[October 29 2015]
Manhandler’s soup! Old fashioned soup! Little Frankfurters in slices, added whole milk, great for gravies: soup, soup, soup! It smells like Guerlain’s Shalimar in the alcove of the newly opened Warhol exhibition at MAMVP, as heavily frocked ladies from the 16éme arrondissement circle screen printed canvasses with curious distance, nodding their final and canonical approval of the repetitive portraits, shadow sketches, and gleams of video that open the show. Past a wall of Warhol himself are a slew of silent and flickering screen tests: Edie Sedgwick front and centre, that sorry stimulant, the epitome of sad. A close-up of her soft features and heavy mind stares invasively back at the viewer, mouth closed and eyes wide open. It’s written somewhere that she’s a readymade. A blink interrupts and her particular screen shifts to Niki de Saint Phalle, whose joie de vivre uplifts the energy, still bearing that solemnity, that certain je ne sais quoi that French women have to them. Elsewhere: Taylor Mead, Ingrid Superstar, Gerard Malanga (his furrowed brow makes me blush), Ann Buchanan with black eyes muted and crying, John Giorno, Freddy Herko, Baby Jane Holzer (incredible as always!), Nico, Lou Reed, Duchamp Dali Dylan Dennis Hopper…. A room of factory acquaintances, which ends in the tantalizing gaze of Mario Banana (#1 & 2). Those gaudy pearls hanging limp around an alabaster neck; that feather headdress fastened with what looks like a diamond-clad daisy. White, satin gloves unabashedly peeling a banana skin slowly off its body, heavy lids painted inky black gazing down in subtle seduction (or just hunger). Suddenly, from here, it all ends again: the next rooms are death and decay, electric chairs, and boxes of Brillo to mop it all up; Jackie O smiling, Jackie looking down, Jackie in blue beige white and black in front of crowds and military alike. Lone Jackie in a circular frame strikes the most. A plaque somewhere introduces the whole Factory crowd as “scholarly drunks” (aren’t we all?) before wandering into an unconvincing acid hut playing The Velvet Underground to the tune of disco lights. It’s supposed to be a—quote—sado-masochistically inflicted sensory experience. The dulcet strains of Nico’s voice. The purple strobes. Silver ottomans to sit on while watching an empty club (?) go by. It’s a prodrome to what comes next: an eight-hour looped screening of Empire, or in other words, boredom in its total state, or an eerie and early premonition of what looking at art feels like most days now. But there’s a luxury to wasting time in such ways, particularly under the pressured pace of fair season, and bouncing silver balloons in the next room, or standing amidst monotonous rows and flows of flowers and Mao’s or wandering through a tunnel, a long corridor, a curving never-ending room of 108 abstract works (shadows) all stand to show this. In my notes I jotted down, ‘eyewash makes everything disappear’, though I’m not entirely sure why: perhaps I was onto the neutralizing forces of white-washed museum walls, or the way that given some time, intended sentiments tend to dilute or wash away. All in all though, Warhol Unlimited gives an unlimited amount of space and time for yourself if you resign to it, as a slow show of blankness and repetition, unfolding in solidly blocked rooms of elation and sadness and paranoia and lamentation alike.
Text and photo Sabrina Tarasoff