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Cold, wind, rain. Panasonic TVs flashing important events that span the year 1993. Art exhibits, installations, photos, film, all from the early 90s, related to 1993. AIDS, gender bending, sexuality,pornography, counter culture. Love, AIDS, cancer, disease, suicide, infinity. Blue, orange, soap, chocolate, and two strings of light. Watching. “Kids,” skateboarding, counter culture, perspective. Nourishment, commodities, water. Strollers, wheels, firefighter hoses, music. “Good luck out there.”

Museums and art always make me feel creative (see above). In general, I think they make people feel connected, thoughtful, curious. Three days in New York is a bit silly, but indeed it is all I really could afford in time and money. So my one full day was my opportunity to choose a museum to explore. If you’ve ever travelled to New York, or lived in New York, you’d know there are umpteen museums. I’ve been to more than I’d realized. My first time in the state (happy 21st birthday to me) I wandered over to the Museum of Sex (extremely fascinating, especially with the course work I’d taken in gender studies) and up to the New York Historical Society (which I decided not to explore based on exhibit/cost ratio). I’d visited MoMA, the Museum of Natural History, and another that escapes me.

So, today, for something new, I chose to check out the New Museum with its exhibit on 1993–“NYC 1993: Experimental Jet Set, Trash, and No Star.” It was, without a doubt, intriguing. There was so much to explore, experience, and observe that it was almost overwhelming. Some of it made sense to me, most of it didn’t, but I read about the pieces, I observed, I watched others look at different pieces. Breathing it all in, letting it absorb, feeling emotions that emanated from different works. The wave of sadness associated with a set of pictures of a couple, two men. One scruffy, dark haired, bearded, skinnier man and one bald muscular man wearing a light blue ladies tank top, wearing a subtle touch of make up. The second picture you see their backs, sitting together, as the dark haired man kisses the shoulder of his partner. In the third photo, they are in a hospital, and the strong, bald man is leaning down to kiss his love’s forehead, who is visibly skinnier, sicker, with deteriorating health. In the last photo, only an arm, so skinny and lifeless, sitting on a hospital bed.

My favorite exhibit consisted of an entire wall covered in yellow note pad paper numbered to page 500. The first page I read was about loneliness and directed to the reader, “I know this is cliche even as I think it, but it is so true. I’m in love with you, but how can I love you when I don’t even love myself. I don’t know what I’d do if you left, please don’t leave me,” paraphrased more or less. But as I continued to read pages, I realized he was also in love with his readers, and did not want to live without them, because he needed them to succeed, to move forward. Something about the rawness of it, the hand written pages and scribbles, the emotion. I loved it.

As I left the last part of the museum, entering back into the pouring rain, 12 mph winds, and 40 degree temperature, the worker at the door wished me “good luck out there.” Good luck indeed. We all need it to make it through this crazy, beautiful, ugly world we live in.

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One thought on “Exploring 1993

  1. Katie, I loved this post. First, what a fascinating exhibit. I’ve always wanted to go to the New Museum. I keep telling myself (and my old roommate who lives in Brooklyn) that I’ll visit NYC sometime soon but it keeps not happening. If you’re interested in art related to AIDS/HIV, you might like to read about David Wojnarowicz (he may have been in the echibit). His work was censored by the Smithsonian a couple years ago and a book was released about him last summer: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/20/books/fire-in-the-belly-on-david-wojnarowicz-by-cynthia-carr.html?_r=0. He was an influential artist at the time and and even more prominent AIDS activist. Second, the description of the written piece in the second to last paragraph is so touching it nearly made me cry.

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