Andy Warhol’s death left us wondering how the quintessential Pop artist would have reacted, or shaped, a society that fulfilled his prophesy of universal, albeit short-lived, fame. But aside from speculating what he would have thought of Rebecca Black, his passing left a hole in New York City nightlife. His friend, author Tama Janowitz, said “The ’80s died in Manhattan in 1987, along with Andy Warhol,” and Michael Musto famously declared the death of the Downtown scene in the Village Voice. No longer could kids from the Midwest escape to the best parties in New York, trying to spot Andy’s silver wig in a crowd.
Thomas Kiedrowski’s new book, Andy Warhol’s New York City, speaks to the nostalgia this generation feels for the days of Superstars and silver clouds. At the book release party last night, Kiedrowski remembered how he would forgo the natural tourist traps when he visited New York in his youth, instead opting to visit Warhol landmarks to get a taste of the Prince of Pop’s metropolis.
The party last night also saw the premiere of a new Warholian video art project. Brooklyn-based artist and editor-in-chief of Useless magazine Conrad Ventur rehashed Andy Warhol’s famous screen tests two years ago in a piece entitled 13 Most Beautiful/Screen Tests Revisited originally shown at the Andy Warhol Museum and recently screened at MoMA. Approximating the lighting, blocking and playback speed, Ventur filmed thirteen former Factory Superstars decades after their original film portraits including UltraViolet, Ivy Nicholson and Beck’s mother Bibbe Hansen, who was in attendance last night, shielding her eyes in Ray-Ban’s.
Ventur has conceptually expanded on this project in this new series, which debuted last night in the VIP rooms of the party. Untitled (Night Life) is comprised of fourteen new screen tests with new subjects plucked from New York’s contemporary nightlife scene, a group that Columbia sociologist Victor P. Corona posits as the third-wave of Warholian Superstars (the second being Michael Alig’s Club Kids). Tommy Hottpants, Veronica Ibarra and Darian Darling (a host of last night’s festivities, her narrow frame wrapped in a bright red dress) are just some of the gorgeous faces that mug for their black-and-white portraits in Ventur’s new piece.
Where 13 Most Beautiful/Screen Tests Revisited was infused with nostalgia and perhaps a bit too reactionary to make an impact, this continuation of the idea offers a refreshing play on the old concept and ushers in a new reign of fame monsters, and a new interpretation of Warholian art history. Like Andy’s videos of Edie, Nico, Candy Darling and the likes, Ventur’s revamped vamps will hopefully survive as an archive for New York City’s post-Warhol nightlife of the twenty first century.