Letter from Artforum Berlin: 125 Galleries, 1 Bad Party

“It’s a great space, but they should open it up a bit more, let more people in at the door,” said Shamim Momin, an associate curator at the Whitney. It was after midnight on Sunday, October 1, at a party in what used to be a public swimming pool in Berlin.

Trust dealer Javier Peres, a wicked fire starter, to add a dash of door-policy drama to characteristically boho Berlin. Out front: a cheek-to-jowl crush of people. A good sprinkling of the revelers were in town for the five-day art fair Artforum Berlin. Some brandished invites which pictured a nude man with a tallit, a Jewish prayer shawl, curtained before his junior member.

At the entrance, stone-faced men in red ties flanked an attractive young woman, flaxen hair upswept, cradling a clipboard. A guest list? “This remembers me Les Bains. You know Les Bains?” a woman with a heavy French accent said, fighting for balance in the surging crowd. She was referring to the Parisian nightclub that is housed in a former Turkish baths. Her English-speaking male companion laughed. “The baths?” he said. “Depends on what you mean.”

“Nah, nah,” said Dash Snow, the 2006 Whitney Biennial vet, Rivington Arms artist and Kid Rock look-a-like, who was DJ-ing, when asked if the art fair was what brought him. “Me and my friend came here to promote this.” He handed out glossy stickers explaining that “9/11 was an inside job.”

“There will be no pictures of pigs shooting down people on the instant replay,” he chanted in protest mode. “Write down the words of this song and then call me.”

And the DJ-ing? Was this his first time doing that?

“Not at all. It sounds like it, right?” Acoustics were indeed a bit challenging, given that the main dance area was the empty, sloping bed of the swimming pool.

A man with a British accent stepped up to make a request.

“I don’t have any techno music,” Mr. Snow told him. “I have Yoko Ono. You can dance to that.”

“Do you have something like §(/$%)§, or something,” the man slurred.

“I don’t even know what that is, dear,” said Mr. Snow. “But I will try to please you. I’m not an evil DJ. I shouldn’t even be here, man.”

The man flailed his arm in the direction of friends on the dance floor. “It’s those people down there.”

“Oh they’re all complaining?” said Mr. Snow. “If my dick was long enough I’d piss on them.”

For clarity’s sake, he said: “I’m a grower.”

—Nicholas Boston