"Is there anywhere you could possibly feel smaller?" video artist Phil Collins said recently of the commercial art world, "It's the only place where you give away free booze and no one turns up."  Perhaps then it's a small measure of success that at approximately 20 people took the free Art Bus Tour on Friday evening, a laid back event curated by Art in America's Raul Martinez (who has done so for the past four years).  Run concurrently with the fairs, the Art Bus Tours schedule that day not only provided an in house screening program titled Specters: Video and Social Memory, but took riders to P.S.1, Dorsky Gallery, and Deitch Projects LIC.


Decked out Los Vegas-style, the Art Bus might better be described as the art limo, as it includes a bar, florescent lights and a video screen at the back of vehicle.  Probably the best part of the experience came in the form of an LED sign running above the eleven artist video screening randomly generating holiday messages such as "Happy Easter!" "Merry Christmas!" and the periodic Pac Man plug.  This seemed particularly appropriate over the film, Baraka by Fernando Sánchez Castillo, in which the artist asked palm readers to read the unidentified bronze cast hands of former Spanish dictator Francisco Franco.  Both the readers and LED lights would create stories that matched their subject, but more often than not the text was just absurd.


The tour group hit multi-media artist Jonathan Horowitz's exhibition And/Or at P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center first, which spans an entire floor of the converted school. Guided by their publicist April Hunt, we discussed the artist's video projection Maxell (1990), a work which plays a cassette logo copied many times until it deteriorates into a blur of static, a video installation titled The Soul of Tammi Terrell alluding to death, and Recycling Center, World Trade Center Memorial, two growing newspaper towers defined by blue painters tape on the wall behind them. As Hunt wisely pointed out, a deeply macabre sensibility runs through the strong
collection of work in this exhibition.


The same can't be said of Dorsky Gallery's Home Sweet Home, a group show weakly addressing the subject of domestic violence and the second stop on the bus tour. This time lead by curator Ombretta Agró Andruff, the large sculptural and installation work, video, photography of seven artists in the show was discussed, though for the most part the was painfully simplistic.  Coincidentally, probably the best work in the show, a bedroom with toys and weapons titled Habitacion Infantil, by Ronald Moran was first exhibited in New York three years ago by Houston based Machey Gallery at the Pulse art fair.   

Vanessa Beecroft, the last and final stop on the tour, makes work with its own fair share of appearances at the fairs over the last few years, her photograph of twin black babies suckling on her breasts at the Armory in 2007 a relative low point for the artist.  VB64, a performance at Deitch Projects LIC, in which white painted models and mannequins lie still on the floor, at least marks an improvement upon that photograph, if for no other reason than it's not such an overt ploy for attention. The limo bar was available for tour members who felt particularly exasperated. As it turns out, the allure of free booze may also be enough to make an artist feel small, too.

For more coverage of Vanessa Beecroft's performance at Deitch Projects LIC, see: