Robin Schwartz’ portrait of crab-eating macaque with a banana taking a bath in a sink at Alice Austen House Museum.

Robin Schwartz’ portrait of crab-eating macaque with a banana taking a bath in a sink at Alice Austen House Museum.

DECODER

Planning a Day of Art in New York

Let me be honest with you, New York, I can start a Wednesday all about a museum visit on Friday but by Thursday evening the empty glasses, subway transfers and texts will have stacked up and in the anxious back-brain, an idea will begin to pool and shift and the shifting is as a python and that python is the frightening prospect of waking up before noon and being in Manhattan before 3. It’s definitely true I’m an artist (it says 711510 on my taxes) and I have 10 days, but I can’t say I fully intend to see art. It’s not that I don’t want to; it’s just almost anything else takes precedence—coffee with a blogger or a grilled-cheese place with a good view of a gory traffic accident. I do, in general, vastly prefer art to life, so I’m not sure how it keeps happening. Let’s check the listings:


Emily Dickinson at the Morgan Library. Dickinson wrote poems about death. I read them, I don’t need to look at like daguerreotypes of them. Turner, O’Keefe and Rauschenberg—all respectively somewhere. I am not sure there has ever not been a Turner, O’Keefe or Rauschenberg retrospective on during my lifetime.

Cindy Sherman at at the Mnuchin Gallery


Cindy Sherman’s satirical society-lady portraits at the Mnuchin (not Munchkin) Gallery. On 78th Street: so possibly the greatest act of creative hand-that-feeds-you biting since Truman Capote’s Answered Prayers—or it would be if people cared about art but this is America. I think if you go to New York and you could’ve seen Sherman and you don’t see Sherman they burn you. Same with the Biennial, probably.


The listings also say there’s one of these things where a historical society invites an installation artist in to move the stuff in the historical society around so it’s art in a different way, and one of those things by a different kind of installation artist where the photo in the listing is a bunch of regular people ambiguously occupied in an arty space and the press copy just says social something and it challenges something but no idea what the art actually consists of. Likewise New York Loves Italy and New York At Its Core have no pictures in the listings and what any of that means—other than that local pride is still strong—is ambiguous.


Exhibit on Thomas Jefferson—which will only be depressing in 2017. Carol Rama is like a pre–Annette Messager surreal body–feminist painter–sculptor, now dead. Fluid metaphors. Could be a pip. Japan Society show is about the third gender—the wakashu—which seems like a good thing to have seen if you get stuck for something to talk about at a party. Jazz Age: American Style in the 1920s. Ew. Rendering the Unspeakable: Artists Respond to 9/11. But everything is still unspeakable. Maurizio Cattelan is apparently the only living human male having a museum-worthy show in New York.  Natural History Museum has mummies and I was thinking what you’re thinking: Fuck mummies. But this has not just Egyptian mummies but then also Peruvian mummies, which are much spookier and better and sometimes look like they’re screaming and like 8 years old.


Even better there’s “Like Us: Primate Portraits by Robin Schwartz” and Google has a picture of a crab-eating macaque with a banana taking a bath in a sink. It’s at the Alice Austen House Museum, whatever that means, on fucking Staten Island. On the one hand, that’s a long way to go to see a picture of a monkey. On the other hand, that totally sounds like something I’d do. Also: you know whomever you meet out at a show like that is going to be a fantastic lunatic.

Alien Covenant


So I don’t have the excuse that the art sucks. I still might not see any. But I’m definitely going to see Alien: Covenant. Which probably won’t even be good but I’m doing it. The major difference between a late-era Alien movie and the likewise opulent late-Surrealist/Lee Bontecou/HR Giger/Eva Hesse biohorror lineage of the Guggenheim’s Anicka Yi show is the Alien movie happens in the dark and sitting down, and if you bring a girl to it she might go “Aaah!” and grab you, which is a clear advantage. But then the Guggenheim also has some sort of recursive show about the anniversary of the Guggenheim at the Guggenheim about the Guggenheim, which is really an excuse to stand in the white and platonic space looking at Pollocks—which puts me as close to where I prefer to be as art alone can.


I think I’ve probably guilted myself into seeing art. I hope Alien doesn’t suck because then I’m definitely going to have to look at art.