Saturday, August 18, 2007
Photo credit: Kristy Leibowitz (boys)
I thought that it would be appropriate to comment on the recent installation piece, “Nest” at Deitch Projects by Dan Colen and Dash Snow, on the day it closes.
The press release accompanying the work, declared it “[a] contemporary answer to a ‘happening’” and an affirmation of freedom of expression,” while the participants themselves see it as a tribute to counterculture heroics.
Indeed, the organized shredding and installation within gallery walls of 2,500 NYC city phone books is incredibility subversive…or is it?
The “Hamster Nest,” which is the culmination of “performances” in various hotel rooms across the world by Snow, Colen, photographer Ryan McGinley (who is not listed as a creative on this installation but runs with their crew) and their friends, started out as little more than the juvenile trashing of hotel rooms, while high on various drug cocktails.
The premise is simple: get a bunch of people together, shred some phone books, and then, “you do as many drugs as you can do within the Hamster’s Nest and you really try to be a hamster […] and then you get naked,” says Snow.
The work (which I admittedly haven’t seen except in pictures), seems like an interesting premise. In execution and display however, it seems to exist somewhere between a snuff-film-lite (hinting at violence and tragedy, but never really delivering) and an annual frat-house party for the art-set; staged for the still shots.
Perhaps more than that though, it really comments on the need to occupy oneself when fucked up. Because when looking at the pictures, that is what it really looks like: the obsessive need to move whilst on a mélange of mind-altering substances. And tearing up phone books and decorating walls with numbingly boring graffiti like “I might not go down in history, but I’ll go down on your sister,” is probably as much fun as anything else. Sprinkle it with a smattering of fame, and the legitimacy of an art pedigree (Colen and Dash both show with Saatchi; Colen has sold work for $500,000) and voila: sublime degradation. While exhibiting a “Nest” in a gallery space is nothing more than the articulation of a collective lust for the excesses of youth and the thrill of voyeurism.
It also bears mentioning that Dash Snow is genuine art-world royalty. His maternal grandmother is a De Menil. His mother made headlines a few years ago for charging what was then the highest rent ever asked on a house in the Hamptons: $750,000 a season. And his brother, Maxwell Snow, is a budding member of New York society who has dated Mary-Kate Olsen. Plus his aunt, founded the Dia Art Foundation…and his family endowed the Rothko Chapel in Texas.
That being said, it forces one to truly consider the context. Not to mention the underpaid gallery bitch that’ll be bagging up the “Nest,” or casting it in resin as artifacts of a lost age or some other delightful bullshit that will surely be available for aquisition.
But perhaps Snow says it best: “The point of the Hamster’s Nest...”“It’s not like you break anything. It’s just really a task.”
For more info on these artists follow these links:
Saatchi Interview with Dan Colen: http://www.saatchi-gallery.co.uk/blogon/2006/07/dan_colen_interviewed_and_in_t.php
NY Magazine article about Dash Snow: http://nymag.com/arts/art/profiles/26288/
Slate article about Ryan McGinley: http://www.slate.com/id/2168746/slideshow/2168780/fs/0//entry/2168781/