Feminist art from the 1970s was the costume of choice at NADA’s first ever artist ball at Eventi, a hotel in Chelsea. A fundraiser to benefit the artists with whom the satellite art fair works with, at Sunday’s Halloween fete guests were welcomed to a red carpet walk into the Ventana Ballroom flanked by seven crotchless-pant-wearing, machine-gun-toting “Valie Export of the Dolls”—an homage to the Austrian performance artist of the similar name. Joanne Kim as Yoko Ono ferociously snapped photos while NADA’s panel of costume judges—artists Monica Abend, Joshua Altman and Alyssa Taylor Wendt—scrutinized the attendee’s outfits. NADA’s Heather Hubb’s (dressed as a ninja) explained
, “the original concept [for the judges] was that it would be something like Joan Rivers meets Ru Paul’s Drag Race, they would grade artists costumes and assign an amount they were to pay based on the quality of the costume. But in the end we threw out ticket thing and they were just hecklers to add some color.” The judges, along with the Valie Exports, were the brainchild of the artist Brina Thurston who, inspired by “bringing back the dead . . . reviving the performances to create a kind of carnival of art souls” rose to the occasion when Hubbs had asked her “to bring a posse of artists in good costumes”.
PHOTO BY JOANNE H KIM
The evening’s musical entertainment was spearheaded by artist Derrick Adams who DJ’d in between lively if not bizarre performances by Rachel Mason and Chavez/Liu Fugue State. The highlight was the headliners, Nils Bech and Bendik Giske, whose combination of saxophone playing, laptop programming and ladder climbing kept the crowd-LAND’s Shamim Momin, architect Charles Renfro, artists Johannes VanDerBeek, Sara Greenberger Rafferty and gallerist Lisa Cooley-dancing well after their sugar highs wore off.
Big Screen Project, a newly launched multimedia non-profit, was given free reign to curate the hotel’s large video screen visible on an adjacent building. For the event, they collaborated with NADA to present an hour-long program featuring clips by Scott Treleaven, Liz Magic Laser, Grant Worth, Alix Pearlstein, among others. It was the costumes that were the real visual amusement of the night, however. Artist Jennifer Sullivan was a “Picasso Masterpiece” outfitted in a 80s jumpsuit reverberating fluorescent cubist patterns. Netamorphosis’ Lyde Spann evoked a flamboyant Carol Channing, while Artlog’s Manish Vora was a subdued Salvador Dali. Erica Magrey, whose body suit with hanging udders was based on a Louise Bourgeois performance, was right at home next to Alyssa Taylor Wendt as Carolee Schneeman’s “Meat Joy” and Tatiana Kronenberg outfitted as Adrian Piper’s “Mythic Being.”
With just one month to go before their major art fair in Miami, Hubbs wanted to put on an event that honored the artists who make their organization run: “We do a lot of events that involve artists and performers and we don’t really have money coming in to fund those kinds of projects, and to give back to those artists. That’s what we’re trying to raise money for . . . it’s really to give back to the community,” Fundraiser or not, any Halloween party more overflowing in feminist art costumes than sexy nurses is a reason to celebrate. As Thurston summarized, “If you ask me the great thing about feminism is that it’s scary enough and sexy enough for Halloween.”