The S is for Self, as in Self-Important. And I wasn’t alone. Far from it. The most unnecessary question of the day was the endearing, “Do you know who I am?” It wasn’t unnecessary because the Swiss minions running the art fair were so gracious, but because people were always telling you how fabulous they and their taste are anyway. My VIP card didn’t score me an early private screening of the only piece I wanted to see in the video program; fortunately, though, the snow conspired to keep me in town one more night. I saw Amar Kanwar‘s 2002 A Night of Prophecy, which he produced for last year’s Documenta XI.
I left the tawdry spectacle of NY art dealers singing karaoke for what turned out to be basically a series of subcontinental music videos. Kanwar filmed people singing calls for caste revolution and protests of various ethnic conflicts. It was alternately moving and didactic, always poetic, but hopelessly at odds with the shiny-as-a-C-print materialist, money-soaked, elitistriving artfest that hosted it. The thirty people at the start of the screening dwindled to less than half that, with only about 8-10 of us pinko Gandhi-ists watching the entire thing. Why some people wouldn’t want to spend their Friday night in South Beach being called (in melodic Hindi) an exploitative thief living off the sweat of the poor is beyond me.
(Of course, I’m writing this from the Delta Crown Room at the airport…the sweaty sunburned masses are already too much for me to deal with apparently…)