Not sure if the time is right to make a big-ticket art purchase at Frieze Los Angeles? Lisa Anne Auerbach has you covered. Just book a session with Alpine Moon, a performance artist and psychic currently starring in Auerbach’s interactive piece Psychic Art Advisor, housed inside one of the faux brownstones at the Paramount Pictures Studios’ New York Backlot.
Auerbach is one of the artists participating in the fair’s special projects section. “I did a series on small free-standing businesses a couple of years ago, and one of them was a psychic,” she told artnet News during the fair’s VIP preview. “Since then I’ve been interested in this idea of small businesses that are sole proprietorships and have a public presence.”
She recently completed a photography project featuring Los Angeles storefront psychics, but for Frieze, Auerbach wanted to tie in the art world—hence the art advisor psychic, a blend of two professions that both require the client’s utmost trust. The free sessions booked up weeks ahead of the fair’s opening this week.
The idea of staging this piece on a fake New York City street was particularly appealing to the artist. “This is the kind of place that psychics usually exist in the world, in upstairs apartments where you just see the neon sign and it’s all shut up and you can’t really see what’s going on in there,” said Auerbach, who has decorated the space and created a custom set of tarot cards based on her own photography.
When I sat down with Alpine Moon, there was a bowl of crystals and a shapely hourglass on the table. She wore a purple jumpsuit and matching platform boots and sunglasses, an appropriately LA take on the clichéd turbans of yore. I was nervous, but open, eager to know what the next step in my career as an art journalist might be as I approach my five-year anniversary at artnet News later this month.
“I don’t claim to be an abundant source of knowledge or energy. I believe that we’re all able to tap into the true knowledge of that that is greater than us,” Alpine Moon told me during our 25-minute session. “I use these cards to connect to your guides, angels, ancestors—those who have your best interests at heart.”
The reading was surprisingly personal. A card featuring a woman holding a phone right up to her face seemed to reflect my single-minded focus on my work and the need to step back and look beyond what is in front of me. The image of a sculpture of two strong-looking hands posed in a tender embrace, Alpine Moon told me, was about “a humble acceptance of both asking and receiving assistance and help.”
These were things I would not have necessarily gleaned from looking at the cards myself—but that’s part of a psychic’s appeal.
“Reading tarot cards, the ability of reading images, can be really important,” Auerbach assured me.
Here’s what else Auerbach had to say about the project.
Do you believe in psychics?
I believe the relationship between the client and the person doing the reading can be fruitful in a lot of different ways. Sometimes having an outside opinion can help you see things more clearly.
And how did you come up with the idea for this piece?
I started thinking about this overlap between psychics and art advisors. They’re both primarily women who decide to go into business. They’re both professions that are about telling people what to do. I like that it’s usually women and it holds a lot of power.
Is this piece intended to be critical of those who might engage in speculation over an artist’s market, or view art as a commodity?
It asks you think about that and investigate those associations, certainly.
Have you ever been burned by the market, by someone buying your work and then turning around and flipping it for a much higher price?
Not personally. I think that’s a luxury problem. The fact that you’re already in that market to begin with, you’re already there! It’s a problem, but it’s something we as artists don’t really have control over. We just make the best work that we can, and the most interesting work. But there’s a statement aspect to this that is about that market for sure.
Did you take these photographs specifically with the idea of creating tarot cards in mind?
No, absolutely not. The cards were kind of about figuring out what to do with these photographs. That was a solution. The deck is 78 cards; 70 are photographs, seven are colors, and one is a blank, that you can put whatever you want on it.
Are you surprised that the sessions booked up so quickly?
No, people love psychics—and it’s free!
And have people been responding positively to their sessions?
It’s early, but so far it seems like everyone feels like they’ve figured something out.
What do you hope people will take away from this project?
I think people should trust in their own intuition, and not needing outside authorization.
Lisa Anne Auerbach’s Psychic Art Advisor Sessions can be found at P3, Brownstone 18B at Frieze Los Angeles at Paramount Pictures Studios Backlot, 5515 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, California, February 14–17, 2019.
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