Remember when Max Fish bizarrely popped up at Art Basel? Now a version of its Lower East Side neighbor, Katz’s, has done the same thing. No, this isn’t one of the delicatessen’s artistic dalliances. It’s actually a bootleg Katz’s—a “reappropriation,” if you will— where portraits of art-world big-ups hang on the Wall of Fame.
The installation is up through Sunday at the Hester Street Fair Gift Shop at the Deauville Beach Resort, where the NADA fair is also happening. Laila Gohar, a cook and artist, and Nikki Cohen, an events producer, created it as a nod to all the delis that have closed in Miami over the years.
Gohar, a Nolita resident, lived in Miami for a decade. “I noticed that the Jewish delis over here have all disappeared due to the gentrification that happens around the fair and other factors,” she told us, citing bygone spots like Wolfie’s, Pumpernick’s, Junior’s, and Corky’s. As a cheeky nod to the problem she and Cohen composed a fake press release declaring that “KATZ’S MIAMI BEACH IS CLOSING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”
They also ordered 15 pounds of pastrami from Katz’s and created a 200-square-foot reproduction of the deli. On the wall: “signed” photos of art critic and renowned Basel troll Jerry Saltz; his Twitter nemesis, MoMA PS1 director Klaus Biesenbach; gallerists like Jeffrey Deitch; artists like Donald Judd; and even politicians like Hillary and Bernie (mercifully, no Trump).
Just one problem: Katz’s caught wind of the project. “They found out about it and called me and my partner and were really upset with us,” Gohar said. That’s not exactly surprising. The installation was even offering faux Katz’s t-shirts, complete with a modified version of the deli’s motto: “Send a Salami to Your Boy at the Beach.”
Luckily, Katz’s warmed to the project when Gohar explained that the not-for-profit venture was “like, you know, when Andy Warhol did the Campbell’s soup thing.” The deli even agreed to chip in another 15 pounds of meat. It’s now being given away, from around noon to 2pm, in the form of sandwiches that, naturally, are a bit smaller than Katz’s size. After all, this is Basel and those gutbombs do not make for an alluring poolside look.