Pictures from a Pandemic: Anthony James

Anthony James is an LA-based British American artist who uses the visual vocabulary of Minimalism to make monumental and experiential sculptures and installations which express his signature themes of life, death and rebirth. He has recently shown work at Alice Walton’s Crystal Bridges Museum in Arkansas and has a current show at the Opera Gallery, London.


Maranda Barskey writes:

I don’t mind it. He wakes me up in the middle of the night all the time, usually to tell me some story he’s dredged up from deep memory about shenanigans in London or NY or the 90s or he shows me a photo of an old Ferrari and wonders if I like it. I’m familiar with the moments between my eyelids lifting and finding the energy to engage. This is different. There is a heavy thud coming from somewhere. We lay in silence a moment, drawing the same conclusion.
“Is this happening?” he asks.
“Yes. It is.”
We roll out of bed. Anthony is annoyed, which makes me laugh now, because this is Covid-19 Time, Social Distance plus Social Breakdown, worries at the back of the mind, a sense that any disruption of the ordinary can mean threat. And now there’s an intruder on our roof.
We emerge from the overhang and look up. There he is. The shape shifts from a crouch to a man, standing tall. Something long and thin clutched tightly in his right hand.
“Hey.” Anthony says “What are you doing up there, bud? You need to get off the roof.”
The man’s eyes are wide, almost glowing 20 feet away in the moonlight. He walks toward the edge. Jumps. Falls 12 feet.
Oh shit, I think. “Are you okay?” Anthony asks him loudly. We call 911 as the man staggers towards his car, makes multiple false starts, a squawking eight point turn and is gone.
We wait for the police to show up in the kitchen. Suddenly, our hands are shaking and we’re talking a mile a minute. Adrenaline hits hard. The LAPD get to the house in minutes and by that time they’d already found the vehicle abandoned just down the hill. It was a stolen car, they told us, and left.
We watched the flashing lights of their vehicles and the silhouettes of officers as they searched for him across the valley. Yes, they got him. We had wondered whether it was Covid-19 that had brought him to the roof. Perhaps, perhaps not, but it was Covid-19 that wrote the end of the story. Like others being arrested for non-heinous crimes in Southern California right now the cops had to let him go.


Anthony Haden-Guest


Anthony Haden-Guest (born 2 February 1937) is a British writer, reporter, cartoonist, art critic, poet, and socialite who lives in New York City and London. He is a frequent contributor to major magazines and has had several books published including TRUE COLORS: The Real Life of the Art World and The Last Party, Studio 54, Disco and the Culture of the Night.




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