This summer I hit a rough patch with New York, in particular the prevalence of hipster culture and the exasperating disposition of the chronically unimpressed. I, for one, am constantly impressed - in awe really of the stupid little things in life that make any place, whether it be the quiet creaking of a porch in Missouri or the deafening hum of a Manhattan street corner - unique and worthy of attention. I was in class at the time and decided to spend the rest of the summer focusing on projects that said to hell with irony, to hell with being above it all, and instead grounded my vision of the city in all the things made the hot sticky months spectacular. To this end I made a sound walk of Washington Square Park and with it drew this map designed to be a child’s view of the park. I am embarrassed to say how long it took me to make it or just how much fun I got out of whipping out the Crayola’s but it made a lasting impact on the way I see that space. Even now as it starts to get colder, I can’t walk through that park with out thinking of this image or the sound of children’s laughter or the taste of an ice cream cone on a sweaty August day.
I have spent a lot of time recently thinking about relationships, particularly the intimate partnerships we enter into with place. The life cycle of these love affairs with home or residence or community - as new or as temporary they might be - often mirrors our relationships with people.
In my experience there has always been an expiration date that accompanies life in any city. There is a moment when one way or another it becomes necessary to define our relationship. Is this home? Could it be? Is this someplace I could build a life, stay a while, attempt to find that allusive state of contentment?
Having lived in six cities in the last ten years, the answer until now was always undeniably no. No matter how lovely the place, how great the quality of life there would be a wave of anxiety, an itchiness and a desperate need to flee.
And with exodus, came a break-up of sorts, not one with a specific love but with a grander more romanticized love of place.
It was this notion that had me conjuring images of Woody Allen’s Manhattan, wondering what it would look like to superimpose something like Julie Delpy’s final monologue in Two Days in Paris, in which she sums up the turmoil of choosing whether to say goodbye or reconcile one’s self with an imperfect relationship that might just be worth committing to, over images of my newest home, Park Slope.
What I envision is not quite a love letter or a Dear John. It is something in between. It is the moments of a decision in progress.
Thinking of You simply asks will people pause in their busy days to send a selfless thought out towards someone else. With technology at our finger tips, the effort required to express consideration, has dwindled to mere nothingness. We can walk and text, talk and post on Facebook, hang out with one friend while being only half-present because we are communicating with someone else or are absorbed in the lights and sounds around us. What does it take to force us to stop and really communicate? What does that even mean?
Positioned at a busy corner during the morning commute and armed with nothing but a camera and a large cardboard sign reading, “Think of Someone Today,” I will offer up a large painting that has been cut into postcard size pieces to passers by. The back of each piece is pre-stamped and inscribed with the message, “Thinking of You.”
This intervention brings up a couple of questions - Will people stop? Will they take a card and, in the age of speed dial and crackberry contact lists, will they know anyone’s address by heart.
The original concept was to engage with participants directly. Instead I observed their behavior discretely. While it successfully allowed me to watch individuals organic reactions, it did not fully serve to answer my questions.
In future incarnations, participants will be asked to omit their names from the cards. and instead I will take a photo of them and their piece and place it on this website. When the recipients find a card in the mail, it will bare this url and hopefully, they will follow it and discover just who was thinking of them. At that time they will be invited to post their own photo showcasing themselves with their pieces.
In a perfect world all the sections of the painting will make their way back together through the magic of the internet, showing that as much as technology has a way of breaking us apart, it can pull us back together again.
Thiru of NY Dosas: When you ask Thiru to talk about his feelings about the neighborhood, pride and thanks fill his descriptions. Thiru’s food truck has stood in Washington square for over 10 years and has garnered much praise from the community here and abroad. ”The regulars understand how popular it is. I even get volunteers from the university to help out.” Kindness and support have helped him to find success. Something he is reminded of daily by the charm her wears around his neck, given by a friend to him 20 years ago. Food is guaranteed from 11am to 4pm but after that you have to try your luck. On this day, all that was left was a clean griddle and the remnants on his apron. He made me promise to come back for samples of his favorite fair as long as I included a look at his menu. It is his kind heart and warm smile that left me wanting more - even though I missed out on the Pondicherry.