we set for ourselves in this big city. Personally, I’ve barely had time to poop for the last two weeks, let alone visit the 843 acres of woods, lawns, and scenic vistas called Central Park. Yesterday was perfect summer in the middle of September and also the last day of Canadian artist Janet Cardiff’s audio walk Her Long Black Hair. Feeling crappy with allergies yesterday morning and also harbouring ulterior motives, I stayed home from work, slept for an extra hour, and then ventured out to enjoy Cardiff’s project, which was one part storytelling, another part therapy, but was mainly a lens through which I saw Central Park in a new way.
At one point, the voice on the audio track says “Let’s try an experiment. Don’t think about anything, just look and listen and smell.” I think I did that in my hippie kindergarten, back when I was five and had far less on my mind, but yesterday it struck me as a revelation. Ending the journey sitting in a secluded glade under a tree by the shore of the lake, I thought about Cardiff’s themes of lost moments, living in the present, the tragedy of looking over your shoulder, brushing up against ghosts, etc. and felt relieved to be taking a short vacation from my small collection of tired worries.
In what has been an art-filled couple of weeks, last Thursday I went to the opening of Kirsten Hassenfeld’s Objects of Virtue show at Bellwether Gallery. She makes these beautiful paper sculptures that have very obviously taken hours of painstaking detail-work. Half of them were sold when we got to the opening, for thousands of dollars. Sitting under that tree yesterday with the Discman and packet of photos slung over my shoulder, I thought with satisfaction about how no one can purchase an audio walk. It only exists for a period of some weeks and then it is over. It is nothing without its context and eludes ownership completely. Even performance art can be videotaped and thus archived. Cardiff’s project is archived only in the mercurial memories of everyone who took the journey, and all we can do is try to explain, probably unsuccessfully, how it moved us.