At the Armory show, there is this installation of a very long bookshelf, the books on it arranged alphabetically, all the books part of the same "After Dark" series, the name of a various city and then the words "After Dark," sometimes real ridiculous cities that you would not imagine to be included in such a series. I am now wishing that I had asked the people in this particular booth more questions about the work, as now that I am googling it, I am unable to find out answers to particular questions I am having about the work and the books. The work is by Richard Prince, something I did not know when I first encountered it and was so drawn to it. I am glad I did not know that, as the name has a lot of baggage and I've never been able to really get into his work before and so probably would have dismissed this "After Dark" piece as another work I didn't really get from this big name artist. However, there is something quite beautiful about this piece, all of these individual books with absurd captions on the front cover, a fake library, an imagined one.
One such caption for a city I can't remember, perhaps "Bangalore After Dark," went something like this (a game of telephone happening here with me not remembering the caption at all, only its punchline): "The student became deeply uncomfortable and asked the professor to repeat his statement. 'The sun and life will die out in a billion years.' The student breathed a sigh of relief and said, "You're really had me worried. I thought you said a million years.'"
I am seeing in some basic googling now that Prince did a series of paintings based on these paperback After Dark books that he had been collecting about various cities. My question however is about the books in the piece. They all seem manufactured for this particular work, the captions too absurd, the price of the paperbacks too low for the new condition of the books. I have so many questions about this work that will probably always go unanswered now, the likelihood of me returning to the Armory show this weekend very slim. And so my reading of this, the associations I am attaching to it, may be wrong. These may be found objects arranged on a bookshelf, not the imagined, fanciful series that really touches me.
There are some really striking works in the exhibition, but I got the same feeling I get every year going to this show, and after about an hour of looking at work I became less and less receptive to the things, gave each piece less and less time to make an impression on me before I moved on the next booth, the next gallery, the next works of art. From there, I went to the Scope art fair, and now feel thoroughly exhausted with visual art for a while, especially with having attended the Whitney Biennial a week ago. I have seen some nice things, have a feel for what certain artists are doing, have some new names of people to look for in group shows, and that is it. I was with a boy today and that is probably more what I will remember about this day in some distant future day, walking around these covered piers with Jacob and looking at things, and sharing the only empty chair in the cafe area so we could try to sit and drink a coffee.
I saw this other boy I used to sleep with there, also this young boy, also 20 I believe. I saw him in the Peres Projects booth (typical) where Terrence Koh had a couple pieces. He was with some other boy and was slightly cunty, perhaps for good reason, perhaps I was an asshole to him some time ago. I thought about age briefly, about boys, about paths crossing, and then said "nice seeing you," the politest way of escaping a situation, starting to roll the credits.