"I don't want to talk about the clothes," Tara Subkoff said at her presentation/art installation at Bortolami Gallery in Chelsea. Fair enough. The title of Subkoff's happening was "This Is Not a Fashion Show," so the usual requests for inspiration were, by definition, out of place. An a cappella girls choir in nude bodysuits and red lips greeted guests with a tweaked version of "Carol of the Bells" (it was hard to hear what the new lyrics were, but it felt very uncool to ask), and in the main gallery space women of all ages and dimensions played dress-up in front of individual mirrors. Every performer had her own wall text—this was a proper gallery show, to be sure—and, selecting from the piles of clothes at their feet, each dressed and undressed. They preened, pouted, and experimented (one grandmother-age performer tried on a patent bolero as a hat); in short, all the things women do when they're alone in front of a mirror.

In the back, a video of Vanessa Beecroft, very pregnant and nude save a pair of heels, played on a loop. An equally naked troupe of women offered up glass masks that Subkoff had created (along with glass vaginas) during an artist's residency in Venice this summer. The masks were marked with a plastic surgeon's suggested lifts and nips, and the women genuflected in front of projected images of skinny models and magazine covers—the usual begetters of low self-esteem. "I wanted people to experience what women go through when they get dressed," Subkoff explained. "The clothes are not the point. I couldn't think of a clearer way of saying that than by putting them on the floor." While a few viewers may not have gotten it ("This is getting bizarre," a young man noted as a performer stripped back down to her bodysuit), Subkoff succeeded in creating a hypnotic mood. As for the clothes, they were entirely beside the point. Pity the photographers who tried to capture each look.