Downtown hipsters headed to the video dungeon below…
Narcissister is You, Narcissister, 2012. Photograph by Emily Colucci. Via
Saturday afternoon, I took the train from Astoria to Prince Street. Navigating East, through the brick wall to brick wall Soho throng, I crossed that little cement slab of park that bisects the Lower East Side to Rivington Street, past the haunted (still exotic) dereliction of the Rivington Street Synagogue. I was on my way to see “Narcissister IS YOU” at envoy enterprises, a very small gallery with a big name. The upstairs gallery space had an array of poster- size photos and a couple of “interactive” Barbie-like masks where you could place your face and gaze into the opposing mirror…then, voila! Narcissister is you! You could be a white girl cipher or you could cipher a person of color. When I arrived, the gallery was empty except for the owner and Narcissister herself, apparently taking care of some business. Narcissister is ever-masked and anonymous, but the photos of the woman in a half-Barbie eclipse of nose- to-forehead showed the same botoxed lips, clean strong jaw, and stem-like neck with just the merest hints of encroaching Necklaces of Venus. While Narcissister in the flesh was swathed and caped in billows of void black (she is quoted in the Times: “I’m actually a very private and shy person and Narcissister is separate from me”), her separated persona was frozen photos, different characterizations of train wreck femme. I’ll call one Salvation Army Narcissister standing the Stars n’Stripes. Another, Angela Davis Narcissister, a kind of unwoundable engine —a full face Barbie with packing tape stripped over her visage and massive gorgeous Afro. In her Angela Davis incarnation Narcissister emulates even the skeleton-rack shoulders, the scholarly shrug of AD. There were several times, actually, when the Barbie mask defied its blankness and exuded emotion like a character in a Noh play. There was Pink Talon Narcissister clutching and crushing her breasts. There was a powerfully ravaged wreck of a junkyard doll Narcissister on Chartreuse, and a Cartier Smash-face Narcissister formal in black diamonds.
The gallery had begun to fill up a bit, but I noticed that most of the downtown hipsters made short work of the pictures (too bad because they were fabulous with history and context and vision). Hipsters headed for the video dungeon below.