Waiting for Kanye

If there were ever an audience primed for the cuckoo rigors of performance art, it is followers of fashion. Who understands duration better than those for whom enforced passivity is an occupational hazard? Who is more at home with the punishments of an indefinite wait?

Is there another group that could be so eager to watch what, in the end, was a bunch of models parading around in the hot late-summer sun wearing anoraks, fleece off-the-shoulder T-shirts and clear stiletto-heeled vinyl knee boots a pole dancer would kill for that they’d be willing, at last-minute notice, to follow this game plan?

Sacrifice four hours from a workday to jump on a bus that crawls through midday traffic for an hour to reach remote Roosevelt Island. Stand in the blazing sun as assistants instruct them to move from one line to another. Be admitted at last to a park designed by Louis Kahn, one of the gods of American architecture, a place that is also a national historic shrine dedicated to Franklin D. Roosevelt, where they are encouraged to mill around and bide their time until. …

Finally, roughly three hours after departure, they are encouraged to take seats on metal benches under allees of little-leaf linden trees and serve as spectators for a performance-slash-installation devised by the banally modish artist Vanessa Beecroft, of roughly 100 beautiful black women arranged in silent static rows, wearing taupe-colored leotards and standing as still as statues.

This was the Yeezy 4 show designed by Kanye West, an artist (and he is an artist; as he is the first to remind you, he went to art school) whose ego is probably his most perfect creation. If sometimes Mr. West’s productions can seem like a case of elephant giving birth to mouse, he still deserves credit for colossal ambition, good politics (the Four Freedoms park is consecrated to Roosevelt’s belief in freedoms from want, from fear, of worship and of speech and expression) and what must be superhuman energy.

Read More