Shout Magazine

Mark Kostabi on William Kentridge, Mike Weiss, and Dot Szemiot

Last night my girlfriend, Gwen, bought a painting by Dot Szemiot for $70 at a silent benefit auction for Save the Teens at the China Club. The painting looks like it’s worth $5000, and I’m sure it will be after magma-hot curator extraordinaire Mike Weiss (the Don King of the art world) gets done promoting the artist. Hot tip for collectors: benefit auctions are the easiest ways to legally steal art and simultaneously help a good cause. And if it’s organized by Mike Weiss, you just can’t lose.

You can see Weiss’s latest curation, “A Room with a View,” at Sixth @ Prince (202 Sixth Ave, 226-9156). There are 120 separate artworks by 120 artists, all here in one tiny gallery space. Each piece measures 11” x 11”. Seeing this show is the easiest way to get an instant education about the new and incredibly energetic art scene that’s dominated by twenty-somethings, who suddenly popped up after a nine-year art world lull.

The age of giant, expensive, decorative oils on canvas, shown in huge and intimidating white cubes with glorious skylights, on sale for some rich collector’s desert home, is quickly becoming history as Weiss circulates within the art scene. With unprecedented vigor and an anti-stagnation attitude, he organizes hit and run shows, waking up the art world. All the while, eBay on-line auctions are quickly replacing elitist art dealers as the best way to sell art by anyone to everyone.

In the meantime, the Museum of Modern Art (11 W. 53rd St., 708-9400) is still a fabulous place to spend a spring afternoon, especially since their projects room is occupied by a video installation and drawings by William Kentridge, an artist, who lives and works in Johannesburg, South Africa. Kentridge makes unique videos with a homemade animation technique, which he describes as “Stone Age filmmaking.” Each of his film-related charcoal drawings represents the last in a series of states produced by successive marks and erasures. The animations are painstakingly built by photographing each transitory state. Traces accumulate on the paper surface, and each final drawing is a palimpsest, retaining the residual memory of its sequence.

Kentridge’s surreal, political narratives are hypnotic, with their display of genuine commitment to real creativity and talent. With all that’s happening with Mike Weiss, William Kentridge, and Dot Szemiot, New York is just too exciting right now!

June 1999