Arts Beat, Of Wine and Cyanide in Queens Plaza Gentrifying Museum of Fake Art
Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press: On the Arts Beat
LONG ISLAND CITY, NY,
October 14 -- Getting off the N train at Queens Plaza, coming from Astoria,
thank you, and not from Manhattan, there were arrows written in chalk on the
sidewalk, pointing east to "MOFA." That'd be the Museum of Fake Act, an exhibit
in the 20,000 square foot CivicSpace warehouse donated, as its Space's website
repeats like a mantra,
by "Bill Modell." While the Space's site
he's the chairman of Modell's Sporting Goods, who's jingle in TV ads is "Gotta
go to Mo's!". So, gotta go to MOFA.
is huge, but you had to pay to get in. Fifteen dollars, to be exact, or ten dollars with student i.d.. The price seemed steep for fake art,
but to review correctly, in full LIC anonymity, a decision was made not to claim
press or reviewer status. The first piece involved headphones in plastic bowls
on top of large wedding like cakes. This reviewer's companion, noted artist and
late-night French fry eater, asked, "Can you taste it?" A watcher of the piece
shook her head, pointed at other small cakes on the side which, she said, could
be eaten. But that's not as fun. Which one if fake?
next where Christmas lights spread out on the dirty mattress of a fold-out
couch. Fire hazard or symbol of self-flagellation? At least to this reviewer,
the piece was reminiscent of defunct South
Bronx gallery Fashion
Moda's presentation of rotting tenement accoutrements as art, which left most
Bronx viewers baffled and/or insulted. At the CivicSpace in a side room, bloody
boot prints and the guilty Timberlands themselves. A laptop showing an image of
a milk-engorged cow from behind. In the middle of the room, an atonal band
played, or played at playing, with xylophone, strings and lead vocalist who
paced back and forth with a microphone. There was, as advertised, free wine,
poured from bottles painted gold into plastic cups, next to a tip jar.
the French fry expert had enough, and went and got a refund from what can be
described as a quivering hipster. "But he had wine," the woman at the door said,
pointing at this reviewer. It ended up being a five dollar plastic cup of wine.
But there was at least one justifying jolting piece, of crystals in Petrie
dishes with a caption about a "late" doctor having progressed from a work called
"Salt Lick" to a project about cyanide. "Late means he's dead," someone said.
"Art is more than just ideas," snarked the French fry. In the three-way
Subway-slash-chicken place under the El, the fries were short, thin and hot.
Quivering hipster in LIC CivicSpace
surrounding area is undergoing rapid gentrification, of which MOFA and the
CivicSpace are inevitably a part. Kristina "Kristy" Schopper, co-founded of The
Space in 2001, told Newsday at that time,
"We don't have coffee shops. There's no
place to hang out on the street." She moved to LIC in 1999, had her car broken
into, hooked up somehow with Gotta Go To Mo's. Then in 2002, the Museum of
Modern Art decided on Long Island City's Swingline Stapler factory for its
relocation space during the three-year rehab of its East 53rd Street Manhattan
Inner City Press' review of
MoMA's screening last week of the Catalan films of Pere Portabella.]
The rest is history. Now
there's a Starbucks in Queens Plaza right under the El, and fancy apartment
buildings half a block away. The United Nations will be relocating many staffers
to Long Island City during the "Capital
Master Plan" renovation of its
12 acre campus across the East River. Citigroup is opening a "green-certified"
office tower, and the
local business association is ecstatic.
Even sporting goods magnate Bill Modell never played hide the ball, so to
speak. Back in 2002, he told Crain's New York Business that "the artists know
they will eventually move." Soon all the real creative types will be priced out,
leaving only the Fake. You can reverse-follow the arrows, but the wheels of time
do not turn back.
* * *
Question: Is the above the plan for the
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