Hanging by a thread

December 09, 2012

** Spoiler Alert: If you're planning to visit the Ann Hamilton exhibition at the Park Avenue Armory and would like to be pleasantly surprised, do not read this post. If it doesn't matter, go right ahead! **

Today, after a very long time, I got to attend an art exhibition. Ann Hamilton displayed some of her creativity at the Park Avenue Armory (called the event of a thread) and I am so glad I got to experience it, all thanks to a friend who invited me. Here's my experience:

As you enter, you're not greeted by a man and a woman sitting and announcing a long list of overflowing information. You can't hear what they're saying but they aren't bothered by the crowd that's gathered around them. On closer inspection of the scroll they are reading out of, 'the' is always capitalized. I wonder why.

The table also holds many stacks of wooden cages with two pigeons in each cramped space. This is the one criticism I can think of for the exhibition. I understand how art is pain, but inflicting it on birds that wouldn't know better is just not justified. It's cruel.

Moving on, there are speakers wrapped in brown paper bags, tied in string and sealed, lying all around the auditorium. A muffled version of the announcers can be heard in those. There are swings all around, and the audience can use these. There are curtains flowing in the center, and one can lie down and watch them move like water, all the while getting mesmerized by the movement.

At the other end of the auditorium sits an elderly man writing a letter that never ends. He writes, stops to take a sip of water, then writes again. Stops to sharpen his pencils. Then writes some more. Beside him is a stack of papers with writing that can't really be understood. But in that gibberish, one finds sentences like 'Stop if you've heard this one before' and 'Stop suffering. Do it on your own time.' And somehow, one stops analyzing what it all means.

Caged birds apart, the exhibition was amazing. It was the perfect place to forget about the monotony of life, and get lost in the random information that's transmitted through various media. You are given the opportunity to interpret the meaning of the visual display, which is what I enjoyed the most. A perfect way to spend a Saturday afternoon.

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