Here’s a peculiar one. You’re going to have to dramatically expand your definition of what constitutes art. Or, call bullshit if you see bullshit.
I took a long lunch, hopped the subway down to Houston St. and visited Jannis Kounellis’s Untitled (12 Horses) at Gavin Brown’s Enterprise gallery in Greenwich Village. It’s a living installation that’s consists of 12 horses tethered to the wall in the gallery’s big space.
It was first executed in Rome in 1969 and has since (in certain small circles) achieved legendary status. It’s been staged five times in Europe. Having it staged here in New York is considered a major coup. Kounellis flew in from Italy to oversee the installation.
The horses didn’t actually do anything other than be horses. They stood there eating hay and relieving themselves at will. There were three grooms in attendance to see to the horse’s comfort and needs and to keep the gallery clean. The gallery floor was outfitted with a rubber mat to protect their hoofs.
A reviewer in The New York Times gushed that the exhibit was “…an unforgettable New York art world moment” and said it had a calming influence on her. The review generated so much buzz that lines formed. It was sunny and hot. The gallery was gracious enough to provide umbrellas and free bottles of water to people waiting outside.
Only 10 people were allowed in at a time so as not to rattle the horses (I suppose).
Outside the contemporary art world, this is commonly referred to as a “barn.” I’ve been in barns at the race track and county fair and aside from a curator surveying the scene, it’s no different. So, I ask you, is turning an art gallery into a barn an unforgettable moment in contemporary art, as The New York Times insisted, or is it horseshit?
Simultaneously, just outside Untitled (12 Horses) in a smaller gallery, artist Rirkrit Tiravanija staged one of his food installations. His exhibits often involve cooking and sharing meals. He considers it the art of bringing people together. In this piece, he provided free pork tacos to visitors. After viewing the horses, people would queue up buffet style.
A hole was cut in the gallery floor and the pork was cooked under a mound of earth. Please don’t ask me how this was accomplished. I haven’t a clue.
Picnic tables were placed around the perimeter of the gallery. There was no limit on how long you could stay, nor how much food you could eat. People seemed genuinely respectful and didn’t make pigs of themselves or overstay their welcome. Having a fairly dark view of the human condition, I was pleasantly surprised.
I was also surprised there weren’t any vagrants about. Perhaps they hadn’t read the Times yet. I remember when I lived in the city and would attend gallery openings, the homeless would always descend for the free wine. They are part of the fabric of New York gallery openings. Hey! That could be an installation! Wealthy white art patrons can stand around the perimeter of a gallery and watch street urchins drink free wine. I’ll call it “Like Moths to the Flame.” The title it apt for both audience and subjects.
Two posts ago I complained about a gigantic new consultant at work who is making my life difficult with his incessant eating. Trying to concentrate on the tasks at hand is a challenge when the soundtrack of my day is the smacking, chawing, gulping and gnashing of food that goes on just a few feet away, not to mention his heavy, labored wheezing. Every exhale sounds like it could be his last.
In addition to stuffing is piehole with food, another one of his great pleasures in life is using a pen cap to dig the earwax out of his ear while he talks on the phone. Sitting next to him makes me feel like a complete failure. Press play. You must!
He missed a day of work because of a plumbing mishap back home. His bathroom flooded. I felt a (very brief) sympathetic pang when I heard what caused the flood. His girlfriend tried to flush his junk food down the toilet and it backed up. He said, “That wasn’t the first time she did that.”
Is there any doubt that we live in a MAN’S WORLD? How does this guy have a girlfriend? It appears that his food addiction is nothing to joke about. I’d probably feel sorry for him if I didn’t have to sit in such close proximity.
The new rage at New Jersey diners:
Grilled cheese sandwiches stuffed with mac-n-cheese. Gross. A friend of mine ordered this. I have low standards, especially when it comes to food, but I couldn’t choke this down if I tried.