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GEOslant with Jon Leon: Fall Flânerie

I enter behind Klaus Biesenbach. Not even a trace of irony, no eroticism, just a smoldering hum. The buzz of hundreds of tiny voices creating a drone on 24th Street that wafts through the exceedingly tall corridors and frosted glass doors of Gagosian Gallery into the exhaust of fashion week traffic and towering heels. Just the clicking of heels and the clicking of cameras. The darting glances encircling the artist and the awkward posture of Richard Phillips standing over six feet tall in a black motorcycle jacket two sizes too small. I scan the room with a palpable and slack disenchantment. The paintings are big! And there are models in them. I linger on the sidewalk outside and see the artist Spencer Sweeney in his signature Russ & Daughters cap. I don’t see Adriana Lima anywhere. I see 92 inches of Lindsay Lohan in a wetsuit holding a surfboard with a green anchor painted on the nose – First Point, 2012. She looks total, inscrutable – iconic. But there isn’t even enough art to think past. I lounge motionless for days afterward and read books. I think about Lindsay’s mango-colored sunshades.

I get a call. I buy some caviar and eat it. I show up at Swat Bar on Canal Street and nurse a sparkling water. Somebody else gets a call. I’m at the Bowery Hotel. Nightlife impresario André Saraiva walks by me. I’m below ground at Acme on Great Jones Street entering a party I can hear behind a door that reads “No Admittance.” The door opens, I open the open bar. A group begins to dance. People go in and out of bathrooms. A blonde with slick hair glides by me. I get into a cab. Somebody slams a door. I’m at Le Bain. I see like three states at once. I’m dancing with Ann Cathrin November Høibo. I’m at Le Baron. I can’t see. It’s like the woozy strobe scene from Black Swan. I get lost in the club. I’m in the street. I’m in a taxi. At some point in the near past I saw framed seed packets at Invisible Exports on Orchard Street. Joseph Beuys signed them all.

Richard Phillips, Lindsay IV, 2012, oil on canvas, 60 x 95 1/8 in.; © Richard Phillips / Courtesy Gagosian Gallery. Photography by Robert McKeever.


I’m at The Kitchen listening to French philosopher Jacques Rancière. He talks about using your intelligence to prove you’re not intelligent. He speaks of the “production of affect.” I’m at Sculpture Center for the impeccably curated A Disagreeable Object. I see some Adidas track pants spun around a tissue paper dispenser, bunches of excess thread. It’s my dance partner Ann Cathrin November Høibo’s Untitled (The Kiss), 2012. I go outside. I see an olive-colored Cadillac De Ville. I get on a train. I walk into The Jewish Museum for A Painter and His Muses. Edouard Vuillard’s paintings are inside. There’s the colors you’d expect—and then voila, bursts of yellow and aqua. Twilight at Le Pouliguen (1908) is stunning. The most exciting work I’ve seen in years and the best French painting I’ve seen from the period. Later, I pick up the brand new Nice Weather by the poet Frederick Seidel. He writes “Of the Vuillards” in “Dinner With Holly Andersen.” I present a Sotheby’s ID card and enter the Guggenheim Museum for Rineke Dijkstra: A Retrospective.

I have no expectations. No precedent. I hear generic club music thumping from a dark room in a corner of the museum. A few people are crowded at the entrance. Slowly, curiously, I enter the room. I don’t know yet what I’m in for until I see a young woman on screen in a cheap white skirt and matching tube top; the outfit frames her midriff into the shape of a diamond. She begins to pulsate to the generic club music. She’s really good at it. I feel a strange empathy. I step right into the middle of the floor. I go outside to the wall text: The Buzz Club, Liverpool, UK/Mystery World, Zaandam, NL, 1996-97. I start texting everyone I know. I stop and go back in. The video cuts from teenage subject to subject. Each appearing vulnerable, dispossessed, marginal, jaded in front of a stark white wall.A pair of dudebros in windbreakers. For the first time I watch an entire piece of video art. I’m transformed, different. Art is redemptive.

Rineke Dijkstra, The Buzz Club, Liverpool, UK/Mystery World, Zaandam, NL, 1996–97, Two-channel video projection, transferred to HD, with sound, 26 min., 40 sec., looped; Courtesy the artist and Marian Goodman Gallery, New York and Paris / © Rineke Dijkstra.


I finish Sanctuary (1931) by William Faulkner. I think about Karen Kilimnik’s wicked genius glitter flags at 303 Gallery. I’m on a plane again. I see “Follow your goddam dreams” scrawled on a wall near Fairfax and Beverly Boulevard. I’ve just arrived in LA from New York to launch my book The Malady of the Century. I pick up Out of This Century (1946), Peggy Guggenheim’s memoirs, while I suntan by the pool at the Beverly Laurel. I rub Narcissus oil all over my body and go to Family. I read a story about a nightclub buried underneath the sand. I mingle among the scene. I meet a novelist. She says she writes “mean” books. I ride in her Mercedes. We talk about how much we like Alex Israel’s As It LAys. I wake up in a 50s hotel room and look at a mountain behind a billboard that reads “Sky,” a halo over the letter S. Sky sells maxi and mini dresses on S. Robertson Blvd. I drink raw coconut water. I change clothes three times. I’m on Rodeo Drive. I’m on Dayton Way. I’m seated at The Grill on the Alley. I order the special, soft shell crab. I get into a car.

I board an aircraft. I’m surrounded by the greenest forests. I drink four coconut waters. I’m at the Contemporary Art Museum in Raleigh, NC. I’m looking at a Marilyn Minter video. Luscious silvery metallic M&M’s drop into a pool of metallic pigment swirling in slow motion. One of the Ms is turned on its side. I see ME. It looks like a lava lamp. I leave well before thirty-five minutes pass contemplating the video’s title: I’m Not Much, But I’m All I Think About.


Jon Leon

(Image on top: Marilyn Minter, I’m Not Much, But I’m All I Think About, 2011, video still; Courtesy of CAM Raleigh, the artist and Salon 94, New York, NY.)

Posted by ArtSlant Team on 10/3/12 | tags: figurative digital photography video-art mixed-media

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