A Bell for Every Minute

Standard Hotel on the High Line.

Every Sunday, the church outside my window rings its bell for about 15 minutes, accompanied by the neighbor dog forlornly howling. I think no matter where you live in New York, you probably have a local bell whose low tolling or frantic chiming either helps you keep the time or is slowly driving you mad.

Stephen Vitiello turned that idea into an art installation on the High Line. Called A Bell for Every Minute, he recorded bells from throughout the city, including the stock exchange bell, bike bells, even the bell in the gate of my beloved Green-Wood Cemetery.

In the installation in the 14th Street Passage, a bell rings out from speakers every minute of the hour. At the completion of the hour cycle, all the bells ring at once in a wonderful cacophony. I love the idea of charting a place through alternative ways like sound, and the installation is accompanied by a map of where each bell was recorded. I am also always interested in how art can be something other than visual, yet still connect to visual memories. The 14th Street Passage on the High Line is not at all a gallery, but the organizers Creative Time have found a way to have exhibits that utilize rather than resist that space. The tunnel on the former train track turned park is perfect for sound installations, that you can either walk through or sit and listen.

Giant moustache in the Chelsea Market.

Right next to the High Line, the Chelsea Market had an installation of its own. Except instead of bells, it was about another ubiquitous thing in New York (or at least right now in some corners of Brooklyn): well-groomed moustaches. Oh wow, is it mustache in American English? I’ve been spelling it in British English my whole life? How did that happen? One too many Hercule Poirot books when I was in middle school? Anyway, it was called Magnificent Specimens and there were portraits from the beard and moustache world championships on the walls and even a giant moustache over this archway. It was a little insane.

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