FauxPolitik

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Gates Leading Nowhere: Okay, just back from NYC last night. Saw "Avenue Q" (very inventive, quick humor, ruthless yet heartwarming), ate at "Asia de Cuba" (easily one of the best meals of my life; just great) and strolled through "The Gates".

Now, as Eno pointed out, there isn't much to this exhibition. I mean, it's impressive in its scope, but in the end, you've seen one window shade, you've seen them all. And, he's certainly not alone in this critique. My take is that Eno and the other "haters" are half-right. It's less an innovation than an invitation. You aren't blown away, and I'd argue, that's a good thing.

Many of the critics rushed out to see the Gates when the exhibition first "opened". Complaints of crowds and "addytude" seem to play a great part in their dislike for the spectacle. Conversely, taken in pieces, say first from on high out a hotel window, at dusk, and then on Valentine's Day morning while walking with the missus along meanering Central Park pathways, you see it for what it is: a fluid, ambitious and beautiful take on the world's most famous park.

I consider myself a minimally-educated art appreciator. Probably like most, I like what I know and know what I like, but don't take the opportunity too often to actually go see "art".

But walking through the gates, which are of varying width to accomodate the pathway, and watching the fabric blow gently blow every which way, you almost become captivated by the maze-like quality of the orange structures. When you walk beneath them, your world takes on this orange glow, that made me happy. The more we strolled, the more we both agreed that this wasn't spectacle, but something more organic, and meant to be interacted with, as opposed to just stared at.

This may all sound all very new agey, but I can tell you the experience of walking through that park will never be quite the same. Usually that park is a bubbling cauldron of diverse activity: dog-walking, sleeping, kissing, eating, arguing. But on that morning, everyones' eyes were on the big orange frames with the billowing fabric. Almost everyone would smile when you caught their eye - this is in New York City! In a town where eye contact is considered a form of visual rape, this may be Cristo's crowning achievement.

So, it's not on the level of his earlier works, but sometimes it's okay for art just to make you feel good, as opposed to forcing you to search for life's true meaning.

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