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July 29 2014

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Vanessa And Kanye Get Metaphysical

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Instead of hitting up a slew of Armory parties Friday night, I undertook the Odyssean trek (for a Manhattanite, at least) to Deitch Studios’ Long Island City outpost. The occasion was the inaugural New York performance of Vanessa Beecroft’s VB64, for which none other than friend/collaborator Kanye West made an appearance. Beecroft, who’s been using humans in oft-nude, stamina-requiring works for over 15 years, first put on the performance in a Sicilian church in 2008. For
VB64—a video projection of which (produced by the aforementioned rapper) will be screened until mid-April—Beecroft used 20 live female models. The majority of the women, she told Style.com, were intentionally African-American and “not too big and not too small.” Painted from head-to-toe in white body makeup, they assumed a variety of sculptural positions (I spotted the famed “Venus Pudica,” among other sculptural icons) alongside an installation of 19 sculptures based on casts of live women. “The references for the piece belong to my background and culture,” Beecroft explained. “When you are raised in Italy you are permanently surrounded by classic art—Greek, Roman, Renaissance, Baroque painting and sculptures.” The juxtaposition of the live models and the mannequins, which rested on coffinlike bases, hinted at the notion of what’s real and what’s not, and, further to the point, questioned the difference between life and death.

Photo: Courtesy of Deitch Studios

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Dept. of Culture