Wednesday, January 17, 2007

From our observant Anthropology Correspondent: Underwhelmed at the ICA Member's Party

A month after the fact, so don’t file this under news.

File under: Would Bostonians Dress Up For Their Own Funerals?

The Location:
The waterfront. The new Institute of Contemporary Art.
Wood. Glass. Water. At last, a destination-worthy new building in Boston. When I read that City Hall recoiled from the brick-free design I almost wept: WTF-weeping. I’d like to copyright that: WTFWping.

Thank goodness for Kairos Shen at the Boston Redevelopment Authority who, according to The Globe helped “calm concerns in City Hall that the project was too adventurous architecturally for the city.”

City Hall, left to their own stingy aesthetics, would allow Cleveland (Cleveland!) to architecturally lap us.

The Event:
The members’ reception for the first art museum in open in Boston in over 100 years. Boston’s Cultural Event of the Season (NOT the signing of Daisuke Matsuzaka).

The Scene:
Underwhelming (My opinion while in a good mood).
Pathetic (My opinion in a bad mood).
Let me be clear – this is a critique of the party scene, not the Diller Scofidio + Renfro building or the theater space (can’t WAIT to see a dance performance there), or the opening exhibit, uneven with a few pieces I loved, among them: Cornelia Parker’s “Hanging Fire (Suspected Arson)”, Chiho Aohsima’s hilarious lobby installation “The Divine Gas” , and a mesmerizing piece – don’t know title or artist – of a perception-altering, horizonless red void.

The party was called for 7pm-midnight. My friend Cynthia and I arrived sometime after 9pm, to avoid the expected earlier crush. So we arrived, hungry, just before the halfway mark. All the savory food was gone. Bad planning.

Only dessert remained. Dessert is overstating it. Let’s say, sugary snacks. Here’s what was served:
• Bowls of candy: m&ms, gummy Swedish fish, Skittles (I am not making this up)
• Chocolate-dipped marshmallows on wooden skewers. (?????!)
• Fancy pretzel logs dipped in chocolate and nuts (this was adding insult to injury because I’m allergic to nuts.)
• Maybe there were cookies. I can’t remember. I was so hungry I double-fisted the Skittles and m&ms and staggered off with one of my two allocated pink cocktails.

Let’s recap: The Members’ Party.
Members: People who on good faith bought memberships to a museum that had not yet opened, and which opened three months late (as of yet – they have not offered to extend our memberships).
Swedish Fish??

The Fashion, and Lack Thereof:
I spent an hour getting dressed. I am not a fashion whore, but, Cultural Event of the Season. I felt obliged to represent.

My outfit: Grey deconstructed skirt with subtle sideways fishtail; deep v-neck, snug, black, Victorian-style blouse; knee-high lace up black boots with instep buckle, AND rhinestone floral brooch at the waist with swagged chain linked up to large kilt pin. Vintage black handbag. Cascading curls. Very Dark Lipstick.

Kind of Fabulous Punk Victorian.

Most other female attendees’outfits:
Anne Taylor dresses
Black or navy velvet
And the uniform of thirty-something women: Short black skirts, knee-high black boots, topped with basic sweaters (!). In NYC, women wear this to the office.

A few attendees, especially the gay men, were decked out. Also architects. Cynthia and I, resting our tired feet in the theater’s orange stadium seating, argued over the team loyalties of a handsome young man in a beautiful suit, fantastic two-toned shoes and a scarf (an accessory scarf, not an inclement weather scarf). Cynthia insisted gay, because of the scarf (we’re in BOSTON, after all). I disagreed. We decided to chat him up, purely for research’s sake. He was an architect, which I figured decided the issue (Not Necessarily Gay). Cynthia was not convinced. But I had more evidence:
1. He did not comment our on noticeably fabulous outfits.
2. I admired his shoes and he felt obliged to provide an excuse for why he was wearing such fantastic shoes.

Definitely Not Gay.

-- Sari