Titled “And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music,” the show is an aesthetic reflection of clubland. The artists Nicolas Provost, Natalie Frank, Ena Swansea and Bill Beckley — all of whom are featured in the exhibition, which also includes work by Andy Warhol, David LaChapelle, Nan Goldin, Andreas Gursky, Wolfgang Tillmans and Dash Snow — swept past the velvet rope to get their groove on inside. (As at any hot spot, the door was manned by hawk-eyed bouncers and a woman with a clipboard, and had a strict 18-and-over policy.) Friends and fellow creatives included José Parlá and Robert Lazzarini, while the curators Tim Goossens and Eric Shiner sipped vodka-cranberries alongside Beth Rudin-DeWoody, Tiffany Dubin, Barry Friedman and Patricia Pastore.
While the phrase “And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music,” is from Nietzsche’s “Thus Spoke Zarathustra,” the gallerist Marc Benda suggested the title after reading an interview with the actress Megan Fox. “She has this quote tattooed on her body,” he explained. “I was very taken aback by that.”
In the exhibition, a diverse group of artists explore the bacchanalian nights and elusive nocturnal moments that define the collective party experience. It is a setting where routines of the day are cast aside to make way for an alternative set of rituals. From New York City’s historic Studio 54 to Berlin’s open air ‘Love Parade,’ club culture elicits a complex web of emotions, unique to each participant though foreign to none. Featured works from famed photographer David LaChapelle include “Whitney Houston: Noisy Fame” and “ Whitney Houston: But Now I See.” During the opening, a gallery go-er presented a skateboard which has previously unpublished Beastie Boys images by LaChapelle on the bottom of the deck. The special edition skateboard is from “Room + Boards,” a charity event that was held in late June of this year.
“And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music” is on view through Aug. 17 at Friedman Benda, 515 West 26th Street;friedmanbenda.com
Text by Julie Baumgardner