the dirty dozen, continued: "intentional shoddiness"*

05 behold the greatest installation ever:

coolest installation by far (1 of 2)

a bold claim, i know, but absolutely true for the fifteen minutes i spent wandering around the library / silver room at the park avenue armory on saturday. our first whitney biennial was pretty disappointing, at least at first; i was expecting splashy, transgressive stuff (c'mon, giuliani-era fecal art!), but most of the work at the main building was just mildly annoying (a giant litterbox?). thank goodness we continued down to the armory (especially since its exhibits closed yesterday): the grand old building was a spectacular backdrop for works that (for me, at least) were considerably more emotional.** poking around the aforementioned greatest installation ever, mk guth's "ties of protection and safekeeping," was like descending into the galley of a pirate ship and finding a magician's workshop; i felt like a little girl as i climbed the creaking staircase at the back of the library to get a better look at the swooping braids. i'd been to the armory before - a few years ago, with joe, for a dinner and awards ceremony for members of the national guard - but most of the rooms had been closed to visitors, and we didn't have time to explore anyway. now i want to go back every weekend, biennial or no - especially since the building is perpetually in danger of being sold off to developers and replaced with a mcskyscraper (the state can't afford to restore and maintain it, so it's slowly falling apart). find an excuse to see this place, internets: you won't be disappointed.

06 speaking of the biennial, my favorite fellow museumgoer was a skinny, expensively dressed fourteen-year-old who was wandering around with his mom and making loud pronouncements in a voice i associate with kids who are frequently told how bright they are. the three of us had just entered a room of shelves covered with ceramic figures (dozens of praying pilgrims, rearing horses, topless girls painted on vases). IS THERE A NUMBER FOR THIS?, he asked her as he peeled back one of his audiotour headphones. NO, THIS ONE EXPLAINS ITSELF, he concluded a second later.

07 my non-biennial goal for the weekend was to visit rice to riches, a high-concept rice pudding place in nolita. their vibe is actually kind of aggressive, but they sent us several vats of product at the office a month or two ago, and (to misquote mike myers) they put an addictive substance in their pudding that makes you crave it nightly. it's not cheap ($5.50 per person, as i recall), but servings are huge, and as a compulsive hoarder of non-recyclable plastic containers (anyone need four dozen yogurt tubs? i can hook that up for you), i was very pleased to come away with leftovers in their space-age little vats. you may carry on, rice to riches.

08 seriously, internets, materialize at the armory immediately. it's like crawling around in neil gaiman's brain.

joe, text

*in theory, biennial artist joe bradley's response to early modern art that was almost heroic in its methodical perfection and permanence. in practice, lazily stretched vinyl canvases that made me want to punch someone in the head (our friend dave had a similar response to the guy whose alter ego emerged to fill rooms with bad penmanship during self-hypnosis sessions).

**my last trip to the whitney was for kara walker's exhibition this winter, so i was expecting projects that were anything but hermetic.


g said...


"makes you crave it fortnightly, smartass!"

lauren said...

apparently it's "addictive chemical," too. this clearly means i'm not watching enough so i married an axe murderer (but who is, really? is that even possible?).

tom said...

Re #6 / random movie quoting: I don't suppose Ms Loud Obnoxious Kid was telling Mstr Loud Obnoxious Kid he was bright like this famous example:

Grandson: See, didn't I tell you she'd never marry that rotten Humperdinck?

Grandpa: Yes, you're very smart. Shut up.

Re old buildings: In reverse of the Armory's situation, the State of Illinois has offered to buy Wrigley Field, which like the Armory requires a lot of maintenance. This is, of course, insane, given Illinois's inability to efficiently and properly run a lemonade stand, and the Cubbies' ability to print money.

There are several buildings that I like, but one space that I just loved was -- strangely enough -- Penn Station in New York, right by the announcement board. A few years back, the board was of the old pinwheel variety, with each entry changed by this hypnotic flap-flap-flap-flap-flap sound as the cities and train names and tracks changed. It more than made up for the grime and much-noted "rats scurrying" vibe the place had.

Another favorite spot: the tunnel in the basement of the Capitol. Perhaps your beloved knows it well -- stretching from Cannon H.O.B. to Dirksen S.O.B. (and connecting from there to the other office buildings in the complex and the Library of Congress). You were literally walking beneath history, with space for no more than three bodies across. The secret passageway for the movers and shakers.