Sleepwalkers, Night 4
In the parking lot, Ryan Donowho on the right wall and Chan Marshall on the left. I love when the abstractions take over out here. The patterns of the building's bricks add unexpected textures, depending on the color and lighting of the image. Stood beside a very observant viewer making comments to her friend. I can't remember a single thing that she said.
About two minutes after I walked into the sculpture garden it began to snow. This brought all kinds of magic to my house. It reminded me--as it always does when it begins to snow--of Delmore Schwatz's In Dreams Begin Responsibilities. It was especially appropriate here.
I ran into CT president and artistic director Anne Pasternak in the garden. While Anne and I were talking, her phone started to ring. About then, I noticed Doug Aitken over in the corner. He was calling someone on his phone. Anne maybe?. I said, "Is that Doug over there calling you?" It was.
It was a treat to meet the artist. Such a smart, nice, unassuming guy. No art star bullshit. And let's face it, with a project this big it would be an easy train to jump. We had had a brief chat at his studio about the excellence of New York Hack and Thomas Koner, but we were never officially introduced. Where's Yael when you need her? (Joking of course. Yael is the best and actually is always there when you need her. This is something that cannot possibly be said enough.)
Tonight, the silent unlocked rhythms of Sleepwalkers were most strongly felt in the garden. The way the 1-2-1/1 (or 1/1-2-1 if you prefer) projections play off each other creates a different song every time I see it. I learned first from Maya Lin's Peace Chapel and later--in a more focused way--James Turrell's Meeting how environment plays a role in constantly transforming a work of art in a public space. The people (figures) in the garden as well as the crowds moving through the museum come to play in the frame. And have I mentioned the snow? Yeah. It was a good night for Sleepwalkers.
Before I left the garden I witnessed one more classic cell phone moment. Anne was talking on her phone to a woman on the other side of the glass, standing in the warmth of a very busy Friday night at MoMA. It was an odd thing, but it somehow worked with some of the themes of Sleepwalkers. Modernity. Touching. Not touching. The obliteration of distance, and the gulf between. I am thinking of Paul Virilio now, at least a little bit.
On my way out I walked back through the parking lot. Donald Sutherland was on the right wall and Tilda Swinton was on the left. There's a moment when Sutherland reaches out and presses his hand against the separating glass in the taxi. It's as if he's putting his hand on inside of the wall, trying to touch the world outside. Also, I loved the way the building with the golden light matched both the sun and Tilda Swinton.
As I said at the beginning of this post, I had initially missed how good Sleepwalkers looks on the face of MoMA. My first impression of it was almost as a teaser for what was to come. My bad. One of the great things about this installation is how the viewer becomes "co-editor", as Aitken put in a piece on NPR Saturday morning. Changing your vantage point changes the work. MoMA's facade is the most rigidly framed of all the screens, which makes it interesting in its own way. It's certainly the one that makes it easiest to concentrate on just the film and nothing else. Well, not quite. As on the walls in the parking lot, the patterns of the building itself find new ways to show themselves off when the more abstract sections of Sleepwalkers are on them. Not to mention that it's great when, (And sadly, this is not a moment that I captured on camera.) a FedEx truck drives by while the hilariously ironic FedEx lamp is being projected onto the screen. This is what I'm talking about. The facade rules. Give it a hug.