Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The Pit, and the Chocolate Santa

my intrepid friend Charlene descending into the Pit, an installation at Gavin Brown's Enterprise in NYC

Like all New Yorkers, I read reviews, and this caught my eye, Holland Cotter's review of the artist Urs Fischer at Gavin Brown's Enterprise. Here I will quote a bit:

"The piece, titled "You", calls up many references from the past and the present: from Michael Heizer's earthworks to Chris Burden''s institutional underminings to Monica Bonvicini's simulations of the same. .......(it goes on and on about obscure references)....You have to stoop - an implicitly humbling posture - to enter and exit, as if at the door of a shrine or a tomb, and only one person can pass through at a time."

Intriguing I thought, I like tombs and shrines, I want to see this. What also impressed me was another review, I think it might have been on NPR, but not sure, that stated that it cost $250,000., to excavate that pit, and then of course it will be filled and cemented over again after the show. This is extravagance, a flagrant throwing of money away, tossing it into dumpsters, just to show that you can do it. While I love extravagance, I don't like waste, but wanted to see this for myself.

It is quite impressive, the small opening in the otherwise perfect gallery wall, and the pit has a kind of desert beauty, like some excavation in Egypt. It is intriguing and it would have been enough to simply look at from the entrance, but no, my friend Charlene quickly hopped down and made her way gingerly into it. I followed of course. It is impressive, but I think I can get this experience out in nature better. Also it smelled of dry dust, somewhat chockingly so.

It is certainly a concept, but would just remain that without the money that dug it, in a space in Manhattan. I cannot say I get this type of art particularly, or really care to, there is something disturbing about the casual destruction it entailed.

On a humorous note, we then quickly made our way up to Maccarone Gallery up the street, which has a huge installation piece that also demonstrates the tremendous resources being poured into contemporary art. It is a piece by Paul McCarthy, a complete chocolate factory in the gallery space churning out high quality chocolate figures of Santa, holding a butt plug as if it were a Christmas tree. It is pretty impressive, a complete fully functioning and staffed factory working making 1000 of them a day, and open 7 days a week to take orders. At just $100. a Santa, it is a relative bargain in the art world, although it really is best eaten.

The Santa's, hundreds of them, all lined up.

Cute, and at least produces something that can be consumed, and saved should you wish. Although they do tell you that it only keeps about a year. I am sure in some museum somewhere will be a nitrogen atmosphere glass case preserving one for perpetuity in case anyone cares in years hence.

Here they are all packed up, and carefully labeled, "Chocolate Santa and Butt Plug", in case you had forgotten. You could just put a toy in, close it up, re attach the label, keep it and sell it at an auction house in future years, who would know? Eat the Santa, it is good chocolate, we tried the samples they had available.

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