A Year In New York

A Daily Bite of the Big Apple

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Day 242: Gimme an “Ommmmmm!”

February 25th · 3 Comments

My friend Jen is visiting from Amsterdam to debut her erotic film, and yesterday we made a visit to the Guggenheim. We lingered at “The Third Mind: American Artists Contemplate Asia” exhibit. This piece in the lobby summed it up neatly. Listen up, everyone! Ice is melting.

I had expected the standard museum experience of staring at pretty paintings, so I took a while to be nudged in the direction the curators wanted me to go.  For a previous generation of Americans, the Far East didn’t mean outsourced IT jobs or the latest Sony Playstation, but a journey into the realm of the exotic and the unknown, and especially into higher states of consciousness. That’s what much of the art was about. It served as a portal for the viewer to enter an altered mental state.

Thus I stared at a white wall mounted with nothing but a brown square. Elsewhere, I watched a 45-minute black and white film of a woman chanting about her departed husband, with acupuncture needles sprouting from her face. (I didn’t make it to the credits on that one.) In a black room, a screen showed whirling images of mountains to the accompaniment of howling winds, and another freaky experience called the Dream House had the warning posted that you see in this picture.

Yet my mental state remained unaltered. To appreciate each of these required the scarce New York City resources of time and concentration. If I had paid admission at opening and sat before one all day, I have no doubt I would have been transported to faraway planets. But it is difficult to hear ice melting when taxi horns still echo in the head, and hard to surrender in contemplation to a brown square on the wall when girls with dyed black hair are jostling you and snapping digital photos.

Tags: Museums & Art · Sights & Scenes · Why I Love This Town

3 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Sulley // Feb 28, 2009 at 2:02 am

    There’s more than one way to skin a cat.

  • 2 jbrizzo // Mar 1, 2009 at 2:00 am

    Gary will totally want that shot of the blocks of ice being miked – A sound guy’s delight. Were the mic’s really on? Or was that more of just a statement?

  • 3 Ferris // Mar 2, 2009 at 2:47 pm

    I believe they were actually on. The cords crossed the room (traversing an ice-puddle on the way, which was alarming) and plugged in to a console.

    For the record, I didn’t hear the ice making any noises. Yet.

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