12/7/12

the event of a thread


The building itself is majestic, with its elliptical wrought iron arches in the main room, the Drill Hall, flanked by rich hardwood floors. The building commissioned by the National Guard, its Seventh Regiment most famous for being one of the first to respond to Abraham Lincoln's call for volunteers in 1861. 

It's one of my favorite and artistic places in the city, one of the few that allow for immersive experiences with the exhibitions. My first experience at the Armory, I recorded my heartbeat as part of the Christopher Boltanski installation, No Man's Land which was exhibited in 2010. The heartbeat was added to a feed of hundreds of thousands as part of the Archive de Coeur, an ongoing project to record heartbeats from people all over the world. The heartbeats also served as background to the main exhibit. 

In Boltanski's presentation, he explored the human story through " 30 tons of discarded clothing, a 60-foot crane and the sound of human heartbeats". Park benches lined the outer edges of the exhibition space in a grid design that called to mind the blueprint of a concentration camp (as I recall from many a movie, and not real life). 

Foundational beams were planted at the intersecting areas of the grid and linked together with electrical wires, in the middle of which were a loose pile of clothes. At certain intervals of time, the crane located in the middle of the room would start up and grasp a crane full of clothing from the master pile and disperse it to one of the 'cell blocks'. You can check out a photo gallery of the images here.   
This past week, I had the pleasure (and good fortune thanks to ArtLog) to attend the opening of the Armory's latest exhibition: Ann Hamilton's the event of a thread. It was simply magical and if you have the opportunity, I highly recommend checking it out before it closes on January 6, 2013.


Imagine if you will a room filled with swings, made of wood and chains suspended from the ceiling. Old-fashioned wood swings, 2x4's meant for one or two, to idly sway in the wind, with one foot pushing off the ground and the other pointing toward the sky in a moment of freedom. The room itself is separated by a floor to ceiling silk curtain, a cross between a parachute and a circus tent hung out to dry. 


There are swings on either side, and a live installation anchoring both sides of the hangar. On one side a lone writer scribbles streams of consciousness on an illuminated desk using pencil and carbon paper; on the other two 'radio announcers' surrounded by caged homing pigeons, recite a collection of words and sentences, gibberish really, into a vector microphone. Throughout the space there are portable "brown paper packages tied up with string" speakers emitting the monotone recitations. 


Sitting on the swings somehow affects the billowing of the curtain through cantilevers far off in the corners of the room, so you feel as if there is a summer breeze swirling around you. Pure magic. Pure magic indeed.   

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