ARTICLE NATASHA STAGG
The art world is called many things—elitist, generous, frivolous, necessary… Maybe one thing we can all agree on about it, though, is the precarity with which it exists: The art market is hinged on economic imbalance, and its very nature dependent on flux in culture. So, how can the art market consistently prosper, if we can assume no constant to be coded into its relationship to monetary value? Find a constant that is constantly changing, that’s how. And that is exactly, ingeniously, what The Narcissist’s Ball, a BOFFO event held on Saturday did. The gala finalized a silent auction (starting online and ending at the gala at 531 W. 36th St.) in which bidders could commission a portrait of themselves from over 40 artists. The constant here is self-interest found in art-lovers. We’re all guilty of it, and on Saturday, we embraced it.
“To love oneself is the beginning of a life-long romance - Oscar Wilde” said the invitation. Just to displace our self-involvement, all bidders were instructed to choose a nametag displaying a celebrity’s moniker instead of our own. Written-in bids on the walls of the gallery read “Victoria Beckham” and “Mick Jagger” but we all knew who these people were: they were us, or the overblown ideas we harbor about ourselves. The artists were as varied as the bidders, suggesting conceptual work (Mary Ellen Carroll has promised to exchange lives with someone for a day for a winning bid of $10,000), straight-forward portraiture, and sculpture (caraballo-farman will make a 3D print of sorts from a MRI or Cat Scan of a winning bidder’s body part for $4,000).
The night was filled with mime-inspired and cover-singing performances, appropriately, by Olek and The Black Soft, whose work was up for auction, too. and ended with an afterparty at the Boom Boom Room. Finally, an art event that tells it like it is and makes no apologies: here was beautiful art paid for by beautiful people—and the surplus of bids were hard to ignore. We certainly loved ourselves that night, and there's nothing wrong with that.