Friday, January 29, 2010

New York: Day 3, Part 1: Ce n'est pas un blog.

So I looked at getting tickets for The Metropolitan Opera either tonight or tomorrow afternoon's matinee. I decided against it because... well... I have psychological issues that prevent me spending $375 on a single seat for a single event. (Not to mention that while I'd love to try out "Met Titles", I'm not that big of a foreign-language opera fan).

Anyway... the morning started with me trying to visit The High Line, a former elevated railway downtown that's been converted to park space. I've read about it and seen it on TV so I figured I'd check it out in person. It happens to be very easy to find but impossible to find access to, though with the firigid temperatures -- I lost feeling in my ears. I didn't know you had feeling in your ears. -- I wasn't exactly motivated to spend a lot of time outdoors. After buying the most god-awful looking cap-thingy to help keep my ears a little bit warmer, I took a somewhat circuitous route to

The TDF/TKTS booth at South St. Seaport, that involved going back uptown to Grand Central then downtown... largely so I could warm up a bit. Thanks to a wrong turn, I wound up at the World Trade Center site before finding the TKTS booth where I got a ticket for tonight's performance of Next To Normal... read more about that in Part 2. You know the whole ticket-handling-fee racket is getting out of control when your receipt actually lists a "Fee Fee" of $2.50...

That business taken care of I headed for The Museum of Modern Art. While I found relatively little that truly caught my eye at The Metropolitan Museum of Art yesterday, there was comparatively little that didn't catch my eye at MoMA, though I will admit that my fascination was directed more at the photos, lithios, and 3D objects than paintings.

Last but not least for Part 1 I wound up at The Guggenheim Museum. I knew that I was in for a museum unlike any other when immediately after (not-)paying I walked into a very passionate/sensual peice of performance art between a man and woman (fully clothed, however). The true suprise was yet to come.

You often hear about art "challenging" you or "engaging" you, but I've never come upon such a literal challenge. It turns out that today was the opening for Tino Seghal's This Progress, an artist and installation I had never heard of. Upon walking up the Gugenheim's famous ramp, I was met by an attractive young woman who invited me to observe a piece of performance art. She asked the meaning of progress, and while we walked up the ramp challenged me to define it and relate it, expand it. (This is precisely the kind of conversation that I'd love to have over dinner and why being single is slowly killing me). She then handed me off to a gentleman and the process repeated, more or less, as it did two or three more times until reaching the top of the ramp. (Seriously, everything outside of the conversations disappeared into a blur, I was simultaneously trying to carry on a conversation while trying to process what I was experiencing.

After arriving at the top of the ramp the last person and I parted ways and I was left to look at the traditional art on display, of which there is not much at the moment--what is on the walls is fantastic to look at, but there simply isn't much gallery space open at the moment. Mr. Seghal's "piece"? "installation"? "exhibit"? Made the visit very well worthwhile.

It can be, and has been, said that everyone experiences art in their own way... With this piece that could never be truer. A much more comprehensive writeup can be found at The New York Times:

(It's funny to note that I had chosen the "Ce n'est pas un blog" title on my way back to the hotel and before I stumbled across this article in the New York Observer titled "Ceci n'est pas Performance Art"... I guess I wasn't the only one who had that reaction to interacting with the piece.)

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