Rhonda Lieberman

  • Left: Cultural critic Slavoj Žižek. Right: Writers George Prochnik and Wayne Koestenbaum onstage. (Photos: David Velasco)
    diary November 24, 2006

    Dreams Team

    New York

    “The lions roared,” as promised by New York Public Library director of public programs Paul Holdengraber, who MC'd last Saturday’s “Day of Ideas” celebrating the Atlantic Monthly’s 150th anniversary. I attended a conversation between Wayne Koestenbaum and George Prochnik (whose recent Putnam Camp: Sigmund Freud, James Jackson Putnam, and the Purpose of American Psychology explores his great-grandfather’s relationship with Freud—also 150 years young this year) and a talk by everybody’s favorite Slovenian Hegelian reader of Jacques Lacan, Slavoj Žižek.

    Part Boston Brahmin, part Viennese Jew, Prochnik

  • Left: New Museum curator Massimiliano Gioni and art historian John Richardson on the panel. Right: Performa founder RoseLee Goldberg with Massimiliano Gioni. (All photos: David Velasco)
    diary November 07, 2006

    Passion Victims

    New York

    So nu, with the New Museum? It’s building a sleek tower on the Bowery (way above the bums, darling); its trailblazing founder, Marcia Tucker, recently passed away; and it’s welcoming curator Massimiliano Gioni, who all you culture vultures no doubt know is also the artistic director of the Nicola Trussardi Foundation and a collaborator (in the Wrong Gallery) with the super-duper-high-priced artist Maurizio Cattelan. Now you also know he’s the cutest curator, ever, and charming. Moderating Wednesday night’s panel at the Cooper Union entitled “Passion: For Love or Money?” was his public debut as

  • Left: Artist Rob Pruitt. Right: Drew Barrymore with Fabrizio Moretti. (All photos: David Velasco)
    diary September 21, 2006

    Good Jeans

    New York

    Descending from the dark closet where I hang upside down coated in a thin layer of Vaseline, I ventured out for a doubleheader of openings by two of the bestest artists to emerge ca. 1990—the last time I went out regularly. I arrived at Gavin Brown’s Enterprise, my first stop, early. Not many art appreciators were there to block my view of Rob Pruitt’s hilarious installation: big fancy abstract paintings twinkling with the artist’s signature glitter, innertube objets encrusted with more sparkly “action painting,” and (literally) heavy-duty floor pieces composed entirely of cement-filled jeans

  • Left: On right, Helen and Brice Marden. Right: Sarah Jessica Parker. (Photos: Kathe Burkhart)
    diary June 10, 2006

    Window Seat

    New York

    MoMA’s Party in the Garden evokes one of my favorite retro fantasy scenes as depicted in Woody Allen’s Manhattan: A sophisticated New York evening where Diane Keaton discusses orgasms and Nazis with her fellow intelligentsia, surrounded by blue-chip sculpture. Bella Abzug is honored for being Bella Abzug. And there’s an open bar. Not a little smugly, I anticipated a classy evening on all fronts: The echt-New York, adult moment imprinted on my brain since I was a wee, suburban Woody Allen fan.

    I brought my veteran artist pal to compare notes. As we approached MoMA, a tootsed-up lady was having

  • Terry Zwigoff, Art School Confidential, 2006, still from a color film in 35 mm, 102 minutes.

    Art School Confidential

    I JUST NEED to get out of here and become a famous artist and everything else will fall into place, Jerome, the innocent, Picasso-identified young hero of Art School Confidential, must be thinking as the cute girl he’s just sketched in the high school cafeteria admires his work—then clicks off with her hunky boyfriend. Based on Daniel Clowes’s comic and screenplay, Terry Zwigoff’s hilarious faux exposé chronicles the growing pains of artistes-in-training at the “Strathmore Institute.”

    “What kind of college has a naked chick for a teacher?” a bully mocks Jerome, poring over the school’s brochure.

  • Left: Joey Gabriel, Nan Goldin, Lola, and Gail Thacker. Right: Xavier Guerrand-Hermès with gallerists Jessica Fredericks and Andrew Freiser. (All photos: David Velasco)
    diary March 13, 2006

    Rich Relations

    New York

    Last Friday, the first official day of the Armory Show, I earned the purple heart of art-schlepping, trekking all over town to gawk at cutting-edge tchotchkes and their human support system: the dealers, the artists, the merely curious, and most importantly, the collectors—supershoppers who are the target audience and, implicitly, the stars of this fancy trade show.

    I began in the morning at an “open house,” a ritual for VIPs, wherein collectors show fellow big spenders their stuff. As press, my status there was uncertain—existentially and practically, as they didn’t quite confirm my

  • Left: New York Times critic Roberta Smith with artists Collier Schorr, Joan Snyder, Tamy Ben-Tor, and Barbara Kruger. Right: Joan Snyder. (All photos: Erin Feinberg)
    diary January 12, 2006

    Girl Talk

    New York

    Is Feminism undead like vampires? Mythical like Bigfoot? Or more like porn: You know it when you see it? Moderated by New York Times art critic Roberta Smith for the paper’s fifth annual “Arts and Leisure Weekend” this past Saturday, artists Joan Snyder, Barbara Kruger, Collier Schorr, and Tamy Ben-Tor offered a bouquet of symptoms triggered by the f-word: “Feminisms” plural, Smith clarified (at Kruger’s suggestion).

    “Did you have to be a Jew to be on the panel?” wondered my gentile, veteran artist pal as we grabbed our coats afterward. “What was with all the Holocaust references?” “It’s a hotline

  • Left: A scene from the séance for Caspar David Friedrich. Right: Jackie Barrett.
    diary December 12, 2005

    Voodoo Lounge

    New York

    It's hard to find a good séance these days, so I schlepped to Jack the Pelican Presents in Williamsburg Thursday night where “world renowned psychic medium” Jackie Barrett conducted a voodoo ceremony to conjure the spirit of German Romantic painter Caspar David Friedrich. Why him? Well, Don Carroll, who runs the space, kinda likes the guy, though he also considered Henry Fuseli, who’s “very cool too.” The gallery's current group show is a multimedia mélange in which mutants, introverts, and tweens echo the nineteenth century nature-mystic's gloomy vision. Friedrich didn’t seem particularly

  • Left: Arto Lindsay. (Photo: Ruth Root) Right: Jean Baudrillard.
    diary November 08, 2005

    Conspiracy Theory

    New York

    On Wednesday night, as part of a weeklong series of talks, the art world’s po-mo poster boy, Jean Baudrillard, promoted his latest text, The Conspiracy of Art, at the swank new digs of Jack Tilton Gallery, a former residence of Franklin Roosevelt. In the second-floor ballroom where FDR married Eleanor, Sylvére Lotringer, founder of Semiotext(e) and the major importer of French theory in the '80s, presented Baudrillard as “pretty much the rock star of French philosophy” with “a New Deal for art.”

    I was charmed to see the decent turnout. Baudrillard's ideas were in vogue about twenty years ago,

  • Left: Nosferatu grasps for air. Right: The “Gates” make an entrance. (All photos: Ruth Root)
    diary November 03, 2005

    Freaks and Geeks

    New York

    As New York City's soul is sucked away by the tripartite hellmouth of gentrification, chain stores, and Starbucks, the West Village Halloween parade is an increasingly precious outlet for the freakiness of yore. Unlike the annual Gay Pride march, which has jumped the shark into corporate-sponsored vanilla-ness, the best part of the Halloween parade is that amateur creatures of the night far outnumber the pros. And, with the exception of the sublimely expressive skeleton puppets that kicked off Monday night’s spookfest, the regular devils and “cereal killers” (“backstabbed” with single-portion

  • Left: Julie Verhoeven and Elisabeth Arkhipoff. Right: Steve Bassett and Eric Grunbaum. (Photos: Alain Levitt)
    diary October 20, 2005

    Becking Order

    New York

    The only other time I’d noticed Tokion, self-described as “the National Geographic for our pop culture generation,” was when the groovily designed flyers (fin de siècle by way of Haight-Ashbury) for their last conference at Cooper Union caught my eye and aimed it at a stellar lineup of art and media people. This year’s third annual chatfest probes “Creativity Now,” and the line-up is no less impressive. Saturday afternoon, I caught two back-to-back panels: “Iconic Advertising” and “Design & Grace.” Heading across St. Marks Place, passing stall after stall of punk tchotchkes, I appreciated the

  • Left: Behnaz Sarafpour, Alice Roi, and Tara Subkoff. Right: The capacity crowd.
    diary October 01, 2005

    Talkin' Fash

    New York

    Everyone who has any clue about fashion is over everything (I mean idea-wise, silly, not shopping!). So I was curious to see how this panel of pros—designers Alice Roi, Behnaz Sarafpour, and Imitation of Christ’s Tara Subkoff, chatting with New Yorker writer Judith Thurman—would vivify the deadish horse of “Generation X Fashion.” Of course you gotta wear something (as one was painfully reminded that September day, when the transitional weather presented huge challenges) but lately new ideas in fashion are as scarce as decent Gucci at Century 21: It’s all recycling, vintage, “modernity,”