“I walked up the marble staircase into the grandest space of the house, a large drawing room with double height ceilings and windows, which performed its role with great pomp and circumstance. It was a mixed metaphor of styles—Louis XIV, Beaux Arts, Georgian—all insisting upon resplendence. I sighed, thinking a thought I had many times before: that this house was what separated me from my father, who remained for me a perpetual arriviste. I conceded to myself that this had always been a house for new money. It would be designated as a mansion, distinct from the discreet brownstones preferred by the originary Dutch New York upper-crust. Only when the new money flushed in during the Gilded Age did mansions start getting built with ballrooms, vaulted ceilings, and glitzy stylistic affectations. This home was never meant for modesty; conspicuous consumption is part of its structural integrity.”
Framed by two academically-styled essays, the heart of 1130 Fifth Avenue is a narrative which traces Kovner’s cathartic process following the mysterious death of his billionaire father. Kovner meets a psychic who prescribes him a regimen of peculiar art therapy. This remedy brings Kovner to write a tell-all, which is met with public success. The writing of the book-in-book opens as many questions as it addresses.
1130 Fifth Avenue is a continuation of Kovner’s project, Classy. In a series of works, viewers use Kovner as an avatar to experience the problems of inherited privilege: complicity in the hegemony of the wealthy, the compromised subjectivity of not having earned what one has, and the ambivalence of inheriting a role in society.