Diary

Sleep No More

Left: Artist Tom Sachs. Right: Creative Time artistic director Anne Pasternak with designer Waris Ahluwalia. (Photos: Christos Katsiaouni)

CREATIVE TIME is a venerable nonprofit arts organization that is literally forty-one years old, so if Friday night’s Fall Ball sleepover felt like a Sweet Sixteen party planned by an overanxious momma, we’re not being mean, just insensitive. We arrived at Neuehouse a little before 10 PM, or two hours after start time. The party would go until 8 the next morning. Dinner was over and beginning again; salmon and salad and wild rice, exactly right for the art world’s pre–South Beach diet, were served in quantities larger than the crowd. Yet around the corner, a line was winding up for red beans and regular rice, cooked by the sculptor Tom Sachs. Is there anything a professional can do that an artist can’t do better?

Ben Bronfman, best known as the father of M.I.A’s child, was complaining about the lethargic bartenders. “Kanye once started a meeting with me, ‘You know, when you’re a king…’ ” he said, wistfully joining a drink line somewhat lacking in art-world royalty and the service they’re accustomed to. One admires Neuehouse for commissioning and installing Jill Magid’s cursive neon sign, MAKE ME ANONYMOUS, just above the bar.

A long-haired man was wearing dark purple shades in low lighting, so we asked if he was famous. He answered that he had been in jail for eighteen years and seventy-eight days, and we immediately hoped that Damien Echols, a member of the West Memphis Three, had a very good night. Later, a PR girl informed us that he was reading tarot downstairs. (“He learned it in prison! He lives in Harlem now.”) Mel Chin arrived with a patch over the left lens of his eyeglasses—“I taped it myself,” he said of the glasses, “with gaffing tape”—but didn’t stop to watch the male contortionist in Dr. Caligari makeup flatten himself into a paper clip. Dustin Yellin came by, and we pretended to write down things he said. The Citizens Band took the stage. Some Weimar Republican bantered idly into the microphone about “happenings,” then made an Ebola joke. It was not even 10:45.

Left: Contortionist with the Citizens Band. Right: VFiles' Ruth Gruca with vmagazine.com editor Natasha Stagg. (Photos: Luis Ruiz)

There were so many places to sit, and few ways to relax. The designer Sebastián Errázuriz held an attenuated game of Pictionary. Some people in jeans played Twister, while a couple dressed for business did Robert Lazzarini’s “Porn Puzzle” (like a regular puzzle, only printed with a pornographic image). A “Casper Divine” explained their skimpy tank top: “This is mesh, honey. My friend designed it but I forgot her name.” Another nameless friend of Casper’s flashed pink, Pop Rocks–like nail art designed by non–nail artists Rob Pruitt and Will Cotton, saying, “It’s very Rihanna, don’t you think?”

“It’s Katy Perry!” exclaimed a lithe young man, dashing into a darkened enclave that turned out to be a karaoke room. We looked in anyway, because you never know. She might have come with Damien Echols. Four young people sporting rainbow-zigzagged onesies— “made from synthetic alpaca wool”— moved slowly through the crowd, as if worried one might get picked off for slaughter. “We’re from Vermont!” they said, obviously. “We’re f-c-k-n-l-z.” (A brief inquiry via Neuehouse’s excellent wifi revealed FCKNLZ to be a “gypset lifestyle collective” that “specializes in mistakes.”)

We headed downstairs to survey the resting quarters. Rows of tightly packed white cots, like an army barracks for consumption patients, were bathed in a low green light. Alessandra Brawn—now introducing herself as “the wife of Jon Neidich,” Neidich being a Creative Time board member and former manager of the Boom Boom Room—was politely telling a friend how to Instagram her. Brawn rearranged herself on the cot, throwing one arm casually above her head.

Left: Artist Mel Chin. (Photo: Luis Ruiz) Right: Artist Marco Brambilla with musician Ben Bronfman. (Photo: Matteo Prandoni/BFAnyc.com)

“Tarot is booked until 4 AM,” said a clipboard, but did we want a quickie? We sat cross-legged in front of Jen DeNike, barefoot. She laid out a four-card spread, explaining that reporters are particularly suited to Alejandro Jodorowsky’s deck of tarot cards: The filmmaker based Holy Mountain (1973) on Mount Analogue, René Daumal’s 1960 novel about “a journalist who finds a lost mountain.” We’re less the type of journalists to ask where a mountain is and more the type to ask how you could have lost a mountain, but never mind. “You need to bring the fire up,” DeNike told us. “You need to bring yourself up more, I guess, and come out of hiding. Be a little more extroverted.”

Dustin Yellin came by again, more up and out of hiding than ever, with no shirt and a bare ass hanging out of a pair of orange shorts. The spirit world had sent us a guide. “You must know Dustin Yellin,” said a gallery guy, wryly. “He’s a famous artist.” Dustin Yellin looked humble for a moment. “I’m a small guy in a big town,” he said. Later, we learned that the “Nick Cave for IKEA” piece at Neuehouse is actually a Dustin Yellin sculpture.

Pizza materialized by 1 AM, along with a pile of confetti. Rich girls changed into matching pajamas. The night was so exquisitely coordinated; it’s a shame no one danced. We did, however, find the action amid all the activities, in a small room manned by David Colman and a pair of TSA-style “officers.” Inside it was bright, and when our officer slipped on his blue latex gloves and took off our clothes, too slowly, until we had to stop (had to literally say “I insist that you stop”), we felt like we were playing at adults, which after all is the point of a sleepover.

Left: Artist David Colman with Madeline Weeks. Right: Artist Dustin Yellin. (Photos: Matteo Prandoni/BFAnyc.com)

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