Avenue Q is a suprisingly touching play, despite gratuitious puppet cleavage, sex, and nudity. Something about a human Korean woman (a stereotype) hugging a closeted gay republican Ernie puppet ripoff and saying, “you are roved. You are safe” really got to me. Cindy, did you know Gary Coleman was a main character in the play?
Nothing on this trip has phased me. I walked through New York and felt unmoved. I was stopped by a crazed looking man in a black hat with gold streamers for hair and beard and asked if I was a Jew. “No, sorry…” I replied and walked away. When the street became particularly crowded at one point I looked up and realized I was standing next to the Empire State Building. It looked kind of small. I walked past a a limo with dark windows and blocks of food service vehicles and into a square when searching for the Flatiron building. I was told to walk in the other direction because they were filming. I did not see anyone famous. I also did not see the Flatiron building.
I stopped to take a picture somewhere and an older man said the buildings were beautiful. He hoped they wouldn’t be torn down for new skyscrapers of glass and steel. I gave a clipped response and ran off. In the hostel last night a Scottish guy said hello, and I found it physically impossible to say hi back at an audible level. Why do I resist human interaction? On the Greyhound from New York to Philadelphia they showed The Longest Yard, a movie I could only ever watch on a bus.
The hostel showed The Lost Boys last night. I was unable to determine if the 1980s or vampires are more intrinsically homoerotic.
The MoMA only had a single, small work of Duchamp on display. I have barely done any research this trip. I feel a little irresponsible with my UROP, but at least everything apart from the plane ticket has been out of pocket. Deeply out of pocket. My head feels clear now, but yesterday was rough. Low blood sugar can color an entire trip. I get dizzy when I wander at night and everything feels like a movie set. I stop myself and feel my consciousness rushing from a few feet ahead of me and back into my head. I look through my own eyes and realize I am not always in New York or Philadelphia. I want to know what happened to my sense of wonderment and novelty. I have seen so much art in the past few days, but all I wanted to do when I was at the Metropolitan Museum of Art was leave. Much of my time in the Louvre was the same way.
The Philadelphia Museum of Art has two stained glass windows from a small chapel in Paris built by… Louis the something. It’s where the relics of Christ were originally stored. I went there and wondered about the filled in spots where stained glass used to reside. Now I know what happened. The Minneapolis institute of Art has half a Frank Lloyd Wright room from Wayzata. The entire room is reconstructed in the Met. When Lute Mike drove me to my new home for the first time over Christmas, he pointed out the house those rooms used to be in I think.
The MoMA has an Edvard Munch exhibition now, but it’s different from the one I saw in Rome. The one in Rome was better. The Met has an exhibition of Rauschenberg’s Combines which I now know are amazing. Odalisk, a work I was introduced to in Visual Literacy freshman year, has far less naked ladies than I imagined. Two small cut out strips glued onto the piece say “South St. Paul, Minn.” Rauschenberg did not intend his works to be read. My UROP focuses on works in the context of the museum, but the institution is making me sick these days. One of Rauschenberg’s works has a valise with the words “open me” painted on top. When originally displayed, the case had four items and viewers were asked to take an item and leave a different one, documenting it in four ledgers attached to the canvas hung with the piece. The ledgers are documentation of all the objects taken and left.
The valise is now closed and sits next to a sign that says “do not touch” (is this what you mean by hypocrisy Chad? We must talk). It’s impossible to open the ledgers and see what objects passed through the valise. Gah. I saw a little boy stroking some shaft like sculptures by David Smith at the Guggenheim. The Guggenheim, by the way, is under scaffoldings like all of Europe. I stared at the leaking windows. Frank Lloyd Wright was not a very good engineer.
What do Europeans feel when walking through entirely reconstructed rooms in American museums? Part of the Met is an entire Gothic church. I imagine it might be worse for Indians, Chinese, and Japanese walking through reconstructed temples of their own. The temple of Babylon is reconstructed in Berlin. I feel guilty when I look at Egyptian artifacts in places other than Egypt. I realize now it was pure luck that my family actually saw Tutankhamen’s burial mask and crown jewels in Cairo, as they are currently on the road.
Globalization makes travel irrelevant. Seeing Marcel Duchamp’s Given: 1 The Waterfall, 2. The Illuminating Gas in person was almost exactly like looking at a photgraph (aside from the subtle flicker and movement of the waterfall). Her skin is paler and cracking now. It seemed smaller than some of the photographs I looked at. It’s in a dark, shabby room. Most people look in, see a door, and walk away. Reality seems fake, and my internal monologue has started saying “we.” Why live life when you can see the IMAX version?
Sorry for the disorganization. The trip has stirred up a lot of stuff in my head, and I need to either talk to all of you about it in person or write some more in private. Tomorrow I return to where I am going. I wish I would have written down the names of the artwork I want to talk about, but a work of art by any other name would still have a stuffed angorra goat. I think.