Kicked off my morning by walking past three giant inflatable rats that were adopted as a patron of protesting metro workers, because ‘rats were also survivors’.
There was an obvious prevalent tension and more of a heavily armed police and anti terrorist presence due to the imminent anniversary of 9-11, and when I went to explore the old church near to Ground Zero I found a large amount of city workers sitting inside praying.
I wandered around for a while, chatted to a few people then headed to the Brooklyn Art Museum thinking nothing could top my Metropolitan Museum of Art experience.
I had a drink in the coffee shop of the museum to recover my equilibrium after my usual horrific battle on the metro (I can’t tell the time, nor differentiate between left and right, and numbers and straight lines blow my mind…all of which make for fraught negotiation of the New York Transit system).
I noted the superior hip piped music, the Nick Cave and Faith Ringgold named sandwiches and the well heeled and arty customers and went into the galleries to have any sneering preconceptions I had about the museum’s pretentions, thoroughly blown out of the water.
The Museum deliberately presents art work in a different way than the norm (‘The Norm’ is name of the above coffee bar interestingly enough). They unusually regroup and present the exhibits to challenge preceptions and create different reactions from the viewer, rather than make them more intellectually accessible and understandable as most museums do.
Much of the art work was hung at a lower level than is usual in most galleries and museums in Europe where the art often seems to look down on you rather than envelope and involve you.
One room at the museum was arranged like a storage unit, stacks of chrome and glass shelving with wonderful objects near piled up like a collectors dream sequence.
The Masks and Global African Art Exhibition mixed traditional with contemporary re-workings and modern interpretations and was stunning and incredibly exciting.
Earlier in the day as I was on the Staten Island Ferry passing the Statue of Liberty and I was thinking about how both people and countries acquire objects to validate themselves, and in doing so often nullify the artist or the culture that produced the piece.
The Brooklyn Museum in many ways addressed this, looking at the basis of the artistic premise and recognising it as something that has power in itself, beyond being a ‘thing’ and offering the opportunity for the premise to evolve beyond being statically symbolic.
I feel the protesting workers I saw earlier in the day at Wall Street were doing the same thing. Using the symbolism of the rat, reinventing it, inflating it, giving it a different spin and animating that spin for creative, active protest.
The header image is from Saya Woolfalk, ChimaTEK
My daily blog hasn’t slipped, it’s time that has slid backwards.
I arrived in New York late last night and I’ve been on the most massive sensory overload and adrenaline buzz since then.
It’s hot, the area I’m staying in (Newark) isn’t salubrious, and I’m soaking it all up, both good and bad.
One thing I noticed in Athens is that as the economy worsened, the once wonderful street art degenerated into an angry sprawl.
In London the street art became more prevalent as the city became more slick and well off, and I’ve noticed that the area I’m presently staying in has none of the urban art that used to be associated with the dispossessed and now instead seems to exist in the better off areas.
I’ll keep looking, and continue mulling on that one.
Today though, was an establishment art day.
I’d planned to glut myself on various galleries and museums on Museum Mile, but managed to spend the whole day at only the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
What an incredible place. Beautifully curated so the art pieces are integrated into the appropriate surroundings of light and space (for instance the Greek antiquities are displayed in a way very reminiscent of the way they are displayed in situ, in Greece) the whole place blew me away.
Okay, some of it was a disturbingly opulent and crass expression of personal wealth as with the European decorative objects, and massive pieces of furniture from homes of the multi generational wealthy.
However there was also wonderful outsider work that was given as much pride of place as pieces by Chagall or Picasso, and the selection of African art was outstanding.
The reconstruction of the Dendur Temple I actually found to be more respectful, beautiful, meditative and moving than the art work created to remember 9-11, at Ground Zero.
I thought that Cornelia Parker’s ‘Transitional Object (PsychoBarn) on the roof of the building, worked beautifully as both a contrast and foil to the surroundings.
When I was in Hobart, Tasmania at the begining of this year I went to the antithesis of The Metroplitan Museum of Art, MONA. A deliberate inverse, that burrowed underground, both literally and figuratively.
Though my tastes veer towards the subversive and countercultural, I actually preferred the Met. The place is exciting, vital, stimulating and both comprehensive and diverse .
I’d love to go back, but I really can’t see it happening on this trip.Today I alternated intense bursts of inundation at The Met, with wandering the streets and being stimulated by the contrasts of architecture art….bouncing from one creative buzz to another!
Header Image by Jean Dubuffet.
No journey or adventure is complete without a travel fetish thus the necessary creation of ‘The Janus Bird’. Mixed media with bird, bone, stone and nettle, this creature only looks back to provide fuel for forward progress.
Now to ready myself for tonight’s flight!