Paola Pivi at Galerie Perrotin, or Why New York Is Still an Art World Epicenter
September 19, 2013

Admittedly, the night started rather timidly.  Inaugurating Galerie Perrotin's New York space was an exhibition by Italian artist, Paola Pivi.  Working in a variety of forms, Pivi's work is visually stimulating, yet also conceptually provocative.  Eight polar bear sculptures in adorable poses, adorned in brightly colored feathers (that remind me of the natty material that Sesame Street muppets are made of), fill the ground floor of the gallery.  

Pivi's blue cash machine

On the lower level, Money machine (true blue, baby I love you) (2013) is on display, harking back to the building's past life as a bank.  Meant to be interactive, the box emits money at certain moments--coins being violently pinged onto the ground, and bills fluttering out.  No instructions as to how to engage with the work exist, except for the wall text that reads: "Caution: Money is spit out every minute.  The money can be taken away or left to pile up.  This artwork should be a public artwork.  The gallery cannot be held responsible for any gains or injuries caused by the machine."   I saw a handful of cautiously lingering visitors, walking around the structure, and staring at the coins on the ground.  

Ceci n'est pas un Pivi Bear

Pivi's cash machine piece may have been strangely representative of the night to come, as I was whisked away in an awaiting car to the Russian Tea Room.  Hundreds of guests were already there, celebrating Perrotin's first foray into the New York brick-and-mortar gallery scene, feasting on degustations and free-flowing libations, marveling at the decor (that included a gigantic translucent polar bear-shaped aquarium filled with goldfish) and bopping around to WhoMadeWho.  Leave it to Galerie Perrotin's team to turn the venerable (and perhaps somewhat crusty) Russian Tea Room into a hip place to see and be seen.

Creating a Bakhtinian carnival (ironically only for the well-heeled), the top floor of the venue had been turned into an Art Carnival Park, where Perrotin's stable of A-list artists pitched in to help with the festivities.  Artists that included Daniel Arsham, Johan Creten, Damien Hirst, JR, KAWS, Jean-Michel Othoniel, and Takashi Murakami were each given a booth that featured a game or activity featuring their iconic work, many of which were manned by the artists themselves.  Guests milled around the temporary tattoo booth of Creten and Othoniel, the claw crane machine filled with Murakami's stuffed smiling flowers, and Hirst's booth manned by his staff who aided in the creation of spin drawings.  I couldn't help but think that even when the capitalist art market claims to have become global, New York remains an epicenter for the art world, judging by the splashy evening the gallery hosted on the debut of its New York space.

My outfit is courtesy of NotEqual, sublimely innovative garments designed by Fabio Costa and Rebecca Diele.
Photos below are courtesy of Sayaka Toyama (who blogs about art and culture in Japanese here).