News from the States: Police disperse rabid intellectuals while René Ricard mixes with the Amish

Serious over-crowding at Deitch gallery causes policemen to break up event organised by Black Magick witch


Crowd-puller at Jeffrey Deitch

One of the most amazing public spectacles in Manhattan for several years took place at the end of a jam-packed long weekend of Armory show activity. It had been modestly announced as an academic lecture by a Slovenian theorist. When that theorist, however, is cult-star Slavoj Zizek, the results can prove truly improbable. This event was organised by the redoubtable Josefina Ayerza, a SoHo-based, Argentinian psychoanalyst and longtime editor of the journal Lacanian Ink, also one-time Tarot goddess, designer of plastic furniture, Black Magick witch, Spanish translator of Aleister Crowley and the woman who launched Guillermo Kuitca in New York. Zizek was scheduled to give a talk with the title “Love without mercy.” The venue was Jeffrey Deitch’s largest space on Wooster Street and the sponsors were the contemporary art organisation Foundation 20/21. Deitch’s space is LARGE, extremely so, and can dwarf almost any event, so few people were expecting overcrowding or neighbourhood complaints. However, by the time every square inch of the cavernous airplane hangar was packed with expectant human flesh, it was clear things were out of hand: a loud crowd of more than 100 eager intellectuals were still straining to be admitted. The atmosphere was reminiscent of an extremely exclusive night club in some 80s heyday: only a few select dealers and artists were allowed in, joining the throng of literally thousands crammed inside. Having generously offered his gallery for the event, Deitch himself bravely confronted the crowd outside, but it refused to shift and many banged on the windows in their desperation to hear Zizek. Eventually the police were forced to break up the crowd, shouting orders through loudspeakers, the first time a band of intellectuals in New York has been forcibly dispersed by the police since Marcuse lectured at Columbia. Zizek’s explosive exegesis, complete with extracts from Hitchcock (subtitled in Slovenian) and brilliant analysis of America’s current political situation granted all the expected rewards and its Q&A lasted late into the night, proving that Manhattan can still provide the most radical cultural treats gratis.

Reflections of an ageing hipster

At Rivington Arms, a modish shopfront gallery run by Brice Marden’s daughter (and how many times has the poor girl had to read that?), Mathew Cerletty’s show opening brought out a fresh young pack. In fact, on closer inspection, they all seemed frighteningly young. A glance at his résumé was enough to send shivers down any ageing hipster’s spine: “Mathew Cerletty was born in 1980.” Here was my first time frisson of seeing a solo show by someone actually born in the 80s. Meanwhile Brice himself has been active on the Lower East Side. Having checked out his progeny’s gallery, he went over the street to Participant and wisely purchased a pink resin chandelier cast from antlers by artist Virgil Marti, its Venetian glass aura perfect for the Marden townhouse on St Luke’s.

Gwyneth buys rainbow for Coldplay Chris

Gorgeous Rob Reynolds has been racking up sales at his first-time show chez Kenny Schachter. Who should wander in one Saturday, doubtless tempted by rumours of the Reynolds mystique, but the equally gorgeous Gwyneth Paltrow elle-même? And she had soon slapped down a solid $8,500 for one of Reynolds’s multi-hued rainbow paintings. Considering that their dominant colour is yellow, how appropriate that she should be accompanied by her beau, Chris Martin, the singer from Coldplay: “I bought this painting for you…and called it yellow.”

Amish figures get down at the Drawing Center

The final day of the award-winning Royal Art Lodge exhibition at the Drawing Center was almost as crowded as its opening. Among the lingering horde who stayed right to the end were that mysterious trio of Victorian-looking Amish figures who have caused much speculation in recent years in Manhattan, fully rigged in bonnets and frock coats. A rather better known dandy was also in attendance, poet René Ricard himself, wearing a spectacular pair of white spectacles borrowed from Elton John and signing the visitor’s book with typical genius aplomb: “Thanks for the men’s room!! My friend Michael Patterson had to go so badly! René.”