I didn’t like museums during the early post-COVID reopenings because instead of relaxing me they reminded me of the sisyphean battle of trying to run one in the era. But even once reservations/mask/vaccine signage was finally over the art was largely boring. Grant-offwritten 2020 protest schmuck and Blendermade blockchain bait. Instagram post as gallery mount.
In the lobby gallery behind the nonextant coffeeshop is Wynnie Mynerva with what New Museum claims is the largest painting they’ve ever displayed. Odd claim. It’s in two parts and I don’t really get it. But behind the painting (through the split between the two parts) is a slender polished pedestal displaying about 1cm of their surgically-removed lower rib.
Those who have visited my apartment late to hang out after certain St. Marks Comedy shows or catsat for me may have discovered in the bookshelves I Am The Strength of Art, a rare photo and interview book by Shannon Larratt documenting ModCon 1999: the extreme body modification convention. Tucked in the endpaper is a VCD (not DVD, VideoCD: the format karaoke machines run on, with 240p video) of live surgeries performed during the event. I have not yet watched the full thing.
The community lives on quietly at bme.com and a few other secret places, though they recently suffered a major server crash and are slowly working their way back. The founder, Shannon Larratt, killed himself after writing a beautiful letter. bme.com was (and for some, I believe, still is) one of very few seriously trusted place to get real information on sex reassignment surgeries. There are great discussions on it. It also documents voluntary limb amputations. Nipple removals. Experimental implants. Some just visit to lurk. Some go just for tattoo inspiration. Some thrive off of performing the surgeries: I’ve heard some of the surgeons who perform eunich surgery will do it free if they can eat the testicles after: a delicacy. It is a real community economy.
I sent the BME folks the rib, some liked it, many didn’t. Is it real? New Museum (and Deborah the security guard I chatted with a while ) both—unprompted—told me yes. I don’t have much of way to verify but she did also sew her vagina nearly shut.
New Museum, Manhattan, NYC
Also head up to the 4th floor for some disturbing machines writhing in and wringing out mud in a sweaty greenroom by Mire Lee, and perfect recreations of vernacular nothingspaces by Pepón Osorio on the 2rd, including an abandoned Philadelphia elementary school. Plus a bomb casing as temple bell on the 3rd.
More on Philly below.
Wonderville, Brooklyn, NYC
Consider a OVCRN beforeparty with type & letters. Part of the Type@Cooper Lecture Series. Hoping this picks up where Cholo Writing left off, or leaves off where it picks up? Honestly I have no idea but I love the connection between scribal blackletter and spraypainterly graffiti. If any of you have a print copy of Cholo Writing to trade, hit me up. Even François told me he’s fresh out.
Media & Fishtown, PA
Internet, filmed upstate I think
Eliana surprised Fripp with a lovely music video to his chipper pain/longing self/other love/hate song Body Work. Fripp reads Geistlist and so do you: art is in the room with us now.
Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NY
Can’t say anything yet but if you're curious what comes after the City Beautiful and City Efficient, or if you like podcasts about your enemies made by your friends: keep this evening free and be near.
The perfect trilogy of narrative embedded correspondence journalism is finally all here.:
I'm linking to each’s original print edition layout in PDF for design and typesetting reasons, but hit me up if you want help finding HTML, audio, plaintext, or expanded versions; or if you want relevant interviews/debates with the authors)