When the poet John Giorno passed away late last year, he left behind a lifetime of artistic adventurism and exploration, a reputation for his tireless support of the arts and his energetic commitment to collaboration, connection and creativity. It makes sense then, that one of the first shows to celebrate the artist since his passing would be a collaboration with his husband, artist Ugo Rondinone, at Gladstone Gallery. Open now, the show features the artist’s captivating 2015 video piece thanx 4 nothing,
thanx 4 nothing is an immersive experience, setting up the gallery as a black ox theatre that places Giorno front and center, split across screens as he reads a work expressing the titular poem in the work. The piece is presented as a framing of gratitude for “everyone and everything,” with Giorno performing his work with his signature flair, reading the work with energy and zeal as he looks back over his life with frank insight and humor, reflecting on loves and losses, friends and enemies, sex and drugs, depression and spiritual acceptance. The duality of Giorno’s presence, his interlocking intonations and gestures filling the gallery with his presence and his particular brand of spiritual zeal, is a fascinating look at the artist’s work and its framing by those he loved, and who loved him. “May every drug I ever took,” he reads, “come back and get you high, may every glass of vodka and wine I’ve drunk come back and make you feel really good, numbing your nerve ends allowing the natural clarity of your mind to flow free.”
It’s not hard to see why Giorno was so beloved by the New York art set, his passion and energy are on full view here, and underscore his passion not only for his own work, but for the work of others, and the opportunity to do it, is what shines forth in the work, a fitting, timeless tribute to an artist whose impact on New York is enduring. Yet the most impressive part of the work is Giorno’s own pathos, his own gratitude, and his own sense of giving back. “Thanks for allowing me to be a poet,” he reads at one point, closing notes on a life of art and pasison. “a noble effort, doomed, but the only choice.”
The show is on view through January 18th.
— D. Creahan
Ugo Rondinone: Thanx 4 Nothing [Gladstone]