Opening Night: Kenneth Willardt's "Size Does Matter"

"Can I touch this?" asked one of the many sharp-dressed guests in Chelsea’s 558 Gallery last night. She could have been asking her friend about any number of things: Kenneth Willardt’s augmented reality prints of plus-sized supermodel Robyn Lawley (definitely not); the basement bed covered in red satin sheets (absolutely); or one of the two roasted pigs served in the center of a massive feast (we wouldn’t, personally).

While an art exhibit’s opening is hardly ever just about the art, the opening night of Willardt’s #SizeDoesMatter (on display by appointment until December 8th) was a multi-dimensional mashing of sizes, technology and beautiful naked women. On the studio’s first floor beside special QR codes hung giant prints of a nude Lawley surrounded by black cats, wild horses and pudgy bunnies; scan the code, hold your phone up to the print and suddenly the cats are prowling, the horse is nodding and the bunnies are hopping all over. This (and the three bars) would have been enough of a night for us, but we should have known the party was just getting started.

Downstairs, the show got even wilder as we crammed into a red-lit, book-making factory with walls lined in crushed metallic foil as three little people toiled over #SizeDoesMatter gift boxes for the art-hungry crowd. Planted in the middle of the futuristic-meets-retro room was a bed in case guests needed to nap or make out (we spotted one tongue-locked couple eyeing it). The two floors above were host to a gigantic table of fruits, cheeses and delicious meats that seemed ready to feed thousands.

"When I came to New York, I would go to these parties with projections and all kinds of stuff and be like ‘Whoa!’" Willardt told Milk Made. "I just want people to have an experience." That experience wasn’t limited to those lucky enough to get into the gallery last night: Cars driving down the West Side Highway could see Lawley projected onto the building across the street, blown up to Attack-of-the-50-Foot-Woman proportions. Willardt’s show is a wild one and a brilliant treat for people who like their art best when it surrounds them in every shape and size. Just be careful what you touch.

Photography by Masha Maltsava

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