Like Harry Potter living under Vernon and Petunia Dursley’s stairwell, Video Art was skinny, self-confidence challenged, visually impaired, and under-appreciated, ignorant of the magical power it would soon learn to wield.
It was already dark and all I could see to match the aggressive growl were two headlights speeding towards me at a terrifying clip, now less than a block away. As I leaped onto the curb the 1968 red Cobra flew past, the driver’s blur of blond hair swishing in the wind.
It’s a Tuesday night in Lower Manhattan. Race night. I’m at Tom Sachs’s production facility on Hester Street, three blocks from his studio, two blocks from his home. Chinatown. This giant factory is on the third floor of an ancient building that once housed the New York City Police Department’s mounted division.
Alexis Rockman sauntered up to our meeting spot on Canal Street, the sanguine spring in his step belying the bizarre state of Broadway, deserted except for about twenty police officers wearing flak jackets and carrying machine guns. The natural history painter’s studio is located in an area of Manhattan that was closed off to all nonresidents in the aftermath of the tragedy of September 11, Black Tuesday, and he arrived exactly on time to escort me into the war zone.