Sunday, February 28, 2010

Still at the Guggenheim

We've only one week to go in the Tino Sehgal experiment/piece/conversation/situation/thing at the Guggenheim, and -- strange to say -- I had an instant of sadness, no, not sadness, but something like it at seeing that on my email message from Asad, who manages the whole business, producing it as it works so wonderfully out. For it does, and I can say that from inside it. Of course, we never know with whom we are about to converse, making our way up the ramps to the top, and if we do see someone we know, we ask the next person or "interpreter" to take over from us. 

What is so amazing about it? the amazement changes as the weeks have gone on -- to a kind of constant surprise and WILLINGNESS to be surprised, or then not. Very odd indeed. 

All we really know is what the person we will be addressing for about 4 and 1/2 or 5 minutes is wearing, perhaps a bit more, but I usually remember just that. From a Southern background, I am used to being polite and relatively talkative to strangers, but in this case, about 90 per cent of the strangers smile broadly and converse with me, and the other interpreters. We are about 15 at a time, more on the weekends, when the crowds come thick and fast. Last weekend, was it? when the snowstorm and rain were doing their best to make the worst weather, the line to get in stretched around several blocks, and i heard that the outside door was actually locked. Never mind the truth or falsity of that statement, the fact is that we were pressed into service at every moment. 

"Hello, my name is Mary Ann," I would say, and "the title of this piece is This Progress." No pause, so the visitor won't rush in with some comment before we start the conversation by a statement I would make about something or other:  on the order of how dinosaurs turn out to have had coloring, or that a better way to test the probability of a child's success in later life than any IQ test is the marshmallow test: would the child prefer one marshmallow NOW or two LATER, at an unspecified time.... That kind of thing. Or that the part of our brain that lights up at making someone else happy does that more brightly than the part when we are making ourselves happy. Wow. Same part that lights up at food or sex, but I didn't generally bring that up if the visitor(s) did not seem the type to enjoy the latter comment...

I had French couples and Spanish-speaking families and people on walkers and young architects in full stride, and many art students from here and there. Quite a lot of there, actually, far more than New Yorkers. I loved it all. 

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