All of Berlin was wrapped up in the house of Douglas Crimp last week for three glorious days of congress, fellowship, laughter and gossip.For those of you not familiar with the writings of Mr. Crimp run to your local bookseller and purchase these titles: AIDS: Cultural Analysis/Cultural Activism , On the Museum's Ruins, Melancholia and Moralism - Essays on AIDS and Queer Politics, "Our Kind of Movie": The Films of Andy Warhol. Looking back at my notes there is so much to lesbian process, that I’m finding it difficult to encapsulate all that took place. The festivities began on Thursday August 28th at the famed commercial art gallerie Buchholz in Charlottenberg off of the KU-Damm. The charming gallerists Daniel Buchholz and his lifetime companion Christopher Mueller were gracious and engaging hosts, and very sweet unlike most art world movers&shakers. I first met Buchholz&Mueller in the 1990s at my Sunday Afternoon Silverlake artist space Sucker at the Garage through Stuart Comer who is now a curatorial chief at MoMa. The exhibition at Buchholz Galerie- Pictures, Before and After in salute to Douglas Crimp features a dazzling array of artists as varied as Charles James, Agnes Martin, Fierce Pussy and The Cockettes. The opening was a mob scene. I hardly ever go to art openings unless its one of my former students or a very close dear friend. Hell, I don’t even go to my own openings. I loved that this event was very cross generational, with a nice amount of radiant youth from different Berlin scenes that usually don’t mix plus gleaming eye candy in the form of some strapping young lads. The hottest boy in the room was decidedly Goldenen Peter the patrician Buchholz exhibitions coordinator who recently moved to Berlin from New York City. Peter is stunning,an immaculate child of WASP wealth with a flawless complexion,brilliantine smile, taunt torso and a bubble butt you could build a dream on.
Gallery openings are not really for looking at the art its all about being social so I plan on going back during the run which lasts till Oct 30th. In Germany one thing I can’t stand at art galas is when they go into high speech mode, which tends to labour on and on ad nausea. The exhibition & symposium organizers Juliane Rebentisch, Diedrich Diederichsen and CHEAP’s Marcuse Siegelstein wisely kept things to the verbosic bare minimum. The man of the hour: Douglas Crimp, who is the very embodiment of grace, intelligence and elegance was radiant and looking like a Denton Welchian teen idol. Its very difficult to believe that Douglas Crimp just turned 70.
The gallery was packed with celebutants including Wolfgang Tilmans, Susanne Sachsse, Michaela Wunsch looking like a sunkissed California girl on her return to Berlina from teaching in Los Angeles, the incredible German artist Isa Genzken(fresh from a spectacular retrospectacle at MOMA earlier this year) gorgeous Iranian artist Nairy Baghramian in a white latex blouse, (Ms. Baghramian was in the 2001 CHEAP production of Life of Juanita Castro at Podevil), Henrik Olesen, Discoteca Flaming Star, Katya Sander, Gesine Danckwart with little baby, Maria Losier, Lucile Desamory with fetching gal pal Pauline, LA’s Christopher Williams with hot powertop curator wife Ann Goldstein(Formerly of MOCA-LA and Stedelik Museum) Philip Smith, delightful glass blower Josiah McElheny(who flew in from NYC) Thomas Locher with curator partner Rike Frank, dandy dust artist Kerstin Honeit, Frank Wagner, film professor Gertrud Koch with media studkin professor Astrid Deuber Mankowsky, critic/gallerist Dominic Eichler, bbooks French New Wave scholar Nico Siepen, Stephan Geene of the amazing film Umsonst, cute Polish Phd Art Historian Magda Szczeniak,Symposium guest speakers: Juan Suarez, Dirck Linck, Rosalyn Deutsche, Jonathan Flatly, Rachel Haidu, writer Manfred Hermes, Matthias Haase, Koen Claerhout,humpy Indian actor Manish Dayal of the new Helen Mirren film,casting director Constantine Achmed Berger, Arsenal Empress Stefanie Schulte Strathaus, Richard&Salome Gersch, Tobias Rauscher Ashaf and Saskia Wendland. The delicious artist dinner was at the cozy boite Manzini close to the gallery at Ludwigkirsch Strasse 11 and featured a specially designed serviette by Louise Lawler.
On Friday at Arsenal Institut fur film und Videokunst was the first day of the Douglas Crimp Symposium honouring his work in the academy, as curator and activist taking his forthcoming 2015 memoires as a departure point for a reconsideration of artistic, theoretical and queer subcultural practices from the 1960s to the present. Things got off on a rousing note with a mini lecturina by Marc Siegel who expertly applies the principles of Catskills-Borcht Belt humour to his scholarship. My pen ran out of ink during Diedrich Diedereichsen’s presentation so I wasn’t able to take any notes, but I can attest that the famous DD was in fine form. The incandescent Juliana Rebentisch of the lovely voice and perfect diction (whose 2012 tome The Aesthetics of Installation Art is a must read) proved in her talk why the Gospel According to Saint Rebentisch is the be all and end all.
The divine Rosalyn Deutsch of Barnard College in New York who has been a dear friend to Douglas Crimp for almost 40 years and her Museum of Innocence lecture which was very timely as she gave a nice overview of the narrative of loss from before the World Trade Center and its displacement of the Little Syria Community, small business destruction and the moving of the Washington Market and the fetishism inherent in turning the shards of the WTC into a victim and the inherent evil of developers that create new buildings with a separate entrance for the poor and misbegotten.
The Arsenal was SRO like it is during the Berlinale Film Festival and Forum & Forum Expanded screenings so by the time Douglas Crimp read the Hotel des Artistes chapter from his memoir it was pure pandemonium as everyone in the auditorium was riveted to his transporting prose. My ear prickled when he mentioned Zoli’s Model Management Agency as both Glen Meadmore and I were briefly signed to them. Zoli was the modelling agency with all the freaks in the early 1980s when I was on the scene in New York. The hot gossip that had everyones jaws flapping was the revelation that famed artist Ellsworth Kelly was a shrimp enthusiast. Friday evening closed with a screening of the wonderful 1972 Yvonne Rainer film Lives of Performers which I had never seen but somehow I channelled in my 1994 short subject VooDoo Williamson-The Dona of Dance.
At the Arsenal was a myriad of curators and students from around the known and unknown world,including visiting scholars Tobias Nagl(author of the important book on race and Weimar Cinema) Sianne Ngai with life partner literary critic Mark McGurl, Penny Deutscher, Virve Sutinen, Andrea Niederbuchner from Tanz in August, Antonia Baehr,Renate Lorenz, Karin Michaelski, Pauline Boudry, sexyline junior queer film scholar Chris Tedjasukmana, Sissy Magazine writer Andre Wendler,Turkish artist Aykan Safoglu, queer curator Todd Sekuler, art critic Tom Holert and legend Noll Brinkmann.
The last day of the symposium on Saturday the tone seemed to shift and everything was like speed dating where on Friday things were very languid. Douglas Crimps colleague at the University of Rochester the lovely Rachel Haidu and her Lives of Complications was the perfect way to begin the day answering the questions raised by the Yvonne Rainer film. Stanley Kubrick certainly can’t hold a candle to Ms. Rainer and Ms. Haidu made that evident. I kept wondering during the lecture what ever happened to Fernando the Chillean beauty with the strong nose, incredible bone structure and lithe lean musculature. He was so my type accept for having his hair in an unsightly ponytail. The other young dark haired semetic beauty boy in the piece also looked delectable in the recreation scenes of Frank Wedekind’s LuLu where in his newsboy cap he was the perfect Alwa.
The next talk by activist Dirck Linck on the Bricolage Camp Genius in Irving Rosenthal’s literary cult classic Sheeper got everyone in the place wanting to find a copy of this bejewelled tome. Sheeper is definitely the book with a bulge ---a queer masterwork. Mr. Rosenthal was a colleague of Jack Smith and was part of the Beat Generation of writers Ginsberg and Borroughs. Having the fantastiche Herr Linck in the symposium helped lift it from being a pure New York Fest, which is in keeping with the history that Douglas Crimp has in Berlin since the early 1980s.
The last two talks Jonathan Flatley’s Just Alike and Juan Suarez’, Grids,Folds and Disco were the perfect way to end the proceedings on a lively note. Jonathan and his lovesexy boyish enthusiasm is so compelling in bringing to light the cross racial imitations and layers of repetition for emphasis in Warhol’s bla-tino drag queen poloroid portrait series. Anytime someone evokes queer foremothers Marcia P. Johnson and Silvia Rivera they are aces high with me. The handsome and stately Spaniard Juan Suarez who also wowed at Camp/Anti-Camp back in 2012 really knows how to connect the gridlike and disco mirror ball dots. From Lesbian zen to Larry Lavan and the Paradise Garage boogie intimacy El Suarez took it from coon to caint in the dynamic of continuity and dislocation. Can’t wait till next year with Douglas’ 71st .