What Size?

rocket Jesus or the best poster I have seen since a long time

"Concordia Concordia" Thomas Hirschhorn@Gladstone Gallery through Oct 20th, pic courtesy of the gallery see more

“I want to do something Big.“ 
I nurse a mild contempt for press releases, people who write them (and take them seriously) and people who read them (and take them seriously). I think press releases are to artists what a recipe is to a good cook. To a good illiterate cook, if you wish, to moderate that statement. Yet I hold one in my hand, at Gladstone Gallery visiting Thomas Hirschhorn's show Concordia Concordia and this is what he, this illiterate cook writes: I want to do something Big. This is a statement you feel immediately drawn to, as an artist freshly arrived in New York.

“To do something Big does not mean to do something monumental or gigantic. If something is Big, it’s because it needs to be Big.“ 

I am gonna stop Mr H right there, even I  have noticed: In New York, if something is Big is because it needs to be BigGER. We tour around David Zwirners 3 spaces in Chelsea, one more hauntingly un-affected by the art they host than the other. Then we are taken around the block to see the new space, (the one for old stuff) which is not a space but a building. They are talking about Larry’s (Harry?) Gagosian's 11 galleries around the world and how size does or does not matter. David is not like Harry (or Larry). Later I read Gavin Brown has bought the whole block when he moved his gallery to West Village. Why? “Because I could“. (Chew that Johann) 

New Yorkers (in the art scene) are kind of moody...broody...just a little bit snooty - i am just playing of course, the correct word is blasé, in the Jane Austen Victorian Gentleman kind of way.
Maybe they just try to keep it together and not yell Ghostbusters!! every time they see a smoking gutter (or Batman/Spiderman depending on their age) or look that is where Harry met Sally! or Basquiat !Basquiat !! every time they see a yummy looking black guy- and there is one in every party- or even worse Where are the drinks? (things I may or may not have yelled on occasion). Later I have met the same people in Brooklyn- and they were much friendlier (drunker) – so maybe it is just Chelsea.  


The Chelsea Pies 
"Was that money? No that was just Euro"
Welcome to America!
Please don't touch the paper, mam, it is part of the work.
Judging from the fact that I can see Queens from my bedroom window I’d say- yeah- it's far. 
How long to do you have to commute if you are waking up at 5 o clock?
I need to see some ID sir. 
I am 30 years old and I am the associate director at **** gallery. 
Is that what you call yourself? Hahaha I should say that too! I am an assistant. 
New York is very competitive. 
I know you guys, I love your program!
I have never seen this woman before in my life. 
Nobody is going to look at you. You are not blond, you have no big boobs, and you are short. (talking about my Mr Big aspirations over dinner)
How many of you are there? 4? I see four desks.  
We are six. 
No there is no competition here- we are a team. Other galleries yes, they work on comission. Well like I said no, because we are a team. 
New York is tough.
Well basically it's a second market gallery…Yeah.. I don't know what the hell I am doing. I just needed a job you know? 
They told me, “I hope your artist career is working, because you are fired.”
I was like I will eat my lunch on the Highline everyday! - now I am just happy to eat my bottino* in front of my computer. I am so tired you know.. 
Yeah I was in Berlin but I got offered a studio in Chelsea, how can I refuse? My work here got more colorful - Berlin has this bleak allure to it I guess it affected my work. New York is more lively. 
Aa I was offered a studio in Brooklyn)
My work was already colorful in Berlin, I don't think it can get more colorful than that? Do u think my work will…
Yeah that was one of these conversations going nowhere. 
They told me your first show, sells out in NY, the second so so and by the third you are history…
Who told you that? 
My gallerist in Europe.
Well your work is cheap in the first show..
They told me I should be careful not to over flood the market..
Over flood? Despina, we are just trying to get your name out there. 
Ahem. Ok.

*Bottino: a sandwich and salad place on 8th Avenue. It was founded by Matthew Marks, Barbara Gladstone, and Metro Pictures -probably because initially when galleries moved to this section of Chelsea there wasn't anywhere to eat.

discussion pannel- first issue of MAKER magazine @Hotel Americano

I sit on a stinky bed talking to a girl about subletting-finishing the lease in her apartment. She is saying, “this is my only day off this month– I have to work 7 days from now on to afford the new place, I borrowed money to be able to pay it, you know.” I l stare at what looks like a Moabit mental institution- jail facilities outside the window behind her and try to do the math in my head, how many free days that leaves her with. None. She sighs: “I am pretty stressed, you know?” 

No wonder the city never sleeps…

Life in NY does feel like trying to roll a big Big elephant up the hill. (There is even an area called Dumbo.) Or, more to the point, as the progress you seem to be making is so slow, like trying to keep the Big elephant from rolling (over you) down the hill again. (If we do go with the sisyphean task metaphor, Berlin feels like throwing stones in water, just to see how big the splash would be.) 
I promised myself I would not do that, compare the two cities, but Berlin does get mentioned a lot. I meet someone who has been, just came back or really would LOOOOVE to go to Berlin everyday. It seems like Berlin is the Hamptons of the Brooklynites. I kind of resent how easy Berlin must be to them. How Berlin is conceived as a huge open air ( or under-ground in the old days) party and the rest of the world is back to real life


I get a lot of “you lucky bastard!” (as I did when I had moved from Athens to Berlin) – to those people, also to people with chronic depression, low self esteem and a mild (or wild) case of teenage angst at 30-40 I would recommend these words of David Levine (through author Gideon Lewis Kraus, a writer who spent some time “off” in Berlin, then got so bored, or so motivated that went ahead and walked the world, also wrote a book about it: A Sense of Direction – buy this book, it is funny! Also talks about bar 3 a lot and people we know) 
So David’s/Gideon’s words of wisdom: 
“Of course you are having a crisis. Look, everybody is having a crisis all the time.
You either feel like you are too tied up and thus prevented from doing what you want to do, or you feel like you are not tied up enough and have no idea what you want to do. The only thing that allows us any relief is what we tend to call purpose, or what I think of in terms of direction”…”Everybody is in a crisis all the time. And everybody at the same time, under some sort of cover, is also pretty much doing what they want. Life is the crisis of doing what you want. “

A sense of direction by Gideon Lewis Kraus ( with a very unfortunate side of dumpings soup) - see more on the book here

So how is the Glamour factor? (Hannes asks)

I have found myself with my head in my hands, laughing hysterically, while a person down the street is yelling stuff- losing, forgetting, not finding the numbers that make off addresses here 538 e34st & 2nd (NY is a very tricky city for the dyslexic) 
I have waited around a bin with my half eaten pizza slice, for the person who was searching the garbage to finish so I can throw it away. Very unsure what the social code is there. 
Spent half an hour in the super market trying to decide which shower gel I will be using- (seriously nobody needs so much choice, and nobody needs to smell of wood+avocado combined) 
Have seen 2 celebrities, one giant rat, and killed 8 roaches in my studio. 

I said big. The Glamour Factor is Big. 

serial killer post. For body parts, children and small pets

Hirschhorn continues: “One must understand that necessity (of wanting to do something Big) as such or within its own logic. That’s why, when making things Big, I do it myself, with my own hands, with my own materials, with my own visual vocabulary and with my own work. ( I hardly believe that) I do it in order to avoid the "Blow-Up" effect and I do it to avoid falling into the trap of "Pumping the Size." I want to do a Big work to show that the saying "Too Big to Fail"* no longer makes any sense. On the contrary, when something is Too Big, it must Fail.“

*"Too big to fail" is a colloquial term in describing certain financial institutions that are so large and so interconnected that their failure will be disastrous to the economy, and which therefore must be supported by government when they face difficulty. (from wikipedia)

Hirschhorn installation does fail, in my opinion- as it feels exactly like what it tries to criticize: established. (=dead end, un-open, flawless). But as with the first sentence, this last- feels extremely accurate. Succes and failure seem irreversibly intertwined here. If we go with the cliché of New York as the city, where your dreams come true (whatever that could mean, it definitely feels this way) It is also inevitably the place where your dreams will come to die.The sense of success (and you have a sense of accomplishment just by being here and being able to afford the rent) dances a very close tango (?) with the fear of failure. And it is not even a fear of failure, in the sense that it is not abstract, it is very real- you see, taste failure everyday. (The effect of which is sur-really softened by the un-reality of it all, as you have seen all of these scenes, the beggar, the drunk, the Turret person in a movie…)

Of course only really successful artists can talk about failure.

In a collection book about Arriving-to-New-York-stories, Daniel Libeskind, now citizen, writes: Manhattan is the Mecca of Otherness, the real New York is in Queens where people sit on the porch and talk to each other.

I was a bit surprised to read this. Surely nobody comes to New York to be himself. 

To be continued

sneak peek @ Brooklyn studio of Michal DeLucia (upcoming Bpigs cover!) - Work will be on view in Paris, starting 27.Oct  @Galerie Nathalie Obadia


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