Can I change your mind?
I mentioned a few days ago having taken myself on an art date to New York. Part II of the date was a visit to several museums and galleries. Among them I saw the Faith Ringgold show at the New Museum, Shio Kusaka at David Zwirner, and Camille Norment at Dia:Chelsea.
Obsessed, as in: dedicating all of his energy and work into developing a perfect last time. Obsessed, as in: listening for as much dust as can be captured by accessible technology. Obsessed, as in: engineering a wooden speaker for the past several years—an object—that can be purchased by people who like him want to hear the dust—a product. Obsessed, as in: much of this effort is to very little avail, but he will never stop.
There’s something positively mythic about this endeavor. Mythic, as in: this is a Greek tragedy. Positive, in that it is beautiful.
Nick is joined by his wife and two small children as we explore the Norment installation. When we see each other at the gallery we all hug. Nick introduces me to his children again:
Nick: This is a very good old friend of ours.
(7 year old to Nick, to ask me): Is she married?
(7 year old): Do you love your husband?
(7 year old): Are you in love?
*I look quizzically at his parents*
Nick: Don’t worry he asks everyone these questions in that exact sequence. (awkward chuckle)
(7 year old to Nick): Is she in love?
Nick: Yes yes. Let’s go inside.
At Dia there is one gallery containing a metallic feedback device, and another gallery covered in a web of vibrating timber that transmits the recording of a chorus. The show is exquisite.
Nick had texted on his way to me that he would be slow today, and will explain why, in person. When we are in person, he says that he’s had health issues that have hopefully finally culminated. He was raced into an operating theater and stayed in the ICU for over a week. The doctors can’t explain why this particular internal organ broke down, and I joked that the kids must be punching and kicking him much harder than he thinks. We watch them run around the terraforming wood of the Norment choir, and I think about all the people who have had heart attacks, internal bleeding, unexpected ailments outside of COVID-19. They leave orphans of endemic anxiety. They are as much the victims of medicine art as we are, drowning in desire to find an endorphin oasis. It is a bio-mechanical feedback loop. We are failing at finding providence.
Nick once said “relaxing sounds” as a genre, are the headless bane of music—calming apps and yoga playlists, four hour sleep tracks of rain on YouTube and soporific narrators on Soundcloud: the worst. He would rather listen to a microphone inside a sheep farm in rural Japan. I agree. The problem is, his speakers ring no bells for the gatekeepers of fortune. This is a very stressful stage of his business.
We hate the relaxation industry so much. We are having heart attacks, however.
After our visit to this museum, we walk toward Little Island, the Thomas Heatherwick monstrosity on the Hudson River. As a neighbor, I am and have been vehemently skeptical about this park since conception. I am opposed to Heatherwick’s work generally, since the Shwarma vessel was erected at Hudson Yards. Little Island is a recreational piste adorned with low art and high architecture, forcing patrons into a single file course not at all unlike a treadmill. It is an upside down garlic bulb festooned with half baked notions of public art without the benefits of allium. The sound installations are supposed to be clever, but I suggest to Nick that cumulatively they sound more like a horror movie soundtrack, especially when interspersed with the sound of children screaming with glee and fatigue.
Otherwise, we adults all delight in losing track of the children, as long as we find them.
On the Island, Nick says that upon reflection, it is Norment’s metal feedback instrument that was the more interesting proposition than the massive wood installation.
If he can be honest, I wonder if I can too. What does cynicism serve me?