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Julian LaVerdiere
Lost Cornerstone
at Lehmann Maupin

Julian LaVerdiere
Imperial Dragster: Napoleon Rebuilt
at Lehmann Maupin

Mariko Mori
Wave UFO
at 590 Madison Avenue

Inside Mariko Mori's Wave UFO

Mariko Mori in Prada, 2003
Art and Fascism
by Charlie Finch

I grew up in Manhattan. Forty-plus years ago my dad took me to the site of the destruction of the old Penn Station, a McKim, Mead and White building modeled on the Roman Baths. I remember my father bargaining with cash with a construction worker for just a piece of the old thoroughfare.

Last month, Julian LaVerdiere opened a show at Lehmann Maupin that features a swinging pendulum made with a (refabricated) old eagle from that Penn Station. Interviewed by the venerable critic C. Carr in the Village Voice about his show, Julian casts himself as a neutral observer of "empire" and "the colossus." This, from the man who created the greatest piece of art I have ever seen, the 9/11 memorial Towers of Light.

Last week, I went to the IBM building on 56th Street to enter Mariko Mori's gorgeous space capsule, so redolent of the alien ship from which Michael Rennie greeted the earth people in The Day the Earth Stood Still.

The New York Post had published a photo of art moron Mike Bloomberg and his alleged beard Diana Taylor cavorting in Mariko's ship at some wealthy Public Art Fund benefit the night before.

Beguilingly, Mariko, reportedly a techno-dweeb, wanted to borrow my brainwaves for 6 minutes to "make art."

Guess what, folks -- I won't go to Julian's show and I refused to let my pal Tom Eccles of the Public Art Fund coax me into Mariko's brainometer.

I don't check my judgment at the door, even for artists.

Ten years ago I interviewed the great BBC reporter Peter Adam on WBAI-FM about art under the Nazis. Peter Adam lamented that a talented sculptor such as Arno Breker genuflected in front of Hitler and Albert Speer, condemning his pieces to damnation for civilized eternity.

It is deeply risible that at a time when the United States is liberating a recalcitrant Arab world from its self-imposed xenophobia and bigotry, that the eternal desire that is fascism poisons the liberal elite.

Fascism nowadays is New York Times reporter Jayson Blair lying and bullshitting in front-page article after front-page article, while Times boss Pinch Sulzberger calls for "no scapegoating" among his negligent editors.

It is cultural czars like Philippe de Montebello, Arnold Lehman and Ellen Futter pulling in large salaries and perks, while museum guards go on unemployment.

It is MoMA's cost overruns and the unending obscenities of Thomas Krens.

It is Mariko Mori and her unaccountable wealth, Julian LaVerdiere and his studied indifference richly funded, and the "Public" Art Fund.

What "public" do they serve, exactly?

It is time for the postmodern elves to wake up, lest they be crucified on a cross of elitist, well-meaning, unaccountable gold.

Pontius Pilate echoed the pampered elite 2,000 years ago: "What is truth?" "Truth" is what the Marikos and Julians say it is, but it is not you.

CHARLIE FINCH is co-author of Most Art Sucks: Five Years of Coagula (Smart Art Press).