O’Flaherty’s Is Back With a Vengeance

On a musky New York evening this past July, Jamian Juliano-Villani, Ruby Zarsky, and Billy Grant packed the streets (and the walls) of their Lower East Side gallery, O’Flaherty’s. For their group show entitled “The Patriot," the experimental gallerists held an open call on Instagram, assembling the work of more than 800 artists via the mission, "If it can hang on the wall, we will show it.” The NYPD arrived minutes after the show's opening. As Janelle Zara noted at the time for CULTURED, the event "was both chaotic and iconic: wall-to-wall crowds squeezed inside a floor-to-ceiling hang, drinking cans of Budweiser printed with the American flag."

O’Flaherty’s, nyc, gelatin, Gelitin
Image from "O’Flaherty’s Gelatin O’Flattering" courtesy of @gelitin_official.

Six months later, history is made (and chaos ensues) once again at “O’Flaherty’s Gelatin O’Flattering,” the first exhibition in O’Flaherty’s new gallery space on Avenue A. Featuring the titular artists (Wolfgang Gantner, Ali Janka, Florian Reither, and Tobias Urban), the show includes the U.S. premiere of Stinking Down, 2022, a 92-minute feature by Liam Gillick and Gelatin (also known as Gelitin) notably rejected by all major film festivals, and a series of live performances by the art collective that began last week. Provocative and disruptive, Gelatin was formed in the mid-'90s in Vienna. Though the foursome work across visual mediums, they are most known for their over-the-top performances that intersect humor, spontaneity, and sexuality.

At O’Flaherty’s, Gelatin's five nights of performance are an attempt to create a live sculpture based on the Hellenistic work Laocoön and His Sons. Crafted from a single block of marble by a trio of Rhodian sculptors—Agesander, Polydorus, and Athenodorus—it's considered one of the most important ancient works, and is currently on display at the Vatican Museums. Gelatin's interpretation, however, is callback to one of the group's most lauded works, I Like My Job Five, a cheeky critique about the process and labor of art-making. Naked before a packed house, the four men of Gelatin appear on stage each night as their own subjects. Methodically, Gantner, Janka, Reither, and Urban heave globs of Vaseline and plaster-like sludge onto their exposed bodies as assistants oscillate around them. Like the masters, Gelatin is encasing its legacy. Only instead of Ancient Rome, it's some kind of vision of idolatry in Alphabet City.

"O’Flaherty’s Gelatin O’Flattering" will be on view until March 5, 2023 at O’Flaherty’s 44 Avenue A, New York, NY 10009.