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Cover of
"Shopping" catalogue,
by Vanessa Beecroft

Vanessa Beecroft,
turned off, at Prada

Mona Hatoum,
Deep Throat

In the window of
the SoHo Guggenheim,
a photo of 
Stefano Basilico
by Miltos Manetas

Anne Marie Jugnet
I you he she
it we you they

Claude Leveque's
Photo at Agnes 
B Homme

Ken Lum's video
at John Dellaria

Tailor Mastro Giuseppe
with Joseph Havel's
label, just sewed in

Polly Apfelbaum's
installation at
Boesky + Callery

A Warning
to the visitor


Back cover of 
catalogue, showing
the Deitch Projects
logo and storefront

Cover of the 
SoHo Arts Festival
1996 brochure

Centerfold of the
brochure; as if
artists have cellulite

Tessa Hughes Freeland 
and Ela Troyano, 
Playboy Voodo,1991

Steven Carter's
chair at Artists 
Space's "A Strategy 
Hinted Act",
curated by 
Anastasia Aukeman

Benita Immanuel 
Grosser Yoga class 

Angie Eng
video installation
at Artists Space

Brigitte Engler
Pine, 1992

Paul D.Miller
Vector Analysis, 1996

artist's diary

by Robert Goldman

Sept. 5, 1996--First day of the Soho Arts Festival. It's interesting that for all the complaints about the SoHo fashion scene's commercial hegemony, others have been able to coopt it. Most of the galleries open Sept. 7, but "Shopping," 26 installations at shops and restaurants throughout Soho, a "project" produced by Jeffery Deitch and curated by Jerome Sans, opened today. The first I visited was Miu Miu Prada where Vanessa Beecroft's piece was still being installed. Miu Miu is an eerie space, changed very little from when it was the home of the Annina Nosei Gallery, a dealer who gave the likes of David Salle and Jean- Michel Basquiat their first gallery shows. Across the street at Jerry's, one of Soho's trendy yet comfortable and informal restaurants, Mona Hatoum's work took a while to find because it blended so easily into the environment. My skepticism about the crass commercialism of "Shopping" was immediately dispelled because Hatoum has made a truly important work. Called Deep Throat, a normal Jerry's table has been set with a plate whose bottom is cut out to expose a video screen playing a medical video in which the miniature camera lens travels down an actual digestive system. Yuk! Have a seat at the table and watch it. Its references range all the way from Magritte to, using Anastasia Aukeman's phrase, "the current done-to-death subject of the body." Again across the street at the new and very chic make-up store Face Stockholm, Sam Samore has this breezy poem on the window glass: spinning the wheel floodgates of wonder swallowed by the whirlpool Other installations ranged from the banal to an attempt to shock. At Liquid Sky, the ultra-youth boutique, a young salesgirl called the bound-and-hung effigies by the Dutch artists Jes Brinch and Henrik Plenge Jakobsen "a little bit less than stupid." In the window of the Guggenheim Soho bookstore, Miltos Manetas presented digital portraits of art world denizens, many of them European. In the morning with the sun shining in the window you couldn't make out a thing. In the window of Agnes B, Anne Marie Jugnet displayed T shirts with pronouns (I, we, they, etc.) screened on them. Next to that Claude Leveque showed a large photo of a hairless man with strawberry jam smeared on his head and body. This stuff seemed pretty useless to me. Vanessa Beecroft's video in the window of Miu Miu finally came on. She's primping and posing. Ken Lum had the most purposefully banal video of all in the window on John Dellaria's hair salon on West Broadway--a women washing her hair. Now that 303 Gallery has left Soho for Chelsea, the only one left at 89 Greene Street showing art is Mastro Guissepe Tailor. For two dollars he will sew the artist Joseph Havel's label onto anything you like. On my way over to the opening at Jeffery Deitch's I peeked into Boesky (daughter of Ivan) & Callery where Polly Apfelbaum is showing her trademark stained crushed velvet paintings. In this show the stains are cut out and grouped on the floor. They shimmer, but after a few seasons of this is it too late for her to try something new? At Deitch's John Weber told me that after 25 years in Soho he is moving his gallery to 22nd Street, but agrees that Soho is still vibrant. Weber is an adventurous guy. A few years ago he bought me an absinthe at Chicote on the Gran Via in Madrid. It turned out to be a memorable night, particularly for him. There was a commotion on the street when a gaggle of fashion models appeared wearing some odd clothes and posing for the photographer Mr. Means. This turned out to be a production of artist Lucy Orta. The clothes had been sewed by people living at the Salvation Army in Paris. A miniskirt was made of various belts sewn together horizontally, a corset or bustier was put together out of only zippers and a long coat was made of ties sewn together. All of this was very odd indeed. In Deitch's back room, the artist and filmmaker Guillermo Paneque pointed out to me a series of four black-and-white photographs, very understated, of a hand sliding up a women's skirt. It was erotic in how little it exposed. This work was by Noritoshi Hirakawa, who has been living in New York for the last three years. His installation for "Shopping" is at Yohji Yamamoto. A barefoot actor, elegantly dressed in black Yamamoto clothes, walks around the shop talking to himself about misadventures in Manhattan like a deranged, brain-dead homeless person. The ambiance it creates is quite strange. In the back of the shop the texts are projected on a wall. My final gallery show for the day was CRG's "La Toilette de Venus--Women and Mirrors," a title that pretty much tells what this show is about. Mona Hatoum invokes a sense of mortality through the simplest of means. Kiki Smith, Yoko Ono, Cathleen Lewis and many other participants made this an intriguing event. At the opening, Massimo Audiello asked the question, "Why do women look into mirrors more than men?" The opening party for the Soho Arts Festival took place at the Puck building with the Rock Steady Crew and X-Men performing. After Simon Watson, who is the one responsible for creating this event, thanked all of his sponsors, Leon Golub, honorary co-chair, gave a short talk where he made the curious remark: "Retain your cynicism." Caroline Nathusius, publisher of Penguin Editions, informed me of the very sad news that Pat Hearn's Chihuahua, Chi Chi, unfortunately passed away this July. This beautiful little dog had been celebrated in Massimo Audiello's mid-'80s "Chi Chi Show" with works by Phillip Taaffe, Donald Baechler, George Condo and others. Chi Chi also appears in the recent book Dogs of Soho by Anastasia Croy. I also heard at this party that Gerard Basquiat, Jean-Michel's father, had pulled the estate out of the Robert Miller Gallery some months ago. This development, along with Howard Reed and others leaving to open a gallery, and the aforementioned Audiello taking over at Miller, spells change for the still powerful Robert Miller Gallery. Sept. 6, 1996--Went over to Robin Winters' loft on Broadway where he came up with this gem, "Julian Schnabel's movie Basquiat is like Hitler making the Anne Frank Story." Robin is doing a large-scale ceramic project in Holland later this month. Lucy Orta's installation in the front of the Salvation Army (69 Spring St.) gave me a chance to look at her creations more closely. The coat was made of 27 tweed ties lined with 27 silk ties beautifully sewn together. A pair of pants called "hipsters" are made out of 35 pairs of leather gloves. Emily Harvey Gallery (537 Broadway) in collaboration with Lance Harvey had works by Nicolas Africano, Emmett Williams, Ben and others. The Identical Lunch by Allison Knowles used photos of her lunch guests and details such as the brand of tuna she used to make sandwiches for a serial photo work. The big energetic mob scene in SoHo this evening was on Greene St. where Casey Kaplan and Lauren Wittels opened their new galleries. Kaplan's "projects space" has Michael Jenkins' wry kindergarten-scale electric chairs mounted on the wall with a cute cut-out of an electro devil-man cartoon figure. Michael Cohen, curator of the group show at Wittels ("Mutate/Loving the New Flesh"), showed small loose paintings, one of which was a pair of testicles with two penises. Janine Antoni recommended Chen Zhen's installation at the Chinese auto repair on Mercer St. Down to the Franklin Furnace for "Voyeur's Delight" curated by Barbara Rusin and Grace Roselli. High on the wall is one of Jane Dickson's classic paintings: at a window someone is pulling back the blinds peering out. To depict the voyeur, the painter becomes voyeur, and by doing so the viewer is implicated through his/her gaze. Michel Auder is the true voyeur/spy. His video Rooftop and Other Scenes purloins people's private moments. It's so banal and slow. Is anything going to happen? The first thing the voyeur learns is "you always gotta wait." Watching and waiting itself, the "Voyeur's Delight." Tessa Hughes-Freeland and Ela Troyano are showing their 16mm film Playboy Voodoo transfered to video and played in one of the booths made for this show. The booths are a curious curatorial device that effects and encloses the experience of watching. Playboy Voodoo is dense, multi- layered, sensory, erotic. The image of a masturbating woman is obscured by flashing superimpositions, the whole thing fading in and out of view like a dream. Dike Blair presents a version of his project Gray Goo Lounge. The "gray goo" problem is illustrated by "virus-sized, computer-controlled, man-made robots (with the ability) to reproduce themselves endlessly." Dike continues, "there had better be a way of programing them to stop or, like the mops and pails in Disney's The Sorcerer's Apprentice, they could convert all matter in the world into copies of themselves." Dike's version of this is an erotic female pose digitally composed of small images of the pose itself. Sept. 7, 1996--Chen Zhen's installation (at Mercer Auto Repair, 41 Mercer St.) is based on this horrifing statistic: China plans to have one billion cars by the year 2010. A mass of inflated bicycle inner tubes hanging from the ceiling has tiny black toy cars glued to it. Artists Space and Basilico Fine Arts had openings this evening. At Basilico is "Joint Ventures," of which curator Nicolas Bourriaud said that the Ben Kinmonts' work is the emblematic. Kinmont had stopped people on the street and gave them a statement asking for a loan of some dishes to be exhibited in the show. "If the dishes are sold, then the money will be split equally between myself [Kinmont], the participant, and the gallery dealer." Kinmont's installation consisted of two dishes he had obtained plus written notes and documention as well as the statement he handed out on the street, with the press release for the show printed on the reverse. Artists Space's "A Strategy Hinted At," curated by Anastasia Aukeman, had eight young neo-conceptual artists as well as a project space installation by Angie Eng. At the opening David Hershkovitz, publisher of Paper magazine, was lounging the whole time on a chair made of square pieces of carpeting stacked up by artist Steven Carter. Benita-Immanuel Grosser, which is the name used by a pair of artists based in Berlin, offer yoga classes at the gallery as part of the show: beginners every Tuesday 6:30 to 8:30 pm, Sept. 10-Oct. 15, and beginners/intermediate every Saturday 4:00 to 5:30 pm Sept. 14-Oct. 12. Brigitte Engler showed beautiful, luminous needlepoint works based on woodgrain patterns. Angie Eng's dark, creepy room had stained paper towels strewn all over the floor with a dispenser showing a small video of a red-gloved hand with a pistol. Sept. 18, 1996--Chelsea. Ellen Cantor: After missing the show last season at Thomas Nordstadt today I saw two pieces at Xavier LaBoulbenne. One is a projection on the wall of a love scene from the Louis Malle film The Lovers and the other is a large frame in the shape of a cross, containing snap-shot-sized black-and-white photos of close-up s-and-m sex shots interspersed with stills from Madonna's Truth or Dare. Appropriate Madonna and show the imagined parts that she didn't. At the same time Cantor is including Madonna as an unwitting participant to affirm her sex photos. She's in it and the viewer's gaze completes the intellectual menage a' trois. At Annina Nosei (upstairs at 530 W. 22nd St.) was DJ Spooky (aka Paul D. Miller). Did you like that? Silver calligraphy on unfolded cardboard boxes, like Brian Gysin, with elaborate framing. Large cross-shaped window grates hanging in the middle of the gallery. A Brian Eno-like soundtrack. Comfortable bean bag chairs. In this show you could pull up a couple of bean bags and make-out. In the large gallery I imagined that the big hanging steel window grates would bounce the sound waves of Spooky's track back and forth around the room. I like that. At Pat Hearn Steven Parrino, for me, is the more interesting of three painters. Am I wrong or is the new astronaut on the Mir Space Station named Blaha? The Dia Center showed Gordon Matta-Clark films from the 1970s on its roof. It takes a lot of work to drop a heavy beam from a pier into the water below. In Clockshower, Matta-Clark climbs to the Clocktower's clock, where he has rigged a shower, and drenches himself in cleansing, redeeming water spouting from an image of shattered time. Gordon died many years ago of cancer but his work lives on. On Dia's third floor Hanne Darboven's installation includes odd objects that now inhabit her insular world. Fred Sandback is one of the artists the Dia Art Foundation has extensively collected. His installation of lines of colored acrylic yarn stretched through space and along walls, ceiling and floor is flawless in the clarity of its simplicity. The sculpture, through the most Minimal of means, is boundry-less. Lynne Cooke quotes Sandback in the brochure: "Fact and illusion are equivalents." This was like the old Dia of the `70s, a moment of a classic commitment of patronage. I had the pleasure of being introduced to Robert Ryman who mentioned that what he is making at the moment is not yet worked out to his satisfaction. Fred Sandback I had met once before at a dinner at Rudolf Zwirner's in Cologne where Phillip Pearlstein told me the tale of his guarding Masaccio's and Masolino's Brancacchi Chapel in Florence as a soldier in WWII. Sept. 20, 1996--Quote from Roberta Smith's review of Paul McCarthy's show at Luhring Augustine: "Sex is so overdone in art these days that it is becoming ho-hum." Robert Goldman is a New York artist.