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    Weekend Update
by Walter Robinson
Gregory Crewdson
at Luhring Augustine
Crewdson's opening
Kristin Oppenheim's maze
at 303
Kristin Oppenheim
Oppenheim photos
at 303
A scene from Heidi 2
at Deitch Projects
Sculpture by Arthur Carter
at Salander-O'Reilly
Paintings by Chuck Nanney
at Debs & Co.
Chuck Nanney
Michael Lavine's photo of
Ann Magnuson at Team
Michael Lavine
Kaws at Magidson
Michelle Handelman on video
at Cristinerose
Photo by Maciej Toporowicz
at Lombard-Fried
Rico Gatson
at Ronald Feldman
Did you see that episode on the Sci-Fi Channel of a new show called First Wave (a Francis Ford Coppola co-production) about aliens surreptitiously invading Earth? One sequence featured an alien disguised as a sexy chick in a tight black minidress at a suburban barbecue flirting with all the men, who react with predictable lust, jealousy and covetousness. The plan from outer space is to undermine human society by destroying the family. Sounds like a good idea to me!

Gregory Crewdson's photographs at Luhring Augustine in Chelsea are something like that, though less jiggly. The pictures, titled "Twilight," Feb. 19-Mar. 25, 2000, are darkly beautiful and mysterious. Crewdson, like the X-Files -- the television show his work more closely resembles -- explores all kinds of mysteries, though primarily the one involving the relationship between "close encounters of the third kind" and sexual repression.

On the surface, Crewdson's staged tableaux are designed to spark "wonder and anxiety" in the viewer. A man stands in his yard, transfixed by a ray of light from an unseen source above. A woman kneels in her living room, which is inexplicably filled with flowers. The photographs must have been a piece of work to make -- they're elaborately staged in some small town upstate, apparently using ordinary citizens as actors.

And, the gallery was absolutely packed for the opening, Feb. 19. The photos are $7,500 each in editions of 10.

*    *    *
Who whispers? Not Rumplestiltskin. He dances around a fire singing. What about the angel Gabriel, who whispered to Mary, "Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee." The Bible doesn't actually specify the tone of voice, though those Renaissance Annunciations show the moment as a thin, rule-straight line, which seems whisperlike enough to me.

Kristin Oppenheim is a sound artist, and her show at 303, Feb. 19-Mar. 18, 2000, features whispering. The front of the gallery holds a white labyrinth of panels covered with scrim, with a soundtrack of overlapping, mutating and repeating whispers called The Eyes I Remember. "I can shut the door, turn out the lights and be surrounded by precise reflections," says the voice, over and over. "Shut the fuck....outside and smile." It's paranoid and secretive, schizophrenic and institutional. And it's $25,000 in an edition of three.

In the back are a set of 40-inch tall photos of long elegant arms and hands, reaching -- they're beautiful -- plus seven tiaras incorporating large rabbit ears made from hand-blown glass. The photos are $4,000 each and the tiaras are $7,000 (edition of 10).

*    *    *
Everything can't be openings, openings, openings. Saturday, Feb. 19 was the closing day for Heidi 2, the 30-minute "two-channel" film by Laura Parnes and Sue de Beer at Deitch Projects. It's an unauthorized sequel to Heidi, the food-fest with shamanistic overtones made in 1993 by Mike Kelley and Paul McCarthy.

The fem-helmed sequel features a teen girl humping a plush tiger under a pink blanket, actors in Leo diCaprio and grampa masks, lots of legs in Keds (but no nudity), an infamous birth scene and a horrific abortion scene, a bulimic mother-daughter vomiting tutorial, and a dissociation finale with Heidi floating through the air into the sunset. Deitch sold one copy of the video for $15,000 to Greek collector Dakis Joannou, who also owns Heidi.

Heidi 2 didn't get a very good review from the lady at the New York Times, who thought the goofy doll-sculptures in the show couldn't be serious. "Bitch, she's got no sense of humor," said one of the artists. Jokingly, of course.

*    *    *
Also had to run up to Salander-O'Reilly to see sculpture by Arthur Carter, in case it held clues of what appeals to investment bankers. Carter formerly being one, as well as current publisher of the money-losing but nevertheless great New York Observer -- another recommendation for his esthetic sensibility, come to think of it.

But the secret of avant-garde success remains elusive in these works, which are highly buffed bronze examples of the school of post-Pop David Smith. Rebecca Mead wrote in the New Yorker that Carter is quite happy making the things, and has sold works to superdeveloper Jerry Speyer and has commissions for 90 Park Avenue and the restaurant Daniel. Okay. The works are $75,000 each.

*    *    *
Who wouldn't like a guy with a beard who looks good in a dress? That was Chuck Nanney, several years ago at Wooster Gardens. In his current show at Debs & Co., he takes small circles of painted canvas and push-pins them directly to the wall in configurations vaguely suggestive of microelectronic or molecular configurations. "They're paintings," says Nanney, who cites Jack Kirby and Ellsworth Kelly as inspirations. "They're mutating cellular structures -- the secret of life." The secret is priced from $800 for a column of five silver canvas disks with black push-pins, called Doomsday, to $10,000 for a piece including 319 units.
*    *    *
Also noted: Michael Lavine photographs at Team Gallery in Chelsea. He's the guy who photographed Peter Halley looking cool (with his "Pete" tattoo showing), and who also does commercial portraits of rock stars (including Cher's current album photo). These big pictures, which stretch from floor to ceiling, are expressionist. Some pix reinact movie scenes -- Deliverance, Sweet Charity, Last Tango. My favorite -- the one with Ann Magnuson crawling on the floor. Is that Valley of the Dolls?

Kaws at Magidson Fine Art up on East 78th Street, with his trademark skull and crossbones sperm creatures painted on ads from bus shelters and phone kiosks, from $1,600 to $6,500. Can't beat a supermodel in underwear, with or without graffiti additions! Also available, 16 x 16 in. paintings of the skull for $650....Michelle Handelman at Cristinerose, with "Cannibal Flower" pix of orifices made of dyed rooster feathers, $2,000-$4,500, and a wacky video of the artist fringing the field of view with the plumes, $800....

New black-and-white photos at Lombard-Fried by Maciej Toporowicz that show tunnels, escalators and various other alluring vaginal substitutes. A picture of an escalator (in an edition of five) is $1,600. "He's trying to reach heaven via escalator," said Leah Fried....Klan-conscious videotapes and wall sculptures by Rico Gatson in his show "Fire" at Ronald Feldman Fine Arts. A Yale grad who teaches at Brandeis, Gatson makes shelves accessorized by drag-racer flames and holding multicolored candles shaped like little hooded men, $4,800-$7,500.

The announcement card for the new set of shows at the Queens Museum -- where Valerie Smith is new director of exhibitions -- features a Renoir nude on one side and on the other that famous photograph of the woman in the electric chair obtained in 1928 by a reporter with a hidden camera strapped to his ankle. That last is for a show of crime photos from the Daily News archive, on view through Apr. 30, 2000.

Weekend gossip: Mary Boone signs David Salle, formerly of Larry Gagosian, and Boone before that. Larry has trouble selling paintings that go for less that a mil, says earnest staffer. Boone's new Chelsea branch, architected by Richard Gluckman, opens in September right across the street from Gagosian on 26th Street. She's sharing it with Charles Cowles. Also moving to street level -- Andrew Kreps, Sara Meltzer and Thomas Erban, all together at 516-20 W. 20th Street. Gallery exodus from SoHo continues, with Edition Schellman, Sean Kelly, David Zwirner, Sperone Westwater all seeking space elsewhere. And Glenn Ligon has joined D'Amelio Terras, with a first show scheduled there for next fall.

Meanwhile, up in the good part of town, Inka Essenhigh got a $100,000 signing bonus from Mary Boone, according to gossips who say they know, and Alex Katz departs Marlborough for PaceWildenstein. And those Will Cotton paintings at Boone -- so sweet they give you type II diabetes for just looking -- sold out at $20,000-$40,000 but could have been yours (or ones like them) for $4,000-$11,000 at Dan Silverstein's 18 months ago.

In the mags, look for Artforum contributing editor Jan Avgikos to pen a housebreaker on Leroy Neiman, much like Deborah Solomon and Robert Rosenblum did for Norman Rockwell....And Sunday New York Post readers were delighted to see hip young painter Damien Loeb posing for "Man at his Best," a regular feature in which three women judge the looks of a man on the street. Loeb got good grades overall -- what straight wouldn't, in Manhattan? -- though one woman deemed the new realist to be clueless about contemporary fashion....

Just in from Europe, we have art dealer Achim Kubinski -- who closed his New York gallery in 1994 and went and wrote music for Tosca -- opening in Berlin's Charlottenberg district with the first new works for gallery sales in 10 years by Joseph Kosuth.... Former art expert Andrea Breitengraser opened a space on Sophienstrasse in Berlin, specializing in contemporary scultpure...Anne de Villepoix opens new space across from Beaubourg in Paris....Brownstone Corread & Cie, which closed its Paris gallery after FIAC, reopens soon as a new nonprofit, the Gilbert Brownstone Foundation, with about five shows a year; the first to be announced soon.

WALTER ROBINSON is editor of Artnet Magazine.