Support Hyperallergic’s independent arts journalism.
Last Sunday afternoon, as baffled tourists watched, an old-fashioned “Happening” occurred under the Manhattan side of the Brooklyn Bridge. It consisted of dozens of East Village denizens: one leaping around like a wingless angel with purple hair, another guest, her midriff wrapped in gauze, veiling a baby doll about to drop, a third was a big game safari hunter — most splotched in rouge and powdered in white, weaving through the carnival-like area under the FDR, which was bannered in ribbons and carpeted in flour. I arrived, late and inappropriately dressed and was quickly fitted in a dark jacket. I promptly had a large heart sprayed on my back by the resident shaving cream artist. Immediately I was instructed to remove my shirt and had beet juice sprayed onto my bare chest. String weavers then lassoed everyone together into a single group. It turned out we were all getting married — to each other!
Roughly a month earlier someone had abandoned a working piano on the shore, not far away. When the young and topless minister said it was time, all leaped over the railing and we positioned ourselves near the piano, now collapsed and algae-covered. The marriage was about to begin.
Strangely this mysterious union began with an eviction.
Ellen Turrietta, former fashion model (I saw her in Italian Vogue), used to hold packed salons in her apartment on Seventh Street, where she accumulated a colorful menagerie of La Dolce Vita characters. This occurred to the growing rancor of her less colorful neighbors, who, didn’t seem to care that her behavior was far more in keeping with the tradition of a neighborhood that once gave rise to everything from the Beats to the Warhol Superstars to the early Punk movement. Inevitably, she got booted.
“Actually I left very much of my own accord, darling,” she clarified.
Yet a strange thing happened. Her guests kept coming. Without an apartment, she’d meet them on the sidewalk next to the New Middle Collegiate Church, where the four by four foot piece of pavement, became her new ballroom and subsequently her canvas. Attracting a cadre of latter-day Edie Sedgewick types, Ellen’s party just kept rolling. As each Summer day wore on, her skinny body (topped by a fiery brush of red hair) would slowly be covered with a palette of different colors as various projects, made from found object filled the sidewalk. This is where I first saw her. At first thinking she was homeless, I called a friend who was a social worker, but subsequently, seeing that she wasn’t insane or destitute, I would simply stop by and visit.
I had to confess that as the sidewalk filled with paint and “art” I grew increasingly amazed to find she hadn’t been arrested or at least, committed. And one day she invited me to a wedding. I politely declined. She invited me a second time and I detected an urgency in her tone that worried me. So, nervous that she was going to do something rash, I showed up on the edge of the island to find one of the most unusual woman-person shows that I witnessed since I first saw Karen Finley back in the 1980s.
Instead of anything so banal as vows, the ceremony culminated in everyone gathering on the sandy shore, around a small trampoline, which was powdered in powdered sugar, then, taking turns each participant, jumped up and down creating a plume of sweet smoke. Finally, Ellen, whose tiny form was thoroughly caked from head to toe in a thick flour, jumped into the East River where she seemed to turn into a thick white watery cloud.
An SFMOMA exhibition raises questions about what it means when museum board members have ties to politicians who support border wall policies.
The exhibition at the Jewish Museum delves into “degenerate” art and art made under duress as part of a thought-provoking yet diffuse exhibition.
In Philadelphia, a series of solo shows delves into the interdisciplinary practices of graduates whose work explores identity, familial bonds, political constructs, and nature’s fragility.
Despite his work’s apparent abstraction, Sheroanawe Hakihiiwe insists that “I don’t invent anything, everything I do is my jungle and what is there.”
David Uzochukwu, Kennedi Carter, and Kiki Xue are among the 35 artists whose work will be displayed online and at the festival in Milan, Italy.
On November 14, join Columbia University School of the Arts for virtual information sessions with the program chair, faculty, and staff.
No Vacancy, curated by Jody Graf, will be on view from October 26 through November 8 at the school’s Kellen Gallery in New York City.
To do so before they have returned the Maqdala treasures and the Benin Bronzes and the Easter Island statues and the Maori heads, before a coherent set of precepts for decolonization has been articulated, would affirm the wrong principle.
“Everybody in Mesopotamia, as far as I understand it, believed in ghosts,” said Irving Finkel, a curator of the British Museum’s Middle Eastern department.