It’s one of the media events of the fall season—and just about everyone involved is wearing fur.
Simmer down, PETA!
They’re animals: shrew moles, Arctic foxes, Northern River otters, and the like. Hundreds of them, in seven-by-ten-inch gouache-and-ink drawings by Amy Jean Porter that line the walls at the Debs & Co. gallery in Chelsea—and they all have urgent media messages to deliver, as noted on each artwork in neat cursive handwriting:
“Lil’ Kim is the new Cher.” “When it comes to weekend getaways, location is everything.” “An ordinary face is great.” “Sexy, short, pop, sport—these are the themes that resonate right now.” And so on.
The lines, explains Porter—who works at the Yale University Art Gallery—are lifted from newspapers and magazines (in fact, that vacation doozy comes from this very publication). “For this project, I learned to read in a very special, stupid way,” she says. “From Stuff to The New Yorker, there are these lovely declarative statements, which are brilliantly absurd.” The Technicolor-textbook charm of the guileless woodland creatures combines with the text snippets to form an oddly compelling, entirely unexpected critique of media culture.
For navel-gazing editors and writers, the show’s meta-meaning makes the gallery (at 525 West 26th Street), where the show is up until October 18, the hot car-service destination of the moment (it helps that Gawker.com’s Choire Sicha is the “Co.” in Debs & Co.). With virtually every A-list publication represented, and wisdom culled from boldfaced bylines like John Hodgman, Karen Durbin, Anthony Lane, and even Anna Wintour (whose editor’s letter yielded that “sexy, short, pop, sport” bit), media types have been obsessively checking out the source list at the front desk.
Says one magazine writer, whose editor friend alerted her to her presence in the show, “I know I’m being made fun of, but, hey, I’m part of a gallery show in Chelsea.” Of course, she adds, “in true Condé Nast fashion, I’ve started feeling competitive—like now I really need my own gallery show!”
Tell it to the short-tailed weasel.