Watch video of Lady Gaga talking about and testing her flying dress HERE.
The first thing visitors saw when entering Lady Gaga’s artRave, the “ARTPOP” album launch party-cum-Jeff Koons exhibition at the Brooklyn Navy Yard on Sunday night, was the giant white rear end of a monumental, Koons-designed statue of Gaga. Circling around to the front they were met with a larger-than-life rendition of the chanteuse straddling a giant blue gazing ball — an image of the sculpture appears on the cover of her new album. Four more Koons sculptures, similar to the Greco-Romanesque ones recently shown at Gagosian, populated the former warehouse’s long promenade where the names GAGA and KOONS would flash intermittently on giant screens lining the hall. The entire evening, which also featured “video art” made with both Marina Abramovic and Inez & Vinoodh, served as an over-the-top demonstration of how Gaga’s planned to, according to an event invitation, “bring ARTculture into POP in a reverse Warholian expedition” — and that was all before she even hit the stage to perform every song from the album.
The crowd was filled with plenty of raving Gaga fans sporting the paint-smeared face paint she wears in the “Applause” music video, a guy dressed as a Koons gazing ball, and at least a dozen people in bondage gear. Celebrities ran the gamut from “Ru Paul’s Drag Race” contenders Carmen Carrera and Jinx Monsoon to Pace Gallery director Andrea Glimcher (who helped organize Jay Z’s “Picasso Baby” performance), Vogue editor Hamish Bowles, iconic crooner Tony Bennett, Abramovic and Klaus Biesenbach, and, of course, the man of the hour, Jeff Koons.
“I met Lady Gaga at the Metropolitan Museum at the fashion ball about three years ago,” Koons told ARTINFO. “When she worked on ‘ARTPOP’ she contacted me in the spring of this year and told me that she’d like me to design her cover. I decided yes I would love to do it and we also then started talking about making an artRave. It was great to work with her because she’s very, very generous and trying to communicate to her fans how art can really bring transcendence in their lives or how they can bring transcendence and change into their lives though acceptance and creativity.”
When Gaga finally took the stage, a little after midnight, her fans were feeling more crazed than transcendent. She made her grand entrance by wading through the crowd in a balloon-ish white futuristic spacesuit that she quickly peeled off to reveal a skimpier futuristic white spacesuit. After some song and dance numbers, Gaga took a seat behind a white grand piano to serenade Koons, who she called “a true art hero.”
“When I went with him for the first time, I knew that he understood that working together he was really not just giving a gift to me but giving a gift to young artists all over the world,” Gaga said as she played sad notes on the piano. “I said, ‘Jeff don’t you realize that because you are believing in me in front of all these people that these amazing young kids, these amazing young minds they believe that maybe one day they can meet with you. They believe that maybe, when they’re sitting in front of their canvases with their paint brush, that that light that shines so bright inside of them, that passion that someday it can be worth something.’”
Some 1,800 guests were invited to the event and arrived at the Navy Yard both by ferry from Manhattan and via a street entrance with tight security. Gaggles of Gaga fans braved the cold weather to catch a glimpse of her at the entrance or maybe try to sneak their way into the event. The venue was a good 20-minute walk from the street entrance inside the labyrinthine yards. In the venue, VIPs looked on from an elevated platform behind the stage, though less VI persons weren’t treated too badly. Three food trucks served free food in the rear of the warehouse, including red velvet cake pops appropriately called ARTPOPS. Trashcans with fires inside of them — yes, the kind stereotypically used by homeless people — were also set up outside for guests to warm themselves beside, as well as some Jackson Pollock-inspired, paint-splattered couches. Before the artRave party, Gaga demonstrated Volantis, “the world’s first flying dress,” in a nearby warehouse.
The event, much like Jay Z’s “performance art” happening at Pace, was a bizarre but not unexpected meeting of commercial music and commercial art. What strikes me as stranger than Gaga’s desire to collaborate with blue chip artists is those artists’ complicity in the affair. Seeing promos for the Marina Abramovic Institute flash on a giant screen behind a Jeff Koons sculpture of Lady Gaga was a bit surreal — but only a little bit.
I leave you with Gaga’s words to Koons: “So I wanted to thank him tonight for giving this gift to me, this beautiful sculpture, for sharing his work with all of us, for sharing this night with all of us. Because tonight we will no longer stand for the harassing of the artist, for the torturing of the artist, for taking advantage of the vulnerability of the beautiful creative mind. Tonight we will put art in front.”