This past weekend in New York was really amazing. I’m going to write about different conference and gallery experiences this week, but I had to share right away this video I made on Friday. While Sara and I stood on line for the Christian Marclay exhibit, a runway event had just let out from the building next door. We don’t know who the designer was, but there was a ton of paparazzi and a lot of wealthy Asian people. As we poked fun of all the shoes that the people were wearing as they walked by, Sara said, “I wish we could make a video of this.” And then I remembered I have video on my phone!
Wow, that was some Thanksgiving! Sara and Andrew hosted us, and the four of us were in perfect post-turkey sync all weekend. The city seemed to be half-full, which is a magical way to stroll around the city (the picture above was taken on Bleecker Street). The only time we ran into actual crowds was a brief walk through SoHo, but we ducked into Puck Fair for a quiet afternoon nip to get away from them all.
On Saturday, Misia and I headed over to Brooklyn. We wandered through the Polish section of Greenpoint, and had lunch at Karczma. The food was unreal. We started (!) with a plate of smalec (pronounced “SHMA-letz”). Smalec is animal lard flavored with bits of bacon and other spices spread over Polish bread. It’s amazing just as long as you don’t think too hard about what you’re eating:
Now on Thursday, I ate a normal amount of food. I never felt too full or bloated. Saturday’s feast at Karczma, however, made me question if I was actually going to barf. Not in a Meredith Baxter-Birney from Kate’s Secret sort of way, but in a Lardass Hogan from Stand By Me sort of way. It passed, thankfully, and we shuffled on back to Chelsea.
But the real stars of the weekend were Penny and Ruby, long-distance BFF’s who totally made every minute of their visit together worth it. Knuckles and Chuckles, these two are. Here they are at the Half King Bar (confidential to my mom: Sebastian Junger owns this place) at 9 in the morning on Sunday. These two like to keep the party going, for sure. We didn’t want to leave, and ended up paying for it when we got stuck in holiday traffic on out way back to Boston. The seven hour trek back home was worth it, though. The holidays are meant to be lingered over, to stay a little too long, to eat too much animal lard, and to have a lovely, wonderful, magical time.
On Thursday, I drove my paintings down to NYC to have Sara take proper slides of all of them. I’ll be shipping these paintings to Milwaukee this week for a show at the art museum, so getting these shots taken happened none too soon.
I spent Friday afternoon with my friend Karen, who is working in New York on a television show through December (she is keeping a blog during her time there in the style of a daily journal to her dad, and it’s amazing. You can read Karen’s blog here.)
On Friday night, Sara and I did the slides. I meant to take more photos of the process, but she works so fast; I didn’t have time to remember to take pics. I managed to get one off before she broke down her equipment (pictured). I like the way her photo equipment looks in her living room.
I left on Saturday, but not before Sara’s beau, Andrew, and I spent a lovely morning together. Being in NYC on the anniversary of September 11 was like any other day, but with a couple of asterisks. Andrew and I walked the dog along the Hudson, where we talked about art and artmaking. We talked throughout the day about 9/11, but I don’t think that was a New York-specific conversation on Saturday. A couple of small groups of tourists seemed extra smiley to the locals, maybe to show a semblance of solidarity or maybe to pay respect to a resident; they smiled in much the same way one smiles at the family members at a wake of a loved one. Then we had brunch at a diner in Chelsea. Three NYPD counterterrorism officers were also having brunch; this, I suspect, is a New York-specific 9/11 experience. We had a lovely meal together, and after walking over to see Sara at her work to say goodbye and thanks for all her work, I stopped into one of my favorite neighborhood corner stores on 22nd and 9th. I like this store because they sell upscale bodega goods and the owners are this lovely Chinese couple. The wife works at the register, and there’s something about her that I like. She has this quiet happiness about her, like maybe she’s a yogi or a habitual pot smoker. I went there to buy Andrew and Sara some flowers. The woman was listening to Chinese radio, and it sounded the way a television sounds. I asked her if she was listening to the radio or the television. ”Radio,” she said, wrapping my flowers. ”It’s a church service.” I nodded and smiled. She stopped wrapping my flowers for a minute to look absentmindedly towards the ceiling, the way you do when you’re listening to something. ”He’s saying ‘Hallelujah.’” We both smiled, waited a moment, and then together we said, “Hallelujah.”
Happy new week, everyone.
Last night, Sara and I took the dogs out for their nightly constitutional. Walking down w 22nd street, we bumped into Sandra Bernhard and her friends walking her dog, George. Penny loved George immediately, and started playing pretty rough with him. Everyone got a huge kick out Penny’s performance, even while she seemingly tried to mount George and/or shove him against the wall. I couldn’t really excuse Penny’s behavior, so I just said, “You know, sometimes a girl just wants to put on a show.” Everyone kind of laughed, and Sandra said, “So true.”
This is my favorite thing that Sandra’s ever been in. Happy Easter!
The thing I was most excited to do on this long weekend to NYC was to check out Marina Abramovic’s retrospective at MoMA. My lovely friend and fellow artist Lindsey Wolkowicz joined me at the museum, and holy cannoli were our minds blown. Note to other artists putting on a retrospective: this is how it’s done (yeah, I’m talking to you, Marlene Dumas).
How does a performance artist display her work? How can the ephemeral intimacy adequately be reproduced in and for a museum? Well for starters, her work and life have been thoroughly, nearly manically documented. Film footage, photographs, and objects used in various performances were all displayed. But the second-most amazing feature of this show was the use of live models that re-created some of her most stunning performances. Most were nude. All were engaged in physically exhausting acts. There was a woman standing on platforms mounted eight feet up the wall holding her arms up and out from her body. For seven hours. There was another draped under a skeleton. Two nude models stood like sentries at the gallery entrance, a man and a woman. The space was narrowed so that you had to choose which gender to face, whose body you would brush up against (in a transgressive move, Lindsey and I both chose to face the male model).
But the most amazing element of the exhibition was in the atrium of the museum. There in the center of the cavernous space sat Marina Abramovic herself, dressed in a blood red, floor-length gown at a simple wooden table. Visitors were invited to sit at the chair opposite Abramovic, motionless, and engage in what amounted to the most intense staring contest I’ve ever witnessed. For the duration of the exhibit (through May 31) she will sit at that table, from museum open to close. She does not move; she does not take a break. Fittingly, the title of this piece is The Artist Is Present. And is she ever. It is one thing to view an artist’s life’s work; it is quite another to view it knowing that the artist is in the flipping building. Abramovic marks each completed day of the performance with a black line on the wall of the atrium. It serves to show the passing of time, but reminiscent of a prisoner’s marks on his cell wall. She seemed completely at ease, so perhaps the marks were meant for us: as a reminder of her endurance and our voyeurism. The title of this piece might better be The Artist Is A Present. When work is done right, like hers, it’s most definitely a gift.
It’s always wonderful to be in New York. Cities are the most relaxing places, I think. You want to be invisible? Be invisible. You want to put on a show? Put on a show. You can talk or not talk for hours in a city. You can move fast or slow. Stick out or blend in. It’s heavenly.
I’ve just been taking the dogs on walks and reading, but i just got here yesterday. This morning, Penny took a dump in front of the Pace Wildenstein Gallery on W 22nd, which I found positively cosmopolitan. She did this right after we passed Malcolm Gladwell walking down the street, which gave her business a nice literary feel to it.
I’m going to see the Marina Abramovic retrospective tomorrow at MoMA. I’m pretty excited. Until then, I’m just going to move slow, walking the dogs.
Today is my birthday! What a glorious day. It’s raining, I’m going to paint the second half of the basement floor, and tonight I’m going out for ribs. And, our sweet little peanut of a Boston Terrier, Penny, is on the mends from getting mauled at the dog park yesterday. This jerk of a lady didn’t stick around to offer any contact information, so I have begun the hunt for this woman. Because I watch t.v. and that’s what they do: detective work. I need her rabies info for her mutt, but I also want to shame her into paying for the hospital bill. At least part of it. I want to force her to be a good citizen.
But this year is going to be a good year. I like numbers divisible by five. I am 35 today. I was born in 1975. The year is 2010. All signs point to good things. Them stars are aligning, my friends.
I’m going to NYC for a few days and will be writing this blog from there. I love going to the city by myself. It’s beyond a magical place. The city, in both size and attitude, is bigger than than the biggest bigshot. The city is the most famous thing about the city. It’s a great equalizer. It’s the best place to re-calibrate your personal settings. You just become a girl in the world, trying to get on with her day. And it’s wonderful.
So here’s to you and to me. Let’s all have a great day.