Thursday, September 08, 2005

taking the high road

When I wasn't drinking a tall cool hefeweizen on an outdoor patio somewhere, or lying on my back in Central Park letting the wind tickle my armhairs, I actually managed to make it to two very cool exhibits in New York this week. One of them was an exhibit at the MOMA called "The High Line", a project undertaken by a group of environmental engineers and architects to convert the old elevated railway on the far West side into a public park. This is just about the coolest agri-tectural project I've ever seen. The idea came about after some people noticed that the abandoned railway was naturally turning into a grassy corridor with full blown trees and vegetation growing the entire length of this elevated space. With the support of the city, the design team are breaking ground this fall to turn this corridor into woodlands, grasslands, and wetlands--a perfect marriage of industrial recycling and environmental revitalization. They are planning to preserve found objects (aka industrial trash) while also converting it into some crazy ass vegetal wilderness. It partially reaffirms my faith in humanity and the importance of creating beauty out of the industrial waste that we leave behind.

The other exhibit, also part of a larger restoration project, was the Ellis Island museum, one of those places that only tourists end up actually going to. And that would be me. Though I find the public fascination with the Statue of Liberty utterly outlandish. Especially considering how most people fail to see the irony of how close it is to Ellis Island where the people who had the best view of the statue were sitting there incarcerated, taken ill, or turned away without ever having set foot on US soil. But Ellis Island is still a must-see landmark. You really get a sense that America at that time was a freaking tower of babel. Thousands of people, crammed into small spaces speaking in all different tongues. And everyone was dressed head to toe in native gear like they were on their lunch break at Epcott center. They say that you could tell a person's ethnicity by the way they knotted their belongings together. The hallways echo with the human suffering that took place there. Creepy.

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