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uPPER EasT sIDE chELsEa
aND 57Th sTREET
words Joshua Mack words JoNaThaN T.D. NEIL
sTaRT sTaRT
on my way uptown, the subway is delayed and a short note by way of introduction: it hardly
then rerouted because of a police investigation seems responsible, this kind of extended
at 77th street. as I’m sitting on the stalled monologue on things seen and half remembered,
train, a homeless man in a wheelchair pushes but it is this notion of remembrance upon which
through the crowded car, clutching a filthy I’ve had to rely in order to bring this ‘slog’,
paper cup into which a few people drop change. as I’ve been calling it, to a close. I take
It’s the second time I’ve seen him; the weeping poor notes, when I take them at all, and the
red patch across the top of his foot, where a Miami art fairs intervened upon this writing,
rectangle of skin is missing, has dried a bit. which is why I submitted this copy exactly a
But his feet are still cracked and his skin is week later than my editors would have liked.
ashy. Before, the wound made me sick. Now I of course this means that close to two weeks
feel desperate that this is what this country passed between my having seen the artworks and
has become, and ashamed that most of the people shows about which you will read below, and my
around me are European tourists who now know having written the same. Let’s hope my memory
what america is. What art means afterwards, I does you justice.
don’t know.
But the excess of things like Damien hirst
shows, with their portentous titles, are simply
unconscionable.
(1)
DaMIEN hIRsT School: The Archaeology of Lost
Desires, Comprehending Infinity, and the
Search for Knowledge, Lever house art
collection
(2)
The Physical Impossibility of Death in the
Mind of Someone Living, Metropolitan Museum
of art
his self-indulgently trite installation in the
lobby of Lever house, the city’s first glass-
and-steel skyscraper, resembles a church.
Thirty stainless autopsy tables are lined up
in three rows, like pews; each carries a tank
of formaldehyde in which a dead, skinned,
trimmed lamb floats. In lieu of an altar, two
sides of beef – a reference to Francis Bacon
– a birdcage with a dove and an umbrella –
Magritte – are arrayed in a larger tank. steel-
and-glass cases containing medications surround
the room, lined up against the windows like We should probably begin with paintings – big
altars in a nave or cabinets in a vestry. paintings – and with painters who like liquid,
who like the way it runs, the way it spills and
Like the dead animals he reuses, hirst is pools, with the way, perhaps most importantly,
recycling iconography and ideas, such as this that it gets pulled by gravity. We should
gem from the press release: ‘hirst is again begin, then, with (1) MoRRIs LouIs at Paul
commenting on the inevitability of death and kasmin, with works such as Dalet Aleph (1958),
the almost religious belief in drugs for whose acrylic resin stains offer object lessons
eternal salvation.’ as it happens, of the 32 in how certain kinds of paint can run. Leo
medicines in the one cabinet that I looked up, steinberg once noted of kenneth Noland’s
far and away the greatest number – 13 – are paintings that they were the ‘fastest’ he had
treatments for hIV (angina and high blood ever seen – because Noland’s compositions of
pressure rate second, with five); so in fact horizontal lines seemed to speed away from the
these drugs do not abet a hopeless will to viewer who viewed them on the oblique. Louis’s
Reviews Marathon.indd 60 7/1/08 16:46:04
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