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Posts Tagged ‘Villa Gillet’

Put Up This Wall!

April 26, 2011 | by

A screenshot of Salty slapping Dan Safer.

Last Saturday evening, before a small audience gathered in the Invisible Dog Art Center in Brooklyn, a man named Salty repeatedly slapped a man named Dan.

“Less on the chin, more on the cheek!” cried Dan Safer, a choreographer, standing inside the masking-taped square that had been marked off as the stage and steeling himself for yet another blow. With a red bandanna tied around his neck, Safer sported muttonchops, a handlebar mustache, and tattoos that ran the length of his arms.

The fellow named Salty obliged, smacking Safer again and again until Safer’s face turned bright red and he grew dizzy, widening his stance to stable himself. “I love you!” blurted Salty, a slight blond figure in maroon corduroys and a yellow-and-blue-striped tie, after landing a particularly fierce slap.

“How we doing on time there, Rob?” Safer now asked of Rob Spillman, editor of Tin House and the emcee of the night’s event, programmed by the French cultural institute Villa Gillet for an ongoing series called Walls and Bridges. Spillman had been conscripted as timekeeper for the current “piece.” He stood off to the side, a reluctant accomplice in this sustained act of public sadomasochism.

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Nan Goldin

April 21, 2011 | by

“Nan one month after being battered, 1984” © Nan Goldin.

Nan Goldin is running late. On a Thursday evening in the Theresa Lang Center, in a New School building on West 13th Street, the crowd—close to a hundred people—is growing restless. At the front of the room at a long plastic table, the other panelists have assembled: Benjamin Walker, the moderator and host of WFMU’s “Too Much Information”; author Lynne Tillman, whose petite frame is overwhelmed by an explosion of dark curls; French philosopher Ruwen Ogien, whose wisps of gray hair are messy and front-swept; French professor of aesthetics Carole Talon-Hugon, whose jet-black hair is combed back and secured with a leopard-print scarf; and a neatly dressed woman who is later revealed to be Talon-Hugon’s translator. A laptop on the table is connected to a large projection screen hanging above the stage. A folder is open on the computer, and file names are visible; the JPEGs have titles like “skinheadshavingsex.”

Goldin is probably best know for The Ballad of Sexual Dependency, a collection of her photographs documenting her life and the lives of her friends—homosexuals and junkies, the poor and the marginalized—in the New York of the late seventies and early eighties. In one, titled “Nan one month after being battered,” Goldin faces the camera straight on; she’s wearing bright red lipstick, and her left eye is filled with blood, the area below it bruised a sickening brown. When Goldin arrives around 6:40 P.M., I find myself checking the face of the woman now walking toward the front of the room against my memory of the photograph. Her career is both remarkable and frightening for having provided everyone in the audience with that image as a point of comparison. She sits down and is immediately, endearingly apologetic.

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Staff Picks: Alcoholics Anonymous, Hollywood Star Whackers

December 17, 2010 | by

Clancy Martin. Photograph by David Eulitt.

The cover story in this month’s issue of Harper’s: “The Drunk's Club,” by Clancy Martin. An irreverent, harrowing, tough-minded account of Martin’s experience in Alcoholics Anonymous, which he describes (characteristically) as “the cult that saved my life.” —Lorin Stein

I’ve begun reading George Gissing’s New Grub Street, a late Victorian novel of the literary demimonde, which one of the characters calls “the valley of the shadow of books.” It’s a grim place: The editors are stupid, the writers are desperate, and everyone seems to live in a garret. A conflict is shaping up between the Pragmatist, who writes for money, and the Idealist, who writes for love. But Gissing was a Realist—which means, I think, there will be no happy ending for Literature. —Robyn Creswell

Pick up the January issue of Vanity Fair with Johnny Depp on the cover. Look at all the beautiful people. Then turn to page sixty-four, and read about the delusional world of Randy and Evi Quaid. The two are racked with debt and living out of a Prius in Canada. They are convinced they are being hunted by an anonymous group called “the Hollywood Star Whackers” and that Randy’s royalty checks are being funneled into an account under the name of “Ronda L. Quaid.” Says Randy to the reporter: “I guess I’m worth more to ’em dead than alive.” —Thessaly La Force

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