Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Lisa Kirk's maison des cartes

Maison des cartes, 2009, installation view (interior)
I'm back into real estate! 

I bought a one week timeshare in Lisa Kirk's maison des cartes (House of Cards) at Invisible-Exports, 14 A Orchard Street until March 29th. It's not one of those rip-off, trendy time-shares in the Caribbean -- it's even worse. It's a broken down shanty built with found materials that, after the show, will be transferred to the Brooklyn Navy Yard (what they're calling "an exclusive gated community").

The gallery has been transformed into a real estate sales office complete with a high-pressure sales staff who perform, if that's the word, from 2 p.m. until 6 p.m., Friday, Saturday and Sunday. (I was worked on -- or, more accurately, worked over -- by Susan London who could not have been more perfect in the role). 

For the low, low price of $199.99 (which can be paid off in easy monthly payments of only $20 per month -- less than going to the movies), I get the right to use this maison des cartes for one week. In keeping with the provocative theme I chose the week of Sukkos, when observant Jews construct booths or huts that are supposed to be reminiscent of the type of huts the ancient Israelites lived during their wandering in the desert. Is there anyone not yet offended? 

  This is Marie Antoinette playing homeless squatter. It's radical chic at its most appalling. (For those too young to know what Radical chic is, the phrase comes from an article by Tom Wolfe, first published in June of 1970 in New York Magazine, about a party that Leonard Bernstein and his socialite friends held in his Park Avenue apartment for the radical Black Panther Party. (And if you don't know who Leonard Bernstein was fuggetaboutit). After that party the Black Panthers lost all credibility as a threat).

This is one of our culture's most effective survival mechanisms -- co-opting and hence enervating challenges or threats. And this is why artists cringe when their work is presented as cool and trendy -- it takes the guts out of it. Artists from Warhol to Koons have made this their subject matter and Lisa Kirk is pushing it even further here.  

Also in the gallery is an underground (literally -- it's in the basement) installation of Kirk’s earlier work -- her fragrance Revolution. The packaging for Revolution is a bronzed pipe bomb (which can be upgraded to silver, gold or even platinum). Be sure to check out her totally perverse TV commercial promoting Revolution.

1 comment:

Irene Borngraeber said...

For lack of a better phrase, I see Kirk as trivializing the fetishization of poverty and the idea of low-brow chic. I don't think she's taking a stance on homelessness, rather on "high culture"'s perverse desire to go slumming--and the phony frenchification (one of my pet peeves) is the icing on the cake (you hit that Antoinette reference right on).

I think she's also indirectly referencing the empty social conscience that seems to accompany many fad issues: the "cause's" application on Facebook and those horrible "Save Darfur" shirts that were so in five years ago spring to mind. Let's march for world peace while wearing our cancer bracelets! Save Africa by buying Chinese cotton!