While wandering from gallery to gallery yesterday in the Lower East Side, soaking up a pair of museum-like nostalgia exhibitions focusing on at least one part if not all of a few-decades long span from Warhol’s Factory days through the ’90s club kid scene, I started thinking about a conversation I’d had with one JJ Brine, Satanic gallerist extraordinaire. Before JJ took off for Vanuatu (btw according to his Facebook page, he made it just fine), he explained he was departing indefinitely because he was frustrated with what he understood as New York City’s unusual fixation on the past at the expense of devoting energy to the future. I couldn’t have agreed more, but somehow The Last Party and Michael Alig’s appropriately-titled solo exhibition, Inside / Out succeed in drawing a line, however crooked, between the past and the present and making this nostalgia part of current existence. How? Well, I felt as though I could almost see myself in some of the blurry old party photos and even the creepy clown-like painted odes to various poisons of choice.
If you’re around my age, and were an equally uncool child, the nineties were an unmitigated fashion disaster: stretchy black bellbottoms and puffer-jacket vests, and indefensibly ugly platform sneakers (seriously, did you have those in America? Erryone in New Zealand was all about that shit. I blame the Spice Girls). Heck, even Carrie Bradshaw was making someway out weird fashion choices. But Maureen Callahan clearly has a different recollection of the era, and has published a book to prove it. In Champagne Supernovas! she presents a look at the “exciting fashion trends” of the 90s (what could this mean? fashion bindis? mood rings?). Callahan focuses her rose-tinted lenses on Kate Moss, Alexander McQueen and Marc Jacobs: leading lights of the star-studded grunge era, when—apparently—the alternative went mainstream. Callahan will be defending her thesis against Susannah Cahalan, author of Brain on Fire.