Sunday, April 29, 2007
"Plains of Sweet Regret"
The photo above is a video still on the back cover of a gallery handout celebrating The Plains of Sweet Regret, a video installation at Lennon, Weinberg, Inc., 514 West 25th Street, New York, NY 10001. Mary Lucier, an American video artist whose work is known internationally, created this installation on commission from the North Dakota Museum of Art. Saturday, April 28, was the last day of the show, so Cathy and I went up there to see it. Sally joined us, as did Naomi Dagen Bloom, known to knitters, peace activists, and bloggers as A Little Red Hen.
Mary Lucier's subject in The Plains of Sweet Regret is North Dakota, where I was raised and Sally was born. The videography of the plains and its present (shown in vivid shots of local rodeos, wheat fields, and farm animals) and former life (shown in the weathered, abandoned farmhouses and barns) was very moving.
I especially loved Lucier's video of a grasshopper, sitting at once alert and calm in a man's hand. We played a lot with grasshoppers as kids in North Dakota, and the brief, sunlit closeups of the insect captured for me the essence of North Dakota: the simplicity of the landscape and the life, the intimate relationship between people and creatures, and the peculiar luminosity of the light, which is very much like the light you see in the New England sky as you approach the ocean.
Naomi, also an installation artist (see CityWorm) and variously described in Google as an "environmental and performance artist" and a "mixed media environmental artist," brought along a copy of her handmade book, Condom Amulets.
The book evolved from one of her present concerns, safe sex for seniors. She promotes condom use (no longer necessary for prevention of pregnancy) for women over 50. She also celebrated Valentine's Day this year by distributing the free NYC Condoms at an icy subway stop near her home.
Sally and Cathy kept the conversation going with Naomi....I was in a new environment nobody told me about at the audiologist's office: New York City. The city pretty much overwhelmed the computer chips in my CI processor, and I didn't know how to adjust it. So...back to smiling and nodding and responding to anything that sounded like English. It was so bad that, at first, I thought I'd wrecked my processor when it fell on the sidewalk yesterday as I changed batteries, thinking that was the problem. But this morning after a quiet night in its dry box, the processor was working again. Scary to be so dependent on such a little object, but that was a good lesson to learn among friendly companions. Thanks, you guys....I could have asked Cathy to interpret for me, but I thought I'd just wade right in and experience the conversation as best I could. Dumb, huh?