Sunday, January 4, 2015

tears become...streams become...: Water and People Don't Mix

The black lake is so inviting.   Filling the entirety of the Park Avenue Armory's drill hall with a slick black pool of water, with two pianos in the middle, Douglas Gordan's installation "tears become...streams become..." is impressive.  It takes a while for my eyes to adjust to the light indoors and until it does it feels like this wave of blackness might swallow me up.  There is no railing around the pool and the density of the blackness is like a magnet.  The longer I look at the more I want to see if I can see into it. 

At first I think it is still.  But there are unexpected ripples in the water. They are not consistent. Their source is unknown. But they make the lights reflecting from the ceiling twinkle.  I see all sorts of variation. The reflection of a black doorway is darker than a black door frame.  The hanging lights on the ceiling become stalagmites in the reflection. The ceiling seems so much closer from the reflection.  It's a lie.

In the evenings, Hélène Grimaud is to play music about water.  During the day it is meant to be a space of quiet meditation where a player piano silently plays the performance from the night before.  There is of course no quiet meditation. Every New Yorker has come here to sit and talk. Nothing invites conversation like a peaceful space.  And the conversations around me cover boyfriends, lawsuits, and work.  Is anyone talking about the art?  I shove my earbuds deep into my ear canals and turn up Beiruit. Perhaps an accordion will help drown them out.  The man who has not stopped talking since he got here continues to talk.  2015. I still hate people.

People are leaning over the lake edge.  Some people are posing for pictures.  Literally EVERYONE is Eva Peron. Arms outstretched in the same position. No one is original. But it is only a few people who insist on inserting themselves into the narrative. Dicks.  I have always had a problem with this. 

I move away from the talking man.  Nothing has stopped him yet.  Though my hope for a sea monster to emerge from the black lake and swallow him whole is still on my mind. 

The water seems to soften everything.  The tough metal beams look more cradling than imposing.

The dampened silent player piano clicks and clunks in the distance.  Imaginary fingers race across the keyboard. Little flashes of white lights for every note.  A woman raises her voice to me, "Isn't there supposed to be music?"  "I believe it is meant to be silent for contemplation," I reply with a certain level of irritation because she has interrupted my quiet.  "But there's supposed to be music," she bellows.

Time to go. 

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