The always-provocative Paul McCarthy’s new exhibition WS might be the biggest film event in New York this summer. It’s been on display at the Park Avenue Armory since June and will continue until August 4th. You have to see it before it closes, but it isn’t exactly a movie. It might be something else entirely. WS is more a psychotic riff on Walt Disney’s “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.” When you purchase your ticket, you’re warned by the cashier that there will be explicit imagery in the show (there is, trust me). Inside an enormous room, you peer through windows into what seems like the remains of the most insane party imaginable. There’s also a huge (obviously plastic) forest with a open-legged mannequin laying on the ground.
But then you look up and realize that maybe WS is a movie too. Projected on huge screens up above is the orgy we saw the remnants of. From four different angles we see Snow White’s orgy (here called White Snow) with the dwarfs donning prosthetic noses and university sweatshirts and a Walt Disney look-alike (called Walt Paul and played by Paul McCarthy himself). Alcohol flows everywhere, nudity abounds, bodily fluids spill and characters appear to be killed. It’s hilarious. Maybe it doesn’t sound like it, but the film is so gross that it inevitably becomes a grotesque brand of funny.
On side-screens there is even more humor and bizarre films. One has a parody of a cooking show with Walt Paul and White Snow, a few others seem to make fun of pornography. Paul McCarthy’s imagination runs totally wild here as we descend into a hilariously sinful hell. There’s so much there, and so much detail. Have fun looking for all the props from the films scattered throughout the huge room. There’s at least 7 hours of video here that even I wasn’t able to see in its entirety but it captivates enough to warrant another visit. I won’t say what I think it all means, but if you see WS I’m sure you’ll come up with as many possibilities as I did.
(h/t James Ewing and Park Avenue Armory)