Walking around New York is always a reminder of just how iconic the city is. In Chelsea, covered in scaffolding and boarded up with hefty metal sheets, is the Chelsea Hotel – a former bohemian refuge that played host to everyone from Patti Smith to Madonna. On St Marks Place, you’ll find the apartment buildings featured on Led Zeppelin’s ‘Physical Graffiti’ artwork, and a short walk away on the Bowery a John Varvatos shop sits where the legendary punk club CBGBs used to exist.
- READ MORE: The Strokes, LCD Soundsystem and the New Golden Age of New York music: an interview with Lizzy Goodman
Across the street New Yorkers are taking another trip down memory lane. Meet Me In The Bathroom: The Art Show, which opened tonight (September 4) at The Hole, collates photos, outfits, videos, artwork, and oddities from shows, records, and artists at the eye of the storm that was the city’s world-beating music scene between 2001 and 2011. It’s also the latest spin-off from Lizzy Goodman’s acclaimed oral history of said scene, which was released in 2017 (a TV show based on the book is also in the works) and was curated by the author and film director Hala Matar, organized by The Hole and UTA Artist Space, and presented by Vans. Here are the most noteworthy pieces in the show.
The Kate Moss cocaine scandal in 2005 (shock horror – supermodel does drugs!) might not have anything to do with New York, but it is entwined with the era the exhibition throws you back into. Grainy pictures of her were blown up on the front page of the Daily Mirror with the headline “Cocaine Kate: Supermodel Kate Moss snorts line after line”. Moss was, of course, dating Pete Doherty at the time, so there’s a not too tenuous link to warrant including Jonathan Horowitz’s piece inspired by that moment. In the replica bathroom, a small mirror hangs over the urinal, made to look like that infamous tabloid cover. Where the model’s image once was, though, there’s a space left free to show you your own reflection.
The entire bathroom
Every exhibition or event has to have an Instagram moment these days, and the recreated dive bar bathroom is MMITB’s. There are urinals covered in band stickers, paint and dirt, and filled with crushed cans, a giant mirror that’s similarly vandalised, and bathroom stalls with the doors taken off and filled with photos and, in one, jeans stuffed to form phantom legs. You could walk into almost any dive bar bathroom in the city and find a similar scene (minus the art) but this replica feels like you’ve dived headfirst into MMITB’s pages and landed back in the original Max Fish.
Karen O’s costumes
Noughties New York rock stars might all have been cool in their own way, but no one did cool like Karen O. That was thanks, in part, to her wild and unique stage outfits, designed by Christian Joy. Three of them are on display here – a yellow studded suit with glitter ribbons exploding from one arm, a strapless dress made out of dollar bills, and a yellow dress splurged with green and red. There’s a neat extra touch to the display too – each of the mannequins wears a shaggy black wig, just like Karen’s hair.
All the candid backstage pics
In the main room of the show, there’s a wealth of material to get nostalgic over. Watch videos on specially installed tellies, gaze at flyers for shows you wish you were at, and get a glimpse at all the frivolities documented in MMITB with a series of candid photos shot by the likes of Colin Lane, Pieter M. van Hattem, Spike Jonze and more. Whether it’s Fab and Julian from The Strokes having a little cuddle on a dirty floor, or pics of The Libertines enjoying time in the city, there’s a goldmine to ogle.
Meet Me In The Bathroom: The Art Show runs until September 22, 2019 at The Hole, 321 Bowery.