Lucas Samaras’ new shapes


Lucas Samaras, a self-proclaimed narcissist — a narcissist in a long line of avant-garde narcissists — but one who, like all narcissistic flashers, needs a public to acknowledge the importance of his existence (and especially his body), has come up, in his latest tour de force iFilm Ecdysiast, with the perfect audience: other artists (Jasper Johns and Claus Oldenburg among them) and art people (critics and museum people) and, of course, his long-time dealer Arne Glimcher. They all once posed nude for him (Sittings, 1978-81), and in Ecdysiast he turns the tables on them: on one wall of the installation we see him on a video screen, taking off his clothes in excruciatingly slow motion, and on the opposite wall, we see the faces of the audience, each framed on a video screen of its own — they’re clearly an exclusive club, but they’re all very individualistic, not to say incommensurate egomaniacs, which is why each needs a space of his or her own (like Samaras, who can only relate to them from a distance and by using them in his art) — watching Samaras do his strip tease. The faces are solemn and sober, full of fake and impatient interest, none cracking a smile until the end, probably more out of relief that the 5½-minute ordeal was over than in amusement at Samaras’ antics.

more from Artnet magazine here.