Thursday, January 1, 2015

Christmas and all that

S. Dali, St. John of the Cross, 1951
Lots to do at the end of the year, for instance, donations to make, but no commemoration of Christmas or Hanukkah. After Rick passed away (three years now) I could not bring myself to send out Christmas cards. Traditionally, after all, that card always included a photo of Rick and myself taken during the course of the year. The small photo at the top right of this blog was taken on Governor's Island on Memorial Day in 2011 and would have served as the Christmas photo for that year. It was never sent. Every holiday since I have managed to get out of town, as the thought of waking up in my apartment on Christmas was too much to bear. We always celebrated New Year's eve by going to a restaurant nearby, sitting at the bar and having drinks and dinner, while keeping an eye on the TV, tuned to the goings on in Times Square. Since we went there year after year, we ran into many of the same people. This year I kept it local: a friend came for dinner early, after which I watched House of Fools, a surprisingly tender but not sugar-coated movie set in an insane asylum located on the front of a skirmish between Russians and Chechens in that ongoing war. Not downbeat, although my mood corresponds very much to the sentiments to be found in the lovely rendition of "Dark Night of the Soul" by Loreena McKennitt. (Sorry about the ad preceding the song, but I prefer the images on this video to other versions. I owe this link to a German blog: Martin in Broda.)

Goethe Girl and Sol LeWit
Christmas was spent with my friend Adrienne in Chatham, New York, near the Massachusetts border, and we ventured one day to North Adams to the MassMoCA, a contemporary arts museum located in a huge, abandoned textile complex. It is dedicated to installation art, a medium that has in the past not "spoken" to me. Think Joseph Beuys or Richard Serra: i.e., spit-in-your-face, disgust-the-public, with no concession to anything approaching "beauty." Joseph Beuys seems to have made his name with such works at documenta in Kassel many years ago, but on my visit there in 2012 there was very little of the offputting stuff: the tendency in Germany was toward the didactically political and environmental. In the U.S., however, I have noticed in recent years that installations are becoming more "public friendly." Think the High Line. Such is MassMoCO. Above is Goethe Girl in one of the rooms devoted to the works of Sol LeWit. People wandered through the large rooms with their kids, and one couldn't help noticing how absorbed the kids were.  The artists' intentions are playful. I have written on this before, in a post on "Spieltrieb" and Schiller's Aesthetic Letters. The pieces are not produced in order to remind you of politics or of war or of global warming.

1 comment:

Barry Brooke-Norris said...

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