If you felt the earth shaking yesterday around 6 p.m., that was The Hole opening its exhibit inspired by Eric Goode’s new book, Area: 1983–1987. Last night, the legendary nightclub’s other creators — Darius Azari, Shawn Hausman, Serge Becker (now of La Esquina, etc.) — mingled with a slew of guests that included Mike D of the Beastie Boys, hoteliers Andres Balazs and Vikram Chatwal, Calvin Klein, and so on. One of the exhibit’s curators, Glenn O’Brien — who penned a great Times piece about the “nightclub that was like art” — floated around. And, of course, our own Cat Marnell showed up on the late side.
The exhibit is a mix of Area artifacts (group photos, posters etc.), artwork that was actually displayed in the club, and some contemporary installations that you’d maybe be able to see in the club today if it hadn’t closed and been turned into pricy apartments. According to the Hole’s owner Kathy Grayson, the curators – including her old boss Jeffrey Deitch – “didn’t want to literally recreate one-to-one what they did back then in a musty nostalgic way.”
That said, there are plenty of throwbacks: Chuck Close’s massive photograph of an uncircumcised penis hangs above bathroom stalls built especially for the exhibit (the toilets don’t actually work, as one person discovered after it was too late).
As you enter the exhibit, there’s a faux supermarket aisle that was inspired, says Grayson, by Area’s “Suburbia” installation (the club, as you’ve probably heard from anyone who pines after the glory days of NYC nightlife, changed its theme every six weeks). Off to the side is one of the contemporary installations: a money booth by Steve Powers and Tom Sachs. Beyond that, on the dance floor, naked folks in masks shimmied next to a DJ booth (also created by Sachs) and there was twerking. Lots of twerking.
There were surprises around every corner: a window in the floor revealed a dominatrix working on her topless client. A face-painted man stuck his head through a hole in the wall, posing as taxidermy. And, though we missed it, we’re told there was a peephole into the Hole’s offices, where everyone was “working” in the nude (the installation, “Naked Office,” was inspired by Andy Warhol’s vatrines).
Oh, and speaking of Andy, earlier today a Warhol impersonator was in the Hole’s window, reproducing the artist’s “Invisible Sculpture” installation for passersby:
Inside, Todd Eberle’s photograph of Warhol’s wig is one of Grayson’s favorite pieces. “You never see color photos of his wig,” she said. “His wig actually had red and black parts.”
Last night, Grayson also enjoyed hearing Chuck Close and Julian Schnabel remember the old days. “It was really inspiring to hear that all these young artists would congregate in different places and discuss art,” she said of the early ’80s. “That’s something I wish was happening more now.”
The discussions we heard last night were more about the topless Suicide Girl types who had been hired to cavort in the bathrooms, but hey – maybe visiting this exhibit during the light of day, without the Jell-O shots made to look like soap, will make for more intelligent banter. You can stop in — and buy a copy of the book — from noon to 7 p.m., through Nov. 10.