Who is Lutz Bacher


I met the artist Lutz Bacher once. She was dressed in all black, with a pork-pie hat made of scraps of leather. She had grey hair, and a big silver ring with the head of an H.R. Giger-type alien lunging off her finger.

Smoke (Gets in Your Eyes) (Regency Arts Press) is the first major publication of elusive-as-she-is-weird conceptual artist Lutz Bacher. The catalogue-cum-artist book was assembled as a companion to her two most recent exhibitions, “Spill” at Contemporary Art Museum, St. Louis, and “My Secret Life.” which opened this week at P.S.1 in Long Island City.

Smoke (Gets in Your Eyes) mingles recognizable touchstones of Bacher’s thirty-plus-year career with Xeroxed ephemera together, with little to no visual hierarchy: found Vietnam G.I. photographs; celebrities with joke captions slapped over them; trolls; transcripts of Bacher interviewing her friends about what they think of her; psychoanalytic questionnaires; email; excerpted passages from books; pictures of Lee Harvey Oswald; Abercrombie and Fitch catalogues; Lyrics to “Killing Me Softly”; entire pages of text redacted with a sharpie. You figure it out.

This chaotic anthology takes the conventions of a retrospective and puts a big “Out of Order” sign on the cover. Finally leaving more questions than answers, it might be the best way to illustrate a decidedly complicated life project.