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Jack Goldstein's 'Two Fencers' Is Being Performed Tonight at 10 

By Andrew Russeth

It’s about 7 p.m. in New York, and though you may not know it, you have an important choice to make. You can head back home, maybe have a quiet evening at your apartment—have some dinner, read a book, that sort of thing. Or you can head up to the Venus Over Manhattan gallery at 980 Madison (that’s between East 76th and 77th Street), which tonight is playing host to a relatively rare performance of Jack Goldstein’s Two Fencers (1976) piece. (Full disclosure: VoM is owned by Adam Lindemann, who contributes to The Observer.)

The piece is going to take place late—10 p.m.—so you do have some time to think about it. It’s being staged as part of the gallery’s latest show, “Where Is Jack Goldstein?” The exhibition takes a look at the hyperrealistic paintings that the late Pictures Generation artist made from 1976 to 1986, but it also features some of his other work. With a traveling Goldstein retrospective set to hit the Jewish Museum next year, there couldn’t be a better time for a very fine Goldstein aperitif. (By the way, the show’s peculiar title comes from a painting by Rirkrit Tiravanija.)

What exactly is involved in Two Fencers? Google it. I don’t want to ruin it here. (Or just come to the performance tonight!) It was first staged in 1976 in Geneva, and again two years later at the Kitchen in New York. It’s been recreated a few times since then. Here’s a little preview, courtesy of Douglas Crimp in his classic 1993 book On the Museum’s Ruins, in a section where he talks about the piece along with Robert Longo’s Surrender performance:

"These performances were little else than presences, performed tableaux that were there in the spectator’s space but that appeared ethereal, absent. They had the odd quality of holograms, very vivid and detailed and present and at the same time ghostly, absent."

Sound great, right? Hope to see you there.

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