I Hate New York London, England
Kenny Schachter, I
Hate NY, gallery view
Tuesday to Saturday from 11am to 7pm, New Yorker, Kenny Schachter has
been sitting in his temporary gallery, 107 Shoreditch High Street since
the 17th of May waiting for you to see his exhibition, I Hate
New York. It is the same method he has followed in New York and
Mexico City for the last ten years. He only rents store fronts. For
the first five years, he did not sell a thing. In truth, he only got
one review. In his own naive way he was trying to change the landscape
of the art world on his own terms. In many ways, he has succeeded in
He provided the necessary foothold into the art world for the likes
of Janine Antoni, Andrea Zittel, and Christian Schuman. This success
elevated him to the dizzy heights of the front page of the New York
Times Magazine. Yet by his own admission he is still excluded from the
art world for which he has developed a passion. Speaking to him, you
sense the disappointment in this, but anger and his optimism to over
come their ignorance takes hold of you as well.
At the start of another week on Shoreditch High Street, Tuesday, 6th
of June, to be precise, Kennys own art world was temporarily shattered
by two muggers. Kenny said, they started asking questions about
art. At first I was like these people look a bit dodgy. But then they
were asking me questions (about Joao Onofre, Untitled video
installation) and I started to explain the dialectic of the male/female
etc. Without warning, one of them got him in a head lock, issued
death threats and (after a struggle) made him a hostage in his own gallery,
by cheekily blocking the toilet door shut with a Flymo (part of Robert
Chambers White Prince sculpture). After 10 minutes the muggers
had gone, and with them approximately £10,000 worth of projection
equipment and Kennys computer.
Soon after they had gone, he broke free from his cubicle prison. Friends
gathered round, shared a beer and began to celebrate surviving such
a horrific ordeal. When I arrived, just a few hours later, the gallery
was still open for business like nothing had happened. Assured that
he wanted to do the interview we sat down and began to release his post
People say there is a movement to the east (London). Its
all about money and creating this image. I just got robbed blind almost
killed, and I still believe that the next person that walks in could
be someone that never looked at art before, he says.
Ever since he walked into his first gallery as a punter and was looked
down upon, he has wanted to present an open challenge to the art world.
It is a flawed approach that he admits is foolish and childish, but
something has made him continue. I believe in embracing anyone
that comes in and takes the time to look. Thats my ideal audience.
Sure I wanna make money. I wanna be successful and get a critical response
to my work. But Id rather fail on my terms than succeed on their
terms. It (the art world) is just more of the same. Just the same money
and elitismwhich has nothing to do with art. Its all about
money, trendiness, and elitism. I reacted against that from the very
He does not dismiss major art dealers on a personal level. It would
be stupid to ignore that in London they have played an important role
in creating the young British art (yBa) scene. He adds, I just
open my arms to London, because I honestly think there is more happening
here, now, than anywhere in the world for Contemporary Art. But to beat
your chest and say, weve got the best artists!. What
kind of fucking stupidity is that! Thats just total PR.
Here he begins to reveal what it is about the art world that he feels
is wrong. Youre not a human being in the art world unless
youre either a collector, a curator, or a dealer of some sort,
he says. He is right. There is no other industry in the world where
the premise of communication is who not to communicate with, first.
Curiously, he points to high fashion, but the point is clear. He says,
imagine if Alexander McQueen said, youre too ugly
to wear my dress, adding, I think the artists have the best
intentions. I just think the art world is disgusting. Its not
just about how much money you have, but its like who are you?
That is why I am here. And when these people have robbed me, I
keep my doors open! Because in my mind if I can seduce somebody from
outside, he pauses and completes his thought with, some
of my best audiences are just people walking by who see the store front.
The store front is the key to what Kenny offers. There is no buzzer
to gain entry to this exhibition and today he has paid dearly, but that
impact on the street is as important as the installations in the gallery.
He explains, Inherently it takes people in and that to me is what
life is abouthaving someone come in who never looked at art, or
never liked art, like me! The most important thing to Kenny is
to communicate his art shows to as many people as possible. In the haze
of his survival and beer he reckons, if you can have one sympathetic
personits worth nearly getting killed.
In the cold light of the next day he was feeling nauseous by any sudden
movement on the tube and the show does indeed go on, but he says, I
dont think I could ever do it on my own again. He hired
security until 17th June when the eventful show ended.