Relearning How To Play,

published at 2:09pm on 09/24/12

I had the most wonderful art-filled day on Saturday.

I started with an exhibit imagining the proposed Lower East Side Lowline, followed by a trip to Greenpoint to drive some of the boats in the Newtown Creek Armada, then joining up with my friends Kelli and Daniel to visit Tatzu Nishi’s Discovering Columbus installation in Columbus Circle and ending the day at the Marlborough Chelsea to explore Jonah Freeman & Justin Lowe’s Stray Light Grey.

The answer to the first question is “by bike” (the question being, “how did you get from the Lower East Side to Greenpoint to Midtown to Chelsea in one afternoon?”).


The second thing that was so great about my day of art was how everything I did encouraged me to play, in one way or another. From driving a toy boat around a polluted creek to sitting in a living room next to a giant statue, these things all took my normal perspectives on the world and tweaked them just a little bit. And nothing did that more than the Stray Light Grey exhibit. Kelli and Daniel, who had seen the exhibit before, shoved me into the gallery ahead of them. “Go ahead,” they said, “look around. You lead the way.” In the back corner of the room, a broom closet, with its door open, and inside, another room, and beyond that, a hole in the wall, broken through the sheetrock. And from there we walked through room after room, exploring this space in a space, this constructed world inside the gallery. Beyond whatever grander vision the artists were conveying, at its very basic level, it was permission to wander around a space that we felt like we weren’t actually supposed to be in.


It’s rare that we get to do things like that much any more, as adults. As we get older, we’re supposed to know better, whatever that means. Even at Newtown Creek, in order to pilot the toy boats I had to sign a waiver stating that I would not touch the water, for touching the water in a Superfund site can lead to death.

On the way out of the gallery, we passed a group in formalwear, heading to a party upstairs. “Check out this exhibit,” we told them. “Go into the back room. It doesn’t look like you’re allowed in there, but you are.” Excitedly, they walked into the outer gallery. It was the youngest of the group, just a teenager, who first ran into the broom closet, gesturing for the others to follow her. Tentatively, they stepped through the door, one at a time.

I hope they had fun.

Filed under: Observations

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