Arriving, I couldn’t refrain from taking a picture inside and outside the waiting room at the Newark Airport train connection to the city. No one reacted to the camera this time. The train to the city arrived 75 minutes late. The announcement kept saying the train was delayed “8 minutes”. After 8 minutes the announcement repeated and said “another 8 minutes”. And so on. (Welcome to public transportation in North America, where they announce what they want when they want, cancel the train if they want, and nobody ever seems to bat an eyelid. We were too tired and hungry to even move.)
But then, the city:
The next day, Sunday, we met Daniela and Alejo to be inspired by Gauguin’s Metamorphoses, photographic practices in the studio [a brutal series with many photographers of the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries], Wright’s sketches and floorplans, Jasper John’s latest series. What struck me most was (perhaps) the current emphasis on documentation in those exhibitions. The reading is not limited to finished works – it included lots of “unfinished” plates, prints on paper that would most likely have been discarded a few years ago for a main exhibition at a main museum – and now constitute perhaps the most important, the most exciting aspect of the exhibits.
Then, somewhere else, Kentridge’s The Refusal of Time, and perhaps the most wonderful set of photographs of Paris I remember having seen in a very very long time: Marville. Marville, by showing us how Paris lost an enormous lot to “modernization” by Hausdorff, by showing how Paris could have evolved into so many marvels and instead became… what it is (with its own greatness but also its pettiness and too corporate style), is incredibly contemporary. Painful to see, but how important nowadays, in our time of city blight, of city disaster, of destruction of trees. He saw, in the “Paris éventrée” of his photographs, our 21st century – more than 150 years ago.