Wednesday 1.27.10

"No Swimming"
NBBJ Installation
Recycled velvet, poly-stuffing, Mozart, Handel, Elgar

I am waiting for the sun to rise, sitting in the 2nd floor nook at NBBJ. The sharks are here beside me--purple light in the hall, refrigerators buzzing, elevators sliding up and down their squeaky chutes, bells sounding in succession, demarcating the vertical zones: 1, 2, 3, 4…

And then.. there’s Mozart. I sit with the headphones on 20-30 times over the course of the evening. There is a magical opening up of space. Mozart’s “Eine Kleine Nacht Musik” wells up in me. It makes me feel as if things are right in the world, burstingly right. It transports me to the other places and spaces and times I've felt this way. I connect these moments into a timeline. Perhaps this is a picture of my spiritual life?

Kinetic Energy

I have spent the past three days sewing and stuffing shark fins, turning my gold pedestal into a blue pedestal, searching for the perfect music to say just what I wanted to say. I’ve been tuned into the classical station, looking for sharks. I heard one the other night. When I searched it out online, I found Elgar. Elgar! I went to purchase Elgar and Mahler. I listened to Tchaikovsky and Puccini. I borrowed Handel and Mozart. I’ve been asking everyone , “Can you hear the sharks, in what music?” I wanted to effect a sort of riveting release within the mind of the listener. It wanted dark and romantic, dangerous and freeing. In the end, I selected seven tracks, works by Mozart, Handel and Elgar. I wanted to encourage a breath. What can possibly override our mass work culture? The CD is resting in its portable CD player atop a slim pedestal, waiting.

Yes yes yes

I want to give them a dream-moment, to expand their heart-visions. Where the building cinches, I want them to expand. The windows too want them to expand. And the light. And the ceiling and floor. I want to lure them in and rivet them to the spot, that forbidden place among the sharks. I want to make for them a spirit space.

The Soundtrack

"No Swimming"

Mozart: Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, Berlin Philharmonic
1. Divertimento In D (4:56)
2. Divertimento In F (3:31)
3. Serenade #13 In G (5:32)

Handel: Water Music, Prague Chamber Orchestra
4. Suite No. 1 F Major (2:16)

Elgar: Violin Concerto, Philharmonia Orchestra
5. Elgar: Violin Concerto, I Larghetto (5:42)
6. Elgar: Violin Concerto, III Allegretto (3:08)
7. Elgar: Violin Concerto, III Allegro molto (18:54)

No no no

At 3am, I had the fins and podium arranged just so, signs affixed, play/stop buttons clearly marked. I went to take a nap in the Quiet Room. The couch in the Quiet Room is not designed for napping. I lay, sharply folded, for 2 hours, waking every half hour to see the red numbers on the digital clock. “Not yet, it’s not time yet.” At 5am, I stopped trying. I went down to the nook, to wait for the sun to rise. I was deep-down cold and reminded of my last overnight on Rainier in early spring, alone, camping on the snow, in a bivy. The temperatures had dipped to an unexpected low and I couldn’t get warm, despite the hot food and the hot water in the nalgene at my feet and the emergency chemical packs ripped open after so many years in my first-aid kit. That night, I lay staring at the clear dark sky with its clear-cut crystals. Surely the sun will rise, at some point. It’s just a matter of time. But no, it refused. I lay, hour after hour, minute after minute, counting stars, waiting. When the first light did finally appear, it was epic. It was The First Sunrise. It signified something huge, Life. It isn't often the sun Signifies in such a monumental way to a suburban girl in the city.


It is just before 7am. The first person arrives. I am silent. They walk by. They do not sit in the chair. They do not listen to the CD. Woe. O woe! A second person arrives. He greets me, but does not stop. Don’t worry, little poet, this is their routine, their daily comfort. Let them have this. Lunch in the frig, coat in the closet, bag in the desk, lamp on, computer on. Perhaps my presence near the work will thwart them? I remove myself to the opposite nook, out of view. I can still see one fin, along with the listening chair, in the reflection of the model shop window. I want to write about the piece. I want to watch the light come into the sky from here. There goes a third person without stopping. This is normal. People are used to arriving, beginning their day, without you, without this work. It is early. So much can be accomplished before 9, before the meetings and telephones and lunches. Seize the hour, you architects of efficiency! A poet must be patient. Your audience will come. When they are ready, they will come. O, but I’m anxious to know, to hear, to see. Here now, a twosome arrives. There is light conversation, a burst of laughter, the word shark is uttered. The woman puts the headphones on. It is 7:02am. Halleluja! Mozart has arrived.

The Response

I converse with my first listener. “The music is beautiful,” she says. She’s coming back for more, but later, after she gets some work done. She agrees, the nooks are too public to refresh, but they're good for conversation. I ask, then, where and how will we refresh? The sun is still refusing. It is 7:30am. The coffee machine greets the workers. I greet the coffee machine. Small, regular. I position my cup to catch the morning. I peek around the corner at my work. It delights me. If no one else sees this all day, it will satisfy me still. Here now, the first hint of light, at 7:38am. It has been a long and impatient night. The white-gray growing in the sky is in the concrete family. It goes well with the building’s skin, with the metal sunshades. If I were coming into a familiar space and glimpsed a new work of art, would I see it? I missed the portraits by the water fountains, I missed the frosted quotes on the bathroom mirrors, the first week I was here. And if I were to register this new work of art, would I stop right away to enjoy it, or would I put it off and come back when I was needing a breath? There’s no telling. The workplace is not a changing gallery that requires our eyes and ears. Work is work and home is home. These are our knowns. The telephone and computer brings in the news. As the day goes on, I overhear some comments. "We have some sharks in the lobby today. They seem to be following the blue trail." "This is it, life and death." "O? Whales!" "What are they?" "I bet this was the poet." "Love it!"


It is 9:14am. Somebody saw somebody heading for the coffee bar. Their greeting? "Hey slacker!" There it is ,that keep-it-moving attitude, that ever-leaping attitude. This is what I’m up against. Grin and bear it, sharks. Grin and bear it. This will take some time.

1 comment:

Gregory said...

"I bet this was the poet." The Poet strikes again.

So awesome.