the dalai lama in town

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the dalai lama came to two churches in my neighbourhood this weekend! on saturday he appeared at riverside cathedral for an audience with the tibetan community, and on sunday it was with the general public (at least from what I could tell from the people waiting outside) at st. john the divine. it was the first time I had seen so many tibetans en masse and in their formal wear (looks like a chinese qipao, but with a long-sleeved shirt underneath and a colourful apron on top):

the curious and well-wishers outside of st. john the divine, as the dalai lama’s motorcade exits (G claims he got a wave from the dalai lama from the back of a black car):

the artist is present

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Addition:

  • A NY Times article about sitting with Marina
  • MoMA is posting portraits of those who sit across the artist on their Flickr feed, here:
  • MoMA’s current exhibit, Marina Abramovic: The Artist Is Present, created quite a stir recently–resulting in the museum having to revoke one man’s 30-year membership. I read the New Yorker’s backgrounder on Abramovic a couple of months ago and looked forward to seeing this exhibit (though it does seem a bit like idol worship/megalomania when the actual artist is present at a retrospective). Above is Marina Abramovic herself, sitting face-to-face with some random person in the audience, which she has agreed to do everyday for the duration of the exhibition at MoMA. The remaining exhibits comprise a performance retrospective covering over 40 years of Abramovic’s work, using live performers to recreate past pieces–pieces that often require performers to be nude. Hence the hubbub: naked people + the immense crowds usually at MoMA = rowdiness.

    Despite all the publicity, the exhibit is definitely worth a visit. To enter, you need to walk through a narrow hall flanked by two naked people facing each other. And it was really narrow: it’s not possible to pass through without brushing against *both* performers. The idea is to make the audience tense as they squeeze through the entrance, but also causing a sense of relief upon reaching the open space on the other side.

    As opposed to the entrance, I found the rest of the exhibit to be more tense for me: they consisted of videos or live performances of Abramovic’s other pieces that were more about self-flagellation than anything else. But I suppose that’s what makes the retrospective so good: whether you like it or not, it’s impossible to not have an emotional reaction.

    Exhibit ends May 31. On second thought, it is kinda cool that the Artist Is Present…

    the highline

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    the highline at dusk

    The High Line is a new park that opened in 2009, built from an old elevated railway track running from Chelsea to the Meatpacking district. It’s still not completed, but so far it consists of pretty landscaping with bits of public art–making for a cool little walk in lower west Manhattan. And because it’s elevated, you get some nice views of the old industrial area, which is now mixed with fancy modern architecture.

    The website for the project is here.

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