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Haunted: Sue de Beer at the Park Avenue Armory

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The weather outside was indeed frightful, but an undeterred art crowd streamed into the Park Avenue Armory Wednesday night to preview a new film, The Ghosts, by artist Sue de Beer.

The event, hosted by Art Production Fund, Sotheby's, Marianne Boesky Gallery and the Park Avenue Armory, kicks off a four day free-to-the-public viewing of the work. This is the latest presentation by Art Production Fund, made possible with the generous support of Sotheby's.

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The viewing room

Sue de Beer first came to prominence in 2004 with her inclusion in the Whitney Biennial. She has concentrated on giving form to that intense adolescent turmoil that we're all familiar with, modifying conventions of movie making to help make her point. In this latest film, she elevates the emotional investigation to a metaphysical realm while grounding the piece more solidly in what we commonly find in popular movies (e.g. an evident narrative, certain shooting techniques, a sexy soundtrack). This combination leads to a sophisticated middle ground that softens the edges of both art and entertainment, providing a lush, hypnotic and haunting visit into the artist's mind and our own personal psyches that everyone feels welcome to enjoy.

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Praxinoscope detail

And on Wednesday night, the crowd was there to enjoy! Everybody was in great spirits, basking in the uniquely gorgeous and indescribably welcoming atmosphere of the Armory. The historic building, it's décor and ambiance offering the perfect amount of reverence for the occult, is the ideal setting in which to experience Sue's work.

In addition to the film, the show includes sculptural elements installed in various rooms: a modified praxinoscope "fountain" and two light filtering screens, all beautifully echoing scenes from the film. In the Veterans Room, where the film itself is screened, Sue installed a silver shag rug and large silver beanbags. A more appropriate viewing environment one can hardly imagine.

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The modified praxinoscope

Earlier in the day, Sue, who is also an Assistant Professor at NYU, treated her students to a short talk and private viewing. As the evening arrived, she returned glamorous and lovely, graciously enjoying her moment as she greeted guests that included luminaries Calvin Tomkins, Gary Indiana, Glenn O'Brien, Jane Holzer, Roselee Goldberg, Lisa Phillips, and artists Ross Bleckner, Jon Kessler, Chris Astley and Barnaby Furnas (to name just a few!). The only real shame was that Marianne Boesky, her long time dealer, was unable to join in the celebration. She was stuck in an airport somewhere, all flights into New York cancelled because of the weather.

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Sue greeting guests

When the first screening ended, the audience -- enjoying each other's company, cocktails and hors d'oeuvres (courtesy of Sotheby's) -- wandered down the hall into the Board and Officers room, where Andy Comer, whose music punctuates the film, was playing a live set. As the melancholy and mesmerizing sounds filled the room, the damp cold outside suddenly transformed into the ultimate backdrop and everything finally made perfect sense.

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An intrepid art crowd braves the icy rain to see Sue de Beer's "The Ghosts"

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The Park Avenue Armory

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Screen sculpture

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Sue with her students and artist Maureen Gallace

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The opening screening

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Andy Comer's music completes the mood

Photos by James Ewing