Crawling through Galleries and Memories

Hello, my name is Rachel.

(Hi, Rachel)

And I'm a Project Runway Addict.

Here are the actual garments made for the show. This is the closest I've come to being starstruck in New York. I did see Donny Osmund a few nights ago, or at least he walked past us out of the restaurant, but I didn't notice it was him until someone pointed him out and by then, he was already in the Escalade. So close yet so far.

Today was our Chelsea Gallery Crawl, and after going through five or six white walled, sparse, storefront galleries, we decided that we were hungry, and on our way over to the food-filled part of Chelsea, we passed by this awesome looking door inset into a polished aluminum tunnel of sorts, and thinking it was an awesome art space we went in. It was, in fact, the hip and obscenely expensive Comme Des Garcons shop.

My first reaction was to turn to my companions and say in a disappointed fashion, "Oh. This isn't a gallery, it's just a store."

Then I thought for a moment. Because while galleries are exhibitional art spaces, they're also stores. Their fundamental purpose is to sell art. The fact that the art in this place was wearable shouldn't make it less of a gallery. The store was even set up as a gallery, with white walls and the clothing spaciously displayed to give people time to fully see each piece. It was probably the most interesting gallery, architecturally, that we visit.

The two "real" galleries that struck me most were the Michael Cheval exhibit at Interart and the Jim Kempner Fine Art space. Michael Cheval's exhibit consisted of this rich, gorgeous, fantastical oil paintings with such movement and life. Ah, they were marvelous. I could got lost in the movement and color of his dreamscapes. The Jim Kempner show (exhibit? display? catalogue?) was entitled "The Message is the Medium" and it consisted of works dealing with America after 9/11. Part of the exhibit consisted of journalistic photographs with absurd images photoshopped in, such as two Chinese farmers in a rice patty with toy boats sailing in the water behind them, or parts of a wedding hidden in wreckage from Hurricane Katrina. Downstairs, I found myself confused by what seemed to be a picture of a random wall in someone's entry hall, until I looked closer to find the faces of ominous men looking out. It was chilling. Upstairs, there was a small set of sculptures of stories that incited media field days - Princess Diana's car crash, the Unabomber cabin, OJ's Bronco chase, the Federal Building, and the World Trade Center and Pentagon. They were all labelled with the event they were depicting along the base, as though they were part of a commemorative set, or souvenirs.

It's hard to avoid 9/11 in the city. I talked to a woman a few days ago who was in one of the towers with her two brothers (they all got out okay, thank god), and she had one relative who was supposed to be working in the upper tower and another who was supposed to be on the Flight 93, but both were detained, one by a sick child at home, the other forgot company documents and gave up his seat on the plane.

Holy Shit.

I can't even begin to fathom that. There was a middle aged couple working their way through the Jim Kempner ahead of us, and I overheard snatches of their reactions to various works and they found a lot of the works painful, raw, and moving. I was touched also, but I didn't have that same searing pain. I don't know if I can ever understand it. Part of me hopes I never do.

I wrote a poem the afternoon of September 11th, and it's strange to see where I was then and what it's like to be here now.
Here it is, as I wrote it on a paper bag in my grandmother's garage:

Our innocence has crumbled, and downward it has tumbled
When with a mighty rumble it has fallen from within
The snow of death has filled the street, the nation’s pulse has ceased to beat
history has now repeat, again

Where have all the people gone who held aloft our freedom’s song,
who thought that wrong could never hit us here?
Where are all those who believe in equal opportunity,
in national security, living without fear?

When did we awake from our American dream?
When did its silver lining lose its silver gleam?
We have all lost faith, for peace is just a wraith
a distant echo of a past that wasn’t what it seemed.

I bask within the media’s glow of new news that I have to know
That seeps through television shows into my own brain.
Through updates so anticipated, I learn of all that’s devastated.
Of that, I have now grown jaded. Of that I’m ashamed

When the rubble’s settled down, the skyline’s lost its smoky crown
and weeping is the only sound that lingers anymore,
will we all recant our sins, will it ever be the way it’s been?
Will we remain a generation never knowing war?

I had gotten so sick of 9/11 being used as little more than a political bargaining chip, that I hadn't thought about it as a real event in a long time. It's so different being here, though, and knowing people who were there. We visited a site just up the street from ground zero today, and they talked about how the area's still recovering. So many businesses were shut down because of the ash and debris, and there was a huge quarantine I had heard nothing about. I heard so much other shit from everywhere I turned that I shut off. I shut off the first day. I think a lot of people who could, did.

This is such a weird time to live in. Technology is expanding faster than philosophy, and the deluge of information has made knowledge even rarer.


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