a near-week of not blogging followed by the last few days of what I would describe as ‘weak blogging’ are at least a sign that something was happening. To be too busy, that is. I guess that’s a good thing.
In no particular order:
Queens, the Blackout, the Sunnyside Gate
I took this photo a year ago today. It was the 2006 Queens Blackout [Gothamist article from same day].
[full-res image on Flickr]
I still have the NYTimes article from that weekend laying around. The Blackout (capital B) eventually went for a full 10 days, service in my home didn’t get partially restored until the ninth. I still think about the Blackout a lot, mostly for how it drove people out of their homes – at a certain point it was cooler outside in the shade than trapped in your brick-oven apartment – and the number of conversations that took place on the streets that wouldn’t have happened otherwise; how people on Steinway Street watched the ConEd workers pace back and forth in their trenches, scratching their heads; how much equipment surfaced that I had never seen before, boxes with weird appendages, trucks with huge hoses, and how now a lot of that hardware seems common (did the Blackout allow for bigspending?).
The Blackout was also the first time I became intimately engaged with the Sunnyside Gate, or arch. The gate, an 80s art deco style entrance to the heart of Sunnyside, has been in disrepair for some time. During the Blackout I was moved by the ConEd worker moving below it, the entrance blocked off by his truck, manhole and orange barrier ribbon, the irony of him navigating subterranean networks trying to fix a grid in the shadow of something that hadn’t worked in years. As ugly as the gate may be, I understood its silent beauty and wished for it to be lit up, like a beacon.
To this day I continue looking at the gate, and will routinely take the 7 train another stop out just to get another look, take another photo, watch the scene as people pass around, under and through this defunct, monolithic, pitiful structure.
Then the Queens Crapper recently highlighted that indeed money has been reserved for improving the gate, although it hasn’t exactly been well-managed.
Earlier this week I caught another game at The Stadium, this time to watch the Yankees take on the Toronto Blue Jays. A friend’s little brother has season tickets and he couldn’t go, so my friend offered to go with me. She once bragged that her father has behind-dugout season tickets, and while I thought if her brother had anything comparable that would be great, as it’s a game of baseball I’ll go no matter what. As it would turn out, these aren’t your father’s behind-dugout tickets:
(the transition from day to night during the course of the game is something I love about evening games, the field flickers and changes right in front of you)
Still, way more exciting than the previous game I went to at Yankee Stadium against the Red Sox, where I spent as much time fearing for my life as I did watching the game! For this game though the Jays put up a good fight and at times shut the crowd up with their game, but when it mattered it mattered and I still suspect it was the cheering and overwhelming noise of the crowd which in the bottom of the ninth made the Toronto pitcher accidentally balk in the tying run, eventually going extra innings which the Yankees won with a walk-off single in the bottom of the 10th from Robinson Cano to score Alex Rodriguez from second base. Pretty spectacular.
We celebrated with a ceremonial peanut smashing:
Hungary – Emergency!
A couple days ago I heard that it was hot in Hungary, like reeeeal hot. Hot enough to be classified a stay-in-your-homes heat wave. Then I came across this website, oddly enough ran from Hungary, which is the best and most-comprehensive Emergency and Disaster Information Service I have ever seen! If you want to be completely aware of how unaware you are of the sheer number of disasters – man-made and natural – that occur every hour of every day, then this is the website for you. It’s fucking impressive. And they have a feed too so you can subscribe to that. 30… 50 disasters a day. With comprehensive summaries and occasional photos, maps, etc. FUCKING IMPRESSIVE!
old wallet, new wallet, and caramel
Talking about Hungary. I figured I should square away a few things about my person before I go on this trip. One of those included finally getting round to acquiring a new wallet. I didn’t want to go abroad looking like a total buffoon:
I still have cards in here from London, that’s almost three years ago! Never cleared the thing out.
that zipper and top ripped a looooong time ago!
where did it all go? all the vitals are in there!
it came with a crisp new buck.
I mean, a buffoon sure, but not a total buffoon! I won’t detail the horror stories about how long I had been carrying that old wallet around… with caramel melted in the change purse! Years… years I say.
the new Transformers movie
I still haven’t seen it. But I have seen this!
and now you have too!
And now… perhaps critically speaking:
Yeah, buried way down here. Way near the end of the post. It’s been a long time coming, but I think it’s finally time to start considering my role and possible departure from the Flux Factory, the live-work artist collective I’ve been a part of for the last two years. Two fruitful and exciting years, but eventually the scales have to tip, and they’ve tipped in favor of a different path.
There are two distinct aspects to life at Flux Factory: what we call the House (living), and the not-for-profit (working), the organization. The House is solid. It’s fun and wacky and is always full of new life (literally, people rotate out of this place about every 3 months). But it has too many overlaps and is too burdened by its association with the organization, or so I have come to believe. It’s a symbiotic relationship yes, but increasingly the organization milks more from the House than it can supply. And I am at conceptual odds, and have been since I stepped foot in the place, with how things are ran.
The fact is that it isn’t a collective. There isn’t an established democratic process and eventually all decisions lie in the hands of a small pool of people, the group that have been here the longest. It was, after all, founded and built up by them, it’s only human that they organize themselves in this way. But as I told one of my housemates last week: if a project isn’t entirely sound, if the artists involved aren’t committed entirely, I would rather see projects not happen, not be forced to happen (just for the sake of fulfilling grant requirements and other burdens). I would then organize all the material, the debates, the notes, the work that never fabricated, into the work. That would be the work!
Around here they force work to happen. There’s always this notion of a ‘last minute push’ – they have devised this very notion because for the most part we spend most of our collective time not making art. While many of the people involved are good thinkers, and crafty people, some are excellent builders, etc., they don’t spend their spare time making work. There’s no ‘little art’, nothing that would show you the working methods, the thinking process, or ever the failed works – only these huge gargantuan installations that are excessive in their resources and use of materials. Furthermore, they don’t know how to document. What’s the point of not making little art – drawings, notes, collage, photos, short videos, etc. – and only relying on these monumental installations if you don’t at least properly document the damned things? Seriously.
Like I said, conceptual odds.
I have many points of contention, many examples, but I’m not looking to build a case study. However, the final blow was finally delivered not in a single moment but over the course of the past two months. I only then realized what I was working with.
The photo that opened this section and the images below show the current state of the Flux Factory gallery, an approximate 2,000 sq. ft. space, your typical rectangular white box space, 12 ft. ceilings, etc. For the course of the summer we were aware that there would be no exhibition proper in our gallery space, and so some of us championed the notion of turning the gallery into work spaces, like mini studios, for people to work on their own projects and especially to work on the upcoming project Sziget. I looked forward to not having to work in my bedroom all the time, and quickly set up camp after the last show was dismantled and its contents put to one side.
Whereas I tried to maintain a healthy working space, overturning my materials, making new work, collapsing some work and refashioning it into newer work, the rest of the gallery eventually degraded into a dumping ground for various people and various reasons. Some things people just didn’t want to deal with in their rooms; some people who made messes and never clean up after themselves; but all seem to not know just how precious this space and time really was. Given the cost of NY real estate and that we are all artists, I was baffled that, this was the best they could come up with?
Some other Fluxers felt alienated by this space, and commented that they could never come to work in it, given the mess. This is the weight of one, two or three people burdening the collective. This upsets me. I can’t contribute to this model any further.
Don’t get me wrong, I actually think the mess and detritus is inspiring. There’s a lot of shit going on in there! But if that isn’t the point, if that isn’t the work, then I’m just confused. This isn’t a Tomoko Takahashi or Thomas Hirschhorn installation – this is just crap.
Time isn’t money, and space isn’t just a way to comprehend the third dimension, these two together are what life is made up of. As an artist if you have very little space but lots of time, you will find a way to carve out for yourself more space (not the carving part but this notion reminds me of that White Stripes song, ‘Little Room’); if you have massive amounts of space but little time, chances are it’s because you’re busy, making more work. For the first time in the 2+ years I’ve lived here we had an opportunity to really understand time and space as it relates to our own and our collective work. I think we squandered the opportunity. Given the chance to do it again, I don’t think a single thing would change. I think this is our eternal collective damnation. Personally, I want a change of scenery.
The beard: I’m going to do it. I’m going to shave it off! I’ve had facial hair for nearly nine months, ever since I started growing it last october for the playoffs. At times it has been fairly long, but it is time to go.
Hard drive: I had a failure on my primary… well my only, backup drive. This was beginning to be where I kept everything. It failed suddenly. No indications, no warnings. I have many tricks up my sleeve but they all failed – kaputz! Data recovery is in the $600-$1000 range. All of my documents related to my artistic practice are on this drive – there’s no way to measure that ‘value’, it must be recovered. Data loss has gutted me and will drive me broke.
And I’m out…
Before you loose the beard, could you take a picture in a corduroy jacket with leather elbows? I think the beard looks GREAT in an english teacher kind of way and, i think the pic will seal the deal.
english? bfah! G33k3 rY 101 yo!!1kL!
so………no pic then?
nothing for you to blackmail me with, sorry. 🙁