He sensed the proximity of the Orpheus and Eurydice before he saw it, felt its cool weight across the room but prolonged the time before he faced it, reminding himself of the events leading up to the moment it described: Orpheus and Eurydice in love and newly married; Eurydice dying of a snakebite while fleeing the advances of a shepherd; Orpheus descending to the underworld, filling its dank corridors with music from his lyre as he sang of his longing for his wife; Pluto granting Eurydice’s release from death on the sole condition that Orpheus not look back at her during their ascent. And then the hapless instant when, out of fear for his bride as she stumbled in the passage, Orpheus forgot himself and turned.
Ted stepped toward the relief. He felt as if he’d walked inside it, so completely did it enclose and affect him. It was the moment before Eurydice must descend to the underworld a second time, when she and Orpheus are saying goodbye. What moved Ted, mashed some delicate glassware in his chest, was the quiet of their interaction, the absence of trauma or tears as they gazed at each other, touching gently. He sensed between them an understanding too deep to articulate: the unspeakable knowledge that everything is lost.
Ai Weiwei’s Detention
I feel like I’ve been uncharacteristically silent on artist Ai Weiwei’s imprisonment by the Chinese government, partially because the news of what happened caught me while I was on the road. The short of it is that Ai’s detention is now entering its third month and blogs such as Art City, Eyeteeth, Modern Art Notes and Hyperallergic have been covering the hell out of the story, so read them!
Naturally, a lot of the talk is about how U.S. museums and other Western cultural institutions should deal with China’s imprisonment of Ai, a figure who has been a vocal critic of his government’s corruption, censorship and negligence. (The government is accusing him of tax evasion.) Certainly, I think it’s important to have powerful institutions protest Ai’s detainment, as well as the imprisonment of countless other intellectuals, writers and activists. Keeping pressure on the Chinese government from all angles is key. But I also think we each have a personal connection to what’s happening, supporting an oppressive regime by slavishly purchasing the goods that come out of the country, be it the latest, hottest iWhatever or the bounty of pressed wood furniture that lines our living rooms. Even the rebel flag shot glasses that clutter so many gas stations in a wide swath of our country are…made in China. Yes, it’s significant that our cultural institutions protest Ai’s detainment. But I wonder how effective these condemnations can be as long as we continue to support such an oppressive regime with our wallets.
My 15 Nanoseconds of Fame
I made it onto Google Street View while riding my bike in the vicinity of the Brooklyn Museum. (Full disclosure: I saw the Google car and followed it for a few of blocks because that’s the kind of cheap, internet fame whore I am. Sorry, Joerg.) The whole thing inspired me to look up some of the addresses I’d lived in over the course of my life on GSV— the vast majority of which aren’t online because my family had a penchant for inhabiting incredibly bizarre, out-of-the-way places. It was a trip back in time, except it wasn’t, because I’m seeing all of these spots in the pseudo-present. (A selection: the place I was born in, the road leading to the house we lived in when I was 10, the donut shop where I used to ditch high school English class and the college dorm that was the site of various inebriated indiscretions.) Which brings me to this highly interesting essay — which I discovered by way of Conscientious — about photography in the age of GSV.
Artist Marie Lorenz takes the New York Times Magazine on a paddle along the Erie Canal in her handcrafted boat. I had the honor of doing the same in the vicinity of Randall’s Island. See a report — with awesome video by Jennifer Hsu — right here.
Do Not Fuck With The Artist: A nice round-up of artsy fartsy vengeance.
Contraband, photographs of items confiscated at JFK, by Taryn Simon. The unknown meat in a bottle is pretty freaky. Also, I’m amazed to learn that there is such a thing as cow dung toothpaste. (Coudal.)
Santiago Calatrava to do Denver airport expansion. The schematic video that accompanies this piece is pretty dang rad, even if it avoids showing anything that vaguely resembles a nightmarish airport security line. (Cityscapes.)
Two Million Homes for Mexico, a fascinating photography project by Livia Corona of Mexico’s vast suburban carpets of low-income housing. I’m curious to see how these developments get personalized over time. (Gracias, Big Papi G.)
You’ve got ’til tomorrow to submit a proposal to Art in Odd Places for their Fall 2010 show in NYC.
MADA s.p.a.m.’s Xi’an Television and Broadcasting Center. Looks cool. But I’m really over architects building barren concrete plazas around their buildings. It’s bad for nature, and, honestly, it sucks if you’re a human, too.
How big is the Gulf oil spill? This handy Google Earth app will let you place it over your home city for scale. If you live in NYC: The spill would cover the entire city, along with vast swathes of New Jersey, as well as pieces of Connecticut, Long Island and into the Atlantic. (Cool Green Science.)
Rome, recreated: The set for the HBO series Rome at Cinecittà. (Photos by San Suzie)
In 1937, everyone’s favorite Fascist, Benito Mussolini (he’s actually the guy who coined the term) founded a movie studio to create propaganda films for his Nazi-sympathizing regime. Dubbed Cinecittà (‘Film City’), the studio was heavily bombed by the Allies during the war, and afterwards, its soundstages were used to house thousands of Italians who had been displaced by the war. By the 1950s, however, Cinecittà had turned into the hub of La Dolce Vita of Italian filmmaking, serving as the set for most of Federico Fellini’s films, and even American blockbusters such as Ben Hur.
Getting a tour of Cinecittà is about as easy as getting a private audience with the Pope. But, with a few well-placed phone calls by C-Monster.net‘s high-powered Hollywood agent, we managed to wrangle our way into a guided tour of the studio’s incredible backlot on a positively sweltering summer day. We saw everything from the satanic-looking sculptures that appeared in Angels and Demons to a recreation of the hilltop town of Assisi where St. Francis received the stigmata (“it’s too steep and inconvenient to film there,” said our guide of the real Assisi). Most significantly, we got to see the house where Grande Fratello, Italy’s version of Big Brother is filmed. The highlight, however, was walking through the $20 million dollar set for HBO’s Rome, a sprawling set of painted temples and forums that gave us a far better sense of the Imperial City than a year’s worth of trudging through ruins.