Any way you want to understand art is fine with me—even trying is half of understanding—but if you’re going to see the two new shows at The Hole on Bowery, I have as many suggestions.
First, in the main room, there are maybe 100 portraits; they might not all look like portraits; they are. The title of this show, which Hole owner Kathy Grayson curated (and also contributed to), is Portrait of A Generation—so grandiose, but not inaccurate. This glimmering slice of Lower Manhattan is certainly a generation (although I’m not sure how Yoko Ono fits into it), and there are other generations made up of people the same age in other places/strata/ways of life. Remember that, although it wasn’t what I meant to say. What I meant to say is that you shouldn’t pick up the piece of paper listing the artists (or fashion designers moonlighting as photographers, or Glenn O’Brien, or whatever) who contributed works based on each other. You should avoid looking at the placards that tell you who’s who. It’s more interesting to guess—and fun! Some of them are obvious (Donald Cumming and Aurel Schmidt; Matthew Stone and Karley Sciortino) and some are not (no spoilers, though) and some you don’t even want to know because they’re so thoughtless or ill-executed, which is maybe what happens when the artists you show are also your friends. To have Alex Prager and Shoplifter in the same show as Cynthia Rowley and Sharon Needles demonstrates an emphasis on who you know, not what you do. It’s a way of making taste egalitarian, or at least circumstantial. It says you belong because you’re here.
Secondly, there’s Andréopolis, a new exhibit that attempts to redefine cities as places André Saraiva makes cool by inhabiting. (That’s my quickest take. If you want to read a longer version in which all sense of perspective is lost in the translation from French to Manhattanese, definitely do read the Olivier Zahm statement on his camarade‘s work. Or, just: “With this good-natured gesture, he reminds everyone that if he did contribute to the night scene with his clubs – which he continues to do – he is an artist, and without ever giving up his vocation, which renders clear everything he does.”) The show comprises 15 buildings, many of them iconic to New York or Paris, assembled in Brooklyn from American materials (what manufacturing crisis?!) and arranged in five rows of three. When I saw them, on Wednesday night at a semi-VIP milieu, only one row and a half had been installed. One of the buildings had Saraiva’s girlfriend’s name, Annabelle, inscribed in neon. Another said “The Hole.” Another was the Chrysler. You get it: this isn’t exactly a Walter Benjamin-level trip. My suggestion here is that you take a pill that makes you feel Alice-like so that you can be wowed by this toy downtown; otherwise, you might just feel too tall. This is anti-realism at its flossiest, the Neverland of a true artrepreneur. Everything flat, pastel, anti-realist, not even a trace of the graffiti that first made Andre’s name. Everything scaled to fit perfectly a particular definition of cool.
The idea, Kathy Grayson explained to me in her kind and candid way, is that this is Andre’s dream place. Well, maybe I’m just a girl from Deep River, Ontario, but I can’t find the significance.