F*ck Art (Let’s Dance):
A conversation with Sally Eckhoff
by bart plantenga
“I became an artist of lots of different things besides painting: an artist of ordering takeout, dancing all beered up in downtown bars, banging around my own head in the night, walking home without getting mugged, of wanting – sometimes begging and self-deceiving, too.”
• Sally Eckhoff
I must say I was worried when I began reading artist-writer-equestrian Sally Eckhoff’s exuberant ode-critique of New York from her decidedly engaged, joi de vivre, painter’s point of view as it portrays the NY “we” knew during its second-to-last gasps of affordable decadence, the mid-1980s. Since then – the exact date is unknown and debated – NYC has managed to descend into a state of tortured opulence, of clichéd bling, something like trannie makeup on a corpse – something like that.
This decline is much bickered and written about on social media. But that’s OK because, even if the breakfast joint sucked back then it sucked with a certain panache that makes it superior to sucking today. Or so goes the argument. NYC is now a playground-backdrop for the elite’s commercials, their bonuses, their exploitations. Sally articulated this well: “I always under-estimate rich people’s ability to transform their routines for the sake of amusement.” And make no mistake, it is their amusement park now.
That the book was like one thick, page-turning, mnemonic device means that each page pretty much recalled or continued the already driving, pumping, heated, babel-like soundtrack as brought to you by jazz legends from the 50s, acid jazz, Fugs, Borbetomagus, Don Cherry, Lou Reed, bad FM radio like WNEW-FM & PIX-FM, the Ramones the Clash when they became obsessed with NYC, the Paladium concerts, the Limelight nights, the general din that seemed to keep our souls vacuum-sealed and hooked on the IV drip that was adrenalin + loud, clangorous and jangly sounds – I think of the elegant, edgy beats at 99 Records – ESG, Liquid Liquid, Y Pants, Singers & Players – and that seemed to speak to us more than any visual or poetic works, that seemed to both criticize and lionize, both transcend and indulge in the tumultuous and frenetic out there where our the nerve endings of all of our extremities seemed to tingle day and night suspiciously until one day you just passed out. Each page in F*ck Art recalls a specific sound, each sound recalls a specific corner, each memory of that corner is a page in my/our diary.