IT BEGAN with a lesbian descending the staircase. Fortunately, or not, he wasn’t nude.
Douglas Gordon was only the first of a multitude of “lesbians” we’d encounter that sultry eve on boom-boom Balearic Ibiza. The man recently infamous for attacking a Manchester theater with an ax never fails to surprise. I’d been disappointed after reading a dramatic article in The Guardian about his exploit, which followed the premiere of his play Neck of the Woods, and then seeing a photo of a tiny bit of axed-out wall, outlined in a wolf’s paw. “It looked so, well, cute,” I complained, so utterly unsensational. “It’s just a drawing!” Gordon replied.
We were high in the hills at the villa of DJ Sven Väth, celebrating with poolside cocktails before the opening of Gordon and Tobias Rehberger’s “After the After” at Ibiza’s Museu d’Art Contemporani d’Eivissa. There were three naked girls in the pool, but my eyes turned instead to the baroque shrubbery and the shiny new Rehberger I Care About You sculpture. “Oh my God. There he is,” a friend whispered, eyeing a newly arrived guest. She began to outline a lurid story—also involving holes and illicit lines—but thankfully the conceptual line-drawing artist Michael Craig-Martin, who’d flown in for that evening alone, arrived, relieving us from all the gory details. It was too humid anyway, and it wasn’t long before guests would join the naked (children) in the pool.
How did we get here? The story really begins with an e-mailed selfie of two happy middle-aged dudes giddy in front of a palm tree in the early evening sun. The picture itself gave away little of what it truly advertised: a museum show in which two artist friends would edit or “DJ” the work of the other. Neither (heterosexual) artist could explain how it came about that they decided to “sample” a French holiday-love flick, Presque rien (2000), about two teen boys. Rehberger tackled the top half by pixelating a kiss in a “tile-painting” mural, while Gordon’s film beamed on a wall nearby focused on a close-up of tangled limbs. Both works were displayed outside walls of the MACE. Inside, the modest, witty show soon began to fill with bespoke self-proclaimed lesbians. Every other man, woman, and child was wearing one of guest artist Rirkrit Tiravanija’s “NOBODY KNOWS I’M A LESBIAN” giveaway T-shirts—an idea from Kathryn Garcia, who used to work for Tiravanija and, coincidentally, is also the girlfriend of Blum & Poe Ibiza’s guardian angel Sarvia Jasso.
On our way out the door, we saw a painting by Ibiza’s most famous local artist, the Picasso forger Elmyr de Hory, best known from Orson Welles’s documentary F for Fake (1973), also featuring Clifford Irving, author of a faked Howard Hughes autobiography. Fake homos, fake lesbians, faked identity pilgrims alike, we were off uphill to the poolside party at the nouveau finca rented by Gordon and Rehberger. Finnish artist Antto Melasniemi was the first to greet us from behind the grill also graced by Parisian style goddess Rose Chalalai Singh. Lutz, Rehberger’s longtime right-hand man, handed me a joint, and Heather Harmon, one of the most powerful women in town, arrived with a tantalizing bowl of cherries and figs marinated with mint in preparation for the rambling dinner. “It’s the witches of Eastwick,” said the director of Lune Rouge Ibiza, dedicated to the collection of Guy Laliberté, and the Art Projects Ibiza (with guest dealers Blum & Poe) next door, both of which have opened shows by Takashi Murakami. Harmon and I bonded immediately over our love of some of the artists she worked with previously at Regen Projects. Manfred Pernice? “Every time I see Manfred we always have the same hair,” the smart blonde told me. I looked doubtful. “Yours is washed.” Deadpan, she retorted: “I’m having an off day.”
In Ibiza, when you need to find the villas tucked away from the Hard Rock hoi polloi, directions inevitably involve turning “right” at a roundabout and looking for garbage containers down a road. There are few road signs. There are lots of roundabouts and garbage containers. Directions were much easier to Pilar Corrias’s birthday the next night: “ . . . take the dirt road across from the big pine tree.” The party was being given by novelist and former war reporter Ortensia Visconti (a great-niece of Luchino) and artist Cyril de Commarque at their extraordinary and labyrinthine villa, a former eighteenth-century ruin they’d renovated themselves. I sat with Enrique Juncosa, poet and the curator of the MACE exhibition, and I told him of what I’d learned: Billionaire Laliberté apparently got his start as a fire-eater on this very island. Juncosa told me about “Addicted to Love” Robert Plant’s local manse, and when Rehberger arrived I asked him to elaborate on Sven Väth’s Fantasy Island abode. It turns out that Väth’s parents owned a club in a village outside of Frankfurt. One day, Väth, age fifteen, got a distressed phone call from his mother: “Our DJ just dropped dead!” In order to lend a helping hand to the family biz, he took it up for the night. The rest is well-heeled history.
The MACE show’s title, “After the After,” of course spins on the after hours, which is, after all, when our best thoughts arrive, when the real conversation begins. Could one call Isabela Mora’s birthday party, then, on day three of back-to-back villa-garden pool parties, the “after-after-party?” With only ten guests, Fondation Beyeler colleagues and ARCOmadrid fair director Carlos Urroz among them, Mora shook her finger at me: “I edit my party list.” Gordon took over the DJ stand from French film producer Anna Lena Vaney’s capable hands and put on a kitschy “Women of the World [ . . . take over]” song by Scottish poet Ivor Cutler just as two more powerful women joined the discreet affair.
All these Leos gathered together on one island had to mean something, right? The next night, at the after-after-after party, Jérôme Sans’s smart-set birthday fete included two of the same women I’d met the night before, French art adviser Catherine Couturier and collector Dayana Tamendarova. PR specialist Jasmine Spezie and artist Stefan Brüggemann (whose show I unfortunately missed at Ibiza’s Parra & Romero outpost) rounded out the petite coterie joined later by Diana Widmaier Picasso in the after hours at Heart, Laliberté’s newish club. A painter-waif trapped behind a shop-like display painted Picasso’s body in reverse on the window, and Tamendarova pantomimed to her that she should sign it with Picasso’s name. (Elmyr de Hory, fear not: Your reputation isn’t trumped yet.) Surrounded by all these powerful women and fire-eating art collectors, I wondered what more could be found in More, the cult 1969 film about an Ibiza of lore. It’s high time, perhaps, for the contemporary update: After. Perhaps.