Elimination Round

New York
06.29.06

Left: “Into Me / Out of Me” artist Jen DeNike. Right: MoMA curators Klaus Biesenbach and Roxana Marcoci with MoMA director Glenn Lowry. (Photos: Keith Smith)


In a celebratory mood—or, more simply, relieved—following England’s victory over Ecuador in Sunday morning’s World Cup eliminator, I headed to Williamsburg café Marlow & Sons before decamping for P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center, where Klaus Biesenbach’s latest curatorial gambit, “Into Me / Out of Me,” an extended meditation on the theme of “the imagined, descriptive, and performative act of the passing into, through, and out of the human body,” was opening alongside this summer’s round of smaller exhibitions. Though I was looking forward to seeing what was happening at MoMA’s outpost, the Brooklyn rendezvous proved difficult to escape. Not only were we perfectly placed to observe the rough ‘n’ tumble Portugal-Netherlands match, sitting under the screen with a plate of oysters was model Sasha Pivovarova, apparently sketching our upturned faces. And shortly after half time, in walked a deputation from nearby Roebling Hall, including artists Guy Richards Smit (new baby in tow) and Kysa Johnson.

Taking Portugal’s eventual triumph as our cue, we jumped in a cab and arrived in Long Island City at what looked to be the height of the festivities. OBRA’s architectural installation BEATFUSE!—this year’s Young Architects Program competition-winning design—arched over the courtyard but went largely unused as most visitors clustered around the entrance or lounged on the front steps. Biesenbach was the first familiar face I saw and he was gratified that his ambitious plan—possibly the most “museumlike” show that the institution has hosted to date, spanning forty years and featuring work by more than 130 artists—had come together (“I’m very happy we got all those loans”). But he was also visibly tired, and handed me a pair of beer tickets while steering me towards the bar. The skies looked increasingly threatening, so I ducked inside.

Left: P.S. 1 director Alanna Heiss with Joanna Steichen. (Photo: Keith Smith) Right: “Into Me / Out of Me” artist Wim Delvoye. (Photo: Michael Wilson)


Entering the closest “Into Me” gallery, I bumped into writer Paul Laster chatting with artist Wim Delvoye. Delvoye—in good voice, particularly on the subject of sculptors outsourcing their casting work to China—was represented in the show by a sculpture of a circle of life-size male figures, one of which seemed to be suffering from an instability that required a gallery attendant to clutch its thigh in a gesture of disarming tenderness. Also spotted doing the rounds were collector-philanthropists Raymond Learsy and Melva Bucksbaum, gallerist John Connelly, artist Jen DeNike (in spectacular shades), and P. S 1’s Tony Guerrero (smoking a fat cigar). The show itself is a suitably gutsy affair, with enough uncomfortably visceral moments to send all but the most hardened viewers away feeling distinctly queasy. Recalling David Beckham’s earlier, heat-exhausted heaves, I particularly enjoyed the vomitorium containing variations on an expulsive theme, from Mike Parr’s The Emetics (Primary Vomit) I am Sick of Art (Red, Yellow and Blue), 1977, to Martin Creed’s Work No. 548, 2006.

At around 7 PM, furiously reassuring each other that these works weren’t foretastes of the dining experience to come, my companion and I made our way around the corner to the no-frills Court Square Diner. We arrived to find the place already nearly full, and were beckoned simultaneously by DeNike at one end of the restaurant, artist Ellen Altfest at the other, and gallerist Janice Guy and James Cohan Gallery director Elyse Goldberg in the center. We went with the flow and joined the latter pair, already sharing a large spanakopita. Others, including artist Andrea Fraser, tried to squeeze in, but the booth was built for four. Fraser’s presence did serve to get us talking about the show again, however. “Did you see the work in the basement?” asked Goldberg. I realized, to my disappointment, that I’d missed it. “It’s all fucking,” she assured me, “just hardcore fucking.” I promised to go back, and also, I seem to remember, to get a tattoo and to start eating meat again. A visceral experience.

Michael Wilson

Left: Artist Su-Mei Tse. (Photo: Michael Wilson) Right: Artists Kalup Linzy and Shaun Leonardo. (Photo: Keith Smith)


Left: Artist Ron Gorchov. Right: Artist Todd Pavlisko. (Photos: Keith Smith)


Left: Artist Thiago Rocha Pitta. Right: Artist Lisi Raskin. (Photos: Keith Smith)