The Armory Show, New York

Visited the annual Armory Show at Piers 90 and 94. Ticket prices were outrageous but I managed to slip inside with somebody else’s credentials. The brittle energy of coronavirus anxiety commingled with ritualized decadence. Face masks and champagne stations. New York declared a state of emergency this morning, yet no matter where I walked I ruined somebody’s selfie.

The Armory is an art shopping mall. Nothing can be contemplated, only absorbed as spectacle. Aerial photographs of Texas slaughterhouses with chemicals draining into bloody pools. Claymation creatures engaged in rough sex. Op-art with humming colors on sale for $350,000 a pop. Large-scale acrylic paintings of internet memes. Marie Kondo gripping a pistol. And so many garbled images stuck in the past, relitigating national memories: George McGovern and Gone With the Wind, Jackie Kennedy and vintage supermarket logos.

A gilded sign asked, “What’s happening after the apocalypse?” A crowd gathered around video footage of a flooded museum because we like to watch things get destroyed.

Neon letters near the bar spelled out believe and lie. Gallery owners sat in mid-century chairs, heads hung over their phones. I pondered the posture we acquire when looking at art, hands behind our backs and chins slightly tilted while saying things like derivative and contrived. This felt like the last days of something.


John Maus – The Combine

From Screen Memories | Ribbon Music, 2017 | Bandcamp

A reverberated voice intones I see the combine coming, it’s gonna dust us all to nothing to a big synthy 1980s beat. Also worth highlighting: a screen memory is a distorted visual memory; the term was introduced by Sigmund Freud in 1899.

Each night in 2020, I wrote a short post for a series called Notes From the End of a World because I wanted to etch these days into my memory. Before the world changed completely.
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