Fabulous interns made up the bulk of the crowd at last Saturday’s “secret opening reception” at Asia Song Society (ASS), Terence Koh’s compact, bi-level Chinatown art space. There were interns for Interview and V, for Matthew Barney and Yoko Ono, and a gaggle devoted to Ryan McGinley (both current and alums). Hans-Ulrich Obrist dropped by, too. (Perhaps his interns had other plans?)
“Oh my God—all of these kids are in college. That makes me like forty,” pouted an obviously twenty-something artist, watching glumly as the juniors darted about sipping from bottles (with straps!) of Nicholas Feuillatte champagne, the latest enablers of art-and-alcoholism. (“Make sure to get lots of photos of them drinking it,” a nearby Tokion rep pestered a paparazzo.)
The hundred-plus artists in the show, titled “I Want a Little Sugar in My Bowl,” were “desired (or curated)” by Koh, along with Anat Ebgi, Kunst-Werke’s Jenny Schlenzka, MoMA’s Eliza Ryan, and the gallery’s own Elizabeth Lovero. The curatorial premise is, as Koh bluntly noted, “people we’d want to fuck.” It’s as arbitrary a conceit as any, a show that might have been more compellingly drawn together via Craigslist personals, but at least I didn’t have to face up to the usual pretensions to good taste.
Thing is, the taste isn’t quite bad. Perhaps there’s something to this whole cult of superficiality. Others seemed to think so. “I’m not in it, but I think it’s a great criterion,” said Jeffrey Deitch, happily scoping the wares. Deitch director Kathy Grayson seemed to concur: “It’s pretty honest.” If not wholly original; Chelsea stalwarts might recall last June’s “The Guys We Would Fuck,” curated by artist Nayland Blake at Monya Rowe. Then again, what other exhibition would pair art scion Vito Schnabel with Marina Abramovic, club promoters the MisShapes with Cindy Sherman?
Horror vacui seemed to be the installation philosophy, with works flooding the walls and papering the floor and ceiling (and even spilling into the basement and onto the sidewalk outside). Even with the all-over-everywhere aesthetic, there were a few surprise standouts. Eternal nightlife impresario Sophia Lamar crafted a bruise-colored collage from used makeup-remover pads: “I’m not an artist. I just wipe my face with them every night. I think they’re beautiful.” P.S. 1’s Tim Goossens made an eldritch tribute to Saint Agnes out of fur-covered Russian dolls and bear bones. A friend speculated that a pair of dapper high heels and a studded Patrik Ervell sweater tossed in the corner were the contributions of Yvonne Force-Villareal and Doreen Remen, but as it turns out, the Ervell was Ervell’s contribution and the ladies of Art Production Fund are actually represented by a yearbook-style snapshot in the show’s special catalogue. There’s admittedly a ring of Beuysian democracy to the whole affair. Who needs to be an “artist” to make “art”?
A “supersecret” party followed a couple of hours later—in the same space with most of the same people. This time, though, bouncers distinguished the chosen from the hoi polloi by way of special invites encased in Y-3 leather luggage straps, and certain special pieces “on loan” were removed from the walls for safekeeping. (A couple of Shermans, a Warhol book, a Basquiat, among others. “Where did my piece go?” asked a bewildered Francesco Vezzoli on arrival.) Precautions didn’t stop one bumbler from knocking over Star von Bunny’s precarious Ivory Soap sculpture in the center of the gallery. Members of Hercules and Love Affair rallied for a boisterous dance party in the basement, though Koh and Co. were nowhere to be found.
“That’s the way it always is,” said a straggler outside on the stoop. “Terence throws a party down here, and then he and his friends ditch it and have another party upstairs.” What would a supersecret party be without an even more supersecret one to aspire to?