Why hello there, faithful Filthy Dreamers! What do we want? Liberation!!! When do we want it?!!! NOW!!!
Ahem…wait…what? I’m sorry, I just got carried away. No, no. Not by the battles for the liberation of marginalized people that have been fighting for decades upon decades. I want to LIBERATE AMERICA!! You know, so I can follow our true national pastime–shopping! And you know what? That makes me MAD and SAD! In fact, I’m getting so caught up by thinking of the loss of daily activities like purchasing lawn fertilizer and grass seed that I’m getting all choked-up like this blubbering proud and pitiful patriot on Fox News:
Yesterday, our unapologetically loony President Trump tweeted that we must, “LIBERATE MICHIGAN!” and “LIBERATE MINNESOTA!” From what exactly? Apparently from the draconian, authoritarian stay-at-home orders designed to protect the general population from a killer virus. The President and his death cult members don’t like this one bit. Let us get the virus!! Let us get the virus!!
On a semi-related note, I DID get the killer virus and at some point in my illness became very frightened that I might be discovered dead on arrival, snuggled in my bed next to my Trumpy bear (Yes, I have a Trumpy bear. Yes, we share a bed. No, we both don’t like it). Those poor EMTs might misread why I have him and I’d have to die again of embarrassment. No, I’m not a supporter of a monstrous xenophobic idiot! I just liked his American flag cape! And the campy commercial. “It was ironiiiiiiic,” I’d howl ghostly into the abyss.
Anyway, the fear of death, the fear of contraction, the fear of contagion and the fear of infection seem to mean nothing to the Trumpers, including my favorite new wingnut–this lady also on Fox News:
Her haggard greying reveal had me screaming so hard my lungs hurt–again. And look, she’s right–how are we supposed to get our hair done? I don’t want to look UGLY at my own funeral. I’d rather perish, gasping for a breath, than do that!
The Trumpers’ utter batshit insistence on liberation in the face of a deadly virus gives new meaning to “Give me liberty or give me death.” GIVE ME LIBERTY AND GIVE ME DEATH! And frankly, that level of unhinged mania is like catnip to us, here at Filthy Dreams. LIBERATE FILTHY DREAMS!
Wait, we’re already liberated. Liberated enough to RANT! That’s right–we’re heading into our second and final (for now…) installment of our COVID-19-related bridge burning series: Drag Them To Filth. What? Did you feel that chill running down your spine? No, that’s not Miss Rona knocking at your door (though she IS coming for you!). That’s just a shudder of pure, unadulterated fury. It did feel a little familiar, didn’t it? All warm, fuzzies and bile!
Oh, and for some of you that are disappointed to not find yourselves listed, well, there are some folks I just want to burn in person so I can see your shocked, horrified and embarrassed faces. Catch you when quarantine is over, dolls! So open those links wearing your best pair of rubber gloves (who knew germophobe would be THE look for 2020?) and check out these turds that you’ll find inside:
Illness affects people in different ways. Some find God. Some search for cult leaders, which in today’s world means mostly finding the light in the radioactive skin color of Donald Trump (What a sorry excuse for a cult leader, by the way. Jim Jones would NEVER! He had style!). Others begin to bravely accept the inevitability of death or fear it more. And yet, others, like me, become more caustic. Did I already have a continual simmering rage at all times and a short fuse? Yes. Now? I have no fuse. Watch out!
And for others, typically rich folk with no sense of self who are completely alienated from how most people live their lives, they just descend into further blind narcissism and naval-gazing. Case in point: Pace Gallery owner Marc Glimcher’s self-indulgent essay in ArtNews about his own experience with the rone.
Now, I know what you’re thinking: Emily, this man was sick. How DARE you judge? Well, let’s just say our experiences with the illnesses were not exactly mirror-images as I huffed up my fifth-floor walkup as a “presumed positive” and Glimcher had access to all the medical care imaginable.
Sparked by nosy and garish art world gossip-mongers who asked him where he caught it (rude), Glimcher begins his essay by musing at what globe-trotting, blue-chip art event he could have caught the deadly disease: “Was it the trip to the Middle East? The Arlene Shechet opening in New York? It probably wasn’t Frieze L.A.”
Me too, Marc, me too. Did Miss Rona visit me after my trip to a private island in the Bahamas? Was it from that jaunt to Tuscany? Was it from licking the toilet seat on a plane from Paris participating in the Coronavirus Challenge? I guess I’ll just never know…surely, it couldn’t come from smoking that cigarette butt off of 8th Street.
Thankfully, Marc asserts himself as one of the jet-set early on. This way we know he leads a glamorous and respectably wealthy life not like those disgusting poors or middle class. And we also don’t have to judge him for some of his curious self-quarantine measures like self-isolating in a closet with, as he describes, “my feet sticking out the door.” I don’t think I could get more than half my torso in my closet and my last apartment didn’t even HAVE a closet.
But the real kicker of Glimcher’s harrowing account of his experience with COVID-19 is just the sheer amount of tests he and his family received. His wife, whose name, I kid you not, is Fairfax, rang up his doctors who suited up in their PPE and did house calls. Yes, DOCTORS with an S and HOUSE CALLS. What year is this? Who even has a primary care physician in 2020? He explains:
“On Friday afternoon, she had a doctor in full Personal Protective Equipment come to the apartment and administer a flu test, which came back negative. By Monday, our intrepid doctors—thank you, Dr. Hasan and Dr. Shlain—had located a few precious Covid-19 tests, and all of us got a very nasty swabbing, Fairfax, our 20-month-old son, and me.”
What the fuck? I thought you could only get a COVID-19 test if you were blue in the face. I thought there was a shortage of tests so we had to reserve them for the critically ill and the healthcare workers. I guess not, as long as you have the money for it. Where was my test? Where IS my test? The rules and access just aren’t the same for people with cash.
And apparently, the rules are also not the same for trying to avoid infecting other people. Glimcher embarrassingly and seemingly shamelessly reveals that once their tests came back negative for COVID-19 (a fluke), he and his family, while still showing symptoms, went and VISITED HIS ELDERLY PARENTS!: “Six days after we were tested, my Covid result, as well as those of my wife and young son, came back negative. Reassured, if somewhat skeptical, we headed over to visit my parents, Arne and Milly, who are both in their 80s.” What the fuck?!
And it turns out those tests were flawed–whoops! Glimcher was told to act as presumed positive, while his doctors reran the tests (of course). Is it enraging that this moneyed fool could get a test and I couldn’t? Yes, sure. But it was for the greater good because COVID-19 made hyper-capitalist Glimcher see the light. He’s a humanitarian now!! He’s a changed man!!
In the last installment of Drag Them To Filth, I noted that assholes are the only ones to think about the art world in the time of the coronavirus. I stand by that claim. However, Glimcher seemed to see the art world in a whole new light after battling a deadly virus: “At the moment, we have no choice but to be in the business of the present—and to reconsider the viability of certain unsustainable practices: the pricing, the overpromotion, the travel, the relentless catering to the lowest instincts of speculators, the ballooning overheads, the mutually destructive competition, the engineered auction records, and the desperate search for capital to burn, just to prove that you can burn it.”
Emerging from his illness, reconsidering the art world and his role in it, Glimcher’s essay takes a turn about halfway through and becomes a sorry rendition of A Christmas Carol. Dickens, however, would have rolled his eyes at both the embarrassment of riches in which Glimcher lives, as well as his sappy, soupy and saccharine transformation into the art world’s Ebenezer Scrooge. Rather than three spirits, though, Glimcher was visited by one–Miss Rona: “So many precious lives have been lost in this crisis, and countless more permanently scarred by grief. We must give our recovery meaning. I am blessed with a beautiful family and a gallery filled with artists, friends, and colleagues who strive and struggle to create. This recovery—our recovery—long and complex though it may be, will be lost or won depending on our ability to reject those things that spoil, degrade, and erode our creative world in favor of embracing and protecting what is real, enduring, and inspiring in our lives and in art.”
It reads as if Scrooge…I mean Glimcher…is ready to buy every gallery assistant and their family a Christmas goose. Even Tiny Tim, the art handler!
Now, is that the end of Glimcher’s story? No. No it’s not. Dickens never really lets us see what happens to Scrooge after the holidays. For the blue-chip galleries, though, we get to see–and laugh at–the insincere conclusion.
Shot meet chaser:
That’s right–Bob Cratchit got furloughed!! Tiny Tim is going to have to go on unemployment! Guess the warmth of that coronavirus enlightenment didn’t last too long, huh?
Pace Gallery is certainly not the only blue chip gallery–or art institution for that matter–to furlough or lay off staff amidst our Rona Recession Meltdown. In fact, one of my favorite newfound hobbies while laid up after COVID-19 has been watching artists, dealers, museum curators and other art world folks post on social media as if their world isn’t crumbling around them and with no nod to the reality of COVID-19. Oh, you got in a residency? Have fun when you finally go next year. Your work got featured in a publication? They’re probably going to cut all their staff’s wages. It’s been incredible to witness just how much of the art world is operating in the same tired hierarchical self-promotional fashion as if the world in which they previously inhabited hasn’t irrevocably changed. It’s as if they’re an insular community in the middle of the woods living off the grid not realizing we’re in 2020 with a global pandemic, freezer trucks full of bodies and mass graves being dug by prisoners.
This lack of perspective, though, comes into play in the article, which is why this seemingly inoffensive, by-the-book reporting about staff furloughs at a major gallery made it to my hit list. Writer Zachary Small, who after co-reporting on some #MeToo business at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Erie Museum of Art seems to think himself some hard-boiled art detective–a tough beat reporter…on art, tripped up by making some exaggerated line in a laughable attempt to give the piece some gravity.
Yes, the part of this article that got my hair-raised comes from one line alone. And congrats! It’s not usually a simple sentence that bestows you with a prominent place on Drag Them To Filth. I’m talking about when Small suggests that for the more than 25 employees at Pace, the news about their furloughs was almost as devastating as COVID-19 itself.
Yes. That’s right he said it: “For Pace staff members who have lost their jobs, learning about their newfound unemployment was almost as shattering and life-altering as the disease itself.” He then quotes a timid employee who doesn’t seem to think it’s as bad as the rone: “’I’m going to try for unemployment,’ said one former worker, who asked for anonymity for fear of retaliation. ‘But I’m still going to have to leave New York City. I just can’t afford to live here anymore.'”
Now, again, like I said in the last installment, I understand the economic anxiety. In fact, I get it from experience. I wasn’t furloughed by a Chelsea art gallery. I was fired. Shit-canned. Let go. Why? I never got a good reason, but the nevertheless, I had to go on unemployment, so trust me when I say I get these gallery worker’s fears.
But it’s not almost as “shattering and life-altering as the disease itself,” which has killed thousands of New Yorkers and tens of thousands of Americans. When I had to go on unemployment, I had to deal with a shitty website. When I had COVID-19, it took days for me to find the strength to be in the shower long enough to even wash my hair–a major accomplishment for that one day. Not to mention the crippling, crushing chest tightness. Or my continual, month-later debilitating fatigue that I’m still enduring laying in bed for the majority of the day while writing this screed.
I get it–you wanted to make your article sound important. But have some fucking sense.
Granted, there’s such a thing as being TOO moralizing. I know that I’ve raged and raged on these last two Filthy Dreams posts, but even I have limits. What ever happened to humor, huh? It certainly can’t be found in a lot of the “queer” press. I thought queers were supposed to be the ones offending, not constantly offended! What happened?!
And this doesn’t mean I haven’t sighed exhausted at the attempts from queer theorists to already create some hastily written queer theory for the COVID-19 era (I see you, Bully…I mean, Bunker Bloggers who deserve their own special post for trying to assert themselves as academic voices in a crisis still unfolding, but that would mean I actually have to read the essays). But sometimes queer or gay or whatever brands do things that are completely tacky, completely tasteless and completely trashy in a way that is yes, off-putting, but also wonderful!
Behold Marek + Richard’s garish face masks emblazoned with texts like “Slut,” “Plastic,” “Daddy,” and “Mask 4 Mask.” Isn’t it awful? Yes. Isn’t it hilarious? Most definitely.
Not apparently, according to OUT Magazine’s Mikelle Street whose panties got in a wad looking at these masks: “At this moment face masks are the difference between literal life and death. Medical centers are running out of them leaving doctors and nurses treating those who have developed COVID-19 vulnerable to infection. Others are wearing them for those moments where they have to go out of quarantine for food or whatever else they may do. To turn this into some kitschy fashion item and slap “cumwhore” on the front, all to make a buck is honestly reprehensible.”
Oh come on–we might not have Pride this year so at the very least we can have atrocious consumerism. It’s our right!
And look–I know they’re not medical grade, but imagine your doctor leaning over you, ready to intubate and put you on a ventilator, with a mask that reads “CUM WHORE.” I don’t know about you, but my heart would stop right then and there–from pure joy! Clear!!!