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Notes from an island between rivers – part IV

April 17th, 2009 by Ivet Reyes Maturano

Re-imagining old and new times

The first time I saw an image of the New Museum building I was confused. The New Museum building, shaped as a pile of white bright boxes, outstands in the landscape where it is located. It gives the sensation of a future fantasy. The potential of reality and its fantastic power to disrupt our sense of normality is what I find most inspiring. It is also interesting that such imaginary disruption may be provoked by a museum of contemporary art with its position within specific contexts.

This kind of surprising disruption in the urban landscape as with the New Museum has come up more than once here in New York City. Some places really create a sort of collision of time, reality and imagination. At least to me it is still unbelievable to conceive the construction of New York City bridges and tunnels happened a century ago while they are still future inspiration sources. The Brooklyn-Battery tunnel that was opened in 1950 is a good example. It connects Manhattan and Brooklyn allowing underwater traffic. That tunnel was still on construction when further uptown on the West Side of this island another fantastic construction had already been inaugurated, also extraordinary but rather inspired in Medieval times and more picturesque landscapes: The Cloisters of the Metropolitan Museum. A whole area of land was converted into a public park where the ‘cloister’ was built to host an art collection from the Middle Ages. The park, the building, most of its collection but also the land that creates the view across the Hudson River in New Jersey create an extraordinary site.

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Notes from an island between rivers – part III

March 12th, 2009 by Ivet Reyes Maturano

Exchanging gifts

This island has a secret beauty, I think. It is not in its heights nor at the facades but less visible and yet very present; it is at the heart of conflicts and visions of many people that live, work and move along or against the power of the city itself: individuals and collectives, creators, educators, students… people. New York is big and intense. I can but only give you a certain approach from my own position here; starting from the museum. It is also here where the work of ‘Be(com)ing Dutch’ is read anew and re-opened in a different plurality of readings. Such reading may give part of that unexpected local hearty secret beauty back.

The work by Michael Blum ‘Exodus 2048’ as part of Be(com)ing Dutch takes the whole education floor here. When I arrived to the museum about one month ago (already!) I sensed a big tension about the reactions towards that work among the museum staff -partly due to the way the public reacted after the first weeks, partly from their own readings. During the past four weeks I have had the chance to sense it closer while getting also closer to my new colleagues here. In the mid-time the tensions have diminished but the readings have pluralized in form of conversations and talks next to the work.

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Notes from an island between rivers – part II

February 27th, 2009 by Ivet Reyes Maturano

This is not paradise

There is something very strange, sort of random and yet very nice about this city: the actual encounters –with friends, with friends one come to meet through friends, with co-nationals and at the same time, with a wide-diverse population, even with famous people. Not that this island is paradise –not at all!- but somehow I come to think that New York’s ‘demographic situation’ may help to represent the populace of a contemporary Dante’s allegory of the afterlife: where you come together with all the people you knew, with the people you imagine that exist and those that you even didn’t expect to meet. And yet this is life –oh yeah! – and therefore people here deal everyday with it: with time, with economies, politics, imagination, with lust, love, and loneliness. People work hard, they work long, it is common to double work-shifts, while party and entertainment is important, and survival is a matter of fact. Here people struggle and still there is kindness around, there is a sense of feeling comfortable with being without pretending what you are when being around and so I think, that in a very strange way, the life here challenges us. Everyday life in this island goes along the skyscrapers and other engineering work as the metro system realizing how the ground and the sky become as real as never before: where my feet are, what height some human dreams can reach and how much struggle and pressure there is in the middle.

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Notes from an island between rivers – part I

February 26th, 2009 by Ivet Reyes Maturano

Be(com)ing Dutch at a Distance

Look outside the window today, Sunday midday: sunny sky behind the high buildings, the sky scrapers. I live on a 4th floor; the dimensions are confusing in this city but the sun is shinning and it makes me think me about the departure from Holland when the airplane took off on a rainy day and the view over the grey plane landscape of fields and water –the landscape that became familiar, so familiar to me.

Seven hours is too short to measure the distance that we traveled on an airplane. The flight was smooth and it became all sunny from the moment we reached higher altitude beyond the clouds: I saw fields covered with snow in England, and rivers, and mountains, and then the oceans; I read the beautiful lovely goodbye-notes on my card, and it felt strange and unreal to think I was leaving. The movies and music on the airplane just added to the sort of fiction state… of flying. The same day, just ‘a couple of hours later’, I landed here and officially entered the USA. The small and big differences started opening up from then on, the sameness too, the expected and the unexpected her in New York City.

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