FaceBook, for all of its faults and horrors (of which there are many), does do a good job of reminding you of big events on the anniversary of those dates. This week’s it’s been telling me every day that it was five years ago that we were in New York City for the first time. Which, of course, has triggered all of my recovering Catholic guilt and Calvinistic-style Puritan work ethic about one of the larger hanging chads from this site – the “New York, New York” series of photos and narrative from that trip.
On October 23, 2019 I wrote for “New York, New York (Pictures Day 19)”:
When last we left our plucky heroes…
For those of you who are relatively new to this site, in the “old days” I used to post a lot of long, multi-part posts with pictures from various trips. (Use that “search” box over there to look for “Shanghai,” “Seoul,” or “Kyoto,” or look through everything in the “Travel” category.)
Over two years ago things got very busy in the “life” category and the travel series I was in the middle of (one of my favorites because the trip was so great and I had SO much fun on it) was showing off my first trip to New York City. Part #16 was posted on 18-May-2017, part #17 on 11-Jul-2017, and then part #18 didn’t post until 01-Jan-2018. Part #19…never got posted until today.
Let’s see if we can get back to resuming some of those earlier collections of posts. I enjoyed them.
I got part #20 posted in November 2019, then #21 in December 2019, then… Well, back into the void for another nineteen or twenty months. (It seems there was something going on and tying up my time and attention for the last nineteen months, but I can’t quite put my finger on it.) Anyway, now that I’ve got FaceBook harassing me as well (so to speak) and those posts are triggering all of the memories… As Arlo Guthrie said (more or less), “This time with feeling and four-part harmony!”
In summary: New York City had a life of it’s own in my head. In early August 2016, I visited there for the first time. On the first afternoon we visited Central Park and were there for hours, despite the jet lag. Day One started with a tour of the Intrepid and the Space Shuttle Enterprise, followed by the full two and a half hour cruise around Manhattan – south down the Hudson River into the Upper Harbor, up the East River under the “BMW” bridges, past Midtown and the UN, into the Harlem River, back south into the Hudson River, underneath the George Washington Bridge, past Grant’s Tomb, and finally back into port. To finish Day Two we had a death march to find a cab, went to the Mets game, left early only to miss the best part, and inadvertently stiffed a nice cab driver. Bright & early on Day Three we headed out toward Liberty Island – it’s hard to take a bad picture there, then went to Ellis Island. Bank on Manhattan, we went to World Trade Center Museum, which was emotional & grueling. Day Four started out with a trip to Times Square, after which we headed to the Empire State Building. The views of Manhattan were spectacular! Then we went to Yankee Stadium for a game. We got lucky and saw Alex Rodriguez’s final game & a huge thunderstorm.
Day Five was museum day for us. A quick cab ride down 5th Avenue alongside Central Park brought us to the Guggenheim.
The iconic shape was there, but frankly it seemed smaller than I expected. If I should have learned anything it to not judge a book by its cover.
It’s a magical place, and not just because it seems so much bigger on the inside.
This time we rode the elevator to the top and I walked my way down. Next time I’ll try it the other way.
Levels 4 and 5 had an exhibit called “But a Storm is Blowing From Paradise: Contemporary Art of the Middle East and Africa.” With today’s headlines it seems to continue to be relevant. The piece shown above is called “Flying Carpets” by Nadia Kaabi-Linke. I found it simple but so fascinating. As the air currents in the room moved the pieces about gently the views through the bars were extremely complex and rhythmic.
In addition, the shadows on the walls had their own patterns and rhythms. The piece was inspired by the illegal street vendors from Africa and Asia who sell their wares in Il Ponte del Sepolcro in Venice. They must be prepared to gather up their wares and flee at a moment’s notice, seeking safety in both a literal, physical sense, but also in a more metaphorical sense.
“Study for a Monument” by Abbas Akhavan is built from bronze casts of plants in Mesopotamia, symbolically burnt, charred, and fragmented by war in the region for thousands of years. The placement of the casts on the linen sheets on the floor reference the way bodies are displayed in makeshift funerals after disasters or military or terrorist attacks.
From Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige this 2015 work is called “Latent Images, Diary of a Photographer, 177 Days of Performances.” It looks at the use of archiving and documentation for historical narratives, in this case concerning the Lebanese Civil Wars from 1997 to 2006.
Each book contains rolls of undeveloped film. While we don’t see the visual content contained on the rolls, each book has extensive detailed notes describing each photo contained but hidden.
This piece from Kader Attia, “Untitled (Ghardaia),” is a scale model of the Algerian city, sculped in couscous. The portraits are of architects Le Corbusier and Fernand Pouillon, who used the Mozabite architecture native to Ghardaia without ever acknowledging the source of their inspiration. Also present is a copy of a UNESCO certificate designating Ghardaia a World Heritage Site.
Given my art background at UC Irvine, I loved all of these for their unique characteristics. Next, on the lower levels, the more traditional collection of paintings.