Gary Indiana

  • Obscene Bodies

    “IN THE BESTSELLING TRADITION established by Michael Chabon, Bret Easton Ellis, and Donna Tartt, Kim Benabib examines the moral dilemmas and social pressures of his generation in a striking debut novel set in New York’s beguiling art world.” So reads the cover copy on Obscene Bodies, a largely unbeguiling effort by someone whose bio mentions painter mother, dealer dad, unspecified work at CBS, and a research job on The Charlie Rose Show. Note that the pantheon into which Benabib’s publicist inserts him is basically one of well-off college kids who met the right editor, collected a big paycheck,

  • Gary Indiana

    Like O. J. Simpson and Newt Gingrich, Quentin Tarantino has become one of those cosmically disseminated mirages that even the most resolute ascetic living in a hole somewhere becomes aware of “through the media.” For us ordinary folks who consume magazines and TV programs haphazardly, he—like O. J., like Newt—has acquired the pull of a vortex into which all conversation eventually spills. Edgy from coffee nerves, verbally diarrheic, a study in hip geekiness or geeky hipness, Tarantino’s personality is on display in dozens of print interviews and talk shows, and it’s the same one he gives all

  • Malcom McLaren’s Paris

    LIKE FANS, HIS previous pastiche of Madame Butterfly and punk-boy gonads, Malcolm Mclaren’s Paris (Disques Vogue) combines a sort of dribbling unrhymed Anglo-Saxon rap with familiar or familiar-sounding music, in this case Parisian jazz pop and the sorely overworked piano etudes of Erik Satie. If you’ve ever wondered why the French have never produced good pop music, listen closely to the vapidly posturing ooh-la-la of Mclaren’s schoolboy sex fantasies, with their echoes of grunge chic a la le Beat Hotel and Miles Davis: pretention and cliche ooze from every line. “Jazz is Paris and Paris is

  • FILM


    High Travoltage

    Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs was a perfect little movie. It aspired to nothing that it didn’t do, brilliantly. Tarantino knew how to keep the camera moving while the actors tossed their lines like they were grenades: he fast-forwarded the gangster genre way past the previous innovations of Brian DePalma and Martin Scorsese. Reservoir Dogs was wildly funny, unremittingly brutal, and heroically human. It also knew how to stay small while trying out some big ideas.

    Pulp Fiction is an imperfect big movie. But imperfection has seldom felt so liberatingly giddy. The


    —This looks different than when I was here before for some reason.

    —That wasn’t lit up. What is that.

    —Don’t scream, Mother, I can’t stand it. It’s lurking here, lying in wait, ready to spring at any moment. Quiet, Mother. Now you understand the state I’m in.

    —These guards are so obnoxious. There must be six or seven guards in this place.

    —To become a child again a helpless child, to have to be fed, to have to—

    —This is the most famous work, the pants shitter. It’s not caught up in this nonsense about taste that the rest of the show is; it’s about shitting your pants. I think it’s funny for someone


    When the fun is at its height it’s time to go. — Irish proverb

    Having championed Gary Indiana’s critical faculties in the September issue of this magazine, I was slightly alarmed for both of us when I was asked to introduce the following essay. I hadn’t seen much of his writing since he stopped covering art for The Village Voice, back in 1988. But I did love the Voice column and I’d begrudge anyone else’s claim to love it more.

    Indiana’s art writing for the Voice had a gorgeous, chic nihilism just below its shimmering surface. For three years, his adjectivally sequined essays simultaneously caught

  • Daniel Schmid’s La Paloma

    A CASINO IN the south of France. A suicide at the blackjack table. A magician fanning a hand of cards. A hermaphrodite in a laurel wreath and toga reclines on a Recamier couch, with back titles: La Force de l’Imagination. An ancient party, her feathered headdress vibrant against the velvet theater curtains, singing. “You came along, from out of nowhere.” Beautiful dreams, beautiful schemes from nowhere. . . . And then Viola appears, the chimerical essence of fatale.

    An epicene young man, alone at a table with his glass of champagne, falls in love with the mysterious singer. She has tuberculosis.


    Sally Potter’s Orlando has a certain miraculous quality in that it makes a much-loved, phantasmagoric work of 20th-century fiction plausible in film terms while sticking to the book’s fantastic premise. Potter follows her hero/ine through the centuries, but Orlando remains unmarked by passing time except in the getting of wisdom—which involves. In this case, a change of sex. The film can be read, like the book, as a meditation on gender relations, inheritance, historical consciousness, and sexual identity, yet it’s pure fun, whimsical enough to feature Quentin Crisp as Queen Elizabeth I and


    THE MAN'S NAME is Igor. I don’t know if this picture is posed, I don’t know if the photographer even knows Igor: by chance, I do. An architect from Trieste, he acted in movies a friend of mine made in the early ’70s. He’s carrying the goldfish to drop in an aquarium I’ve never noticed in his house. Maybe it’s for the restaurant he used to own on Greenwich Street: at home, Igor’s a cat person. Large, furry, slow-moving cats who drop unexpectedly from high bookcases. My director friend once told me, “I really don’t know why I like Igor. But he fascinates me. Maybe it’s the way he looks, his voice,

  • Gore Vidal's Screening History

    Screening History, by Gore Vidal. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1992.

    THE THREE LECTURES COLLECTED in Screening History, and delivered at Harvard in 1991, give us Gore Vidal at his most relaxed and digressively avuncular. His first sentence refers to that ever approaching Final Exit we must all take sooner or later—Vidal speaks of his Now as the springtime of his senescence—yet I detect no slackening of the nimble, wacky mind that summoned Myra Breckinridge in 1968. It must be said that Vidal, half politician that he is, tends to hone certain themes into aphorisms and to repeat these for

  • Censorship in the Arts

    THE CANCELLATION OF “ROBERT MAPPLETHORPE: The Perfect Moment,” a retrospective that had been scheduled to open on July 1, 1989, at the Corcoran Gallery in Washington (following exhibitions in Philadelphia and Chicago), came down amid an effulgence of right-wing activism: several disastrous civil rights rulings by the Supreme Court, and a widespread demagogic reaction to the Court’s single intellectually reputable decision of the season (which decriminalized flag-burning), gave the Corcoran’s act of self-censorship an especially ominous resonance.

    The Corcoran’s stated purpose was to avoid a


    “THE RECENT WORK OF VERA Lehndorff and Holger Trülzsch”—some variant of this proposed itself as the initial solution to writing about them—“produces an ironic cramp in the mind.” Yes, that was the difficulty, this irony—that Veruschka von Lehndorff, the most celebrated fashion model of the ’60s, in tandem with another artist, had devised a body of photographic work as much about painting, sculpture, performance, and architecture as it is about photography, paradoxically a conceptual extension or negation of her fashion career—the recognition of a sequence that continues logically from one place