Published December 8, 2008
Installation shot courtesy of the Swiss Institute New York.
The original Cabaret Voltaire (no, not this band) was a nightclub for artists founded by Hugo Ball in 1916, and the birthplace of Dadaism. In recent years, Cabaret Voltaire has fallen into disrepair, but in 2004 the space was saved, and has since become re-dedicated to contemporary art. Its quirky offshoot boutique, curated by Andrea Roca, carries on a bit of Dada’s perverse sense of mischief. Pop-up stores are nothing new, but when the Swiss Institute decided to import a selection of Roca’s favorite (and distinctly Swiss-national) items in time for the holiday season, I took a brisk walk down Broadway to see what I could find. Charming Assistant Curator Piper Marshall showed me around the small shop. Hung on the walls and stacked atop improvised corrugated cardboard shelves and tables (sadly, not for sale), they’ve really packed in a lot of stuff, and without Piper I fear I may have been lost, as many of the items require exposition:
Fitting Tales is Bitten Stetter‘s a gift that keeps on giving, and a way out of the tired rhythm of twice-yearly fashion collections. Instead, you purchase a periodical subscription: every two months, the artists will mail you a hand-crafted piece of clothing or jewelry, curated to possess unique narrative elements. A picnic motif might come with flowery embellishments and a compass. And you’ll always be in season.
Independent Swiss publisher Nieves offers a large selection; I especially like this one of New York photographer/filmmaker Ari Marcopoulous’s vintage portraits of Beastie Boy Adam Horovitz, better known as Ad Rock. It’s the second of Ari’s slim, seductive books of portraits for Nieves; the first featured the Norwegian snowboarder Terje Haakonsen.
The shop offers three types of hand-painted feathered headbands, some with silver medallions, from Peter Mueller. These are are Piper’s current obsession. She only wishes she could pull them off. (Few could.)
Sarah Kueng and Lovis Caputo collaborate as Kueng Caputo, and riff on the objects of interest from the likes of Jun Aoki and Marcel Wanders, which they spot at international design fairs over the past year. For Copy, Elegant photographs by Raphael Hefti sit alongside the originals on opposite pages. Look closely-the copy is every bit as original as the original.
And go easy on the Mothers of Invention T-Shirts, with such moms-behind-the-man as Lucille Hendrix and Gladys Presley. I need one for my mom!