NYC: March 2006 Archives

a noble experiment

A Queens shopping center has cancelled Saturday's Metro Mall Art and Science Fair which had been organized by Jacques Louis Vidal.

The young artist had planned a very imaginative sculpture/event along with 26 other artists and inventors to be held in what is apparently by any measure an under-utilized hall of commerce. He described his contribution as a "surrealist county fair", but the Mall suddenly put the kibosh on all their plans this afternoon because of its displeasure with an article which appeared in the NYTimes this morning. The Mall management thought the piece was "disgusting" for its reference to the number of the mall's store tenants which had closed, and while they apparently have no quarrel with Vidal himself, the decision was made that they would have nothing to do with the subject of the article. No Fair.

Ah, the power of the press, re-imagined. Or, better (worse?), unimagined.

[image from Vidal's Metro Mall event site, where it appears squeezed into a different proportion]

There are few issues more important to our own survival and that of the entire world than the state of Israel and the war in Iraq. In two consecutive issues this month The Nation's contributors offer enlightenment in these areas to even the most knowledgeable reader.

I usually skip the many articles which only reflect what I already know or suspect, but I couldn't do without those which highlight this magazine's ability to reliably report or sensibly argue what what I'm unlikely to find anywhere else. These two fill that description in spades.

Unfortunately only one of these two particular reads are available on line, but you're depriving yourself, The Nation, and the nation if you aren't already a subscriber.

An excerpt from Tom Engelhardt's"Can You Say 'Permanent Bases'?", which is not on line:

To this day, those Little Americas [at least four "super-bases"] remain at the secret heart of "reconstruction" policy in Iraq. As long as [Halliburton] keeps building them, there can be no genuine withdrawal. Despite recent press visits, our super-bases remain in policy silence. The Bush Administration does not discuss them (other than to deny their permanence). No plans for them are debated in Congress. The opposition Democrats generally ignore them.

An excerpt from Philip Weiss's "Why These Tickets are Too Hot for New York", which is available on the magazine's website:

As George Hunka, author of the theater blog Superfluities, says [about New York Theatre Workshop's cancellation of the play, "My Name is Rachel Corrie"], "This is far too important an issue for everyone to paper it over again, with everyone shaking hands for a New York Times photographer. It's an extraordinarily rare picture of the ways that New York cultural institutions make their decisions about what to produce."

Hunka doesn't use the J-word. Jen Marlowe does. A Jewish activist with (which is staging a reading of Corrie's words on March 22 with the Corrie parents present), she says, "I don't want to say the Jewish community is monolithic. It isn't. But among many American Jews who are very progressive and fight deeply for many social justice issues, there's a knee-jerk reflexive reaction that happens around issues related to Israel."

Le Corbusier* via Jenny Holzer via Larry Silverstein

Speaking of large works of art [from my March 4 post: "...the Whitney rooms are devoted almost exclusively to large works; almost everything can be seen easily from a distance."], Jenny Holzer is completing the installation of a 65-foot-wide, 14-foot-high wall sculpture of moving text commissioned for the lobby of the new 7 World Trade Center. I was downtown this afternoon so I sneaked what looks here like a spy camera shot while I stood in the midst of the construction machinery outside the building shielding my little Minolta.

In an upbeat report in the NYTimes this morning we are told, "Though the artwork resides in the lobby, it is already visible several blocks away."

That even beats the Biennial's "Peace Tower" installed in the dry moat below the Whitney's front windows.

I think it will look fine, perhaps even very, very fine. At least from a distance the Childs building seems to be an improvement over the old 7 WTC, even if much of its virtue may be tied to its glassy near invisibility. I worked in the old fortress for years, and even with a lobby stocked with decent, large-scale late twentieth-century art I shuddered every time I had to walk to or from the elevators. The Lichtenstein, the Held, the Nevelson and the Bleckner [all destroyed] were all basically add-ons inside that pompous and brutally cold corporate control center lobby.

Today's article describes some of the process of the collaboration between the artist, architect David Childs and developer Larry Silverstein. While it clearly won't be one of Holzer's more provocative projects (the texts which had to be cleared by Silverstein, will apparently be as close to sweetness and light as Manhattan ever gets), we may still be able to hope for more later on: "I hope to feed it again," Ms. Holzer said. "It would be nice to keep it alive."

For the sake of all of us, I wish her success.

the complete quote reads:

The George Washington Bridge over the Hudson is the most beautiful bridge in the world. Made of cables and steel beams, it gleams in the sky like a reversed arch. It is blessed. It is the only seat of grace in the disordered city. It is painted an aluminum color and, between water and sky, you see nothing but the bent cord supported by two steel towers. When your car moves up the ramp, the two towers rise so high that it brings you happiness; their structure is so pure, so resolute, so regular that here, finally, steel architecture seems to laughÂ… The second tower is very far away; innumerable vertical cables, gleaming across the sky, are suspended from the magisterial curve that swings down and then up. The rose-colored towers of New York appear, a vision whose harshness is mitigated by distance.

the new 7 WTC: very clean, but nothing new

[it was Barry who drew the connection between what I had written earlier about the Biennial and this project when I mentioned the Times story at the breakfast table]


[seen the other, far side of the tracks last night]

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