Log Illustrated - a publication from the Physics RoomLog 10 - The New Age
Log 10 - The New Age

New York Roundup
New ways of being an audience, part 4 - Geoff Lowe


Deitch Projects presents Sue de Beer and Laura Parnes's Heidi 2. Heidi 2 is the unauthorised sequel to Mike Kelley and Paul McCarthy's Heidi... Heidi 2 is not a parody or homage. Heidi 2 is a sequel, and follows the rules of any good sequel, more blood, additional celebrities and better special effects... As Grandfather has lost his tyrannical rule and young Peter becomes an untouchable celebrity, the elder Heidi assumes her position of matriarch. As the power shifts the tension between mother and daughter escalates, culminating in a scene of graphic violence and debasement. (For Immediate Release. Deitch Projects, Sue De Beer/Laura Parnes, Heidi 2)

Stephen Vitiello, View from window Pia Lindman, Sauna
[left] Stephen Vitiello, View from window, PS1, Greater New York
[right] Pia Lindman, Sauna, PS1, Greater New York

Heidi 2 seems to examine both a desire for power and a description of its transition or crossing. It's funky and lively especially when aTV is physically implanted in the stomach or womb of Heidi, or is it her mother? The original work by Kelley and McCarthy is about patriarchy and American culture but I haven't seen it and the stills are like many historical paintings in that I feel compelled and attracted by the appearance but have not much idea what its about.

Across the street Deitch Projects are also showing Starstruck, photographs by celebrity fan Gary Boas. More an archive, the exhibition shows a selection of thousands of photographs and memorabilia from 1965-80. On the right wall are hundreds of 3 1/2 inch photographs taken with a Hawkeye Brownie - Fred Astaire, John and Yoko, Julie Christie, andporn stars Helen Madigan and Mark Stevens (Mr 10 1/2 inches) with Boas' mother in home town Lancaster, Penn. All the photos shoot the subject at middle distance, so that they don't occupy the majority of the picture and, in a way, everyone looks the same whoever they are - Warren Beatty, local reparatory aspirant or family friend, all occupy the grainy texture in the same strange democratic way.

At the end of the gallery is a recreation of Gary Boas' teenage and contemporary bedroom, radiogram with sixties music, drawers and shelves. On the walls are posters, 8x10 photographs the artist has taken, beefcake and publicity photos signed by the likes of Chita Rivera and Richard Nixon. Included are photos of Mum, Dad, family and friends. On the back of a 30 year old photo of an aunt, with an archivist's zeal, he has written height, hair colour, likes, dislikes etc.

On the left wall is a monitor showing a video work by Boas of eight former Miss Americas singing "Amazing Grace" to Gary. There are 2000 autographed playbills from Julie Andrews and Robert Goulet to local theatre actors. Then autographs, a lot by the family, andall the guests who have stayed in the house were he has lived for his 48 years. It's like a handmade family archive that includes everything. Apparently he loves showing the complete archive to people and to look at them looking. At the front desk is a contact strip showing how Gary was at a beauty pageant, in-between two regular glamour shots, he went outside to photograph a well-hung nude guy up a tree. Everything becomes connected or the same in this egalitarian archive. Whilst the obsessional drive makes him famous for knowing the famous, it is the unofficial tone in this vast collection and the passive and daring sense of inclusion of all that overwhelms what a celebrity is.

On Saturday night the audience rose to its feet at the Soul Train Music Awards and the Artist/Symbol/Prince asked them to stay standing. He said his award was not due to God, that he had worked tirelessly to get any dividends from his success. He told the audience that it was they who were important, that they were already there, already great; thisachievement had already been made without any award. At first this felt embarrassing, yet from the way so many rappers and movie stars thank God you wonder if they are trying to exhaust the form or the word.

Outside of MOMA on 53rd Street there are three banners by Shirin Neshat, Simon Patterson and Xu Bing:

The white cube is not the only space art can inhabit. Why not migrate off site, climb up the façade, and infiltrate a zone ordinarily reserved for the red, black and white banners on which the Museum's logo appears? (Projects #70, MOMA, Fereshteh Daftari)

In fact the three new banners are framed by red and black MOMA banners at each end and, as any artist who has worked with a Modernist architect would know, they prefer banners because they don't interfere with the 'integrity of the building'. Still we have works by three magnificent artists. Actually, these banners look soboring that until you look closely they may as well be the MOMA banners that are usually there. Xu Bing has a red banner with yellow Chinese writing and, if you know, it's very exciting. It looks like artful design in Chinese characters, but if you believe in yourself sufficiently you can make a sudden Gestalt; you can understand without education, that it says, reading these suddenly hybrid English/Chinese characters, Art for the People. Gotta get up to get down yeah! Xu Bing, as do the others, offers a kind of sartori, if you look. Art for the people could be sharing something...

Across the street in the window of the New York Public Library are drawn portraits looking over, from the history of Afro-Americans, the first black millionaire woman, first professionally trained nurse, first at Carnegie Hall, first this first that. Everybody knows there's so much culture, like er... Jazz, Art schools in Harlem, before one person crosses into what becomes history. This crossing is feigned with so much significance it denies what was already going on, what everyone was getting significance from. The first is a sign of proliferation of desire denied, so that one fairly empty symbol of first can smother all we've already experienced.

In 1999 MOMA took over PS1. It seems like a failure of Oedipus - imagine if the Metropolitan took over MOMA. Why the contemporary desires, dreams and proximity to a new audience and patronage were not enough to consume the ideas of the past seems hard to understand. As the power shifts MOMA escalates, there is no culmination of graphic violence and debasement. Why couldn't the flexible outreach of PS1 eat the floors of category at MOMA and become bigger now? Yet we all understand it's about money. I think.

There was something in the Heidi show about a visceral quest for power and knowledge within the feminine, as the publicity says: Grandfather has lost his tyrannical rule and young Peter becomes an untouchable celebrity, the elder Heidi assumes her position of matriarch. As the power shifts the tension between mother and daughter escalates... It's tempting to think there's something in this text that could explain why our culture is about containment and exasperating returns. But I don't know. I had this idea that the Matriarchy has something to do with how Italian, Jewish and Chinese cultures function. Maybe I'm wrong, I don't know yet... The matriarchy and the feminine aren't the same thing it seems... Anyway I can't really see where Grandfather has lost his tyrannical rule.

The PS1 show, Greater New York, seems similar to what the Whitney Biennial attempts as a surveyand there are some far-reaching and fabulous works by artists who live in New York. There is a Public Sauna by Pia Lindman. It's like your body art - a makeshift wooden construction near the front gate where, two at a time, people can enjoy the heat and be splashed down unclothed while the audience looks on or about.

There is so much innovation in this show it almost becomes tiring. Innovation of media and the figure of art suggest a future we are almost already tired of. Everyone is innovating to the same demand; although some works did try to make contact. On the top floor, overlooking Long Island City, Stephen Vitiello has an empty room with some very innovative looking sound equipment. A glass dish is turning round in the ceiling. You look out the window and the music underscores your view or viewing. As you look at the cars on the bridge or the birds in the sky this thrall continues. Your own looking is a powerful drama or stately reunion; the longer you stay the more apparent, more there you know you are and at last what you value has some power.

Once I have some power I'm gonna get in touch with some other people...


Geoff Lowe [Aquarian Dragon] is an artist currently living in New York.



Log Illustrated - a publication from the Physics Room