Incisive Reportage: Gallery Beat host Paul H-O interviews Cindy Sherman. (Image courtesy of Guest of Cindy Sherman.)
In 1993, Paul H-O (short for Hasegawa-Overacker), along with a few comrades in arms, launched an arts-focused public access program in New York City called Gallery Beat. For 160 half-hour episodes, H-O and his esteemed colleagues — Walter Robinson, now of ArtNet, Spencer Tunick, of nekkid people fame, and Cathy Lebowitz, of Art in America — crash landed at gallery openings all over Manhattan, armed with nothing but a TV camera, a microphone and probing questions such as, What is it? “Admittedly, half of those episodes are shit and should have never been made,” says H-O. “But there’s some great moments with people in galleries.” Including one with a lot of vagina.
H-O is working on putting the old shows online (a couple currently reside on YouTube), as well as resuscitating Gallery Beat for an internet audience. “There’s a recession going on, which means it’s time for me to come back,” he quips. His priority these days, however, is the theatrical release of his film, Guest of Cindy Sherman, which he co-directed with Tom Donohue, and which will premiere next week at Cinema Village in NYC and the Film Center in Santa Fe. The highly intriguing doc, which chronicles the rise and fall of Gallery Beat alongside the rise and fall of H-O’s romantic relationship with Sherman (expect to see rare footage of her at work), has been making its way through the festival circuit since last spring and is now set for a broad public airing. The footage of H-O & Co. at an early Vanessa Beecroft performance at Deitch is worth the price of admission alone.
To shill the flick, H-O proved willing to submit himself to our pat interrogation methods, revealing who he’d like to see in an artist girl-fight and why he thinks a tube sock and a tin can represent mankind.
C-M: What’s the biggest stereotype about art?
H-O: That tremendous macho attitude that someone like Picasso embodied. Martin Kippenberger established a certain style for himself that way, too. Then there’s Schnabel. People don’t think I like Julian Schnabel, but, in fact, I adore him. He’s given me great material. He is that larger-than-life figure. He adopts the attitude of being Picasso, and since he’s such a visible figure, Hollywood people see him and say, “Here’s an artist!”