Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Art Ranger from the hip in New York

A few highlights

Art Ranger was a guest performer/participant in a celebration of the work of Arakawa and Madeline Gins: which brought her to The Big Apple last week. The conference was really interesting and full of "boundary swaying". She's still digesting it.

‘On the Airplane, I do a chance operation and open to a page from Madeline Gins' book, What The President Will say or DO that says HOW TO HAVE AND NOT TO HAVE A NERVOUS BREAKDOWN and the man from the financial sector with overly whitened teeth who sits next to me cussing like a baby about his secretary’s seat selection for his precious sleep before his presentation says, 'what‘re you reading?' I say “Increase vicinity. Weave in drowsiness. Face washcloth. Infest flatness. Dry all dust. Turn leather. Use non-extension ladder. Tape honey-dew melon to head. Sphere away. Open spaces.”. And BAff, the man's head hits the traytable and he begins to sleep like a baby perhaps sparing his secretary an abusive conversation.’ (quote within a quote from Melissa’s “talk/performance” given April 30th at Barnard College)

After a badly folded neck-challenged night in planeair, she is stumbling around Grand Central Station with too much luggage. How can a lemonpoppyseed muffin taste so good in a train station underground? Where newspaper front pages are framed on the wall daily so you can look up at it for a few minutes while time passes. Finally, the so annoying luggage gets left at The Biltmore Hotel for $3.50 a day along with the people’s from the Hypertension Society of America Conference. She walks to The Museum of Modern Art, because it’s an iconic thing to do to check up on your industry. Outside at 10:38 a.m. on a Thursday, people are waiting in line to go see art and even talk about art while they are in the line. The Art Ranger is feeling the LOVE and also some culture shock, that such a thing could actually be happening before her very ears, realizing that all this amazing interest in the field could change her job description. And she wondered whether the African sculptures on the portable table out on the corner may turn out to be her favorite visuals of the day. One of the things inside MOMA currently is Marina Abramovic, a performance artist, New York based, but from the former Yugoslavia. Learn about her hugely brave and provocative body of work: . She sat at a small table in a large concrete rectangle surrounded by cameras and their light deflectors. She was wearing an ultra-thick ultra-red ultra-long dress, sitting motionless, staring at a member of the public that would like to engage in this with her. Doing something like seventy hours a week of said staring/being/sitting there for three months. The performance is entitled “The Artist is Present”. Hmm, is she really present in there? Or just there and not there at the same time? Fascinating the most are her facial features plus why and how to do this? – one reason she says is because people say – you can’t do this – and this becomes her open doorway to do it anyway. Her work is part of a necessary and mesmerizing tradition of trance, rigorous voyages of the mind for art, so there. What is present ness anyway?

Art Ranger’s favorite moments at MOMA were as follows: a soft song started emerging on the fourth floor weaving about the galleries in the modernisms and abstractions area, a singing with no particular words just present and peaceful. Finally to see that the sound was coming from a guard, a youngish young man with a close-cropped beard and grace in his navy blue sport jacket with badge and shiny buttons. In his hand a crumpled napkin seemed to help unfurl and keep reigned in the subtle songfulness. The art on the walls was merging and sometimes ill-competing with the exhaustive quantity of people in the space pacing past the collectible objects, but the song was truly transporting more than any one piece of art on that floor.

Lee Bontecou’s room was really great to see. A lot of other things too.

Cut to Hotel Jane: The Ranger had hurriedly booked a cheap hotel with some internet outfit, then looked at a google map at the wrong scale and thought for a second that her hotel was going to be a motel along the Longisland expressway on a dusty road with bad lighting and chewing gum wrappers. But actually, this inn was inches from the West End hwy and full of actual breeze and air. Their notepad says: “one night, or a whole lifetime” at Hotel Jane and how there is no such thing as a free bottle, and yet all water wants to be free. It felt like being on a ship and in fact once was a seamens hotel, even briefly housing Titanic survivors. Where Twentysomethings in too big maroon bellhop costumes with spiffy hats are there to serve you, a real elevator boy with a greasy black metal squeaking door and a lumpy taxidermy monkey dangles over the corner of the sturdy brass keys at the front desk. Smiling servers in striped shirts serve CafĂ© Americano with a square of chocolate and a croissant that tastes like it was really made this morning.

Walk one half a block and there is amazing found art all over the streets. At all hours of the day, a very dizzying and dense radium of possibility. Amazing looking restaurants. Fancy sunglasses people. Flipflops people, every kind of body. Everything moving moving moving.

So after the talks at the Guggenheim Museum theater, we went to the free donation evening in the museum proper. A photography theme. We strolled around talking with recently met colleagues from fields of art, poetry, philosophy. We saw one of Warhol’s films, where he just left the camera on looking out his window for days on end. It was really “boring” but we couldn’t stop looking at it. Somewhere along the slightly slanted circular, corkscrew ramplike stroll trough the Guggenheim, was an offer of one philosopher to another, a piece of dental floss, so several of the people that I was with began to floss their teeth as they strolled through the museum. Ranger thought this was amazing and amusing and it reminded her of her father Bob, who might do something like that.

Somewhere in the Malevich room, one of the philosophers, whom I already admired for her talk about how things are getting “highjacked by big pharma”, mentioned that her grandfather had practiced some dentistry on Picasso and that he had proudly kept a Picasso drawing in his office from the trade.

And the philosopher said something funny about how Cubism could be related to the experience of receiving dentistry, drilling and sawing up things inside the head. And so it goes … (all this art gazing and flossing evidently happened while elsewhere in NY that guy was busy parking his naughty toy that didn’t work).

Art Ranger brought her new camera, "Vixie" along. She put together this mashup of The subway platform and the Arakawa and Gins "Bioscleave House":

Back to the laundry of life now.


  1. Having aimed for some time at the transcendental, I have decided now to pursue the merely dental. t

  2. Excellent and humble plan! Who needs trans when you can have a job chewing on subjects instead.