It’s summer and time to show some skin: April von Stauffenberg shares her thoughts on jean shorts.
I was in NYC to see an ass.
I don’t want to be an ass in saying this, but there is a question in the air of late: how much ass to show? If I trust my online shopping eye, apparently the magic spot is where the thumb joint hits the thigh.
But for those of you who aren’t ready for the visual cheek assault of Daisy Duke, my own experiment in hacking off the legs of five pairs of jeans should save you a bit of time. (Wow…that sounds like I have issues.) But, really! Don’t use your own jeans. Get a secondhand pair on the baggy side. Think high waisted Liz Claiborne, Lee, Wrangler, Bill Blass; think not of the thin boyfriend, but of the reality TV husband. (But, that leaves a large margin of error – think of jeans in which you can actually use the pockets, not a clown’s tumbledown trousers.) And, when you’re ready to make your own “mini-short” (leave it to the French to come up with that brilliant redundancy and to make what was always plural into a singular), your legs will automatically look slimmer because you’ll be practically swimming in them!
Daisy Duke, by the way, wore her extreme shorts with pantyhose.
But when it comes to shorts, to each his/her own sweet spot. Mine is at the tip of my index finger. Longer is even better, more daring. Long shorts are tres hip, and I predict that this mini-short biz will be short-lived indeed. Two weeks from now and we’ll all be wearing long-ass, gone-ass Bermudas. After all, unlike the mini-skirt of the 1960s, the mini-short is a far cry from liberal or ‘women’s lib.’ Those mini-short cutoffs are no less than dirty little neoliberals, which frankly is another term we should just completely give up on. Call the ketchup the tomato fake-bake that it is. Neoliberal is just another way of saying pseudoliberal. Ergo, these mini-shorts are pseudoliberal. (And here’s my battlecry for the millennial feminist: take off your bra – put on your Bermudas! Less ass, higher wages!)
The onslaught of neoliberal Daisy Dukes in our midst aside, really I did go (all the way) to NYC to see a real ass (again). At an art fair. (Not unusual, you say? Nah.) This one was historic, that of the gallerist Daniel Newburg, the ass he once trucked down from Connecticut to put inside his gallery in 1994 because Maurizio Cattelan wanted it so. (And again in 2016, Maurizio wanted it so at frieze. One can never get enough ass – or repeating asses – in art these days. Nietzsche calls it the eternal return.)
The piece was called “Enter at Your Own Risk – Do Not Touch, Do Not Feed, No Smoking, No Photographs, No Dogs, Thank you.” (Hey…wait a minute. That sounds an awful lot like a warning label for any number of French mini-shorts out there!)
Other than that donkey munching on hay in a gallery, the only other thing in the room was a fancy chandelier hanging from the ceiling. The donkey made so much noise, Newburg was forced to close the show after a week. The donkey was returned to greener pastures and the gallerist hung up his hat for good and moved to London.
In the meanwhile, Wake Me Up When September Ends. I only just remembered now what we Americans call them: short shorts. Now that’s a redundancy I can live with – small without being belittled, repetitive, but meaningful too.
April von Stauffenberg is an American writer who moved to Berlin in 1998. As a journalist, she has written about art, architecture, and fashion (under her maiden name April Elizabeth Lamm) for artforum.com, frieze, Weltkunst, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Süddeutsche Zeitung, Sleek, and the German edition of Vanity Fair. She has curated shows at the Schirn Kunsthalle in Frankfurt and the Schinkel Pavillon in Berlin, among others, and is currently working on her art-world novel, The Collector.
Portrait: Semra Sevin