Whitehot Magazine

Pictures from a Pandemic: Colette

An album cover included in Colette's Berlin show, ironically titled "Clean Up Time," it is an image where she is looking into the future. "Some future!" Colette says.



Colette has had a singular art history. Born in Tunisia, she became known in New York in the 70s for radical installations, including one which centered on herself in her own space on Pearl in the Financial district. In the early 70s she began making Street art, not on the walls though, but on the streets themselves., and she made work in the clubs, notably for Rudolf Pieper’s Danceteria. She adopted the persona of Olympia in 1990 but in the aftermath of 9/11 she morphed into Lumiere, this being the French for light. She went to Berlin in 2015 on a one-year residency and has remained there, with yearly periods in New York. Her story – which has included her denunciation of Lady Gaga for borrowing her sleep-in as a concept and mimicking her in the window of Barney’s - continues. As these images indicate. 

A shot from Colette's opening performance in Poland, for the eye festival - solo large scale exhibitions: Lumiere’s adventures in zulu land II.

A message from Colette:

This is no time to write poetry. How and what can I write when I am back in New York, on my knees on a rug in Best Buy, using their wi-fi because they cannot fix mine? My recurring themes have been the necessity to become lighter, to seek the essential amongst all the displacement ... uncertainty ... impermanence. But there sure has been a lot of that since 2001. I was then living near the Twin Towers on Pearl but I was evicted from my atelier in 2007. Then Hurricane Sandy came. And now Covid.

A night drawing, made to calm the nerves. March june 2020.

Art is said to be prophetic, although the message may not be clear till after creation. A "Vampire Repellent” was part of my clean-up time solo show at the Lowen Palais in Grunewald, Berlin, in November and December, 2019. I have renamed it “The Corona Repellent” now.

The minute I arrived back in New York I felt the collective heaviness. So much fear in the air ... anger, negativity. I had experienced that to some degree in Berlin. But, thank God, I have also encountered lighter beings who are using this time to create, those who agree the world is in a process of transformation. It’s a painful birth. But on its way to a great awakening. Welcome to the new world! And my cell works. At least for now. WM  


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.




view all articles from this author