keeping well in the shade. The five dancers—two men and three women dressed in white unitards––went through their suggestive moves to music composed live by Darren Cunningham, the DJ known as Actress. Why Actress? “That’s a long story,” he said.

Left: Collector Maurizio Morra Greco. Right: Electronic composer/DJ Actress (Darren Cunningham).


Afterward, Extravaganzinos had a couple of hours to see the three astonishing exhibitions on view—by Roberto Cuoghi, Stephen Prina, and Wade Guyton, who created his work on-site during a two-month residency, producing the most edifying show of his career to date.

That evening, back at Le Scalze, the dancers wore black unitards to perform To Corpse, Variation Two, with improvised music by Gwilym Gold, who accompanied his angelic singing with a keyboard tuned to sound like a church organ.

I don’t know what it was—the golden sunlight streaming through high windows, the ethereal music, the scraped walls and close air in the old church—but this variation was positively beatific.

I asked Peake, who is an obsessional Rubik’s Cube ace, how he designed the choreography. “I don’t use that word,” he huffed, rapidly turning the cube in his hands. “There’s dance, and there’s visual art. And I think of this as art. Not choreography.” It’s a shifting stage picture, is what it is, this Corpse. Out of Peake’s earshot, Cunningham whispered, “I really like the choreography.”

After a bit of hanging out and smoking on the church steps, everyone piled onto buses and headed out to suburban Pozzuoli and Vulcano Solfatara, an enormous, steaming, and sulfurous volcano, an apocalyptic landscape of its own creation.

By the way, this volcano is privately owned. (And they say art collectors are crazy.)

  • “To Corpse, Variation Four” at Club Mega, Stromboli.

  • “To Corpse, Variation One” at Museum MADRE.

  • “To Corpse, Variation Three,” Vulcana Solfatara.

  • “To Corpse, Variation Two” at Le Scalze, Church of San Giuseppe at Pontecorvo.

  • “To Corpse, Variation Five” on a Stromboli Island dawn.

Solfatara was the stage for To Corpse, Variation Three. The dancers, who had changed into cherry-red unitards, paced within a fenced-in corral like restless horses, distracted by the sound of hissing fumaroles. “Apparently,” fashion writer Charlie Porter said, reading from a news clipping posted on a sign near a hissing vent, “the air here is good for sex.”

For sexy dancing, too. When the performers began leaping, rolling, and crunching through alternating currents of intense heat and cool air, Pester, in a long white dress, stepped up to a microphone to read “The Fishmonger’s Breath,” a poem she composed for the occasion.

Takeaway line: “I’m a prawn—and I love you as a prawn.”

The dance ended just as darkness fell. Said Peake, “This one made me cry.”

A waterside dinner that went late didn’t keep anyone from showing up the next afternoon in time to board the hydrofoil to Stromboli—a five-hour voyage. Among the boatload of people was a fox out of Disney—actually artist Rafaella Nalbi Rossano, who sat in her costume among the unsuspecting travelers as if dressed in perfectly normal cruise wear.


About forty-five minutes into the journey, Rossano moved to the on-board café at the center of the boat. Suddenly, Dr. Francesca Del Sorbo—introduced by Farronato the previous night as “my neurologist”—climbed into the back of the fox suit, with Rossano still in it. Fifteen minutes of struggle later, Rossano emerged from the costume in Del Sorbo’s clothes, and Del Sorbo had become the fox.

Each hour of the journey brought a different artist conscripted by Peake to perform the exchange, attracting priceless stares and offers of candy from transfixed children.

Fox originally was Peake’s thesis from 2005, when he was still a student at the Slade. The idea was to come up with an instruction with a built-in drama: Could two people wearing one costume exchange clothes without exposing their bodies?

“Of course, it’s impossible,” Peake conceded. Especially on a lurching boat.

In fact, every performance introduced new degrees of difficulty—for performers and the audience. After disembarking in Stromboli, Peake himself performed Megaphone Duet—a pas de deux of a tormented lovers’ quarrel with dancer Emma Fisher—right on the busy pier. (When it was over, Fisher was visibly scraped and scratched.)

Midnight brought To Corpse, Variation Four to Club Mega, a disco carved out of a cave above the Tyrrhenian Sea. Sexually suggestive spoken-word mixed with recorded music was the sound provided by artists Victoria Sin and Evan Ifekoya, dressed in white costumes of their own design that looked like wedding garments after a muscular roll in the hay. The dancers, however, were clad in glittering gold body paint, which camouflaged nothing, and moved through clear bubbles blown from a machine.

An all-night dance party followed, driven by two Vinyl Factory–sourced DJs, Leo Mas and Jonjo Jury. In the wee hours, some people slept on couches high above the dance floor. I went back to La Lunatica, one of two Trust properties on the island, to catch some shuteye. A golf-cart taxi—Stromboli does not have cars—took me back to the club just before dawn, daggers of lightning piercing the sky. By that time, everyone in the club was coated in glitter.

Collector Sabine Parenti with Kunsthalle Basel president Martin Hatebur, Nicoletta Fiorucci, Art Basel VIP relations coordinator Damiana Leoni, artist Mathilde Rosier, and collector Alessandro Parenti.


Cue the sunrise.

To Corpse, Variation Five was performed in silence on the rocky beach below the club. How the dancers managed on those stones I’ll never know, but out of either exhaustion or pain, or because two drunks from the club were partying in the sea, they forgot the final sequence, drifting into the water for a daybreak swim to cheers from the weary, giddy crowd following them into the water. The glitter did not wash off. “This one,” said Peake, “came closest to chaos. It could have fallen apart at any moment.” He sounded relieved.

A fierce waterspout appeared on the horizon, followed by cracks of thunder and a biblical rainstorm that drenched anyone attempting to beat it to shelter. Somehow it seemed a fitting finale.

But the festival wasn’t over yet.

After what became a sunny day at the beach, dinner was a buffet at La Tartana, a restaurant with a dance floor near the port. The music was from the 1970s; the playlist hadn’t changed in years. Nor had the menu. “No variation!” squealed Fiorucci, who couldn’t have been happier.

“It’s true I have a collection, but what should I do? Open a private museum? No!” she said. “Museums must be public. And museums have acquired some of the work made here. But I started the foundation to be different. Every program is unlike any other. We have no rules. No restrictions. No workshops. No sponsors to censor anyone. We’re not an institution. Artists must be free to experiment and we can provide opportunities for them and for the people who come. Sometimes they return. It’s like a family. They don’t come just for a party.”

“Of course,” she added, “there has to be a party. Parties are needed too.”

Linda Yablonsky

Faded Memories

Belgrade
07.18.17

Left: Ambassador Philippe Guex with FADE IN 2 co-curator Simon Castets at the Swiss Ambassador's Residence. Right: Chief Curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art Belgrade Zoran Erić and FADE IN 2 co-curator Julie Boukobza.


IN AN AGE OF FRANCHISE ENTERTAINMENT, the best sequels might be those not planned too far in advance. Or so it seemed at last Friday’s opening of “FADE IN 2: EXT. MODERNIST HOME – NIGHT,” an exhibition that seeks to blur the lines between art and cinema.

Organized by Swiss Institute director Simon Castets and curator Julie Boukobza and hosted by the Museum of Contemporary Art Belgrade’s Gallery-Legacy Čolaković, the show marks the inaugural outing of the freshly launched Balkan Projects, a Los Angeles–based cultural platform fronted by actress Marija Karan.

The exhibition’s first iteration—“FADE IN: INT. ART GALLERY – DAY”—opened at New York’s Swiss Institute in March 2016. As Castets explained, “I was thinking about what it means to have a successful exhibition these days. What, three hundred thousand people see it? Now how many people have seen the shootout at the fake Guggenheim in The International?” Having never heard of the movie, I didn’t question his math.

Left: Acting Director of the Museum of Contemporary Art Belgrade, Slobodan Nakarada, with artist Nikola Kolya Božović at the Swiss Ambassador's Residence. Right: Curators Miloš Zec, Mića Karić, and Maja Ćirić at Gallery-Legacy Čolaković.


The resulting show explored art’s range of Hollywood cameos—whether decorating walls or driving plot lines—with new commissions from Dora Budor, Amie Siegel, Carissa Rodriguez, and the always crowd-pleasing Christian Marclay, whose Made to Be Destroyed offers a twenty-four-minute gag reel of art demolished onscreen. The idea to produce a follow-up came in January, when Karan and brand consultant Isaac Joseph were escorting Castets and Boukobza around studios in Belgrade. The team was instantly smitten with Gallery-Legacy Čolaković, the former residence of collector couple Milica Zorić and Rodoljub Čolaković—a prominent Bosnian politician—who bequeathed their collection to the Museum of Contemporary Art. “It looked like one of the fake modernist homes they use for shoots in Los Angeles,” Boukobza mused. “Perfect for FADE IN.” Karan was sold on the film tie-in—particularly in Belgrade, a city central to Yugoslavia’s storied cinematic past. As a nod to this history, the curators organized an accompanying program at the Yugoslav Film Archive, and Karan arranged to shoot a scene for her upcoming TV show, Five, on-site at the villa.

“The way I see it, we have the best directors,” Karan laughed, motioning to Castets and Boukobza. “And we have the best cast—both local and international. What we’ve made together is an amazing piece of science fiction.” Her choice of genre was astute. For the second edition, the roster swelled to include international “locals” Darja Bajagić, Aleksandra Domanović, and Bojan Šarčević. While the prominence of diaspora artists over locals could be a point of critique, Karan brushed it off with cool-handed aplomb: “For so long, when artists would leave the region, you would just lose track of them, as, with the museums under renovation, there was just nowhere to show their work.”

Siniša Ilić, one of the two artists actually based in the region (the other is Raša Todosijević), had a strong showing, with a ground-floor installation inspired by Rondo, Zvonimir Berković’s 1966 film about a love triangle that works out sexual frustrations through long debates about the nature of art. Exorcising tension in other ways was Brice Dellsperger’s film Body Double 35: After Xanadu (1980), which had been shot in front of the mural he created for the New York show—itself a remake of the opening scene of the titular Olivia Newton John vehicle. Also returning from New York were a series of prop landscapes by Mathis Gasser and a sofa set from William Leavitt that quietly overtook Alex Israel’s mantel-mounted crystal egg, Risky Business. “We had to include that piece,” Karan grinned. “It’s my husband’s”—CAA agent Joel Lubin, who happens to represent Tom Cruise—“favorite movie.”

Left: Theater director Bojan Djordjev, playwright Goran Ferčec, and costume designer Maja Mirković at Gallery-Legacy Čolaković. Right: CAA agent Joel Lubin, Blakan Project's Marija Karan and advisor Patricia Marshall.


Out in the courtyard, Danai Anesiadou’s Bonsoir Monsieur, Alas that is but one element won hearts (and other parts) by unleashing a flock of white T-shirted Adonises into the shallow swimming pool, where they painted Modigliani-esque portraits on one another’s backs, a reference to the 1968 Denys de La Patellière film Le Tatoué. Well, almost all of them. As my eyes swept the building’s black-ribbed facade, I caught sight of a rogue dancer tucked between the railings and the windows. “That one keeps going Anne Imhof on us,” Castets sighed. “But what can you do?” My answer was to keep sipping rosé and try not to ogle.

It’s a curious cultural calculus wherein the sexual objectification of women can launch a thousand think pieces, while a similar reduction of the male body just makes for a good party. I was trying to articulate this to the Italian Vanity Fair correspondent when Ivan Papić, the face (“face”) of the Serbian underwear brand Bonatti, glided toward us. He began to tease the very tiny strings of his very tiny swimsuit. “Have you seen anything like this?” a local artist marveled. I didn’t have the heart to tell him about Fire Island.

That evening, guests adjourned to the rooftop of the chic Square Nine hotel, where chefs grilled octopus and sea bass over open flames for a hungry contingent of artists, admirers, and dealers, including Vanessa Carlos, Karolina Dankow, Jan Kaps, and Christian Wirtz, many of whom had only dashed in for the evening. The next morning, I lapped the few venues still open for the season, catching an appealing group show at Podroom Gallery before hitting scene staples Remont and U10. Sparing me the adventure of public transit, curator Maja Ćirić picked me up in her convertible roadster for a real tour of the town, ending at the Museum of African Art, a private institution founded in 1977 by the former ambassadorial duo Veda and Zdravko Pečar. Primarily showcasing gifts from their host countries, the collection frames itself as explicitly “noncolonial.” After pointing out a photo of Zdravko with Frantz Fanon, Ćirić kindly looked the other way as I snuck a peek at the gorgeous temporary exhibition space upstairs, which arched gracefully into an off-center skylight. “It’s important to me that visitors to the city know this place exists,” Ćirić explained.

Left: Artist Lidija Delić with a work by Reaktiv Studio at the artist-run space U10. Right: Curator Mića Karić with works by Lidija Delić at Remont.


With both the Museum of Contemporary Art and the National Gallery temporarily shuttered, it is all too easy to mischaracterize Belgrade’s rich cultural history as somehow lacking. Yes, the Museum of Contemporary Art has been under reconstruction for ten years now, following damage inflicted during the 1999 NATO bombings, but it’s also Europe’s oldest national museum of contemporary art, and its Ivan Antić–designed building is a true architectural landmark. (The museum should, at last, reopen this fall.) Likewise, the October Salon—another of the city’s banner initiatives, curated this year by Danielle and Gunnar B. Kvaran—is in its fifty-seventh edition. If anything, Balkan Projects is a powerful reminder that we really shouldn’t need reminders.

A few hours later, I ran into the Kvarans at a reception at the Swiss Ambassador’s residence, just down the tree-lined street from the Museum of African Art. The house was impeccably appointed, with a luxuriant poolside garden, perfect for taking in the decadent sunset. “The story goes that while they were bombing the city, the ambassador was out here gardening,” cultural liaison Mirjana Lafata told us. I eyed the waiters passing around trays of white-fish toast, ceviche, and pâté, and wondered what they made of that story. “I keep hoping they will bring out burek,” I heard Budor confess to Bajagić. Trying to explain the regional stuffed pastry to writer Eli Diner, we settled on “the only food you’ll ever need when drunk.”

Burek would have come in handy later that night as our entourage loaded onto a boat for a lively evening cruise down the Danube. (Flash to an image of Boukobza sashaying down the tabletop to Pharrell’s “Happy.”) Belgrade’s galleries may have packed up for the summer, but the city’s nightlife remains, as ever, in full swing.

With the rowdy only getting rowdier, I ducked back to the Square Nine in the comely company of Ilić, Joseph, theater director Bojan Djordjev, and playwright Goran Ferčec, only to find we were beaten there by a group including Lubin, adviser Patricia Marshall, and a dashing gentleman I at first mistook for the concierge. The kitchen had closed, but Karan had thoughtfully arranged a spread to greet guests as they returned to the hotel. Nestling into a seat between Joseph and film director Linda Shayne, I readily helped myself to the feast. It was only midway through a mouthful of fried calamari that I realized the handsome gentleman in front of me was not the concierge but Ralph Fiennes. And didn’t the weekend deserve a Hollywood ending?

Kate Sutton

Left: Artist Siniša Ilić, theater director Bojan Djordjev and playwright Goran Ferčec at Gallery-Legacy Čolaković. Right: Artist Daiga Grantiņa and dealer Christian Wirtz at the Swiss Ambassador's Residence.


Under Pressure

London
07.06.17

Left: Whitechapel Gallery curator Emily Butler, Phillips head of art partnerships Isadora Tharin, and Whitechapel Gallery head of development Darryl de Prez. Right: Art Night cofounder Ksenia Zemtsova with Art Night 2017 curator Fatoş Üstek.


THIS TRADE–CUM–BANKING MEGALOPOLIS just hasn’t been the same since the Brexit blowtorch caught aflame last year. Boiling blisters of social unrest last burst in the 2011 London riots, and had been temporarily covered by courtly Band-Aids. How surprised should we really be to find that the wounds wrought by inequality, racism, isolationism, and xenophobia still fester? The slate and chalk hills feel like all that’s left holding this country together as the continuous surge of violent attacks and gut-wrenching tragedies like Grenfell Tower make it hard to believe in a society based on faith and trust.

But then, on the first Saturday of July, a swarm of sprightly pixies appeared with barefaced ambitions to cut the haze, bringing temporary revelry to the public under the banner of Art Night.

“We modeled it after Nuit Blanche in Paris,” admitted cofounder Ksenia Zemtsova during Thursday’s private preview of Jake and Dinos Chapman’s video installation The Misshapeness of Things to Come. Down in the darkened tunnels beneath London Dock, dainty ladies in stiletto heels grabbed G&Ts and disappeared to watch the three-channel video through a maze of vintage-clad mannequins with burnished eyes.

Left: Arts Council senior relationship manager Sabine Unamun, Tom Smith, and Outset Contemporary Art Fund project manager Yves Blais. Right: Artist and DJ Carsten Nicolai with artist liaison Coraly von Bismark and curator Eva Wilson.


“They were blinded by the content,” explained Art Night curator Fatoş Üstek—an ominous beginning to a one-night festival of eleven large-scale projects and sixty associate events, all within a half-mile radius of the Whitechapel Gallery, this year’s partner institution.

Talk turned to the historic sites secured through whim, political savvy, and perseverance, particularly Ian Whittlesea’s guided meditation inside the Bascule Chamber of Tower Bridge, Lindsay Seer’s occultist video at the Masonic Temple hidden in the Andaz Hotel, and Melanie Manchot’s dance-school takeover of Exchange Square.

“The goal was to make visible what is already happening,” continued Üstek, which manifested most directly in Güneş Terkol’s project enlisting public-housing-estate residents living opposite the Whitechapel Gallery to collaborate on a politicized banner and mural in the neighborhood.

Left: Block Universe Performance Art Festival founding director Louise O'Kelly with art historian Francesca Laura Cavallo. Right: Maguire O'Shea Academy of Irish Dance instructor Deirdre Maguire with artist Melanie Manchot.


Later Üstek lamented the changing landscapes in the East End and foiled plans for a Brian Eno concert inside the Whitechapel Bell Foundry, the oldest manufacturing company in the UK, dating back 450 years. Sadly, mid-planning, the building was sold to an anonymous buyer for redevelopment—a tale so common that city dwellers have resorted to a default response: deep sighs of exasperated disbelief, shrugged shoulders, and a cursory change of topic.

Saturday night rolled up, and so did the audiences, en masse. Anticipatory queues wrapped in and around the main attractions for upward of two to three hours during peak times. Fortunately I was given an orange band that allowed for speedy boarding throughout the all-night experience. My first stop was the Dennis Severs House, where I bumped into the public art organization Art of the Underground’s curator Kiera Blakey, still recovering from late-night celebrations of their current project with Daniel Buren.

“Do you know about this place? It inspired Punchdrunk Theatre Company,” she whispered as we entered the silent, candlelit treasure hunt. The Chapman Brothers had hid three works inside the immersive model of a Huguenot family home decorated with prized antiques, including an eighteenth-century still-life painting, by the former owner, an eccentric Californian artist.

Circling back, I set my compass on the Benedict Drew performance at Whitechapel Gallery. The elaborate set, featuring psychedelic videos and illustrations, dictated the musician’s improvised experimental score. As I felt breathless, squashed among the crowds, and hopelessly sober, the trippy droning tones proved hard to connect with in the moment. But no matter, next up was Melanie Manchot’s open-air collective dance. Rounding the corner behind Liverpool Street Station, I bumped into the most delightful silver-haired ladies sitting on a window ledge, awaiting show time (their amorphic patterned bibs were a dead give away).

“I’m metal work, this is tapestry, and that’s graffiti over there,” explained the duo from the Green Candle Senior Dance Company workshop. The pure joy in their eyes was infectious.

Left: metalwork and tapestry at the Green Candle Dance Company workshop. Right: Rafael Santos Montenez with Phillips head of art partnerships Isadora Tharin.


Soon crowds settled on the steps and a motley gathering of local dance companies specializing in flamenco, swing, capoeira, Irish dance, interpretive dance, tango, Afro-Cuban, and even 1980s-style flash mobs took the stage, where they stayed for the rest of the evening offering workshops in rotation.

Looking out onto the stage again, I spotted Üstek bouncing around in a group dance. “You have to join!” she urged, but I had a few more destinations to tick off the list, including Anne Hardy’s Michael Clark–inspired bubblegum-pink multimedia installation littered with whip-its, beer cans, and magnetic tape, and Lawrence Lek’s VR project Playstation, which imagines a future society where the workplace becomes a playground.

Retreating to Exchange Square at 2 AM to see the remaining dancers, I wondered if it was time for Game Over. DJ and artist Carsten Nicolai, aka Alva Noto, was on deck at the Village Underground, but tickets had sold out weeks ago. Curator Eva Wilson came by and squatted down, saying, “I have a plus one. I used to work for Olaf Nicolai, his brother. We’re like family. He always puts me on the list. Wanna join?”

And off we went. Hard electronic rhythms booming through the cavernous club harkened to Berlin but the Nag Champa incense burning from the corner of the sound engineer’s table was more Ibiza. We danced until closing, saluted Carsten at the bar, drenched in sweat, and capped off the night.

Arielle Bier

Second Coming

New York
07.02.17

Left: Dealers Simone Subal and Nicole Russo. Right: Dealers Vanessa Carlos and Gabrielle Giattino.


SUMMER IN NEW YORK IS DISMAL. It turns your face into a pus farm, the air is rich with the scent of garbage cooking on the sidewalks, and my friends’ lengthy trips to Montauk or Morocco remind me of what everyone else seems to have and I don’t.

Thankfully, others approach the season with a spirit of generosity—specifically Vanessa Carlos, Simone Subal, and Nicole Russo, the organizers of Condo New York, “a large-scale collaborative exhibition of international galleries” (as per Condo’s website) that sidesteps the enervating costs and madness of the art-fair circuit and promotes collaborative models of distributing and exhibiting new art via galleries hosting other galleries. Carlos started the first iteration of the event in London last year, and now it’s New York’s turn, with sixteen spaces throughout the Lower East Side, SoHo, and Chelsea showcasing twenty galleries from cities such as Vienna, Glasgow, Los Angeles, and Dublin. (Of course, Condo wasn’t the only game in town during the pre–July Fourth weekend blitz. Other temptations included Janiva Ellis’s debut at 47 Canal, Jack McGrath’s “Visual Notes for an Upside-Down World” at P.P.O.W., and a tight group of Alvin Baltrop prints selected by Douglas Crimp for Galerie Buchholz on the Upper East Side.)

I met the inimitable sculptresses Elisabeth Kley and Libby Rothfeld on Thursday at Bridget Donahue, where a suite of silk-skinned vixens by 1970s Japanese airbrush maestro/commercial illustrator Harumi Yamaguchi were hanging on boudoir-pink walls in Donahue’s backroom. Yamaguchi came to the gallery through Stephan Tanbin Sastawidjaja, proprietor of London’s Project Native Informant. (Artforum’s Kate Sutton brilliantly described one work from Yamaguchi’s show at PNI a few months ago as “a semisapphic tangle of limbs in a cashmere-sweatered collision.”) We then popped over to Subal’s, where she had work from Tanya Leighton (of Berlin) and Gregor Staiger (of Zurich). In Subal’s small antechamber were Aleksandra Domanović’s sculptures of box-bodied figures with buff arms and Marvin Gaye Chetwynd’s dainty, Victorian-style oil portraits of bats (the Dracula kind) and dragonflies.

Left: Dealers Rachel Uffner and Allison Card. Right: Artists Cy Gavin and Sam McKinniss.


But the hosts doing the most were the ones giving over the entirety of their spaces to their guests. Case in point: Simon Preston Gallery’s exhibition from São Paulo’s Galeria Jaqueline Martins and Guatemala City’s Proyectos Ultravioleta. My posse gagged over the late artist Hudinilson Jr.’s pair of tenebrous oil paintings of masked and headless figures from 1978—a poisonous concoction of midwestern surrealist Gertrude Abercrombie, Pierre Klossowski, and Aubrey Beardsley. Gavin Brown’s Grand Street outpost had Mexico City’s Labor do its thing via “Las ruinas circulares” (The Circular Ruins), a group offering of sculptures, paintings, drawings, and a video, A World Undone [Protolith], 2012, by Nicholas Mangan: an evanescent, abstract work of stardusted particles gently gliding through space.

We ended our evening on Delancey Street at the divine Mitchell Algus Gallery, where Paris’s High Art was serving. Artist Dan Burkhart was there. He talked to us about his shiny, creepy, yolk-colored sculpture Imperial Monitor, 2014, a bust of a crowned man with a lantern jaw and chubby caruncles, which apparently came to him in a dream. Algus showed me two cast polyester resin sculptures by Nancy Arlen, the former drummer for the No Wave band Mars, who died in 2006. One looked like a pointy, psychedelically hued child’s water wing designed by a sadist (Martian, 1981); the other, Glass Cat, 1981, a translucent digestive canal with crumbling bits of bezoar trapped within. The dealer regaled Elisabeth and me with tales of Arlen’s hardscrabble life and misanthropy. I told him that I found Glass Cat terrifying because it looked like something a very sick body would expel right before it died. He winced a little—but he didn’t say I was wrong.

Alex Jovanovich

Left: Dealers Gregor Staiger and Agustina Ferreyra. Right: Dealer Leo Xu.