When last week I talked about the provocative performance staged by Marina Abramovic for the MOCA Gala, I sort of expected a good response but still was surprised by the number of emails that you, KCRW's listeners, sent to me. Probably, it has something to do with the title of this last program: When Art and Sex Stare Back at You. Yes, it was a lot of sex and nudity, served figuratively and literally to the Gala guests, who had to stare at naked women spread on the table in front of them. Describing the event on the air, I obviously had to be circumspect, but the revealing photos we put on the KCRW website spoke volumes; these photos must have sealed the deal. And considering that thousands of listeners like you receive my Art Talk newsletter, which always includes images, these photos raised plenty of eyebrows.
Here are some of your smart and naughty comments:
Jack wrote, "What a lot of BS. I thought the whole thing was as close to a circle jerk as possible. . . . frankly the whole event with or without the Abramovic sexpectacle is embarrassing. . ."
Val wrote, "What sexist indulgence. Reminds me of what late Rome must have been like."
Jennifer commented, "I heard your piece last night but I didn't understand what you were describing. Then I read it online and saw the pictures -- wow!"
Johnny wrote, "I heard that MOCA prohibited Marina from using any nude male bodies. . . . (This prohibition is offensive to both sexes. . .). To me, this is the real outrage of the event!"
Marsha wrote, "Loved that all the fancy dressed people had to be all look-a likes! What a great slam!... Interesting that nudity is still a button for people!!"
And here's one from Barbara: "I'm glad I wasn't there to watch another episode of 'I Claudius Back to the Future' or even worse, 'The Emperor's New Clothes.'"
This one, all in caps came from Kimberly, and I saved it for the end: "AWESOME TITLE!!!!!!!!!!"
Not every email tells me that I am the best and the greatest. Here's Dan reprimanding me after I wrote about the exhibition at Blum and Poe:
"I wonder why when writing a review about Chuck Close you had to take a pop shot at Kehinde Wiley. Is Chuck Close without ego? Or are art critics without ego? If you really don't like the work than tell us with a more complete review. Where did you get your degree in psychology? I like Kehinde."
When I ended one of my recent programs cheering for the Los Angeles art scene by saying, "L.A. really rocks!," Marla sent me an email saying, "GREAT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Loved the ending. . . it made me chuckle."
So, once again, I want to tell you, don't be shy, and let me hear from you on both fronts: when you agree with me and when you want to tear me apart. Also, if you once were on my email list and all of sudden stopped getting the Art Talk newsletter -- God knows why this happens -- please let me know so I will be able to take care of this so you'll be back on the bandwagon with other listeners like Marti, who said, "I love your corny presentations. You make art so inviting."
Banner: (L-R) Tilda Swinton; Debbie Harry cake; Marina Ambramovic and Debbie Harry with cake covered fingers; All images at 2011 MOCA Gala and by Getty Images for MOCA
Edward Goldman is an art critic and the host of "Art Talk," a program on art and culture for KCRW 89.9 FM. To listen to the show and hear Edward's charming Russian accent, visit Art Talk on KCRW.