Cut off Your Ear!
Eve Harrington -- Interior Design, 8/1/2001 12:00:00 AM
I would be the first to admit that I know virtually nothing at all about contemporary art. Nothing. But I am always eager to learn. And so, in a spirit of cheerful ignorance, I accompanied a friend of mine—an art world doyenne if ever there was one—to a performance by a young German artist whom she assured me was the absolute dernier cri. Magdalena and I shlepped our way over to that creepy wilderness of far west Chelsea where all the galleries now seem to reside. We took a cab, of course, but as my companion was uncertain where the Anton Kern Gallery had relocated—apparently, it used to be in a now desolate stretch of Soho, down the hall from a hairdresser—we had to do a bit more reconnaissance than I usually enjoy. Roger Vivier pumps are not designed with walking in mind—at least the good ones aren't. Well, we found Anton's—yes, we're on a first-name basis already, an adorable boy, really, Georg Baselitz's son—new digs, a vast space that is deliciously… raw. Now maybe I don't know much about art, but I've been around the block a few too many times not to recognize the attendant bigwigs. What a turnout: Barbara Gladstone, David Zwirner, Shaun Caley, Clarissa Dalrymple, et cetera, et cetera. All of them waiting patiently in the stifling heat, in the company of hoards of stylishly dilapidated young hipsters, for the big drama to unfold. Oooh, just too exciting, darling!
So John Bock's performance begins: the artist and two other performers—a girl and a rather sexy guy—start babbling gibberish while parading about some sort of jerry-rigged stage contraption. They were attired in ill-fitting costumes that resembled items from Comme des Garçons' "bump" dress collection, only sewn by the blind people who make those hideous sock dolls. Oh dear, I thought, this is going to be dull. Anyway, they're babbling a lot, I can't make out what they're saying and I don't really care… I just want to see something exciting, something avant-garde—contemporary art in its finest flower! Well, it got better: sexy-guy performer did a handstand with his adorable head inserted into some sort of commode, which John Bock then opened and proceeded to crack raw eggs onto sexy-guy's face. Well, it wasn't exactly Joseph Beuys' How to Explain Pictures to a Dead Hare, but I'm not picky. It must have been good, because I spied the stern critic from the Times, the light of pleasure positively dancing in her eyes. I had heard that something very dramatic would conclude the performance. At this point, we were already 30 minutes into it, and while I found it amusing to watch the megadealers and supercritics sweating like pigs while trussed up in Prada and Blahnik, Magdalena and I weren't holding up very well, either. I suggested we decamp for Pastis. The next day I got the final scoop on the proceedings, though. Well, apparently a live goat—yes, a goat—joined the performing trio, who interacted with it in various provocative ways. Other things followed. It continued for quite a while. Finally, the stage was driven out of the gallery—I suppose there was a car underneath it, how cunning!—executed a three-point turn, and then was driven back in. Fantastic, no? Anton has promised me a much-sought-after edition of—well, I don't know really what it is, but I'm getting a 25 percent discount. Who can resist a deal like that?