Crowd-Puller at Jeffrey Deitch
One of the most amazing public spectacles in Manhattan for several years took place at the end of a jam-packed long weekend of Armory show activity. It has been modestly announced as an academic lecture by a Slovenian theorist. When that theorist, however, is cult-star Slavoj Zizek, the results can prove truly improbable. This event was organised by the redoutable Josefina Ayerza, a SoHo-based, Argentinean psychoanalyst and longtime editor of the journal Lacanian Ink, also one-time Tarot goddess, designer of plastic furniture, Black Magick witch, Spanish translator of Aleister Crowley and the woman who launched Guillermo Kuitca in New York.
Zizek was scheduled to give a talk with the title "Love Without Mercy." The venue was Jeffrey Deitch's large space on Wooster Street. Deitch's space is LARGE, extremely so, and can dwarf almost ant event, so few people were expecting overcrowding or neighbourhood complaints. However, by the time every square inch of the cavernous airplane hangar was packed with expectant human flesh, it was clear things were out of hands: a loud crowd of more than 100 eager intellectuals were still straining to be admitted.
The atmosphere was reminiscent of an extremely exclusive night club in some 80s heyday: only a few select dealers and artists were allowed in, joining the throng of literally thousands crammed inside. Having generously offered his gallery for the event, Deitch himself bravely confronted the crowd outside, but it refused to shift and many banged on the windows in their desperation to hear Zizek. Eventually the police was forced to break up the crowd, shouting orders through loudspeakers, the first time a band of intellectuals in New York has been forcibly dispersed by the police since Marcuse lectured at Columbia University.
Zizek's explosive exegesis, complete with extracts from Hitchcock (subtitled in Slovenian) and brilliant analysis of America's current political situation granted all the expected rewards and its Q&A lasted well into the night, proving that Manhattan can still provide the most radical cultural treats gratis.