Boroughs. Bronx. Brooklyn. Manhattan from the distance. Tennenbaum (^2) lurking. Exploration at the Bronx Community College. Limits of tori, 1+2+3+…=-1/12, as is well known again. Burnside Avenue. Ravines. Acid light. Coincidence of purpose, of directions (reconstruction), of qualms.
Refuge in the library (the old New York City Public Library, that looks like public buildings should look everywhere in the world inside… and looks like a beautiful synagogue perhaps on Sheinkin, from its back – from Bryant Park). One place to steep oneself in deep concentration.
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.
Trains and piano. I could take a trip by train forever, never quite stop, and be the happiest man.
This is what Bruno Monsaingeon’s documentary does (yes, the same Monsaingeon of Glenn Gould’s Goldberg Variations Documentary of yesteryear) with Polish pianist Piotr Anderszewski.
In the documentary, Anderszewski goes around Poland, then on to Budapest and finally to Paris and Lisbon, on a special cart of a Polish train he adapted, with his piano. On his way, he plays, he stops in Poznań, Budapest, Warsaw, Zakopane, Paris, Lisbon and gives recitals. He visits his Hungarian grandmother, he explains how he couldn’t take any Chopin and how Chopin, trains, snow, war and Europe seemed intertwined. He deplores lost Warsaw. He explains how he quite piano and how he came back.
But mostly, he travels and travels.
We watched this movie with María Clara for hours and hours – I got it in Berlin right after being in Cracow, Zakopane, Wrocław, Poznań, with my head and heart full of Poland. We then watched it again with Roman, with my father, with some other dear people.
This youtube teaser has some of it. The movie’s train scenes are the best in the world.
(Old and no longer used) Fleischmann’s train station, in the Catskills. Between 1880 and 1920, special trains with rich families from New York City would come to spend summers in these towns in the Catskills. Whole klezmer bands (at the cheaper hotels) or mini-orchestras (at the more posh villas), hundreds of hotels, carriages, fine horses, news of “who was spending the summer where”… The car, and then the possibility of flying, all but destroyed this way of vacationing. Today, the remaining villas are either haunted places, or restored, but rather modest hotels. At Fleischmann’s, the Satmar Hassidim from Brooklyn vacation in the summer. The new community is a mixed crowd of New Yorkers and Mexican immigrants. Great place for really nice walks (woods, nature, bears), with many parallels (really, scaled parallels) to El Ocaso and La Esperanza.
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