CLUB 57 AT MOMA
The creative nerve of the East Village Dive
The word “seedy” paints a clear picture in the mind of anyone using it to describe a place. More often than not, that place is urban and bears a strong resemblance to the drug-laced crumbles of pre-gentrification New York City in the late ‘70s – specifically, the East Village.
The prescription lenses of time glamorize the East Village’s grit with glitter. A penniless basement venue for no-name artists and exhibitionists gleams with fashionable sex appeal, looking back at it from now. That venue was Club 57, the seedy, racy subject of Club 57: Film, Performance and Art in the East Village, 1978 – 1983, which is currently at the Museum of Modern Art in New York through April 1, 2018.
On view, we see the posters, the art, and the live shows. There are films being shown that document the movement as well. We see the early art of Kenny Scharf, Keith Haring, Tom Scully, the insane performance art of Ann Magnuson and work of Fab 5 Freddy converge together into one raw and sometimes quite fun advant garde arena. Every club that came after took elements and influences from Club 57. The legacy lives on.
The show collages evidence of a moment when irony was fresh and punk was new and the sting of political turmoil struck all the young nerves. Bras were either pointed or pointedly avoided. Unknown artists recognized that it was a fun time going solo, but that you haven’t really lived until you’ve made art with a few partners.
Take a look at these pieces from the show. Notice that the roots of the present are in the past. Then, like running into an ex, let retrospect filter out the bad and leave you loving the good.