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On a recent August Saturday, I went to Governor’s Island for an Art
Chakra Excursion hosted by Renee Riccardo and Anne-Francoise Potterat.
It was a small group. We chalked it up to a very hot day.
Our group met near the visitor’s center on Governors island to the
right of the ferry exit. The island seems like a small town, a time
capsule from the early sixties, just waiting for all who arrives to be
surprised and amazed by the island itself and the Creative Time PLOT09
installations.  We were on the island for the entire afternoon and we
only saw a few pieces. There just isn’t enough time. It is a many
faceted experience and its great just to lie in the grass. The island
provides hammocks and people  were sleeping in them right next to our
yoga class near the chimes.
yoga

Klaus Weber’s “Large Dark Wind Chime (Tritone Westy)”, an over-sized wind chime made with tempered aluminum, was our first stop. We arranged to have a yoga class there with Anne-Francoise teaching under a giant tree that must be at least 100 years old. We arranged ourselves in a circle and Anne-Francois began the chakra breathing segment of the class with our eyes closed. The sound of the chimes was overwhelming and because they were so loud, a little comical. They lent themselves to meditation, even though they play the “devil’s music”. In the middle ages one could be excommunicated for using those tritones in music.  The Church was afraid the tones could be sexually arousing. The sounds mixed with the chime of a nautical bell nearby. It was a cornucopia of sound; with children playing, all manner of conversations and helicopters overhead. With the breeze, the sun’s heat, and the senses of the body magnified from closing our eyes the experience of the chimes was strong and inescapable. The chimes, considered ‘the devil’s music’ and always to be avoided unless…well, I suppose we were mightily exposed to it.

chime

Renee Riccardo

Between you and I

Between You & I

After the yoga, Renee led us to Alexander McCall’s installation,  “Between You & I” in the St. Cornelius Chapel. It was a great way to follow
the yoga experience. It’s a light sculpture:“The fields of light interact with one another, the visitors in the space…. like two human companions, they attempt to comprehend themselves in relation to one another”. One needs to let the eyes adjust, it is a little like a fun house at first, and once that happens, it is spectacular. The next stop was the The Bruce High Quality Foundation’s film “Isle of the Dead” which “tells the story of a decimated art world coming back to life in zombie form.” It is screened in a movie theater that is in a small town Mayberry-like structure. The film is very amusing, it seems to relate in some way to generational uncertainty, rapid change with no crystal ball telling the future. Renee talked about her
experience as an extra in the film.  In the film the zombies
eventually meet in the movie theater, (the one  we were in) and sing a
song from the sixties, the name of which escapes me, as they follow the
bouncing ball. The zombies, and Renee was one, endured take after take.

In one of the Victorian houses was Edgar Arceneaux’s “Sound Cannon Double Projection”: an infrasound, a sound that is almost too low to be heard. There were warnings that some people can’t tolerate it. Infrasound can cause “bizarre feelings such as anxiety, extreme sorrow, paranoia, or even the chills”. There is a theory that the vibration can make a place feel haunted. It certainly did seem haunted but Governor’s Island is like a time capsule, (maybe one house has to be haunted) that one hopes will be preserved. There are installations in house after house.Tercerunquinto’s storyboard and video of an act of defacement on the island s notable as is AA Bronson and Peter Hobbes, Queer Spirit invoked “historical, queer, and marginalized practices as a way to heal the past and acknowledge the present”.

Mark Wallinger’s “Goat and Sheep” piece divided us all on the ferry. Because I had a bicycle I couldn’t go to the upper deck. The ferry takes a
few minutes but I waited for almost an hour both to board and waited to board on our return. It is great to ride a bike on the island. You can
rent them. As the curatorial statement remarks: “the Ferry is a reminder, rendered in playful terms, of the dualities that we mull over every day: good versus bad, right versus wrong, and us versus them.” I was a sheep and I wish I had been a goat.

It was a long afternoon, with still much to see and Renee provided just the right
amount information with genuine enthusiasm and engagement and she didn’t overwhelm us. The tour would have been a little longer if it hadn’t been so
hot. We all wanted to relax, Renee’s and Anne-Francoise’s flexibility and spontaneity is part of what made the excursion so enjoyable.

Anne

Anne-Francoise Potterat, seated Marjorie Schwarz

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