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A Night in Chelsea: Art & Couture

Courtesy the artist and David Zwirner, New York

Elena Soboleva was out on Saturday night catching the convergence of art and fashion in New York’s Chelsea:

In art, much like fashion, there is a propensity to focus creative expression on the everyday experience. Through the artistic process, the banality of everyday life becomes an absurd exercise of sumptuous proportions. Whether screwing in lightbulbs in couture gowns, examining the quotidian of time or embodying heaps of salt – artists in Chelsea are styling the mundane to extraordinary heights.

As New York plays host to the Fashion Week crowd this week, the fall-winter 2011 ready to wear shows, parties, pop-up stores and ipad-toting style bloggers are creating quite the spectacle. Last Saturday, dashing between the Lincoln Center and Milk Studios, many of the tastemakers stopped in Chelsea to see some of the fashion-related art events on view.

On Saturday afternoon there was a book launch of Philip-Lorca diCorcia: ELEVEN, the accompanying publication to the show of fashion photographs by Philip-Lorca diCorcia on view at David Zwirner’s West 19th Street gallery. Both diCorcia and the book’s editor and current creative director of Barneys, Dennis Freedman, were on hand to sign copies. The publication and exhibit feature works selected from a series of eleven editorial projects the artist created for W Magazine between 1997 and 2008, all done in the artist’s unique, hauntingly manufactured version of beauty.

That same evening, Mary Boone gallery on 24th Street held an opening for the always-stylish Terence Koh, and his latest exhibit nothingtoodooterencekoh. Beyond the draped entranceway, there was a conical pile of salt, around which the artist slowly inched on his knees – barefoot, dressed in all-white. The guests, definitely not salt-of-the-earth types, stood in contrast to the implausible display and included Derek Blasberg and Julian Schnabel. The ethereal theme was carried through to Mary Boone’s attire: head-to-toe white topped with an exquisite white fur hat. The accompanying press release, handwritten and more subdued than Koh’s usual output, spoke of peace and the transformation of states – timely as guests whispered of the ‘pyramid’ of salt. KOH press release

After Koh, I made my way to see Marclay’s 24 hour film The Clock, which has already gained a near-cult status, and generated an unceasing line outside the Paula Cooper gallery. After waiting about half an hour I was let into the darkened inner space, which had been converted into a mock movie theatre. The intricate splicing of movie clips where time is made apparent, synced to our real time and woven into a narrative was truly enthralling. Like an optical illusion, the film was captivating in its simplicity and execution, bringing to the forefront a language of signifiers ingrained, but unknown to us in the pop culture of cinema.

I left around 10:30pm, wishing I could stay longer. I had a sort of art-high, the ecstatic feeling one gets which makes worthwhile all the bad art one endures to get it. The line had lengthened while I was inside. Leaving one could see one of those rare scenes where art transcends the ordinary. There in line, anticipating the work they were about to enjoy,were high school kids with bright coloured hair, parents with toddlers in arms, esteemed collectors and awkward first dates all stood in line complaining about the cold.

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