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New York


Exhibition Detail
54 Franklin Street
New York, NY 10013

October 16th, 2011 - October 18th, 2011
October 16th, 2011 6:00 PM - 10:00 PM
© Courtesy of Postmasters
Tue-Wed, Fri-Sat 11-6; Thu 11-8

New York artist Chris Verene presents a new installation of his ongoing performance cycle, “The Self-Esteem Salon,” a three-day live action artwork entitled, The Self-Esteem Salon with Jessica Grable, The Self-Preservation Series.  Verene will team up with long time friend and performance artist and sculptor, Jessica Grable, to create the largest version of the performance ever staged.  The two are working together to build and grow an ensemble of plant life and costumes that emphasize the human need for self-preservation, including a custom topiary garden made from cultivated invasive plant species. A feature length documentary film is underway about the work.

The Self-Esteem Salon is a highly interactive performance artwork wherein Verene builds a temporary, yet lavish and beautiful, sanctuary to help strangers/participants make a sincere and lasting change in their lives. The project is something like a day spa, a short time spent in therapy that will have positive results on one's personal life. The artist and his staff of "Group Facilitators" welcome visitors, clients and audience members throughout the duration of the piece, offering a variety of public and private experiences including cognitive therapy, massage (touch and non-touch), costume construction, audio therapy, and other activities that the artist has found to raise clients’ self-esteem over the past thirteen years of practice.
Throughout the history of the project documentary photographs and video capture the ‘Model Search’ conducted in conjunction with the performance. Verene’s team of "Group Facilitators" consisting of young teenagers and adults respond to advertisements placed by models in search of work, and the images made with them are some of the projects most powerful. Also featured are collaborative works that Verene did with artist Christian Holstad.
Several of Verene's self-esteem staff members began working on this piece as teenagers, and have grown to adulthood while participating in the work. The experience must be seen to be believed. Some compare it to going to a church, others say it was like a family reunion, still others say it was like going to a very modest orgy. All descriptions are true, as the performers carefully structure the client's experience around what they believe he or she needs to have happen at that moment in the client's life.
The Self-Esteem Salon’s past celebrity attendees include: John Waters, Matthew Modine, Harmony Korine, Sarah Jessica Parker, Matthew Broderick, Baby Jane Holzer, and Amy Arbus (daughter of Diane Arbus), who have all have been involved in one or more performance cycles. The Whitney Museum of Art hosted the piece during its Biennial in 2000, as has Christie's Auction House, and New York’s notorious Chelsea Hotel in New York for a week in 2005.
Verene first gained significant recognition in 2000 for his participation in the Whitney Biennial and an extensive catalog published by Twin Palms Press. Verene’s work is in the collection of The Whitney Museum; The Metropolitan Museum of Art; The Jewish Museum; The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; The Walker Art Center; The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; and The Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago, among others. In 2001, Verene was the recipient of the first Pollock / Krasner award given for photography. Verene’s work has been featured in ARTFORUM, Art In America, ArtNews, The New York Times, The Village Voice, Vanity Fair, Parkett, Harper’s, Vogue, and The New Yorker. Verene earned his BFA from Emory University in Atlanta, and his MFA from Georgia State University in Atlanta. He lives and works in Brooklyn with his wife, Ani Cordero, who doubles as the director of the performance, and their son, Nico.


Appointments are $99.00, and can be made via e-mail or phone:
and via Postmasters Gallery: 212-727-3323 or
Cleopatra’s, Brooklyn:

Appointments available for you or to give as a gift.
Walk-In appointments available as time permits.

What do you get for $99.00? 


The project is something like a day spa, a short time spent in therapy that will have positive results on one's personal life. The artist and his staff of "Group Facilitators" welcome visitors and clients throughout the duration of the piece, offering a variety of public and private experiences including:

  • cognitive therapy
  • massage (touch and non-touch)
  • costume construction
  • audio therapy
  • portrait photography.
  • Clients will receive a signed Chris Verene photographic proof set, valued at $2,500.

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