Politics alive and well

A political show has turned into a political embarrassment for the gallery involved. Gagosian, the gallery with the most oversized space in New York, has a bombastic Anselm Kiefer show called “Next Year in Jerusalem” (we reviewed it in our last Chelsea post). In the course of the show, heavy-handed ejections from the gallery took place, at least one of them in response to a fairly decorous political action (perhaps better characterized as a publicity stunt), the other in response to…who knows what.

Anselm Kiefer Last Year in Jerusalem installation shot at Gagosian. The Holocaust inspired show has inspired some reaction. Maybe it was a better show than we thought!

My friend Lenore Malen forwarded me this New Yorker blog link describing one of the incidents, as well as an email from a gallery goer who witnessed a second incident:

Subject: 2nd Gagosian atrocity!
Date: Thu, 23 Dec 2010 16:45:30 -0500
Dear Laurie,

Brian forwarded me your email about the incident at Gagosian. I wrote to him last Saturday about a different one that I witnessed right before closing time. I’m glad that the New Yorker picked up your story. I am wondering if by putting both incidents together we could get even more publicity. It is outrageous, scary and horribly ironic–and now there are two!

Here’s what I saw and protested about:
Hi Brian,
I witnessed a very disturbing police incident tonight at Gagosian. It was about 5PM and a woman who was apparently being followed by guards–I don’t know why–suddenly turned on one and yelled, “Leave me alone! I just want to see the show.” I was about 10 feet away from her. She lost it and made a scene for a minute or so and then stormed out of the room. I thought she had left but when I went the reception area a few minutes later to get a catalog, she was down on the floor in the hallway, handcuffed and surrounded by at least 5 policemen. I protested and asked why in the world they need to handcuff and surround a 100lb woman who was obviously distraught (I don’t know that she was “disturbed” only that she was angry and, at that point, terrified.) The blew me off and told me to get away. I then went to the reception and complained as was told “We have had other incidents” as if that explained the treatment of this women. They then took her into the vestibule and put her up again the wall and stood in a huddle around her. she was crying and shaking of them, maybe more, standing around. I again protested and demanded to know why they were treating her this way. I was told, “She refused to leave.” So I asked why two officers couldn’t just escort her out, but they again told me to get away and became a bit threatening. Eventually EMS came and strapped her to a gurney. She was put in the ambulance with 4 police officers standing in the doorway of the ambulance as if she were Son of Sam. When I asked an officer why they needed an army to deal with an emotionally upset women who was already handcuffed and strapped down (and possibly in a straightjacket at this point) he told me “She might have boyfriends with guns in cars.” (this was after about 15 minutes-or more– of them having her on the floor or against the wall.) When I asked why them they were all huddled around the back door of the ambulance, he said, “We have to protect the EMS guys.”!!! They probably sent her to Bellevue although it was a Beth Israel Ambulance. The gallery was about the close and the only people on the street were the ones coming out of Gagosian. EMS left with her–presumably to Bellvue although it was a Beth Israel ambulance. I was the only one who confronted the police, although an elderly German man said to me after the police left, “They were outrageous!” As the show inside was the Anselm Kiefer exhibit, the irony and scariness of the incident were impossible to ignore.
I filed a complaint online with the police but didn’t have any badge numbers. Who can I send this to for publicity?

All in all, I’d rather be in Philadelphia!