Pretty Damn Unconventional

Great Downtown Express article on Elastic City! It’s written by Lily Bouvier.

Some excerpts:

Poetry, sound, paranormal and ritualistic performance and other art forms are incorporated into showing participants a city they may think they already know well.

“A lot of [them entail] things that are…what one might call eccentric. I think that it’s kind of up to the artist to liberate the participants on the walk and make them feel more uninhibited to either try new things or to do things that maybe otherwise, in another setting, they wouldn’t do.”

“A big part,” [Todd] says of the walk format, “is bringing people together and forming community, however ephemeral.” But ultimately, he concludes, “if we can give people one new angle or new perspective, through which they may look as they walk down the street, then I feel satisfied.”

Reserve a spot on one of my upcoming Elastic City walks here.

Eye Contact

Thinking of using these on my Elastic City walk. They’re leftover from a sculpture I made in college. Little did I know that 8 years later I’d be using them for an entirely different purpose. Here is some context:

Viveiros de Castro was quoted by Graham Harvey:

‘Personhood and ‘perspectivity’—the capacity to occupy a point of view—is a question of degree and context, rather than an absolute, diacritical property of a particular species.'”

Diana Eck has written:

The central act of Hindu worship, from the point of view of the lay person, is to stand in the presence of the deity and to behold the image with one’s own eyes, to see and be seen by the deity… through the eyes one gains the blessings of the divine.”

In fact, a god is understood to be embodied by an image only when the eyes are added. Shops sell plastic eyes that can be attached to holy objects such as rocks, or to replace old eyes on existing statues.

Here are some holy rocks with eyes:

Here is a dung sculpture of Krishna at the moment when the artist is adding the eyes.

Here also is a remarkable earthwork by Shreyas Karle in which giant eyes were added to a mountain using stones and paint. With this action, Karle literally transformed the mountain itself into a god, or awakened the latent god within the mountain. Here, an object becomes a subject.

Matthew Jensen: Nowhere In Manhattan

This Sunday is the first of four Elastic City walks by Matthew Jensen, titled Signs of Life. I just made my way to his website, and from there to his project Nowhere In Manhattan.

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For this project, he explores and documents Manhattan’s junkspaces. The word “junkspace” was coined by Rem Koolhaus. When I use it, I mean a location invisible from prescribed routes and thus overlooked, unused, untended, and host to numerous extraordinary possibilities. There, artifacts accumulate and history is most visible. Nature grows up around this waste, makes use of it indiscriminately, and thrives. Jensen uses the term “nowhere” for the same idea. He defines it as a: “place that has been neglected and from this neglect has achieved the status of an organic non-place; a perfect combination of the built and natural. From these places one cannot say, ‘I am in a park’ or ‘I am in the city’ because neither appears to be true.”

This project reminds me a lot of my 2008 Kilmer Shrines project. (We even both have a sad stuffed animal photo!) Our process is basically the same, though the end result differs. But Nowhere In Manhattan packs an extra punch. My junkspaces are all in New Jersey, where you would expect to find such places. His are in Manhattan. The borough where real estate is so expensive that a 9.5 foot wide house squeezed as an afterthought between two others sells for $2.75 million.

So on the Elastic City walk you can tag along with him — experience the meat of his project and learn about your city’s weedy underbelly. Beautiful though the photos are, the surprise and discovery of firsthand experience usually cannot be beat. If not for a deadline, I would definitely be there.

(Are you familiar with Elastic City? From their website: “Artists are commissioned…to create their own walks. These walks tend to focus less on providing factual information and more on heightening our awareness, exploring our senses and making new group rituals in dialogue with public space in the city.” I’m going to be creating a walk for them in September with Residency Unlimited.)