Jay-Z and Marina Abramovic
Are a Hustler, Baby

July 12, 2013 | Marina Galperina

Jay-Z and Marina Abramovic Are a Hustler, Baby“There is ABSOLUTELY NO WAY you’re getting in,” Pace rep told my editor. She’s been getting calls about Jay-Z all day. “It’s a closed set.”

Jay-Z was shooting a Mark Romanek-directed music video inside a gallery in Chelsea, lip-syncing and dancing with half the New York art world as cameos. When Tweets alleging “Jay-Z is doing performance art” catalyzed with Vined absurdity of Hova doing music video stuff, and the internet blew up with funny fury and confusion. As if famous artists and famous musicians have never collaborated. As if rich people do not hang out with rich people. In our practiced brevity, we forgot that we all agree: Jay-Z and Marina Abramović are the same person.

Here’s the new, stronger strain of capitalism. It’s our newest pop art movement.
Meet the New Materialists. You’re going to be ok.

Jay-Z and Marina Abramovic Are a Hustler, Baby

Jay-Z and Marina Abramovic Are a Hustler, Baby

“Performance is not dead, of course. That’s just Twitter shorthand,” Magda Sawon, co-director of the Postmaster Gallery and consistent, early catalyst for New York’s brave new art, tells me. “It is the high-end celebrity-infested cross-branding parodies that are dead. These may have as well been curated by the good folks at The Onion.”

Jay-Z and Marina Abramovic Are a Hustler, BabyShe’s right. It was ridiculous. Marilyn Minter kissed Jay-Z’s gold Roc-a-Fella pendant. Richard Phillips taped Jay-Z rapping at Picasso’s actual baby’s baby, Diana Widmaier Picasso. Even the powerful critic Jerry Saltz giddily confessed in his column, “Maybe I was smitten by fame.”

And it was glorious. Yet another industry — and the art world is one of the most impenetrable and cliquish industries — bowed down to Jay-Z. They starfucked him right on that big white cube. Even Queen Abramović herself.

Don’t worry. Art will be ok. It won’t be much more fucked than it already is.

“Art is a field already filled with many incorrect proclamations and prophecies,” artist and former Plastic Little rapper Jayson Musson tells me. He was there and “enjoyed it immensely.”

Trust him for he is also YouTube’s greatest art critic Hennessy Youngman who took down Damien “Money Is My Medium” Hirst.
To be fair, any criticism worth listening to wasn’t calling Jay-Z a threat to the sanctity of art, just gently jabbing at the art world’s sudden Jay-Z groupies. Are you worried that Performance Art Itself is Doomed because “someone like Jay-Z, a collector and ‘outsider,’ is able to employ some of the motifs of performance art in the production of a music video?” Well, that “smacks of the insular elitism that art is very much synonymous with,” Musson says. “Hov got this.”

Hov’s got this. “Condos in my condos.” He’s got everything.

Shout out to Givenchy’s creative director Ricardo Tisci on “Picasso Baby?” Makes sense. Tisci designed Jay-Z and Kanye West’s Watch The Throne album art and tour costumes and has been friends with Abramović for years.

Enter Abramović, dancing with Jay-Z or, apparently “preparing to shank” him. (Say what?)

But Hov — Marina’s new friend — he has everything. That’s why he is yet to top The Black Album. For the last ten years, his lyrics are, generally the self-congratulatory, I made it! and Still here, because I made it, remember? Zzz.

While there’s nothing wrong with just rooting for a hugely successful black artist who grew up in the Marcy Projects, it’s also ok to call him on pretending that “his life as a champion capitalist is some perpetually escalating act of subversion. Hooray? Rooting for this man in 2013 is like rooting for Pfizer.” Now stop right there, music critic Chris Richards. “Or PepsiCo. Or PRISM.” You should have stopped right there, music critic Chris Richards.

Haters, remember: You must not hate performing/performance artists for their opulent lifestyle. Amirite, Marina Abramović?

SHE IS SO RICH! Her mansion is a fucking star…

“Obviously money, power and fame will always find their apologists and worshippers,” Magda Sawon says. “Me, I am hoping for twenty-year-old rebels who have never heard of Marina Abramović and her Institute to reinvent performance… I used to love her.”

I liked her old album when she lived in a van.

Now, she wears Givenchy like Jay-Z.

I’m getting tired, but I’m about to run a brand count on all the Magna Carta Holy Grail lyrics. (That name first though… Magna Carta and Holy Grail? It’s like a Supersized Double-Stuffed Big Mac of #powerful religious and early European history references!)

Hova owned/owns some Guayabera, Gucci, Bugatti, Givenchy, Ballys, Reeboks, Ray Bans, Nike Jordans, Adidas, Tom Ford, Crown Victoria, Jeep, Toyota, Lexus, Mercedes, Maybach, Lamborghini, D’USSÉ and the Nets. And Blue Ivy ™ (brand, also daughter). And Beyoncé.

“Got a bad bitch, she a masterpiece.” Oh, sorry, that’s a Rick Ross line.

What he wants to own is some Picasso, Condo, Rothko, Koons, Bacon, Warhol, SAMO and Basquiat (pronounced “bus cat” by Frank Ocean) and possibly, Da Vinci. But mostly, ca ca Picasso… Pablo. Rhymes with “Lambo.”

“Jay-Z is elitist,” artist Yung Jake and new media entrepreneur chats me. “More so than other rappers. He’s corporate. His taste in art is just like rappers’ taste in clothes and cars — just doing what is known. Like, Jean-Michel? I like Basquiat. But if I was a collector, I wouldn’t boast about that. That’s basic.

“He mentions Basquiat too much,” Jay Smooth — founder of New York’s longest-running hip hop radio program and Ill Doctrine host — agrees. “Has he never heard of Kehinde Wiley or Kara Walker or anything?”

“I wish they did this for a song with better lyrics,” Smooth laments. “Jay was kind of mailing it in on this one, and name-dropping instead of actually saying anything about art, which is a shame because I’m sure he really could do the latter.”

And on that note, someone take critic Jerry Saltz to an actual Jay-Z rap concert. Did you read how much fun he had at Pace?!

“People should probably read Ben Davis’s book 9.5 Theses on Art and Class to better understand the tortured ecstasy that spilled out of Pace Gallery yesterday all over the internet,” artist William Powhida suggests. His satirical work is about artists and money, and the former without the latter. He’s close to this. “There’a quote that doesn’t quite get to the race and class barriers that Hova™ danced over, but speaks to one reason why some people freaked out.” This is the quote:

The gallery’s white  cube serves to quarantine the debate over the acceptable frontiers of aesthetics, transmuting it into a question of abstract taste and intellectual posture when it is in fact a question of rival ideas – held by different communities and cultures-of how society works. Not everyone has equal access to the white cube. In fact, most don’t.

“Jay-Z has the access,” Powhida concludes. “I don’t think he is going to worry about that privilege. He’s a Capitalist, man.”

But that does not mean he doesn’t “get” art. He gets it.

“Oh what a feeling. Fuck it, I want a billion!”

You know who has a billion? Supposedly, world’s richest living artist Damien Hirst. There is no single other object in any museum or any entertainment oligarch’s casa that encapsulates the kind of art Jay-Z gets better than Hirst’s For the Love of God.

It is a skull set with 8,601 flawless diamonds and it is too expensive to sell, ever. It is the perfect symbol of the kind of Conceptual Capitalism and New Materialism that Jay-Z preaches. This is the supreme object, the final level. This is Jay-Z’s Holy Grail.

You’re going to be ok. Art is beautiful. Art is meaning. Art is life. Art is everything. But Jay-Z is not a prophet of all art. He’s one good artist and he’s expressing himself and his desires — opulent, flawed, but his. Let us not extract moral authority and cultural doctrine from that expression. Let’s go to a fucking Jay-Z concert.

Your last shit ain’t better than my first shit
Your best shit ain’t better than my worst shit 
The truth in my verses 
Your metaphors 
About what your net worth is 




(Photoshop: Kyle Petreycik/ANIMALNewYork)