Saturday, November 14, 2009

Inexhaustible Space

“New York was an inexhaustible space, a labyrinth of endless steps , and no matter how far he walked, no matter how well he came to know its neighborhoods and streets, it always left him with the feeling if being lost. Lost not only in the city, but within himself as well. Each time he took a walk, he felt as though he were leaving himself behind, and by giving himself up to the movement of the streets, by reducing himself to a seeing-eye , he was able to escape the obligation to think, and this ,this, more then anything else, brought him a measure of peace, a salutary emptiness within.”

As I was waiting in queue to get my copy of ‘ the New York Trilogy’ signed by Paul Auster at the 4th floor of Barnes & Nobles in Union Sq I was able to see the Zeckendorf Towers, where I’m actually staying, called also One Irving Place and thinking the description of New York written by him seen by the eyes of Quinn as above.

I’m not taking pictures in Nyc, so I tried to reduce myself to a seeing-eye and remember places, people and things I saw, maybe in a Lynchian way, Pynchonian or Foster Wallace-ian, having these great American authors in my mind.
I walked with the Peace Pentagon Parade on Bowery with the Yes Man survival ball suit guiding us, I saw a performance in Times sq during night composed by Arto Lindsay, I sat more than one hour looking at the wall drawings of Sol LeWitt at Dia Beacon and I felt like turning back home when I arrived from Washington Dc getting out from Penn Station into the crowd on a Tuesday evening. I saw a man running with a costume of Eiffel Tower in the Nyc marathon in Williamsburg while I was trying to find some Lp’s in a record shop and I stared with other people at the scene of two guys waiting on their knees for minutes in front of a police car on Ludlow St at the end of the Halloween night when finally I left the party at the abandoned school.

I think I already felt myself in America flying over Istanbul on the Delta plane, which is a cool mix between a greyhound bus and a diner, while I was watching the movie “ Land of the Lost “. Somehow you start to prepare your self to your arrival, because an arrival to New York is something that all of us are familiar with, from the movies obviously. The arrival to JFK could be different then expected, but when you are on the taxi heading towards Manhattan and you’re stuck in the traffic you already feel the city, at least I felt like I was in a scene with the credits scrolling of a movie, a b-movie ☺
As soon as I arrived I started to look for places where I can find some experimental music, as an excuse to discover the city. The Stone, the Issue Project, Monkeytown and some other nice places playing live music. And the Union Sq. it’s so strategically central that I moved everywhere and anytime I wanted to move so easily. I ate a lot of salad from the Whole Foods sitting and watching people in the square and almost every night I get out to Les or Williamsburg bars. The fact that the subway goes all night makes everything easier.
During the day, apart from following my itinerary of my residency program, I walked in streets casually, in Central Park, in Chinatown – incredible places with a huge amount of energy of people. New York for its yellow cabs reminds me of Istanbul and also Chinatown shops and crowdedness is a vision that I could find in my own city, so that made me feel familiar immediately. The city accepts you soon, no matter where are you from.
On my first week I had an amazing dim-sum experience followed by some rest trying to digest it in Columbus Park and a rainy Sunday trip to Roosevelt Island with the tram seeing the city from above for 5 mins. I went to some really interesting talks at the Cooper Union, at the New School and Metro Pictures, plus a lot of independent and non-profit spaces to visit, I barely found time to sleep. It was a remarkable experience also at the Explorers Club when the talk on the deep-sea creatures started with a gong on a ship bell while I was looking to the polar bear taxidermy in front of the wooden library, which could have been a scene from Rosemary’s Baby.

No need to say that the city never stops and you have to make a choice knowing that you’ll miss something somewhere. It’s probably that feeling also of being new and for short time in a city that drives you to go everywhere and be curious and New York fully permits that. I re-discovered the pleasure of going to cinema with a huge possibility of old and new movies around all night. Every time I walked back at ‘home’ I passed by the Strand or Barnes & Nobles, which is dangerous because I cannot stop myself from buying books, and these books shops are with endless possibilities, but I know that I’m not going to bring an extra luggage of 50kg. , so I should move to Ny and spend a lot of time in its bookshops and libraries. Anyways , I’m reading now some popular history books, like the Slave Ship – Markus Rediker, the Devil in the White City – Erik Larson , Fordlandia - Greg Grandin and Mr.Wilson’s Cabinet of Wonder, all of them containing lots of information on the history and American culture and they are feeding me with new ideas . There is also a lot of nature in Ny. When I visited Bronx Botanical Garden I saw the original forest covering Ny some hundred years ago, mentioned also in Alan Weissman’s book the World without Us, so I can imagine the city without inhabitants filled with that jungle as I saw while going towards Beacon on the train under a calm and bright sky illuminated by the post card like colours of the Hudson Valley trees.
I’ve spent only 2 days in Washington Dc, but it was enough to realize that I was walking in that picture when you turn on the TV and watch Cnn news when you see the Capitol. For a coincidence I had the chance also to see an exhibition of a rare book of oracles at the Smithsonian, which usually the originals are in Istanbul in the Topkapi Museum treasury but you never have the possibility to see them. Air&Space museum was next to that and in 1 day I saw already a lot of elements, which had influences on my work in these years.
Now thinking it’s incredible that all of this happened in just a month. It has been refreshing and the good weather during all this time I suppose was a gift that Ny and apexart gave me .