The Errorists, Faith in Infrastructure, film still

The Errorists, Faith in Infrastructure, film still

Showing up for a 24 hour conference “on the concept of time,” held the first week year in the middle of the work week does threaten to make one a bit of an art victim*. But school doesn’t start for another two weeks, and I’d cooped myself in all day trying (successfully) to finish a long overdue essay. So I figured I would, as they say, “reward myself.”

The conference is actually still running as I type, but I believe I saw the best slice of it. I came in as Sanford Kwinter was finishing up what sounded like some pretty fetishizing comments about African polyrhythms and the escape from our inner metronome. Primitivism anyone? Still, my inner metronome beat pleasurably to the staccato attack of Drew Daniel’s 25 minute potted history of electronic music, and with the natty red suit he was wearing I think he can officially be dubbed the “smarty pants” of the evening. I also appreciated his salvos into the politics of aesthetics, which no one else I heard got near.

Certainly not Saskia Sassen, the beatific earth goddess of globalization theory. She wandered the stage motivational speaker-style repeating her mantra “Time doesn’t exist. There are only embedded temporalities,” finishing her talk with trippy fractal video by an art group call The Errorists which summed up her basically Deleuzean claims for how even the “immobile disadvantaged” were taking advantage of the way time is now rhizomatically leaking and spilling out of the nation-state.

I wonder what the immobile disadvantaged in Gaza would think about this bloodless portrait of the “denationalizing” now. Oops, did I say something political?

Angela Bulloch, David Grubbs, and band got up and played rock gods in slow-mo, then Shamim Momin invited us to pay no attention to what she was saying, so I went out for coffee.

A young, shirltess Zidane

Zidane, young and shirtless

I was staying up for Simon Critchley, who I have an intellectual crush on. He only has eyes for Zidane, however, and gave a talk about Douglas Gordon and Philippe Parreno’s art film about the retired soccer star, the thesis of which seemed to be: “I love football more than you do.”

After Critchley’s tribute to the “ecstasy of football,” we were treated to an ecstasy flashback when prankster Nate Lowman turned down the lights and played rave music for twenty minutes instead of giving his talk. After that everything sort of went wobbly, but it was one AM so that felt about right.

An unassuming guy named Richard McGuire left the stage a legend thirty minutes after ascending it, having modestly shown how the musical DNA for Melle Mel’s “White Lines” came from his own song “Cavern,” a hat trick he followed up with some pretty groovy animation and brilliant comix he’d tossed off along the way. What, actual talent at a contemporary art shinding?

Yes indeed, and the lilting voice of another unknown to me, Julieta Aranda, followed with another tasty art talk. She ended it with a 35m film that she claimed was rescued World War II-era footage she had found drifting on the beaches of Kiribati, the remote Pacific island nation that had had the international date line moved so that it would officially welcome in the New Millenium first. Only at 2 in the morning could this all sound totally plausible. But the footage was dreamy.

Agathe Snow sold minutes of her life from the stage, but ran out of time. And Vito Acconci, who I had stayed up to see, lurched into what at first looked to be an insufferable architectural firm’s road show, bragging about all sorts of bunions and boils he proposes to foist upon gullible European and Asian cities. But the sheer affable absurdity of the architect-as-performance artist finally won me over. His Steinian sentences produced an air of “stuplimity” (astonishment and fatigue) in the Guggenheim’s underground “culture bunker” (Drew’s phrase).

Acconci’s parting salvo: “You don’t know your ass from a whole in the ground” made the long strange trip worth it, as he read from an unfinished essay that dispensed with pretentious architectural firm speak in order to deliver a fairly convincing description of architecture as the precarious relationship set up between said ass and said whole in the ground.

I clearly do not know my ass from a whole in the ground, because, once Acconci finished up speaking at around 3 AM, I virtuously passed up several empty cabs while hauling ass back to my Brooklyn hole in the ground. It was 5 AM and 4-5 MTA trains later before I collapsed in bed. Those are hours I can never have back.

* “art victim” = see, fashion victim.