Through the magic of Elderblogging, i.e., the list on the left side of Time Goes By, I read about lives different from mine. At the bottom of the list is Xtreme English. Others may come along to move a little red hen from her perch at the top but that bottom spot seems secure. Drawn to the title, I began to read of places and events unknown--North Dakota and cochlear implants.
When the Washington D.C. creator of Xtreme, Mary Ellen Carew, mentioned wanting to see an installation in a New York gallery about her place of origin, North Dakota, I thought we could do it together. Saturday we did just that, along with her daughter Sally and friend, Cathy.
To experience "The Plains of Sweet Regret," a five channel video by Mary Lucier, we sat in wooden chairs placed around a long, dark room. Click HERE for an idea of what it was like. Lucier had been commissioned to "...to respond to the population shifts that are forcing the people of the Northern Plains to reimagine their lives." Long intrigued by the Dakotas, Utah, Montana, I appreciated that a window was open slightly into a world very different from mine.
Mary Ellen posted her own reactions as a native westerner yesterday. Though only a month past receiving her cochlear implant and still in the midst of adjusting to it--and it to her--she did not let on that much of our conversation was unclear due to the cacaphony of New York sounds. I only learned this through reading her post. Always hard of hearing myself, I'm familiar with missing out on cross-talk. My deafness began when I was five; Mary Ellen's has been most of her adult life.
I encourage you to read her blog; she is a writer and editor at Gallaudet in D.C. If you've had a late-life physical change, you can relate. She' s funny too about her "C.I."--and political stuff. Guess that's why we connected. Here comes the hard part: I took a too-dark photo of M.E. Yes, lost it again with the damned digital. She, however, took a fine one of me, another of my Condom Amulet Book. She was quite gracious and interested as I snatched it from my yellow Taxi bag.
M.E. and her companions have now certified my latest public art project: carry the book, offer to show it whenever possible. I might try the subway. Yes, people around me might make more room--which would be a good thing. Enlarged you'll see the big, three-inch "NYC Condom" button I received with the bag of 1,000 condoms, courtesy NYC Department of Health. Gave one to each to my companions-- a different souvenir of a Big Apple visit. Think I have about 800 left; have to work harder.
About the image at the start of this post. Arriving early in the Chelsea art gallery district to meet up with M.E., I darted into an open door across the street and found Ke-Sook Lee's compelling fiber work. In a small room her installation "One Hundred Faceless Women" hangs on a series of clotheslines. They are vintage white handkerchiefs on which she has stitched as a way to comment both on personal and universal themes. After the Lucier installation, I took the group back here where we all enjoyed a stroll among the hankies before moving on to more, more art in chelsea --including huge piles of painted and crocheted rope described by the New York Times saw as "giant washclothes." I don't think so.
Mary Lucier's exhibition closed the day we saw it; Ke-Sook Lee show is at George Billis Gallery, 511 West 25th till May 5.