A goof marred last week's column, where I reported on Deputy Director Claudia Bach's pending departure from the Henry Art Gallery. After adding up the recent upheavals there, I closed with a (perhaps too-strongly worded) sentence suggesting that if "longtime director Richard Anderson" couldn't get a new team in place and working well together soon, he should leave his post. My goof? The name of the Henry's director is Richard Andrews.
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While in New York the weekend before last (see my review of the Whitney Biennial on pg. 37), I saw, in Chelsea's Luhring Augustine Gallery, the future of Republican-rage-inducing art, as well as the apotheosis of the Chelsea installation art scene. You won't read about it in The New Yorker's short May 8 piece on the current show by Pipilotti Rist -- perhaps the writer missed it? -- so it's my job to tell you about Closed Circuit. Located at the end of a series of lovely room-sized video installations, Closed Circuit was like a secret prize, hidden around the corner near the gallery's office -- in fact, in the office bathroom.
It's a simple piece: a sleek, Continental-looking, wall-mounted white porcelain toilet, with one major alteration -- part of the bottom has been cut out and replaced with clear glass or plastic. An infra-red camera is mounted beneath, pointing up, and feeds to a small flat-panel monitor set at an angle on the floor in front of the crapper. In short, you can sit on the toilet and watch yourself from a wholly new angle, seeing things you could never see before -- at least without ruining a good mirror. In shorter form, you can watch yourself take a dump. It's not quite as gross as you imagine -- with the lights off, the rippling water introduces a little subtlety into the otherwise clinical view of your ass. Due to this lovely subtlety, I was able to cement a new, higher level of intimacy with my wife.... I'll spare you a detailed recounting.
I talked to a staffer at the gallery over the phone, learning that Closed Circuit comes in an edition of 25, with an additional five "artist's proofs" -- Ms. Rist must have a lot of bathrooms in her apartment. If you want to learn more about your excretory functions, it'll cost you a mere $25,000 to get your own. If you lack such a disposable income, it'll be part of the permanent collection at Luhring Augustine -- demand to use it on your next visit to New York. Or wait until it's included in a show at a taxpayer-supported institution, and read all about it at nypost.com.
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Got a little e-mail from Brian Wallace, chief curator at the Bellevue Art Museum, which pointed out that local audiences might be more familiar with Library Arts Planner shortlist-member Do-Ho Suh than I suggested in my last column. Do-Ho Suh was represented, in the Bellevue show Self, Absorbed, by the wallpaper made up of thousands upon thousands of yearbook-style photos of Korean boys; Who Am We? was the title. Wallace also charmingly mistypes the name of America's premier contemporary visual arts showcase as "the Whiney Biennial."
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