Domenick Ammirati

  • Photo: Alexander Russi.
    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, A Parrot in Parallel Proposes, 2020. Performance view.

    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

  • A view of “the hovel.” Photo: Whitney Claflin.
    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, Le sang du phénix (The Blood of the Phoenix), 1975, thread and pigment on needlepoint canvas, 49 7⁄8 × 64".

    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

  • Ei Arakawa, WEWORK BABIES (11 Courtlandt Alley), 2019. Performance view, Artists Space, New York, December 8, 2019. Photo © 2019 Paula Court.
    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.

  • Georgia Sagri, Attempt. Come., 2016. Performance view, Parko Eleftherias, Athens, September 17, 2016. (Duration  24 hours.) Georgia Sagri. From Documenta 14. Photo: Stathis Mamalakis.

    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

  • Darcy Lange and Maria Snijders, Aire del Mar. Photo: Thor Brødreskift.
    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

  • Cherry blossoms outside NYU.
    diary April 10, 2019

    Animal Collective

    WHEN I ATTENDED THE ASSOCIATION OF WRITERS AND WRITING PROGRAMS CONFERENCE recently in Portland, Oregon, my thoughts turned to H. P. Lovecraft. Perhaps it was the clammy, fertile, haunted quality of the Pacific Northwest; perhaps it was the unearthly horror of having no agent and few prospects. Really, though, I blame Jeff VanderMeer, whose book Annihilation (2014) I had bought for the airplane. While the justly praised novel is typically described as ecological sci-fi, VanderMeer pulls a classic trick at its climax that I associate with Lovecraft: In a scene that takes place deep in the bowels

  • Elevator Repair Service, Gatz. Performance view, NYU Skirball, 2019. Jim Fletcher. Photo: Chris Beirens.
    performance February 01, 2019

    Ain’t We Got Fun?

    THERE’S NOTHING VERY COOL about going to see an eight-hour production of The Great Gatsby. I tried to get it past the kultur cop in my head by looking into various alternate interpretations of the play, my favorite being one originated by the now dean of Medgar Evers College, Carlyle V. Thompson, back in 2000, when he argued that Gatsby was in fact a light-skinned black man passing as white. Thompson cites clues like the forty acres that Gatsby owns, the withheld obscenity that gets scrawled on his front steps, the way Tom Buchanan’s racist claptrap helps frame the novel (“If we don’t look out

  • Terry Fugate-Wilcox, advertisement for “Sculpture, a group exhibition” at the Jean Freeman Gallery, September 6–October 1, 1970. From the Fall 1970 issue of Avalanche.
    books December 03, 2018

    Jeaneology of Morals

    THE JEAN FREEMAN GALLERY DOES NOT EXIST, BY CHRISTOPHER HOWARD. MIT Press, 2018. 416 pages.  

    FOR SEVEN MONTHS IN 1970–71, a young artist named Terry Fugate-Wilcox promulgated the existence of a fake art gallery at a nonexistent address on Fifty-Seventh Street, then the main drag of the New York art world. Fake artists, fake works, a fake director with a Pynchonesque name: You get the gist. He promoted this enterprise, the Jean Freeman Gallery, by purchasing space in a few art magazines for seven ads featuring images of Earthworks-y pastiche; sending out press releases to luminaries such as Lucy

  • Andy Warhol, Vote McGovern, 1972. Photo: Domenick Ammirati.
    diary November 09, 2018

    Electoral Plastic Inevitable

    TO PREPARE FOR THE MIDTERM ELECTIONS, I studied my NYC voter guide and spent consecutive nights watching dystopian cinema. The Purge (2013) surprised me with its clear and pointed class critique. After all, what a reasonable observer might once have imagined to be satire (see Alex Jones; “I really don’t care do u?”) is, in 2018, often bald-faced propaganda or the gleeful expression of racist and/or fascist and/or misogynist opinion. One lawless night a year when the rich can freely cleanse the nation of its underclass scum? Fuckin awesome. Even poor Pepe started out a simple slacker, remember,

  • Adam Putnam, Eclipse, 2016–17, gelatin silver print, 8 x 10".
    picks December 08, 2017

    Adam Putnam

    The subjects of the fifty-four intimate photographs and eighty-four short films that comprise Adam Putnam’s exhibition “Portholes” include in situ windows and doors, disjunctive architectural elements, celestial light sources, ranks of trees, and spans of dune. Also, there is the occasional human, shrouded or otherwise obscured. The photos’ gauzy processing strips away detail so that bodies and objects take on a degree of abstraction. The blur is never so much as to imply nostalgia or squander Putnam’s precision; paradoxically, it clarifies. The result is a kind of cerebral psychedelia—Kenneth