Last week, Joe and I went to see “Dead or Alive: Nature Becomes Art,” an exhibition at the Museum of Arts and Design, a place I had passed by a million times without ever suspecting of existing. It’s that flat, white, 2001-A-Space-Odyssey monolith in the center of the southernmost curve of Columbus Circle. The show was about art made with dead things, plant and animal material. It was entertaining and decorative. It is still going on. I recommend it.
But here is the thing. And this will seem like a tangent. Bear with me. Are you familiar with that Lady Gaga video Telephone? You know the scene where she walks around the prison yard wearing a pair of shades made entirely of lit cigarettes? That’s an example of something that sounds more interesting when described than when actually seen. A pair of shades made entirely of lit cigarettes. Wow. But then you see it, and, eh. Whatever. You know what I’m saying here?
This show had a lot of those kinds of things in it. There was, for example, a working motorcycle customized to fit along the structure of a cow skeleton. There were dandelion seeds glued in spherical formation around LED cores. There was a horse skeleton with a human torso spliced centaur-style to the front of it. They were all interesting, to be sure. I liked the show and recommend it. But, interesting as these things actually were, they cannot be described without being made to sound even more interesting than, you know, they really truly actually were. If that makes any sense at all. So I am hesitant to describe them to you, knowing that your enjoyment of my description will interfere with, and probably eclipse, your enjoyment of the thing itself, if you should decide to go. And I still think you should go.
I guess that this is sort of a genre, now, isn’t it? The thing that is made for the sake of being talked about after the fact, rather than for the sake of being seen and experienced. In some ways, that describes New York perfectly.