Domenick Ammirati

  • books January 20, 2021

    After Party

    IN FALL 2020, artist Matt Keegan produced an artist book called 1996, a compendium of ephemera, essays, and interviews circling around the year in question, which Keegan sees as a tipping point for the American left—the moment its capitulation to neoliberalism was complete. It also happens to be the first birth year for Gen Z, whose members have recently begun populating Keegan’s art-school classes. In trying to come to grips with shifts in American electoral politics, ensure that key histories are passed on to posterity, and chart changes in queer identity, the book provides a nonfatalistic,

  • ART CLUB2000

    THE YEAR: 1993. The Roaring Nineties had kicked off, Royal Trux and Mystery Science Theater 3000 ruled the airwaves, the taps ran clear with Crystal Pepsi. And in New York, a collective of undergraduates called ART CLUB2000 achieved a peculiar brand of low-key renown with a series of photographs of themselves sporting outfits from the Gap and posed in various locales around the city. The group slouched all over the tony furniture in a home-decor emporium, noshed in a doughnut shop, perused the library at the offices of Art in America,

  • James Luna

    James Luna first performed Take a Picture with a Real Indian in 1991 at the Whitney Museum of American Art’s branch at Federal Reserve Plaza in New York’s Financial District. In the piece, Luna presents himself as if seen through the eyes of a tourist cruising past a reservation on one of America’s byways. The artist delivers a monologue in three parts while attired three different ways: First, he wears only a breechcloth and moccasins, offering himself up as a kind of noble savage; next, typical American street clothes: slacks and a black crew-neck tee; and finally a stereotypical war-dance

  • Gene Beery

    Gene Beery’s life is thoroughly imbricated with his art, so to fully understand this mini-survey, a little background is in order. In the early 1960s, Beery did the New York art thing: He worked at the Museum of Modern Art, became friends with Sol LeWitt and James Rosenquist, and with his text-centric neo-Dadaist paintings landed a 1963 debut at Alexander Iolas’s renowned gallery. Then, abruptly, he bolted to California, where he ended up settling in the foothills of the Sierra Nevadas on a remote plot that he dubbed the Logoscape Ranch. He’s lived there with his family ever since, peppering

  • diary August 03, 2020

    Low Relief

    I DON’T KNOW ABOUT YOU, dear reader, but I really have not been getting out much. I hunkered down the second week in March, resurfaced briefly for some protests, and then resumed the shadowy, unproductive, vaguely counterfactual Covid-era life—a weird, slow-dripping speedball of paranoia and complacence topped off with knifing hangovers of despair. It’s gotten a little old. Therefore, when asked by the editors to report back from Thursday’s L.E.S. Summer Night—an evening of gently extended hours among some thirty-odd Lower East Side pandemic-parched galleries waiting open-mouthed for a quenching

  • slant April 15, 2020

    Handle with Care

    For all our fluttery ideas about the dematerialized object, the economics of art still rely on moving physical objects from one place to another. Right now, the logistics of art are frozen, as are the lives of those who shuttle, mount, and set it just so. Even the relatively small number of art handlers and installers with non-gig positions at institutions and the larger moving outfits have been subject to layoffs—some, like those at UOVO Fine Art Storage, with questionable motives. The rest are mostly freelance, mostly precarious, and right now mostly not making a living.

    I’VE WORKED IN ART

  • Corin Hewitt

    The setup of Corin Hewitt’s new work was as pristine as a thought experiment. A Parrot in Parallel Proposes, 2020, comprised two birds, one fluttering in a cage inside Motel’s modest storefront, the other in a similar situation in the apartment next door, just on the other side of the gallery’s north-facing wall. Both parrots actually live together in the flat, but for a few hours each week, they were artistically intervened into this new schema. Art lovers, fowl fanciers, and other freaks signed up for brief small-group encounters with the bird in the gallery—ten minutes of sitting in contemplative

  • slant March 27, 2020

    Helter Shelter

    My first impulse when this all began was to buy groceries. My second was to see how people were doing. The art world, for all its flaws and fissures, is a community, and it’s the one I’ve got. When its trappings recede in a time like this—as if there were any time like this, exactly—you’re left with the people. I’ll be talking to some of them over the next couple of weeks, seeing how they're doing materially, emotionally, physically, financially, and so on.

    —Domenick Ammirati

    FOR THE PAST FEW YEARS, I’ve been living illegally in the leaky garage of a former funeral parlor, which had been converted

  • Nicolas Moufarrege

    In his short life, Nicolas Moufarrege (1947–1985) traversed vast terrains both geographic and intellectual. His idiosyncratic hybrids of painting and embroidery, which took shape in Beirut, Paris, and New York, muster dense arrangements of Middle Eastern and Western iconographies. The smartly titled “Recognize My Sign”— Moufarrege’s first museum survey, which debuted at the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston in 2018—returns him to his final hometown. The artist’s varying references, as old as Egyptian papyrus and as pop as Mickey Mouse, vibrate with a longing for connection while also showcasing

  • performance December 16, 2019

    You Better WeWork

    I HATE CHILDREN. I feel bad about this, of course. My sister has a couple, my friends have others; I was once one myself. Yet only the occasional spike of terror about my own steadily approaching death has ever made me want one. Who wouldn’t like to have a captive audience for their ill-informed theories of everything, or at least an in-house caretaker when one’s brain goes? But those don’t seem like super honorable reasons for taking on the project, although they might be common ones, confessed to or otherwise.

    Last Sunday, however, my aversion to children was overcome by my love of Ei Arakawa.

  • CHAOS CÉLÈBRE

    AT AN INTERDISCIPLINARY SYMPOSIUM called “Hiving: Living Forms, Forms of Living” at New York University in April 2019, Georgia Sagri provided her own etymology of the word anarchy. Sagri had been invited to participate not for any experience with the apiary but because of her relation to the thematic of the hive as both metaphor and model for less hierarchical forms of political organization, which she rather famously knows something about. Overwriting the traditionally accepted etymon from her native Greek, anarchos, or “without leader,” Sagri instead offered the alternative meaning “without

  • diary September 16, 2019

    General Assembly

    THE BERGEN ASSEMBLY marked my first trip to Scandinavia, and as a Henry James fan I hope I may be forgiven if I play a bit of the wide-eyed American abroad, marveling at the tall Nordics with their precise beards and high-tech outerwear. Meanwhile, I had brought no umbrella to literally the rainiest city in Europe and shivered constantly under a dampening white denim jacket. It was also, for me, a rare trip to an international biennial, which (Venice notwithstanding) tends to come in different flavors than our American festival exhibitions—more discursive, more searching, more ragged, more