NYC: February 2007 Archives







Barry had a copy of Harpers, but I had neglected to take any reading material with me today when we headed off to Williamsburg. Of course that meant that we would have an unusually long wait at the head of the line on 14th Street before the otherwise completely empty L train would get on its way east. I reached for my camera, but the digital clip was empty, so there were no older images to entertain me while I waited.

Then I decided to unleash it to see what it could make of the limited material available in sight. I just stayed on the bench and let Barry read to me from his magazine.

These are the images I retrieved when we got home.

a steamy Cortlandt Alley, on a freezing Saturday afternoon

Not all of Tribeca has been turned into luxury lofts - yet.

always good for ratings

Sherry Mazzocchi, of Blog Chelsea, writes to us that she sees NBC has apparently taken for a constructive suggestion the example Barry had used to condemn the triviality of what the networks represent as news. For a look at the incredible Brian Williams's "look at these puppies!" segment recorded last night, go to this video (you'll have to wait fifteen seconds for the advert to run).

[image from zimfamilycockers]

Filip Noterdaeme THE NEWEST™ 2006 model (plexiglass, LED screens, figurines, remote-controlled robotic system) [installation view]*

The Homeless Museum (affectionately referred to as HoMu by both adoring fans and its own creators) will be welcoming visitors once again this Sunday. I don't think anyone could describe this incredible institution as well as the creators themselves do on the museum's website, and I'm certainly not going to try:

A product of New York City's cultural decline, the Homeless Museum (HoMu) is a budget-and-staff-free, unaccredited arts organization that enables and engages cultural dialogue practiced at the intersection of the arts and homelessness.
Originally established mostly as a concept, two years ago the museum found a home in the fifth-floor walkup the founder shares with his partner Daniel Isengart. Once a month they open their doors to guests by invitation. Visitors are encouraged to email ([email protected]) or call (718-522-5683).

The NYTimes has found out about it and last month Dan Shaw wrote an excellent account of its mission and its work. The Believer has an extended article by Samantha Topol in the December/January issue.

I highly recommend a visit to the museum. Barry and I were there several weeks ago and we were charmed by the wit and sincerity of our hosts and delighted with the museum experience. We had first encountered what I'll call the creative humanism of Filip Noterdaeme's projects two years ago when we read about his campaign to shame the Museum of Modern Art (called MoMa by both supporters and critics, with little warmth from either) for its introduction of a compulsory $20 admission charge. Noterdaeme encouraged and inspired visitors to pay the entire amount in pennies, making it necessary for the museum to place buckets beside the station of each ticket clerk.

The admission at HoMu itself is determined on the basis weight (1¢/lb.), cash only. The Times article describes its membership policy:

The museum raises money for the homeless with a twist on the usual cultural memberships. ''We encourage visitors to become members,'' Mr. Isengart said. ''We tell them they can choose from any levels, from $5 to $125, and that they must give the money to a homeless person of their choice directly. We do it this way so that 100 percent of their donation goes to the homeless.''

Filip Noterdaeme Spoon, 1/8 Iroquios drawing

"Spoon, 1/8 Iroquios" is in the museum's collection. It is part of a series which represents a kind of empathetic curating concern absent from any museum of my experience. From the HoMu website:

The One-on-One Collection is a deeply felt and authentic engagement with the grim and stultifying lives of countless homeless adults who yearn for love, but instead must settle for broken dreams, abuse, and danger.

What began as a fascination with the sex lives of homeless men and how they fulfill their sexual desires has inspired this collection of body prints that are reminiscent in style of Yves Klein's Anthropometries. Paintings on paper made by the imprint of naked bodies previously drenched in "Homeless Orange" provide a range of erotic connotations, addressing taboos such as homelessness, public sex, and homosexuality. For example, in "Spoon, 1/8 Iroquois", two silhouettes suggest a hurried sexual encounter between two men.

What's the tie-in between HoMu's championing of the homeless and its critique of the museum? I think it lies in a profound awareness of the contrast between the outlandish sums of money and attention devoted to the increasingly-elaborate (and increasingly-inaccessible) temples in which we house the high-end items branded as our official cultural idols, and an incredibly wealthy society's neglect or spurning of its own most-forsaken things and people, including its own material detritus but above all the homeless, the outsider, and the uncompromised artist. Noterdaeme and Isengart bring it all home with their phenomenal mix of minimalist panache and compassion.

The open house is Sunday from 1 to 6, on Clinton Street in Brooklyn Heights.

Filip Noterdaeme ISM (The Incredible Shrinking Museum) 2004-2006 model (glycerin soap) [installation view]*

descriptions of the two works shown in model form above, adapted from material furnished by the artist:

"The Newest™" presents itself as a new contemporary art museum. Viewed from the front, it appears to be a building that is inundated by visitors whose silhouettes can be seen moving about behind its see-through façade, outfitted with several slogan-flashing LED screens. But a look behind the scene reveals the effect to be a choreographed deception: The Newest™ is not a building but an oversized stage-set simulating a building front. The visitors turn out to be dummies circulating on conveyor belts and rotating platforms. The machinery is controlled from a computer operated by a single person, the museum director.

"ISM (The Incredible Shrinking Museum)" is a project for an interactive museum consisting of a sixteen-foot cube of glycerin soap. The cube is subject to constant change through exposure to the elements. In addition, visitors will be invited to exploit the structure like a mine until is it is used up, the goal being to reach out to a new audience and challenge visitors to think about their role as active participants in the shaping and destruction of culture through direct participation in the realization and, ultimately, the deconstruction of a museum.

[image of "Spoon" from HoMu]

MSM news

During the station's introductory presentation last night at what was billed as New York's first Blogger Summit, the host, WNBC, reported that its own advance survey revealed that zero percent of their invited blog respondents thought that local TV news was helpful to their posting. This must have come as something of a shock to the network people, although I can't imagine why, because minutes later the station's News and Station Manager, Dan Foreman (who later told us that he had not really expected to enter much into the discussion) asked the assembled crowd of bloggers whether in light of their responses WNBC should just shut down its TV operations and concentrate entirely on developing a blog medium.

A show of hands from the audience, after what seemed like a moment of shock in response to what seemed like a genuinely impulsive question, indicated that there was a strong affirmative response. One blogger however did cry out, "what about the old people?" In the exchange which followed, one guest described local TV news coverage as composed mostly of stories on "fires and murders". Wow: Only two hours later, while awaiting the station's coverage of its own "blogger summit", I noticed that WNBC's 11 o'clock news led with an account of a fire, followed by a report of a murder. I was visiting the site for the very first time since the early 90's, when, because of a vested interest in the "broadcasting" of a politcal message, my friends and I would regularly scan local news coverage of our own creative theatrical actions or "zaps".

While sitting in Studio A last night I was trying to imagine why any smart New Yorker would actually want to, or be able to, regularly wait around for a brief, fixed-schedule television news program in order to learn what was happening in the city - even if that were what was actually to be found on the little screen. At one point last night even Editorial Director Adam Shapiro admitted that the abbreviated nightly news format permitted only very limited coverage of any story.

I think that, except for those employed by NBC, few people in that studio normally watch network news of any kind. Later last night, during the local station's on-air coverage of the summit, technology reporter Sree Srinavasan explained to viewers browsing the web as novices that they would have to be sceptical about the accuracy of the information they find on blogs. He encouraged them to look around and not to trust the face value of anything, suggesting that it would be wise to get to know the sources of the information found: This is always good advice - for both journalists and those they serve, but in this case the scepticism absolutely has to begin with the powerful MSM, best described as our mainstream corporate entertainment media. [footnote: NBC is owned by GE]

On the subject of journalistic malpractice, that most excellent community source, Blog Chelsea, says that Barry put it best, in conversation last night:

ThereÂ’s a war on, but all they can say is, "Look at these puppies!" They talk about ClintonÂ’s sex life, but not about all of the freedom that is slowly being taken away from you.

[image from diamondsintheruff]

This page is an archive of entries in the NYC category from February 2007.

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