If you're in New York and at all interested in photography, do yourself a favor and check out this show. Peanut Underground directors Lee Wells and Katie Peyton have assembled a dazzling survey of a century of picture-taking. In the square footage of nothing more than a small railroad apartment, classic photographs bump up against surprising finds. Steichen, Horst, Arbus, Duchamp, Newton, and Mapplethorpe are all represented. There is a Francesca Woodman. Living stars include Cindy Sherman, Andres Serrano, Damien Hirst, and Spencer Tunnick. Talented emerging photographers are adeptly mixed in: Savannah Spirit's extroverted rough-and-tumble portraiture, Julian Kliner's eerily cold formalism.
A word about Peanut Underground. It seems actually to be a small railroad apartment. It's below street level on East 5th Street. The walls are, of course, crumbling. I've been places that smelled nicer. You could go to a museum and see many of the photographers in this show in more comfortable environs. But you'd be lucky to see them in the cramped and unkempt quarters of Peanut Underground. Why? Because it is here, where lack of resources meets up with ambition, taste, and bull-headed will, that the future is being made. Museums celebrate the canon with the grandeur it deserves; but the canon is much of the way to completion by the time it arrives on those walls. Culture is still alive and growing in spaces like Peanut Underground. I find this moving and exciting; if you drop by I think you'll understand what I mean.
100 Years in the Underground: Steichen to Sherman to Infinity
Peanut Underground Art Projects
215 East 5th Street, NY, NY, 10003
917 723 2524
Open weekends and Mondays 3 to 8 and by appointment. Call if no one's around.