03  Apr
The Medici Effect

Walking around New York City for the past few months, I have discovered a lot of things I could not have noticed on my own. In fact, I walked some of the same streets for many years before this period in my life, and saw many spectacles on Broadway stages and concert halls, often with friends and family. Unbeknownst to me, there was a web of connections between those ideas in the visual/performing arts and practical moments. Whilst I know that there is a clear break between works which are expressed through different media, and that it can be difficult to find the common thread between moments of appreciation for music and moments of disbelief at, for instance, a controversial sculpture at a gallery, I found many answers by looking at the same experiences through someone else’s lens. This is a posting about love and art, art and self-struggles, and art about art. I could have let you arrive at that, but this story is a bit more personal, and thus the disclaimer.

There is something incredible about sharing an artistic experience with a person you really admire. The man I am speaking of is the man I love (all opinions hereby expressed are biased, this was going to go in the footnotes) – but this man who is now an integral part of my intellectual evolution is also a talented photographer, and thus more apt to reveal these fleeting revelations (truths whose importance I used to understate).

A piece of artistic self-expression can elevate you and it can humble you. It teaches you that it is more important to take it in than to judge it, even if it is unavoidable to form an opinion about whether that piece suits your personal taste. A question that can always be raised is that most art is not appreciated in its own time of creation. Many pieces only attain the status of artistic masterpieces over time. They must be barreled like red wine or left to rest and rise like bread before baking. There are many reasons why I believe this to be true, even though the art world is made up of more exceptions than ruling trends.

The Cloisters Museum displays pieces that have undisputable historical value, and yet it is possible to go there and experience different thoughts by looking at the same artwork depending on who accompanies you in the process. While the talented photographer captured the light seeping into the building from different angles, shadows, reflections, sillouettes, stark contrasts and subtle metaphors in his shots, I pondered over his moment of creation of art about art. A photograph in a museum can be innovative and groundbreaking, even when it includes or revolves around another work of art. In essence, it is a photograph about life, about people interacting with art, and often reflecting upon their self-struggles or what mood or memories the room can evoke. Whether my beloved’s photos portray a city street, a long hallway at MoMA, or a music performance on a main stage or a man playing sax on the street, they are works which reveal to me the beauty of the connections that I was not making on my own. These works may be interpreted in many years as social commentary, anthropological documentaries or appreciated for their beauty alone. In my own though process about the rooms which were being photographed, the lingering in each rooms allowed me to stared at painting or sculptures long enough to confront internal struggles, some of which were encouraging, some of which were daunting. Can photographs and films be less manipulative of the subject than writing literature or composing music? That in itself is a broad statement, for photographers and filmmakers create in different ways, and so do writers and musicians. Any notions I had on this, colored by academic discourse or a rushing sense of “real life is waiting and I must get to the TO-DO list” were challenged when I encountered each and every artistic experience of the past few months with the man I love. When you challenge your old assumptions about art, you find out how much you didn’t know or how much your taste has changed… lessons which both reassure you and humble you. Like a hall of mirrors, art about art has the power to magnify perspectives and amplify sounds/lights, even if these may not be the perfect words to describe the expansion of understanding that takes place at the intersection or life, art and love. The echo is overwhelming for a moment, like an ecstasy of sensual pleasure, but it subsides, settles and ages like the art itself, becoming more valuable with each fleeting hour, giving way to silence (a golden kind of silence that soothes, unlike boring or slow silence)

The Really Terrible Orchestra’s performance at New York City’s Town Hall this past Wednesday was one that invoked happy emotions on its audience. An orchestra that does not take itself seriously and invites interaction from untrained participants elevates the viewer to the status of performers. They made the audience laugh, sing, pop paper bags filled with air and think about the state of other forms of art. They talked about the notion of skill and talent versus sheer amusement. Not only inspiring, this performance was an active example of arts about arts, exercising the cross-pollination that is required to truly breathe new air into old forms of spectacle. This was art which was proud to entertain, drawing upon a hybrid of techniques and instruments to engage and delight its audience, while claiming to be there just to amuse themselves.

Had it not been by the guiding hand of my Artistic Catalyst, I would not have found the Really Terrible Orchestra. Reflecting upon this onstage performance, and comparing this to the sax player we had seen just a couple of days earlier on the corner of Fifth Avenue, I noticed I would not have acknowledged the talent of the street performer if my boyfriend had not stopped to photograph him. This got me thinking of photographs and frames, and how an orchestra framed by stage lights has greater perceived value, just like photos in impressive paspaté and frames on a wall. The cascade of interpretations upon these different moments is endless, like the hall of mirrors itself. The lasting impression of individual pieces, photos and performances in my life was amalgamated, the result of a much greater appreciation for the creative process, not of any and all artists, but of those that made me question my old beliefs and the ones that just made me happy.

Posted by Kaz, filed under No tag for this post.. Date: April 3, 2009, 5:56 pm | 1 Comment »