Some time ago I was asked to participate in a collaborative project at Socrates Sculpture Park initated by artist Jeanette Doyle titled “When Art (or In What Regard)“. Part of the larger curatorial effort FLOAT by Sara Reisman that focuses on mediums where sculpture overlaps, this small publication asks contributing artists and critics to submit text and images that speak to the timeliness in art.
Like any project worth its salt, naturally When Art is also a blog. You can read the writing of artists, critics and curators like Dan Cameron, Nathalie Angles and Rebecca Gordon Nesbitt, in addition to the usual suspects at AFC. I won’t say too much about what I’ve written, since you can just read most of it below, but I will preface the piece by saying what I found particularly alluring about this invitation, is that the perimeters of the project allowed me to pontificate on a subject that wasn’t a current event, without having it turn into an exercise in navel gazing. It also gave me a venue to address the war, which I like.
Not having any money compels a person do all kinds of things they might not if making rent weren't so connected with having a place to sleep at night. For example, when I concluded that I was one of the city's “essential workers” two days after the towers fell and would therefore have to go into work, fiscal circumstance probably informed that decision far more than the believe that dirty display cases would issue a blow too great for the average New Yorker to survive. As a result, while most of the city watched looping footage of the buildings fall from their homes, I spent my day cleaning fingerprints off the vetrines at the New York Public Library and somewhat unexpectedly speaking to a journalist looking for symbols of strength within the city.
I suppose it was my Windex and Kimwipe prop ensemble that gave me enough air of authority to inspire a reporter from the Orlando Sentinel to ask which work in The Public's Treasures exhibition best represented New York hardiness. I'm not convinced I ever gave the man a direct answer, but I showed him a series of photographs of the Statue of Liberty before it had been assembled, explaining that documentation like this feels just as surreal as the towers falling because while everyone has either had or can imagine a physical relationship with these famous structures, we don't have any more than a superficial understanding of how they were built. In other words, the towers were built with the cumulative knowledge of thousands, so just as the expertise required to construct the building exceeds the capabilities of one person, it follows that its removal would similarly be incomprehensible to the individual. I then went on to make the obvious point that the collective expertise required to create the structures in and of itself represented the strength of New Yorkers, and the bonds we share with foreign nations.
Six years later, my participation in When Art (or in What Regard) leads me to consider just how far this philosophy extends.
To read the full piece click here.