THE NEW YORKER
July 20, 1992
Goings On About Town/ART
Upstairs, at Postmasters' "Morality Cafe" (80 Greene St.; through
July 25), Erik Oppenheim's impeccably good manners have given way to the
boiling temperament more closely associated with the art world of the early
seventies. In this show about "ethical decision-making processes,"
John Lekay chose to exhibit, under his own name,
works he owns by his artist friends, and to install Oppenheim in person
as a dealer. Curator Kenny Schachter and the
gallery later objected to the nature and scale of the piece, and to the
presence of Oppenheim. Lekay in turn charged them with trying to interfere
with his artistic process. Hell broke loose when Schachter insisted that
Lekay contain his piece in the space that had been allotted him. With Oppenheim's
encouragement, Lekay went into a frenzy (which he later likened to the artistic
furies of Pollock), destroyed his installation and most of the art within
it, and insisted that the debris remain as his part of the show. Postmasters
agreed, on the condition that the artist not enter the gallery again. Lekay
has added lengthy statements to the remains of the installation "by
proxy," and the whole situation overshadows everything else on display.
What at first sounds like the artist's adolescent inability to recognize
the boundaries between self and world-a notion supported by Lekay's Duchampian
appropriation of his friends' art-ends up reading more like a deliberate
act of provocation intended to challenge the very basis of the exhibition.
At the "Morality Cafe," coffee and lemonade are served.
By ALLAN SCHWARTZMAN
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