NYC: February 2005 Archives


the "politicization" of the gates!

Many thanks to Noah Lyon for giving me the opportunity of pulling together my last two posts about art and politics (and maybe a good many more of these blogs, going back almost three years) with an email to which these photos were attached. The elegant sticker in the pictures is Noah's art, and my caption is taken straight from his message. Of course none of us knows much about the specifics of this particular "politicization" operation.

Incidently, for those who might be disturbed by the negativity of some of their critics, remember that we're still all part of their art, according to Christo and Jeanne-Claude, even when we quibble about or shout at The Gates.* It's such a burden.

* "The work is not only the fabric, the steel poles, and the fence. The art project is right now, here. Everybody here is part of the work. If they want it, if they donÂ’t want it, either way they are a part of the work… I believe very strongly that twentieth century art is not a single, individualistic experience." - Christo

[the images from Michael Carreira via Noah Lyon]

paradise, an imaginary park where "Fair Use" really is doctrine

Hide those cameras and sketchpads if you're planning on using them in Central Park this month, and even if you're not going, think of an alternative phrase to describe those 7500 orange-ish shower curtains. Do Christo and Jeanne-Claude own Central Park? Their publisher at least seems to think so, according to a post in Infoshop News by street artist and dedicated artists' rights gadfly Robert Laderman.

Christo's publisher [Kunst-Verlag Schumacher/Edition Fils] claims a vast new degree of copyright and trademark protection. They claim they will prosecute anyone who sells their own original photos of The Gates; who makes and sells a drawing of The Gates or who even uses the words, The Gates, without their permission. They claim to have copyrighted the words, The Gates. They also claim to have an agreement with the media that media sources may only use news photos of the gates for the period the installation is up. That after that the media will only be allowed to use "official" photos of The Gates.

They also claim that all of Central Park is now "private property." Talk about privatization! Be sure to thank Christo, Bloomscrooge and the CPC [Central Park Conservancy, the private group which now controls New York's parks, or at least the areas enjoyed by communities of money - ed.].

Don't forget the Maybach.

[image of Ghiberti's "Gates of Paradise" from Artchive; story tip from Robert Boyd]

actually, this was the only gate we found whose curtain was wrapped about its architrave

I just didn't get it. Barry and I went to see Christo and Jeanne-Claude's project for Central Park, The Gates, this afternoon, well, first because it was there and also because we expected there would be a great deal of excitement on the first day of its display. We also thought we'd run into a lot of friends.

It was there, and apparently it was opened this morning in the minutes around 8:30 as scheduled. But I think I was surprised that I didn't find it at least a little exciting, rather only very mildly diverting. Nor did it seem to inspire the kind of holiday cheer I had expected within the huge crowds which had turned out to see it, crowds found walking through and about [thousands?] of saffron-colored "gates" which lined almost every pedestrian path in the park (the Rambles and other "wild" areas were left alone). And there were no friends in sight, as if they all knew better.

The Reichstag thing I liked a lot, even if I didn't get to see it.

Anyway, I guess $20 million just doesn't buy what it used to.

Perhaps striking the right note for the day, we overheard one young woman, as we passed her and her friend on our way up to Belvedere castle, talking about the miles of saffron nylon on display: "Yeah, I'd make a skirt out of the stuff."

at the "Command Center," while our small crowd gathered on the other side of the vehicle, and as their intense conversation with a bunch of male authority figures in suits wound down, the pair kept pointing to the car; did they want to get rid of it or keep it?

Halfway through our trek today we were passing the Loeb Boat House and the parking lot across the path from its door when I spotted a very large limousine being escorted into the lot. I'm a car fanatic, so identifying a $350,000 long-wheelbase Maybach 62 in a blessedly-car-free (temporarily) Central Park was no problem. We stood around until we could spot the back-seat occupants and, not surprisingly, they turned out to be Christo and Jeanne-Claude. I have to assume that their use of the car was a condition of a patron's generosity to the project.

Oh yes, a final touch of another local color: Barry spotted a Duane Reade bag inside on the floor in the rear.

inside historic, if somewhat seedy, City Council Chambers, an easy camaraderie prevailed in the midst of testimony which will supposedly decide the fate of the Jets stadium proposal

Crowds of construction union workers, most of whom typically live in the outer boroughs or even the suburbs (including New Jersey), crowded New York City Hall today to reinforce Mayor Bloomberg and his powerful friends in pushing for the building of a monstrous thing the city doesn't need as the only way to urban economic health. But remember, this project is supposed to be very much about jobs and affordable housing for people who live in New York City - or at least that's how it's being sold to us by the wealthy owners of the Jets. It's certainly not about tailgate parties on the platforms of subway cars.

The words in the headline above are those of Council Member Bill Perkins [on the far left in the picture] as he began questioning the principal Hudson Yards/Jets Stadium backers during today's combined public hearing of the Finance, Transportation and Economic Development Committees. His words get right to the heart of the matter, but unfortunately in the end the decision will be made by people who have lots of money of their own, but want ours too.

The trio of guests (an impressive entwining of corporate and goverment power) gathered almost as one before the combined Committees while I was in Chambers today were Daniel L. Doctoroff, Deputy Mayor for Economic Development and Rebuilding for the City of New York and founder of NYC2012, the organization behind New York City's Olympic bid; Mark Page, director of the New York City Office of Management and Budget and a member of the MTA Board; and Jay Cross, President of the New York Jets. What a tangled web they have woven. Have they no shame? And a Manhattan football stadium as New York City's last, best hope?

I was there only for some of their testimony, and while most of it was devoted to financing issues, at least one commitee member brought up the subject of traffic congestion. I didn't hear anything about how we were to deal with the consequences of an enormous football stadium being dropped into the middle of a Manhattan already at a traffic standstill evenings and weekends, but one of the high-powered boondogglers repeatedly used the phrase "traffic mitigation" in his testimony, as if he were talking about condolences.

Actually I was unable to get into the room until very late in the morning. I arrived after 9:30, when the hearing was scheduled to begin. At that time I couldn't even get inside the park surrounding City Hall (locked behind gates now , but it once belonged to the people, two Republican mayors back), to say nothing of getting near the building itself.

I waited with a small dedicated group of anti-stadium people outside on the sidewalk in the cold, beyond the tank traps and metal detectors, for most of the morning. The construction trade unions had sent huge numbers of their members to pack the floor of the hearing and I was told that there had been only a few rows of seats available in the rear for those who weren't on their bandwagon. It's sad to see trade unions manipulated by corporations intent on destroying working-class neighborhoods for their own huge short-term gains.

Bloomberg and his corporate allies are trying to rush through an approval of the stadium project so it can be displayed with the city's proposal for the 2012 Olympics. The International Olympic Committee will be in New York for four days beginning February 21 as part of its round of formal visits to contending cities. But where is Bloomberg's head? If New York's bid ever had a chance after the beginning of Bush's "war on terror," it finally died when the Mayor's party decided to invade Iraq.

Interestingly, this photograph shows how the current City Council makeup pretty much reflects the demographics of New York, if not of much of the entire world, although here it does look like an entirely male world. The image is very misleading however. I was sitting in the second row and had to point my camera between two large suited gentlemen in front of me, so I didn't have much choice in deciding what was in the viewfinder. In fact, Council members Quinn, Sears, Gonzales and James, arguably some of the strongest and most articulate members, were seated on the dais just to the left and the right of the men pictured here.

If I can now be forgiven for going even further off-message, I want to admit that I'm finding myself compelled to keep looking back at the photograph above. I really, really like the gold needlepoint star with its red field on the back of the Speaker's chair; I now remember that even while I was sitting before a fairly animated group of committee members I was staring at the empty chair much of the time. I think everyone should have a chair with a star.

parked outside Pierogi 2000 this afternoon:



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