Robert Goldman. No, 1980. Mixed media on plastic, 14 x 20" (35.6 x 50.8 cm). Courtesy of the artist.
Notes on the works Nail Polish and Drugs, No, and Greed and Death
The Times Square Show was entered from the north side of 41st Street beneath a red-and-silver block letter sign spanning the door into a fairly deep storefront with a large room to the right—the Souvenir Shop. At the back, a small wooden stairway to the right and disappearing behind a wall led to the second floor of the show, which to my recollection was actually a separate four-story building connected to the entrance space. In front of the stairway was a staging area for the screenings and performances taking place every night. The audience filled the storefront space.
Among the dense installation on the second floor were three mixed-media works by me: Nail Polish and Drugs, No, and Greed and Death. They were made with photographs and objects affixed to Canal Street plastic scraps and large shards of silver mirrored glass. This second-floor exhibition space also served as a "dressing room" for performers who entered the stage at the bottom of the stairs.
On the evening when Jack Smith starred as Sinbad Glick in Exotic Landlordism of the World, the house was packed. Jack, his cast, and their considerable entourage were upstairs readying themselves for the show. It began with the most exotic music piped down the stairs—antique Persian love songs, North African dance music, Hollywood B-movie music, or other obscure and entrancing songs from the totally unique music collection of Jack Smith. This went on for hours. No one took the stage. The audience became a party, but hardly the party that must have been going on upstairs, albeit to the same music. Anticipation charged the mood.
Finally, wearing elaborate flowing costumes, the players descended and took the stage. Jack Smith's landlordism that night was devious, erotic, and perplexing.
The next morning I went up to the second-floor "dressing room" and found artworks had been altered. Things were missing. Part of Nail Polish and Drugs included an emptied-out gel cap with colorful, now faded, time-release particles suspended in epoxy and a dozen tablets from a prescription bottle found on an empty lot. The tablets were some kind of dog medicine that even the drug addicts who frequented this particular lot had discarded. However, during Jack Smith's goings-on up on the second floor, six of the tablets were picked off. I wonder how that affected the ur-reality of the night.
My piece No incorporated an upside-down Exxon credit card, a small image of a soldier standing over body bags, and a small image of white oil storage tanks against a bright blue sky, all attached to white plastic. The credit card, also found in a vacant lot and probably discarded by a thief, was gone too.
Greed and Death was made of several items attached to a shard of silvered mirror that included a discarded junkie kit from the same lot: a few bent-up needles, a spoon for cooking dope, a little yellowed piece of a cigarette filter for drawing up water. Really creepy, too creepy even for the Jack Smith crowd. None of that was touched.
Robert Goldman (b. 1948, Los Angeles, CA)
Robert Goldman attended the University of California at Los Angeles and Santa Cruz from 1966 to 1969. In 1973 he graduated from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, participating in their graduate fellowship program in 1974. In 1980, Goldman co-founded ABC No Rio, a collectively run center for art and activism at 156 Rivington Street, New York City. He exhibited his work at New York City venues including Artists Space, Hal Bromm Gallery, the Mudd Club, P.S. 1, and Semaphore Gallery throughout the 1980s. From 1986 to 1990, he lived in Cologne, Germany, exhibiting in Belgium, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands, Spain, and Switzerland. In 1990 he returned to New York City, where he lives and works.