Curator Lisa Kirk kicked up her black Prada stilettos at the preview party for her show "Bonds of Love" at John Connelly Presents.
"Yesterday he bought me flowers, but that’s not enough -- we’re through," Lisa announced, breaking up with her longtime boyfriend, a New York City fireman.
This air of defiance permeates "Bonds of Love," a show whose bilge of poorly thought-out press statements and academic catalogue essays purports to be a feminist/anti-feminist critique of male-dominated group shows or conventional female groups shows, or whatever.
The exhibition is really the tale of the triumph of Lisa Kirk, the rare middle-aged success story in the current art-world youth quake.
After years of fabricating mediocre, Goth-inspired art in her 14th Street studio, which no one cared about, Lisa boldly refashioned herself as a curator, with shows at Participant on the Lower East Side and the Scope Art Fair in New York. Surrounded by a posse of female acolytes, Lisa persistently begged and cajoled artists and writers to join her caravan.
"I called Fiona Banner (a Turner Prize finalist) many times," Lisa told us, about one of the artists in ‘Bonds of Love.’ The first writer I contacted for the catalogue was Chris Kraus."
The show at John Connelly, who is moving to a ground floor space on 27th Street in November, is typical of Kirk, the Flakey Floont of the art world. It’s in three rooms on two floors in the cavernous building with some brilliant curatorial juxtapositions, a lot of motley derivative crap, scattered, wacky and wooly headed.
The best room, #312 for those keeping score, is arranged like a Fabergé jewel box. Marilyn Minter’s $24,000 painting of a prostitute’s feet, soon to be featured all over town on billboards by the Public Art Fund, is a classic.
Sherry Wong contributes a gentle, poignant painting about tense dependence on a boyfriend, with a beautiful building on the horizon, one of a series of four. (A second piece can be viewed in John Connelly’s office).
Josephine Meckseper’s nightstand tribute to Bob Dole’s erectile dysfunction is maudlin and creepy, with the dark hues of Banks Violette, while Laura Anderson Barbata’s decapitated $30,000 Madonna, Consuelo, is a depressing reflection of the artist’s own mindlessness.
Room #1003 has one tiny masterpiece, Skip Trace by Camille Norment, of a vulnerable black girl behind opaque glass. This piece, a collector’s bargain at $2,500, is worthy of the great photographers Roy De Carava. Kati Heck’s wasteful wall of paper creations looks like bad or worse Danica Phelps, emphasizing the lamest tendencies of curator Kirk.
For those who, like us, don’t particularly care for Fiona Banner’s didacticism -- she specializes in reams of texts, or oversized punctuation-mark sculptures -- Nude, a one-page run-on description, is an improvement.
Finally, there’s room #1023, the videodrome. The always masochistic, lugubrious Laura Parnes, typical of what dealer Bettina Smith calls "The Columbine Generation," offers up treatments of the Jonestown Massacre, the Iran hostage crisis, and high school. While some may relish shots of her classmates stomping Laura with their shoes, we say, "Grow up, who cares? Get a life."
Kati Heck’s German cavewoman video is a boring time-waster, but Tara Mateik’s gender-bending Peter Pan dance evokes Nayland Blake and Cindy Sherman. This butch cutie bears watching.
Well, Lisa Kirk, at 40, must be doing something right to curate a show at a hot space like John Connelly Presents. Just be glad you’re not her boyfriend!
"Bonds of Love," Aug. 18-Sept. 24, 2005, at John Connelly Presents, 526 West 26th Street, New York, N.Y. 10001.
CHARLIE FINCH is co-author of Most Art Sucks: Five Years of Coagula (Smart Art Press).