~FEAR EATS THE SOUL, yes it does . . .

The scene in Natori, JAPAN, reflected the paralysis across the country on Sunday March 13, 2011.


GAVIN BROWN’S enterprise – the show is up thru APRIL 16, 2011

inside the installation – after the packed opening nite crowd – had subsided.
so mysterious, so eeire, and that was before Japan – blew up. F- E- A-R.

so, of course the big global disaster in Japan that racked and reeled our world, happened pretty much one week to the day after the RIRKRIT TITAVANIJA opening. I was going to file this post – more opening nite pix – originally as: ‘blockbuster’ – but that seemed a poor way to go – after the events of last week unfolded.

I was speechless, yeah I know. too stunned to write. artlovers has many fans and friends in Japan. that red-haired girl above – could be one – the photo hit home in a most terrible way.

mostly I thought about how the greatest art – always touches the soul of the times. and sometimes literally.
how artists are and always have been shamans.
I felt overwhelming that a show that got titled: ‘FEAR EATS THE SOUL’, instead of, for example: come eat Thai soup – at my Soup Kitchen – hit a raw nerve, a live-wire before anyone knew it was all gonna blow . . . how does an artist do that – pull the magic out of the air . . . like that. just like an ole-time diviner . . .
just like SHEPARD FAIREY did. when he opened his NYC solo show at JEFFREY DEITCH last year, and titled it ‘MAY DAY’ – as in S.O.S – right smack on the cusp of that big BP oil spill.

and that’s really it – but it’s so hard to get your – modern ‘no-frills’ brain around it.
the best artists in this century – and I guess like going back forever – they do divine, not just define – our world. and that is why from the earliest times and unbelievably so even in our skeptical times – artists are shamans.
and RIRKRIT TRIVANIJA is a shaman. conceptual artist yes. shaman yes. can you put that on your resume ?

the opening nite crowd . . .

yes, the show is a blockbuster – both conceptually & production-wise.
it had the magic of ‘creative visionary architecture’ even before the events in Japan unfolded . . . . the kind of creative architecture – that leads to creative thinking that NICOLAI OUROUSSOFF is always going on about in the New York Times. it had stand-alone magic. makes-you-think bout what-you-feels magic. . . that creeps into your total knowledge without your quite stopping to wonder why or internally process.

. . . even before it had tsunami realism. this was one pit stop – that spoke to a FEAR – that absolutely manifested – after the fact.

what Rirkrit had conjured – was not just a pretty candlelight opening – he had torn down a formal white box structure and made a make-shift shelter.

a communal meeting place: with a soup kitchen ladling out free food . . . an art gallery (or ‘bank’ – more on that later), and a T-shirt shop – that both clothed and informed you – a kind of walking newspaper.

just like what could happen next: be it intergalactic space travel on the low-down or apocalyptic calamity here on earth – and, yeah Rirkrit: got it down – right.

in the aftermath of the opening . . .

I mean it is: a blockbuster literally.
Gavin and Rirkrit tore the entire guts out of the entire block long GBE empire. completely destroyed that white box. de-construction. down with boxes. oh yeah, I loved it. I loved it beyond the beyond. . . beyond I have words for.
even before it had a meaningful real-time context . . .
or better said: when its meaning was just in your head . . .

oh my god seriously: talk about de-construction.

it’s hard to destroy that white box & still show art !! think on that.
and this installation ?- like a small movie set within a white gallery take-down, like nesting Russian folk art eggs . . .

had its very own art gallery . . . really a kind of ‘art – bank’.
a stamp-sized one albeit, a cube. but a plywood cube. and all better for it . . . all for the good.
if that art inside – comes with the plywood square it’s housed in – I’m buying the whole damn thing . . . GAVIN BROWN letters – in black – on the outside glass, and all !!
behind that back wall – a back office, of course.

. . . and a god-damn T-SHIRT shop, on the other side of the right wall.

Rirkrit – so funny.

and, not just any T-SHIRT SHOP – an active custom silk screen shop with like 24 choices – of slogans – to print on your shirt.
$20 a pop.
T-SHIRT SHOP: THURS, FRI, SAT. 10a – 6p. MARCH 5 – APRIL 16, 2011.
yes of course. all the slogans are political. tabloid global headlines for the alternative consciousness – even before Japan . . . took the big hit. and all of a sudden . . . these silk-screen slogans – assumed a deeper life.


JACK TILTON – in the T-SHIRT SHOP – on opening nite . . .

besides being a big player in the auctions, and back offices – Jack Tilton has also spent a lot of time in China – promoting the big $$ art game – over there. he even knows Alfredo Martinez from Alfredo’s days over there.
even has a few of his pieces.
(wonder what he thought of Rirkrit’s art gallery – Mao and all ?)

on the left . . legendary 80s art wheeler-dealer/curator, MUDD Club co-founder – DEIGO CORTEZ.

and then, of course there was the soup kitchen – with its separate entrance . . .

where you could find RIRKRIT TIRAVANIJA, himself in rose-colored glasses !! – ladling out yum Thai soup and BBQ pork.
and you begin to see – what I mean about blockbuster ?

behind it all – was this great humbleness – a raw-ness – directly opposed to the original architectural premise of the gallery.
a make-shiftness . . . both in terms of an actual – emergency shelter . . .
and conceptually – from a ‘viewing’ to a ‘being-in’ . . . makeshift-ness.
a great ingenuity – that spoke both to breaking it all down, yes. and building it all up, down-scale.

from ‘elite’ to ‘communal’ – in a nutshell.

busting through – that god damn white box. I’m so tired of those white boxes.

and probably this is – pretty much, what is – gonna happen in Japan . . .
all the displaced and homeless people are going to take over whatever structures that are still standing – and will turn them into simple communal shelters.

the night of the opening – you didn’t even have that nightmare scenario – to contemplate. and, still you got it.
does Rirkrit, being from Thailand – does that give him special insight . . . into the future . . of global wipe-out.

at any rate – he is the King of Plywood – if you were lucky you also caught – the life-size apartment – he re-created, working shower and all, at GBE on 15th street – back in the day – when gentrification was the headline.
Rirkrit Tiravanija: the king of conceptional art – the shaman . . .

pre-Japan. he didn’t even know to – what exactly, was he addressing his shelter – except he seemed to see it comin . . .

the gallery’s whole front exhibition space – was no more.
in its place stood a huge open, almost entirely empty communal room – with a long communal table – on which people could eat and drink . . . and have shelter.
and maybe sleep, bring their sleeping bags. if their homes were destroyed . . .
in the communal room – there was no electric light – only candles . . .
just the way it is – in many places in Japan, now.

‘outta the dark and into the light’. . .

walking upon this unlit empty scene – for a gallery opening – was very provoking.
it was dark. only light with the flash.

was a way station – no matter how you cut it. a spiritual way station on the cultural grid . . .
“California dreaming I got you in a day . . . stopped into a church along the way, well I got down on my knees and I began to began to pray.” – THE MOMMAS & POPPAS

. . . I didn’t just know exactly how much of a church, my kind of church – this crazy far-out pit stop for the weary – was – and I bet neither did anybody else . . . though obviously Rirkrit knew it’s time – was coming . . . just not, exactly last week.
in Japan.


right to the very last. drip.