The Sweet Part of the City

Seesaw street art installation outside the Cooper Union.

Okay, time to redeem what little coolness I have after yesterday’s mass transit/arcade post. Last Thursday after work, I met up with my roommate and one of her friends at Pianos on the Lower East Side. That place is kind of an organizational nightmare, with the concert venue in the back and just one poor person taking money, while hordes crowd in claiming to be on the guest list. Anyway, I did get inside (not because of any guest list, sorry), and caught the end of the Rassle’s set. They weren’t bad with their ear-friendly post-punk rock. Things got a little insane after that when Das Racist performed. The Brooklyn-based rap trio, accompanied by a DJ who had sort of a blank “how did I get this gig?” look on his face, were really talented and intelligently humorous. The crowd was a little terrifying when this person shot through like a bullet and then started wildly throwing their appendages around, clearing a circle in the middle of the room. Actually, the whole set was a little like listening to artillery, with Das Racist’s super quick and clever words. I think I’ll hold off on a military metaphor binge right now, but it’s so tempting.

Old Cooper Union building seen from new.

After Pianos, we went to Motor City, a Detroit-themed bar where car chairs are the seats and everyone drinks cheap bottled domestics. They had a chalk board by the bar where you could buy a drink in advance for a friend and notify them on the board. No one had enough clairvoyance for me.

Installation by Yin Xiuzhen at MoMA.

On Friday, I headed to the MoMA after work. As I was walking from Rockefeller Center past Radio City, I noticed a crowd down the street. Curious, I walked by, and suddenly saw the Dalai Llama leaving the building! I then remembered that he was making an appearance at Radio City. I was too awed to take any pictures, although certain moments I think shouldn’t be photographed and don’t need to be. He greeted the crowd, which cheered wildly, and then got in a motorcade. If ever there was a good omen, it must be running into the Dalai Llama on the street.

Marina Abramović at the MoMA.

The MoMA was having their free hours, but once I made it through the crowd I was able to wind my way to where Marina Abramović was doing her The Artist is Present performance. She is sitting in the atrium for the duration of the three-month exhibit (which ends this weekend), and there is a chair across from her where museum visitors can sit if they are willing to stand in line and aren’t afraid to have their soul exposed by her eyes. You can see a gallery of the faces all the people who have done it, marked with how long they sat in the chair, on the MoMA’s flickr. Some are crying, some are beautiful, some are creepy, some are wearing their best hats, some are probably museum professionals, some are happy.

Around the corner was an installation by Chinese artist Yin Xiuzhen of a minibus that was lengthened with used clothes. You could sit inside and listen to music and pretend to be journeying somewhere really delightful. I then went up the exhibition part of The Artist is Present, which was a retrospective of Marina Abramović’s performance art. There were videos and photographs and objects, but even more engaging were the live performances recreating her work. In one, two people stood naked in a doorway, so that you would move between them when going to the next gallery (or I guess you could just go around the corner). In another, a woman lay beneath a skeleton, with the skeleton’s rib cage rising with her breaths. And in another, there was a woman was standing naked on a wall, supported by just some plastic supports, her arms moving slowly up and down and concentration all over her face.

Emotionally drained (and operating on four hours of sleep), I went to the Henri-Cartier Bresson exhibit on the same floor. There were hundreds of photographs from throughout his career, and I was able to recharge my mind with their stunning snatches  of life.

For the first time in a while, I have nothing scheduled tonight so I’m taking it easy and I am going to enjoy a random film noir I got at the library. I don’t think our TV has been turned on in weeks. It must be getting lonely. The weather has started to get hot, but I bought an air conditioner today that should be delivered next Saturday. I know, I actually bought something and didn’t just wait to find it on the street! I need a haircut and some summer clothes, too. Well, one thing at a time.

One thought on “The Sweet Part of the City

  1. […] I saw Das Racist play at Pianos this year, someone asked me if the group was “for real” as they did their dumb/smart […]

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