Saturday, November 19, 2005

A Guide to Kultur

You have to work for your culture in New York. The other day, my girlfriend somehow twisted my arm to go to a Japanese death-metal group in Brooklyn. When we arrived at the venue, a notice on the door read:


Repelled with such vagueness, I turned to the bouncer and asked what was the tragedy? It transpired that the Japenese death-metal group had been involved in a car-crash that day, were in intensive care, and that the drummer was dead. Of course, you cynics snigger, it had to be the drummer. Perhaps it was due to my infrequent patronage of death-metal clubs, that left me a lingering, foolish sense of culpability for the rest of the evening.

Nonetheless, I made another stab at being a cultured person, by visiting Chelsea the following day. Chelsea, for those undernourished souls not acquanited with either cutting-edge installations or champagne, is a place in West Side Manhattan, where the rich hang out and purchase art at exorbitent prices. Like all good aristocrats, they have the sense to let mortals lesser than themselves gather at a hygenic distance from them. To facilitate this, they have set up rows galleries lining 23rd Street, 24th Street, 25th Street, all free to the public; and impecunious shameless people like me are happy to turn up in droves, and give them the validation they need.

The whole area of Chelsea has a peculiar feel, because it is the most perfect coincidence of art and capitalism. I suffer terrific anxiety trying to distinguish the white-washed ultra-minimalist offices, from the white-washed ultra-minimimalist exhibition spaces. I am relieved when some giveaway sign appears: a video screen showing naked people swimming (that's Bill Viola!); an artist biog; a mature couple circulating, the kerchiefed male tush-tushing, "Nah! S'more like a Jacko-Metti!" One with the art punters thronging the pavements, my eyes gaze into rooms that are never paritioned with a wall, always by windows of pure crystal, as if to say, in an act of superior transparency, "Look at me. You can see everyhting there is to see. I am wealth." Sometimes my eyes meet a fresco, sometimes a receptionist. When in one of the buildings, I see a Japanese woman with an asymmetric fringe before a laptop, letting one finger slowly fall with a kind of suspended brutality upon the keypad, I do not know which category her action falls into.

You feel a modern voodoo reigns, when you are in Chelsea, and the trick is never to react to anything, however untoward. I strolled into one of the galleries, which was showing some new work by Tracy Emin, and there was the woman herself, dressed in cheap leopardprint, and with her letterbox mouth working.

"It's dead simple. I just - put myself into the work. It's just honesty. I put the honesty down", the mouth was saying.

I thought that perhaps Tracy was part of this exhibition, along with the three or four American men standing entraced beside her, and wondered briefly if I kissed her full passionately on the lips, would I be part of the exhibition too? But it turned out she was just Tracy Emin, as regular as she would be drunk on Newsnight Review; she was quickly ushered into the rear of the gallery, and I practiced my measured walk around the juvelinia she was exhibiting, as if nothing had happened at all.


At 5:34 PM, Blogger D.M. said...

I don't know what 'quits' means.
I believe your link to my blog has a typo. It should read 'search me david' not 'spank me david'.

At 5:42 PM, Blogger greenpoint said...

Great to hear from you, David. I've had a look around the site features, but it's a load of computer jargon that seems very difficult to alter. So for the time being, it looks like you're stuck with it. Sorry!




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