Yesterday I went to PS 1 with one of my favorite people. We focused on “The Talent Show,” a look at modern art, participation, and voyeurism and the Laurel Nakadate exhibit, a groundbreaking work. The artist is brilliant, but she is difficult and complex. I struggle to write about her. I admire her, and at times feel she’s being manipulative. But I think she is a genius.
This was taken at the end of “The Talent Show,” a stirring exhibit and perfect compliment for Nakadate’s retrospective, “Only The Lonely”. I kept forgetting it was Valentine’s Day, though I blogged a picture of a Crush Can in the morning. Last year, my brother and his now fiancee took me out for an excellent Argentinian steak and Malbec. The plans we’re made because it was a Sunday, but I was more than happy to spend part of a day about love with them, even if none of us cared that it was Valentine’s Day. I used to care about Valentine’s Day, or rather bemoan it if I was single. So many things feel more important to me now. My films, my family, the fact that it was sunny and warm in Brooklyn in February!
After the museum, we had a lovely dinner with lots of laughter and red wine. Another best friend from college is in town for Fashion
Work Week and her friend who has recently moved to Brooklyn from San Francisco joined us, and I adored him by the time we were all taking the L train home, surrounded by more than one heart shaped balloon.
Maybe I don’t care about Valentine’s Day because I feel pretty surrounded by love all the time, from my family and my friends, whom I love. I love all the artists in New York and Brooklyn who inspire me. I love days spent with my writing. These things, at this present time, sustain me. Of course, everyone has their bad days, I have bad weeks, bad boyfriends, and I’m pretty sure there was a really bad year in there around 2007, so there’s really no need to throw Valentine’s Day into the fray. Yesterday, I didn’t feel pressure to be in a relationship or forced to feel bad for myself. Those are things you are probably all ready doing or feeling on some level if Valentine’s Day makes you feel that way. We’ve all been there, but you can leave that town behind. Hint: If you are a current resident, put on Joni Mitchell Blue. Cry. Repeat. Begin to heal.
Both exhibits spoke to our need to be loved, or just viewed, or honestly, just have our existence recognized. And then made sense of, which is staggering. Nakadate’s likes to subvert everything you know, things you didn’t know you know, things you’d rather not know: she’ll make you laugh, ponder, and then she’ll make you squirm (Good Morning Sunshine).
(Laurel Nakadate in I Want to be the One to Walk in the Sun)
She shows how the male gaze dominates and damages, and then employs it herself, often at the expensive of men, and sometimes on her fellow women, which I am not fully comfortable with (Again, Good Morning Sunshine). She subverts the male gaze expertly in Lucky Tiger, where she posed like a pin-up and then had men pass the photographs around, after they’d stuck their fingers in ink, and her video of coitus with imaginary lover(s) in Tokyo hotel rooms is staggeringly impressive and brave. Often she seems to want to be loved, or at least she wants you to experience that perception of her. She creates experiences and invites you into them. She is one of the most provocative, awesome artists of our time. Of course this wasn’t supposed to be an art theory post…
It was a truly great day. It was filled with art, friends, music, red wine, and quite a bit of love. As Kurt Vonnegut once explained the meaning of life, “If this isn’t good, what it is?”
If you’re reading this, I love you. Seriously.