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Tuesday, October 6, 2015

MEET ME AT THE MET STORY

       


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MEET ME AT  THE MET STORY

It's over. Seven months, seven visits to NYC to meet at the Met  non-performatively.

THE BACKSTORY:
In 1984, I designed/created a 7 year performance based on the seven chakras; wearing one color clothes each year (red, orange, yellow, green,blue, purple, white ); spending time in a same-colored space in my home everyday; listening to a sound associated with the color of the chakra for hours a day; performing the discipline of making one drawn image each year with my right hand (the next seven years, 1991-1998, I continued this performance, and drew the same image with my left hand); talking in a chakra accent; and totally immersing myself in this theological/energy system designed to awaken inner energies and self reflections.
At that time, I was living in upstate NY, Kingston, a not yet gentrified soon to be art meccaed-baby Bushwick.  Knowing then that I would be relegated to small town vibes and zero external stimulation (an existence that I now relish and cherish with delight), I decided to include a monthly ART/LIFE COUNSELING visit to Manhattan into my art-recipe and so I asked Marcia Tucker, the then prophetic, generous and radical curator of The New Museum, Broadway version, to allow me to come to her site, once a month, and share my "findings" with her museum goers. She not only said yes but provided a 7 year window installation on the Mercer St side of the building.....an endurance-installation that changed colors each year and was painted to match the clothes/costumes that I wore. In solidarity, Moira Roth's essay matched, that is, it was yearly printed on a different colored paper. And so for the first year the room, the essay, table and two chairs were totally red, the second year they were yellow and so on. I salute you Marcia. Our collaboration was an exuberance. Please feel my gratitude to you in your sky.

REFLECTIONS:
Driving to NYC every month, I not only parked on the street within walking distance of the Museum, a now unheard of boon but also cut through my small town upstate isolation successfully and creatively by applying the fix, "If you don't know what to do about your problem/ issue, MAKE ART ABOUT IT!"

31 YEARS LATER:
The one phrase I remember from high school Latin is Tempus Fugit. Time flies. Yes 31 years ago I did this NY art-meeting and I was now doing it again!  My performance practice remains intact because I applied the same ingredients, 31 years later, but this time for 7 months, not 7 years, although for some of the same reasons. Even though Kingston and Saugerties are almost Brooklyn and therefore THE CITY and not places to seek refuge from to find "stimulation", I still felt that I needed to stay in a novena-like association with NYC. Was it because my archive, 150 boxes of my past, was now living in NYU Fales Library and I wanted to come to visit the city where my papers now lived, affording me  a proximity to my past? Not really. Was it because I love to construct and sculpt ideas? Probably. Was it because this piece framed a concept that was brewing in me and needed a container to communicate it's content? Probably.

THE CONCEPT:
 The Met is filled with treasures and icons and found beauty and forced from other cultures treasures and the history of the known universes tools and masks and ritual richness. The concept is: Performance is over and porned out and finished and tired and irrelevant and un-necessary. There is no future in it and the only way to go is backwards. The Met is retroically  relevant and fresh and new and brilliant and tremendous in it's anonymous wonders.  That's the ticket, the Met is anonymous, and everyone who made anything that is now in the Met is dead (not really), and the artists from thousands of years ago who did make things that are in the Met didn't want to be  extraordinary or famous but made healing objects and paintings and sculptures and doorposts and lintels and jewelry for the sake of beauty, for the sake of making, for the sake of transforming self and community.  The Met is about the other, about the tribe and about art for the people. I needed to go there and learn from the Met.

MEET ME AT THE MET:
MEET ME AT THE MET became an opportunity, not a performance.  An opportunity to come together in secret, to hide in the overflow ordinariness of THE THRONGS OF PEOPLE, an opportunity to NOT PERFORM although it is akin to asking a General surgeon to meet in an emergency room on a busy Saturday night and tell the surgeon, "Don't lift a scalpel!" For when you gather creative artists and friends in the name of no-performance, although the glee of not having to do anything but exhibit co-facetime is freeing, we DID show our happy joy to each other. And I truly must admit that we PLAYED a bit, roamed around the room assigned for that day, found our FAVORITE thing there, gathered the group around us and as I stated earlier, we, in sotto voce, non-performatively/fictictionally  told why WE made or curated our favorite object, painting or sculpture and in talking in Haiku-fashion about that painting or sculpture or ritual cup, we brought not only each other alive with our fantasy stories but gave the art in the Met, a new context and new reason to be seen. It was innocent and fun. No money or ARTFORUM review necessary.
Seven times we  did this, meeting in the red  room for January, that is, the one that is colored red on the Met Map ( Asian Art); and we met in the orange room in February ( Egyptian Art) and so on. Friends and new friends came and we sometimes exchanged phone numbers of our doctors/ comforted the new widow/ prayed as a healing team for successful eye surgery for another. It was not performance but covert life, meeting underground and incognito. Without applause.

THE FUTURE:
Part of the escape and thrill of MEET ME AT THE MET was the monthly bus trip from Saugerties to Kingston to NYC. But was it February when sitting in a bus felt  Afganistanic as  I was catapulted into a road-terror similar to what a female journalist feels on the front line? Metaphorically but not really. What happened?  Cars, SUV's, trucks had slid, fallen, tumbled over onto Route 17. And the Thruway was closed from New Paltz to NYC. The weather was that bad. Or was it climate-change in rehearsal?  Ice. Black ice, slick ice, dangerous ice. We almost started talking to each other on our bus, we almost started praying out loud on our bus, we almost started sharing KIND BARS.  Almost. It was that scary. Does this stop me from making future 7 month,7 year plans? Hmmm.

MISSING:
I wont miss that bus ride.
But I will miss the woman at Gate 34, the Island woman who works at POA, and is always there on Sundays, blessing all with her beauty/concern/availability.
I will miss walking the 40 blocks to 81 street, through Central Park.
I will miss smelling horses.
I will miss face and fun time and no muss, non-durated for 2 hours time with friends.
I will miss the easy endurance of this not-performance.

There might be another 7 years of something.
I don't know until I know.
But I do know that the inner Met-show will go on.

Do you miss me?

LINDA MARY MONTANO,  Saugerties NY
 

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