Friday, February 25, 2005

Yes, I am a philistine.

Last weekend, my wife and I drove up to New York City to see friends and visit Cristo's "Gates" in Central Park. The visit was nice, as it included lots of eating. In my opinion, one of the great things about New York City is the nearly endless variety of restaurants at which one can sate their wildest craving. Thus on Saturday I was able to eat honest-to-goodness southern cooking for lunch and have fantastic italian food (and opera) for dinner. The next day, it was an argentinian breakfast of coconut-leche pancakes and for lunch, Polish pirogue. All in all, the weekend was a gastronomic delight.

I wish I could say the weekend was also an artistic delight. Alas, I cannot. Call me a philistine, but Cristo's gates did not move me. As an organizational feat, the Gates are truly impressive. Virtually every walkway in Central Park has atleast one orange gate with its waving cloth and there must be 5,000 of them total. The artistry, however, escaped me. Don't get me wrong. From certain perspectives like the Nauburg Bandshell, the rows of orange columns and blowing sheets was pretty. On the whole, though, I prefer walking in Central Park without all that orange. As a friend of mine who felt the same as I noted, "The gates were okay, but the people watching was really the best part."

It may be, of course, that this is just the point. Perhaps installation art isn't so much about the installation itself, but its effect on the community, on the viewer and on how the viewer interacts with it. If that is the case, then I guess the Gates succeed, as there certainly seemed to be LOTS of people interacting there.Anyway, I'll leave it up to you to decide whether you like the Gates or not. Personally, I think I've seen enoug Cristo art. Which brings me to my final point.

Another of my New York friends told me that Cristo would like to drape the Grand Canyon in some sort of cloth something, but has been denied permits by the Park Service. I hope they continue to deny him those permits until his dying day. The Grand Canyon doesn't need Cristo fucking with it, just like it doesn't need the Bureau of Reclamation fucking with it either. I don't care what the manmade intrustion is, it's still an intrusion. The GC is one of the most sublimely beautiful and scary places on Earth, and a bunch of stinking fabric would do nothing but mar its grandeur. So there.