I’ve realized recently, as I get busier and busier, that if I want to keep this blog going I’m going to need to branch out a bit from my project posts, and include some other cool things in my life. So, here is the first of what may become a series, Art Around NYC, featuring the amazing installation event put on by The Guggenheim Museum, called stillspotting.
From the project website: “While the vitality and stimulation of the urban environment can be pleasant, those living in or visiting densely populated areas, such as New York, can have wildly different experiences…One wonders how locals and visitors can escape, find respite, and make peace with their space in this “city that never sleeps.” The Guggenheim Museum responds with stillspotting nyc, a two-year multidisciplinary project that takes the museum’s Architecture and Urban Studies programming out into the streets of the city’s five boroughs…Every three to five months, “stillspots” are identified, created, or transformed by architects, artists, designers, composers, and philosophers into public tours, events, or installations.”
I was lucky enough to attend stillspotting manhattan, entitled “To a Great City” a collaboration between architecture firm Snøhetta and composer Arvo Pärt. They chose 5 locations, around Manhattan and close by Governor’s Island, where they installed giant white weather balloons along with carefully chosen pieces of music composed by Pärt. The overall experience was beautiful and moving, so much so that I decided to go back for the second weekend and bring my family along.
The first sight was the Labyrinth in Battery Park, a traditional meditation labyrinth that was created for the first anniversary of September 11th. You wore a personal iPod and headphones, and were able to slowly wind your way through the labyrinth as you listened to what we all agreed was a bit like a swelling movie soundtrack. It really was amazing what peace and calm you could find in the middle of a hustling city.
The second site was truly fascinating, it was the underground magazine where they stored ammunition on Governor’s Island! The caverns were beautiful, and the acoustics unbelievable, but my favorite part by far was the gorgeous big balloon! Unfortunately the first time I went the balloon had this terrific shape, but I hadn’t thought to bring a camera so I was only able to take photos with my iPhone. And then when I went back the next weekend with a proper camera the balloon was new and not quite as magnificent, but I think you can get the idea. Let me just say, it was even cooler in person!
The third site was interesting, but slightly less awe inspiring. It was the old fort on Governor’s Island, overlooking Lower Manhattan, where the guns and cannons used to be mounted. Overall it was cool, but a less unique location than all of the others.
The fourth site was back in Manhattan, the lobby of the Woolworth Building, a gorgeous and famous gothic skyscraper nicknamed the Cathedral of Commerce. I had actually been in the lobby about 11 years ago, but ever since September 11th they haven’t allowed the public inside, so this was a pretty special occasion. You went in and sat on the central stairs and listened to a very theatrical piece of music that took about 20 minutes. Sadly they didn’t allow any photos, so I can’t show you how gorgeous the building is, but it was fun to sit there among these giant balloons listening to music as everyone came and went.
And then there was the fifth site, and possibly the coolest and most spectacular. The 46th floor of World Trade Center 7, one of the first completed (or refurbished, I’m not sure) skyscrapers down at the WTC site. Also closed to the public, this was a fully unfinished floor, open with views of the city in all directions. Clustered at either end of the building were a whole bunch of balloons, as well as chairs for sitting and contemplating the view and thinking towards a positive future.
While the site had been chosen for its views outwards, it was also notable for a birds eye view of the new September 11th memorial. As a native New Yorker, and one who was in the city that day, it was a really moving site, especially thinking about what the view would have been just 10 years ago, looking straight at the Twin Towers not that far away from the windows.
But, this is not a sad post, it is one about an uplifting future, so I chose to mostly focus on the gorgeous views straight out from the windows, and the ever cool weather balloons! I loved the clusters, and how they caught the sunlight and glowed, versus falling into shadow. (The photos with the bright sun are from my first visit, the gray sky photos from my second visit. It was actually fun to have a chance to photograph it both ways.)
So, I hope you enjoyed these photos, and check out the website because if you are in the New York area maybe you can attend the next edition of stillspotting, coming this Spring to someplace in Queens. (And check out the view from WTC 7!)
Ciao, and stay tuned for a new light project, as soon as I can get some good daylight photos. Allison