As a prelude to Valentine's Day, my wife and I spent this past weekend in New York - a spontaneous gap in our schedules allowed for the getaway, and while Pressing The Flesh examines Flesh Pressing in all its various forms, that's as far as I'll go about that.
As the opportunity presented itself out of the blue, we happened to have several other opportunities present themselves as well... one of the truly magical elements of being in NYC on any given day - you're never really sure what's going to be around the corner.
This was the weekend that Christo and Jeanne-Claude unfurled their 7500 fabric-adorned gates throughout Central Park, doing their part to make orange the new black. This is an event that cannot truly be fully explained or described, as it becomes something different from each new and unique vantage point in the Park. It also asks, or even requires that the individual interact with it in some way. The installation, regardless of how one feels about it, pro or con, cannot be ignored.
The saffron drapes, billowing against a crystal blue sky and a backdrop of bare trees and remnant snow on the ground seemed to beckon Spring to come forth a bit quicker. Or, conversely, it could be viewed as a man-made attempt to screw with Nature and the simplistic beauty of Central Park. It's all wholly in the eye of the beholder.
As for myself, the most interesting element was the spark of conversation. While The Gates in and of themselves are remarkable, they create a catalyst for people to talk about the definition of art, their feelings about Central Park, and to spontaneously interact with those around them. I suppose it would be possible to walk the entire length of The Gates and to try and take it all in as a whole, but most will have an experience with only a portion of the installation.
An image that excited me was that of people attempting to record the event somehow. My wife climbed up on the rocks at one point to take a photo of an area around the skating rink. It was in observing here that I noticed the frame of her camera recorded several other people doing the same thing.
So, you have The Gates themselves. Then you have someone with a videocamera capturing images. Beyond that, someone holds a cellphone with a camera, capturing the image of The Gates and the videocamera. Pan back a bit further, and you have a tripod with a professional camera capturing the videocamera, the cellphone and The Gates. And there's my wife, with her disposable camera, capturing all of the above.
The experience was wonderful and quite trippy. I encourage anyone who has the opportunity to visit Central Park in the next two weeks - Central Park is always a wonderful people-watching experience, but it will be exponentially so for the remaining days of February. And in the end, February is a month that always tends to seem unusually cruel (so close to the beginning of spring, and yet so far away - will winter never end!?!) - The Gates generate both heat and warmth in a month known for it's cold.