That Time PS1 Threw a Warhol-Themed LSD Party

"Warm Up" kicks off this weekend—but nothing tops Mike Bidlo's 1984 recreation of the Factory.

Screencap from Andy Warhol Factory by David Blair. Image via Vimeo.

Last year, I gave MoMA PS1 a hard time for its “Forty” show, an exhibition that was a well-deserved but rose-tinted salute to the alternative space’s own four-decade history. “Forty” was long on celebration, but somewhat short on real historical context.

It only seems right, then, that I give PS1 a little shout out for its current show, “A Bit of Matter: The MoMA PS1 Archives, 1976–2000,” which is basically just historical context.

“A Bit of Matter” is not going to compete with Wonder Woman for summer entertainment; it’s just a room full of documents from the history of the Long Island City space. But art nerds might get a small thrill from reading, say, art historian Kellie Jones’s 1989 letter recommending Glenn Ligon for a subsidized studio. (She says that he works “in a straight-forward manner without the aid of electronic hype.”)

My best discovery in the trove is the cast list for a 1984 Mike Bidlo performance titled “The Factory.” Bidlo is best known for his appropriations of other artists’ works, as in his “Not Pollock” or “Not Picasso” series. In this case, he appropriated the entire atmosphere of Warhol’s Factory for a live-in work of art/righteous party.

Bidlo’s Warhol theme party in effect involved a bunch of ultra-hip ’80s art scenesters playing a variety of ultra-hip ’60s art scenesters.

Notably, the now-legendary artist David Wojnarowicz was cast in the role of Velvet Underground frontman “Lou Reed.” Artist (and future founder of the Green Party of Hawaii) Keiko Bonk played “Nico.”

East Village punk photographer Jimmy de Sana played Warhol chronicler “Billy Name.” The late abstract painter Ruth Kligman was “Elizabeth Taylor.”

There are many other fun casting choices. Perhaps the figure who’s improved her status most since the fake “Factory” days is painter Marilyn Minter, an art star now, but a humble “Go-Go Dancer” in 1984.

Here’s the whole list:

The cast for Mike Bidlo's The Factory as seen at PS1. Image: Ben Davis.

The cast for Mike Bidlo’s The Factory as seen at PS1. Image: Ben Davis.

What, you ask, was the whole Bidlo/Warhol experience really like?

“It was a party, a great social smash of the season,” Carlo McCormick wrote in the May 2, 1984 New York Beat (the review is also at PS1). “Everyone was there. A central character in a nurse’s outfit freely distributed acid to the hordes. This party was so authentic it could surely compete with all the great L.S.D. parties of the sixties.”

Top that, “Warm Up!

Experimental filmmaker David Blair made a movie about the Bidlo work, titled Andy Warhol Factory. I think this is it, from Vimeo, if you want a look:

“A BIT OF MATTER: The MoMA PS1 Archives, 1976–2000” is on view at MoMA PS1 through September 10, 2017.

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