Visionaire’s Halloween Party at MoMA PS1
There were many small candles on the steps of MoMA PS1 on the night of the Visionaire Halloween Party last Saturday. The party for this legendary fashion”bookzine”—each issue of which is designed by an artist or fashion designer— coincided with MOVE!, a live performance-based art and fashion event on Saturday and Sunday at MoMA PS1 featuring collaborations between designers and artists. Projected on the side of the building was a scene from a film—a woman speaking to someone in a serious and worried way. She flickered against the wall in warm tones and was gone. We followed a bloodied bride up the stairs and indoors, where someone screamed, “Help me!” The stairwell was not completely dark but not light. I heard it again. It was a recording. When we reached the top a server offered us Belvedere “Fairytale” cocktails from a small round tray. The frosted highball glasses had been chilled.
From the dark hallway you could see the light from the gallery, where most of the guests were gathered, and which, once inside, was bright and large. Around the edges of the room were white wood rectangular structures on which people sat, danced, or put their drinks. At either end of the room was a table of endlessly replenished glasses of alcohol—Belvedere cocktails at one end, Veuve Cliquot champagne on the other. Because the room was square, “walking around” felt more purposeless than usual. Still, people twirled their fingers at each other to say I’m-going-to-walk-around-the-room-now.
By the Veuve Cliquot table stood a man with a pillow tied to his neck. Kate turned him toward us by his shoulder. “I’m a bed bug,” he said. He had a drawing of a bug’s belly on his t-shirt. His friend, whose head was encased in an intricate black shellacked headdress and looked like the alien in Alien, said in a foreign accent that he was a Shaman. Their female friend waved her hand and smiled and said she was “Victorian-looking.” One man in a silvery skintight lamé outfit vogued on the white structures. He had two small monitors on his chest and one near his crotch that played videos and seemed like an homage to Nam June Paik’s TV-Bra for his “Living Sculpture.” He had a lamé bundle on his head around which he moved his hands in a “Vogue”-type way. He stuck his leg out and with control and concentration lunged forward slowly. He froze and someone took a picture.
We took glasses of champagne. They were the kind that could have easily been arranged in a champagne tower. But these were being taken too quickly to be arranged in any way in particular. Cecilia Dean walked in. She was in what looked like an actual ballerina dress from a production of Swan Lake with a stiff radius of white tulle around her and a molded hairpiece of black and white feathers. I thought maybe she was one of Hans Christian Anderson’s Wild Swans. No one could kiss her because of the obstacle of her skirt. She stood inside the main room, or outside the entrance to the main room. Sometimes she smiled. But mostly she stood silently.
Across the hall from the main room was a similarly cubed gallery where two people dressed as Teletubbies (one pink, one blue) stood and drank champagne. I lifted an invitation off the table. It was a black square with a lenticular photograph of two images, one of a person in a pale bear mask with pink lipstick and the other of a person in a ghost sheet. It was a still from Hellish by James Franco and Carter. I wondered if that was the film projected on the front of the building as we entered.
Kate and I walked around looking into other galleries. One room was empty except for several old-style mirrors in shiny frames. I looked in a tall one and then in a squat one. In the next room, a woman in black pants with a mic strapped to her head was talking at us loudly, “Models, get ready,” she said. “Go, go go.” We walked down what felt like a runway but was enclosed on all sides by soft blue walls. At the end of the walkway there was a camera. Kate sached as if she was a model. I just walked. We turned and walked off into a darkened room that had two projections flickering on either wall and an elegant British voice singing “I feel pretty, oh so pretty,” from My Fair Lady. The screen showed footage from a previous Marc Jacobs fashion show with editors and celebrities in the front row. On the runway the party-guests were superimposed to look like they were walking the runway. Runway Kate sached towards us as real Kate took a picture of runway Kate as she got to the end of the runway. A man in front of me and Kate had a large red afro-wig. “Hi,” he said. “You don’t recognize me, but you were in my house for a party a few weeks ago.” It was the artist Izhar Patkin. We were in the Rob Pruitt and Marc Jacobs installation for MOVE! called “Looks.”
Back in the big room, a beautiful woman dressed all in black in a Spanish mantilla walked across the room worried as if she was a mourning widow. To our left a man in a gorilla suit had taken his head off and crossed his legs and was talking casually to a man in a doctor’s lab coat. A man whose suit was covered entirely in small round mirrors walked in. “I wonder what that’s like with a flash,” said Kate. I saw a friend. He was in a red jacket and hat and had crazy hair. “Who are you?” I said. “Cody Critcheloe from SSION.” (He pronounced it “shun,” like he was emphasizing the last syllable of the word FASHION.) He had gotten a Cheryl make-over earlier that day at the Cheryl installation with American Apparel at MOVE! He made a twirling motion with his hand and walked away.
Wearing a cardboard waffle, the model Anouck Lepere walked in. She tilted a can of whipped cream into the mouth of a guy next to her, lifted her eyebrow, and jutted out her hip. Several flashes went off. Next to her was a shorter blonde woman dressed as an orange across which was written “Joosie.” Many people came up to them and kissed their cheeks. They hardly had to move.
“You look like a whore, too,” I heard someone say. I turned around but no one was there. Two people with pink conical headdresses had arrived in the room and stood on the white structures surveying the crowd.
Three astronauts walked in. Their outfits commanded immediate respect. “I want to dance with an astronaut,” said Kate. “Hi,” I said to one of the astronauts. “My friend wants to dance with an astronaut.” They danced. I walked downstairs. The artist Terence Koh walked in front of me down the stairs and smiled. He was wearing what looked like a bed sheet wrapped around his body and draped across one shoulder. With him was a man in a sharp blue yachtsman’s cap. Outside Terence Koh said he was going to be home by midnight, which he said he tries to do these days. He has perfect smooth skin. I asked him what his next project was and he said in a quiet, gentle voice, “Tomorrow. Here. At MOVE!”
MOVE! MoMA PS1 Sunday October 31, 2010 2:30pm
“Come in,” a woman said to me. “He’s about to drop paint.” I walked in and sat down for the Cynthia Rowley/Olaf Breuning installation at MOVE! a two-day performance-based exhibit at MoMA PS1, which involved twelve collaborations between artists and fashion designers. People waited. A model in a dress walked into a wood stall and arranged herself like a doll, holding her skirt out. People lifted their cameras. The artist Olaf Breuning climbed a ladder and stood over her holding a can of paint. People stopped talking. Olaf Breuning talked casually about white paint. Cameras got steady. He talked about gold paint. Then he poured white and then gold paint over the model. Camera shutters fluttered for several seconds. People clapped and walked out. We exited through a sun-lit corridor where racks of paint-splattered dresses hung with tags as if for sale.
Hung in an ordered and symmetrical manner along one wall at the Cheryl/American Apparel installation were long hairpieces in blonde, brunette and chestnut. Large mirrors were dotted with cosmetic lights where make-up artists were applying glitter and teasing fake hair into glamorous nests. “The Makeover You Never Knew You Wanted” was a “psycho-immersive” environment created by Cheryl and American Apparel. Cheryl, the artists and blood-and-glitter party entrepreneurs, had thrown their own Halloween party the night before—Cherylween III. “We had over eight-hundred people,” Stina Puotinen told me about the Halloween party. “[The Bell House] was at capacity.” She had glitter on her lips. Zig-zagged in the front of the room were racks of American Apparel t-shirts, leggings and bodysuits in nude and white donated for makeovers. At the far end was a stage set with a camera and photo umbrella in front of which the face of a glittered subject lit up as the flash popped.
In another gallery exhibiting the installation by Telfar + Lizzie Fitch, Rhett Larue, Fatima Al Qadiri, Ryan Trecartin & Leilah Weinraub, four people dressed in heavy white monk-like tunics held long gold poles. Each person held his or her pole so that the tip of one person’s pole touched the tip of another person’s pole. The four people moved slowly across the gallery floor connected like this and concentrating on the tips of their poles.
At the installation by Terence Koh and designer Italo Zucchelli for Calvin Klein, two men covered entirely in silver paint including their hands, feet and long sheaths walked slowly toward each other and then away from each other in a straight line in a room that was empty except for two beams of light. They repeated this movement. They walked slowly back and forth as droning conceptual electronic music filled the room. Sometimes when the men met at the center of the room they said things to each other only they could hear and smiled or laughed but in a way that didn’t break the composure required for the piece. Sometimes I could hear the sound of their feet against the floor or could hear only the music. Sometimes the light beams gathered in startling conical clusters around their heads. I took a flashless picture. “Excuse me,” said a man next to me. “Can I take a picture of you taking a picture?” I nodded and took another picture.
Photo courtesy of Guest of a Guest.