NEW YORK - About 50 people were expected, but the actual turnout was closer to 175, jamming the second-floor gallery of the Swiss Institute (SI) on a sweltering evening last Wednesday in the heart of Soho.
The event was a discussion on art and pornography between erotic filmmaker Andrew Blake and conceptual artist Lawrence Weiner. Blake told AVN that, judging by audience response during the Q&A session, a great many had shown up mainly to see him.
The whole thing came about because Blake's 24-year old daughter, who works at Conde Nast in Manhattan, is an acquaintance of Piper Marshall, the gallery's assistant curator, who also moderated the discussion.
Weiner has an international reputation in minimalist-conceptual art. His movie, "Water in Milk Exists," was premiered the week before in Basel, Switzerland. "He's the master of these kind of esoteric things," Blake said, and the two of them "couldn't have been further apart."
"We were completely at odds with each other. He was about reality. He was saying, ‘I find beauty in 49, 50 year old people.' And I said, Well, I find beauty in youth, the 20 year-old. I get off on that. I don't get off on so-called reality. My reality isn't what's in front of me, it's what I make in front of me."
Blake described Weiner's film as "a series of kind of intellectualized pieces he shot in a gallery in Brooklyn. They weren't professional models. A lot of them came from the art world. Art chicks. These were just normal girls who wanted to have an exhibitionistic kind of experience."
It does contain sexually explicit images, but Blake found it "anti-erotic. There's no turn-on factor to his work. I think that's by design. Whereas I was saying, You look at my work and you become aroused by it, you get turned on, then I know I'm doing my job well.
"That's the thing that I was trying to get across and he was the antithesis of that."
During the Q&A session, Blake said, most of the questions were for him. And they were not of the usual porn-fan variety.
"This whole thing came up about metaphor leading to narrative. I think that's an important part of what I do now. It's this kind of metaphorical imagery that creates its own narrative as it goes along. I think I've become pretty good at doing that.
"Lawrence, on the other hand, was more about the reality of just sex. Not glamorized, not estheticized, just what it is, the raw thing. I was coming from a more romantic, idealized, decorative, superficial form of artwork. Which is perfect-there's nothing wrong with that."
Blake was heartened by "a lot of support from the audience. I just felt really good afterwards. They took all of my flyers and my giveaways that I had there. It was very positive. I thought the fans were there for me but, hmmm, the conceptual art crowd? I don't know."
He concluded, "I just didn't buy into the whole conceptual pseudo-artistic nature of where this guy was coming from. We parted ways amicably, but man oh man, if that's what the art world is, sign me up somewhere else. I'm much more comfortable being a pornographer."
Blake's next DVD release is Paid Companions, featuring a decidedly decorative all-female cast, headed by Faye Reagan. It's scheduled to ship on June 24.
Pictured: Moderator Piper Marshall, Andrew Blake.