"The Hugo Boss Prize. 1998", June 24-Sept. 20, 1998, at the Guggenheim Museum Soho, 575 Broadway, New York, N.Y. 10012.
The brand new Bossathon at the SoHo Guggenheim is elegantly installed, virtually sexless and Martini smooth.
It's also a lot less than meets the eye.
Morning-line favorite to cop the $50,000 prize, Pipilotti Rist, wouldn't be able to get away with the amateur car commercials she produces here, if she were named Jane Doe.
Flash: Something about the onamotapoetic moniker, sounding like the snap of an undone bra, turns arties to jelly.
When Rist's skinny legs peeked out of a skanky yellow bathing suit near a coral reef, appreciative chuckles emanated from the opening night swells. We yawned.
We're also getting sick of lounging on gray chairless carpets in spare dark rooms to look at art, but there's a lot of that Bosswise at the Goog.
Number two favorite Lorna Simpson produced Waiting to Exhale II without Angela Bassett or Whitney Houston. What a feat!!
Colonial survivor William Kentridge offers his version of Steamboat Willie, Walt Disney's first Mickey Mouse cartoon, only Kentridge gives us a frisky cat and an old radio. It's amusing for five seconds.
Douglas Gordon must have been left back at school with his sophomoric bit of deconstruction -- two walls of texts, opposite sentiments meeting in a corner. Dull, dull, dull -- his double-screen silent terror loop is also pretty weak.
That leaves Lee Bul and Huang Yong Ping for the tactilely challenged viewer.
Lee has produced hanging cast-silicon versions of Moriko Mori's Tokyo space suits, while Wong has laid out some Eva Hesse bags on a Vito Acconci web full of tarantulas. On opening nigh, Huang's dealer, Jack Tilton, lovingly stroked the piece for an hour.
Let him be known as Tarantula Tilton.
Seeing Laurie Anderson at the party reminded us of the biggest Boss flaw. Last year's losers can't return for another crack at the nut. It's as if Jack Nicholson or Meryl Streep could only get Oscar nominated once, win or loose.
Perhaps the prize could be reconfigured to honor the best work already produced in a given year, rather than picking a few simmering names from the art glossies.
This judge's view? No winner.
CHARLIE FINCH is the New York editor of Coagula Art Journal and has coauthored the forthcoming Most Art Sucks from Smart Art Press.