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Feb. 23, 2007 

What makes something hot? Is mojo something more that a contact high? Is that buzz something other than the faint rustle of money? The New Museum plans to delve into the question with a panel titled "The ĎItí Factor: What Makes Something Hot?" at the Great Hall of the Cooper Union on Mar. 28, 2007. We here at Artnet Magazine decided to give the panelists a hand, and solicit responses to the question from our friends and contributors. Herewith, the results:

Charlie Finch, art critic: WHATíS HOT OR NOT
When Pollock blazed across the scene/ They called him "Jack the Dripper"/ When Blaze Starr danced for Governor Long/ They hooted for the stripper/ When Beatles chanted "Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!"/ The chickies swayed and swooned/ When Gotti snapped his fingers/ The room soon filled with goons/ Whatís hot is what the mob eats up/ Itís harder to define it/ The hottest are the money folks/ So smart to get behind it./ The rest of us are suckers/ Breathing the hot air/ Theyíve stripped us of our pride and dough/ And left us cold and bare.

Nick Stillman, curator, P.S.1: Currently, itís clearly the veneer of rebelliousness, usually communicated through youth posturing. The "it factor" really kicks in when an artist transports this rebellion from cleanliness and sexiness into total nastiness, via the out-and-out embrace of garbage, trash, sludge. And dirt.

Ena Swansea, artist: I always enjoy going back years later, to what was it, and looking at it in a cool way after it has cooled off. Sometimes you find that the thing is still great, and that the "it-ness" was just a kind of patina, on top of a solid core. These very occasional examples subconsciously give the quality of being "It" a special pull.

Cory Arcangel, digital artist: If I knew, Iíd form a gallery and become a dealer.

Carlo McCormick, Paper Magazine: Itís a little sad to think that so soon after Marcia Tuckerís passing that the New Museum would be pursuing the flock of temporal tastemakers. Nothing personal against such a distinguished gathering, itís just not the legacy or the lesson weíd hope to inherit from what was once so radical a methodology. As someone who has worked more than 20 years at Paper Magazine, where much of what is to be deemed hot is minted, my own personal experience is that the horde of pundits, promoters, trend-researchers, marketing gurus and the like who have come to make an industry of out of hip are by and large the lamest geeks imaginable.

The "It" phenomenon is historically rooted in a cult of personality that existed through coded signs and gestures outside of institutional or mainstream understanding. As a shifting generational dynamic of youth culture, it is called "it" in the first place because it resists explanation while celebrating the experiential and superficial aspects of life and style. To make a discourse of it is precisely to miss the point. If youíre cool you really donít need anyone to tell you whatís hot, and if youíre not, well Iím sorry, we just couldnít possibly explain it to you.

Glenn OíBrien, author: TILDA SWINTON

Emma Gray, critic: The Man Who Fell in Love with a Tree, Joel Tauber, who shows with Suzanne Vielmetter in Los Angeles, represents a new kind of artist. His work encompasses a quest for God, nature and the desperate state of the environment while being outrageously funny, absurd and poignant. For more details, see

Robin Kahn, artist: My oven and erect nipples.

Christopher Knight, the Los Angeles Times: If I knew the answer, Iíd quit being a journalist. But Iíll have my people call Paris Hiltonís people and get back to you.

Noritoshi Hirakawa, artist: This is like the first council of Nice and contemporary art is about to be eaten by people who have temporal desires of being honored and changing the truths of art. We are artists like the Arian are being vanished by tricky "IT" Constantine believers who desecrate the laws of world.

Ana Finel Honigman, art critic: Art is hot when it is easy to write about but is impossible to fully express in words. And, it helps if the artist is someone a wide range of people might either want to fuck or share a meal with.

Tony Fitzpatrick, artist: The thing I find "hot" or sexy in art, at least, is primacy -- I get excited when I see something that reminds me of nothing else -- a primary kind of language -- a thing that only looks like itself -- like the first time I ever saw an Amy Sillman painting -- it didnít remind me of anything else -- or a Basquait -- Iíd seen figures before -- but never so completely made into the image of the artist himself -- I like art where the artist takes you into their world, and that world is palpable and complete and its own place -- Fred Tomaselli, Sillmanm, Basquiat, Donald Judd -- artists like that.

The New Museum presents The "IT" Factor: What Makes Something Hot? at Cooper Union on Mar. 28, 2007, from 6:30 pm-8 pm. The panel, which is considering architecture, design and fashion as well as art, features art consultant Clarissa Dalrymple; Mayer Rus, design editor of House & Garden; artist Francesco Vezzoli; architectural historian Anthony Vidler; and Irma Zandl, trendspotter and principal of the Zandl Group. Moderator is New Museum senior curator Laura Hoptman.

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