January 7, 2013 | Alex
One of my 2013 new years' resolutions is to make time for cultural events that intrigue me. Too often, I read about an event and think, "I am absolutely going to check that out!" But invariably, I fail to set a concrete date and time, weekends become consumed with chores and projects, and by the time I'm ready to go, the event is closed. I am still kicking myself for missing Carsten Holler:Experience at the New Museum.
Not this year! So this past Saturday, two friends and I waited 50 minutes in the cold (but thankfully sunny) weather to see Ann Hamilton's the event of the thread at the Park Avenue Armory-- the day before it closed.
It was just as mesmerizing as the accounts I'd read. The Park Avenue Armory, if you haven't visited, is an extraordinary space. The historically preserved rooms were still decked out in their holiday best, with birch wrapped columns and magnolia wreaths.
And the airplane-hangar sized drill hall that inspired Ann Hamilton's installation is just awesomely massive. When you live in New York, it's easy to forget the impact that big spaces can have. When you walk into the drill hall, your jaw just about hits the floor from the sheer cavernous size of the venue.
I'll spare you the details, because an Arts reviewer I am not, but here's a 10-second summary: the space was filled with 42 wood plank swings (two-seaters) suspended from the ceiling by metal chains and connected via a pulley system to a giant white sheet suspended across the center of the drill hall. As the swings move, the curtain undulates.
There were ancillary features, including a series of readings on the interconnectedness of humans and animals that were broadcast through brown paper packages scattered on the ground throughout the drill hall, an opera singer belting out similarly-themed song from a terrace and a handful of standard issue NYC pigeons in the loveliest bird cages I've ever seen.
All that was interesting, but the main event was clearly a) giant swings; and b) a hypnotizing writhing mass of silk that you could lie directly underneath until you felt your eyelids grow heavy. Swinging was SO, MUCH, FUN. I cannot remember the last time I was on a swing (swung?). And I have certainly never been on a swing with the range of Ann Hamilton's swings. If you got enough momentum going, you could clear the head of an adult male of average height at your apex (we saw this happen-- guy was looking at his phone and walked right in front of a swing.)
It started me thinking about the joy of swinging. I like, but don't love, rocking chairs. I get that the motion is similarly soothing, but to reach maximum fun levels, I need to be suspended off the ground. Enter the swing. I love swings. I feel a knife twist in my heart every time I walk past the sign outside Swing Valley at Brooklyn Bridge's Pier 6: "Swings are for children only." I mean, I get it, you can't have teenagers monopolizing a playground meant for children. Nor creepy adults hanging around. But maybe the world would be a better place if there was an hour a day set aside for people over 10 years who just want a little swing therapy?
Barring a change in city policy, a good alternative is to install one in your home! My apartment is not exactly swing-friendly, but I'd like to image that one day I could live in a space that could accommodate a swing. To reconnect with your inner child, here are a few inspiring images of indoor swings-- plus one outdoor swing that was too enticing to exclude.
Okay, technically this next one's a trapeze, not a swing. But I'm including it because this mom deserves the "Cool Mom of the Year" award (and has got to be on a truck load of anti-anxiety meds to allow this, right?)