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Herr Zeitgeist

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Biesenbach filled plastic cups and made introductions. Something—the opening, the alcohol, the excitement of the past few weeks, or the promise of the years to come—had made him giddy. “Look,” he said to me, gripping Performa founder RoseLee Goldberg around her tiny waist. “This is how curators fight.” He planted a noisy kiss on her cheek and she giggled. “Oh, Klaus.”

He ordered the music dimmed, and Goldberg launched into a speech about the past few weeks of Performa, but before long, Biesenbach commandeered the floor. His face was flushed and his forehead was sweating lightly under the harsh fluorescence.

“A few days ago, I saw Mike Kelley embarrassing himself in Judson Memorial Church,” says Biesenbach. A few people laughed: Kelley had presented three performance pieces based on found photographs of extracurricular activities from high-school yearbooks.

“And I think the space where you embarrass yourself …. ” He looked down at his drink, and then back up again. “That’s the space of P.S.1. That’s where we should be.”

From across the room, Goldberg murmured: “The school for scandal.” Biesenbach looked at her and nodded. “The school of embarrassment. That’s the right place.”


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