more on another public spectacle coming our way.
- selma 2-15-2005 5:58 am

o. except it isn't free..
and I doubt any saffron-swatch-giveaways.
- selma 2-15-2005 6:12 am [add a comment]

i lost count but it looks like about 64 containers on the one visible side. so at aprox. $700 - $1000 pr container and aprox. 70 x 2 = 140 (for both sides and the end). add architect fee. + rent for the pier. container transportation and the crane, we're starting to talk about real $. still nice building. questionable photos. questionable sales and promotional strategy too. good to see they can be cantilevered like that successfully though as personal knowledge. thanks! i imagine the used tandemloc tiedowns for the end to end fittings.

- bill 2-16-2005 7:04 pm [add a comment]

and have you seen the ads all over the place? mucho dinero.

(speaking of ads - there is a paul miller/dj spooky billboard that wraps a whole corner - I think 14th and 6th or 7th(?) - for Infinite. promotion promotion promotion)
- selma 2-17-2005 7:26 pm [add a comment]

heres this about that. they said they would get different containers at different sites. in so doing they lower overhead on project in short term sense. rent for (say) $200 a month each. but sell for only $900 - $1000 each (newark prices - higher inland). and for the record, the project uses 148 containers, not my guesstimate of 140.
- bill 2-24-2005 5:23 pm [add a comment]

Opened to an estimated 3.000 people tonight (according to the artist's people). I heard there was a nice NPR piece this morning (and MUG and Dailycandy today). I am not sure about this at all and I think the artist is a photojournalist at best - and if I wasn't such an admirer of the architect I might not go see it. But after-all, I am a sucker for 'public spectacle'. (ya, I'll admit it - The Gates too. But not in the name of 'high art,' but in the sense of community and smile-quantity. (And for me at least, my local deli owner and I have reached a varied level of conversation: 'what do you think about this Christo guy?' it is a welcomed addition to 'light small babe?').
- selma 3-04-2005 7:50 am [add a comment]

Mr. Ban rented 148 shipping containers, at less than $100 a month each, for the show, and they were carried on barges from New Jersey to the pier, where a crane lifted them into place, forming checkerboard walls for the $3.5 million structure.
something very creepy about mr colbert's whole process. mr ban's building is quite interesting.
- bill 3-10-2005 4:03 pm [add a comment]

  • What a puff piece! Can we say affected!?
    - selma 3-10-2005 6:37 pm [add a comment]

more today on the radio on this artists gratuitive gratuitous use of elephants (women and children). (post edited 3/10/95 9:43)
- bill 3-10-2005 4:33 pm [add a comment]

I’m assuming “gratuitive” is a new form of gratuitous? But do you mean “free” or “unnecessary” or both?
For more on peoples’ questionable appropriation of other animals, check out what goes on in the birding community:
(from the NY State mailing list)
Subject: Birding Conduct
From: "Shaibal Mitra"
Date: Wed, 2 Mar 2005 12:32:56 -0500
Hi everyone,

I’d been following the latest birder conduct thread on this forum with a
variety of feelings, when I discovered that I was actually present at Cape
Vincent during the early stages of the controversial events of Sunday, 27 Feb.

I’m sure that everyone will appreciate that reading other people’s accounts and
depictions of a shared experience is almost inevitably a bit unnerving. Hence,
it is not surprising that some strongly worded point-counterpoint has ensued.
The emotions expressed in these posts (both condemning and defending the events
of 27 Feb) reflect people’s sincerely felt values, but they offer little hope
of resolution--partly, I think, because some of the values systems have been
stated either dogmatically, obscurely, or inaccurately.

There is one paradigm that seems to be shared by almost everyone in these
debates, even those who claim to be most at odds with each other—this is a
notion of “birds as commodities.” This value system is ubiquitous in our
society, is legally mandated in various ways, and is the basis for the diverse
senses of entitlement that people feel with respect to birds and other
organisms. I’ll confess from the outset that it makes me very uncomfortable.
The notion of wild organisms as commodities can be seen in its simplest quid
pro quo form when hunters pay carefully negotiated fees for the right to
collect carefully negotiated numbers of particular kinds of animals. It is also
at the heart of various (for us birders) hot-button topics such as captive bird
collections, falconry, and photography. Bird banding has been mentioned several
times also, and I suppose what people are referring to is the desire of some
banders to seek out rare birds for the simple pleasure of handling a!

n animal that is rare or new. Such a pleasure (which is actually not one of
the legally mandated justifications for bird-banding) certainly shares with the
foregoing activities an objectification, or commoditization, of wild birds.

But many birders who would never touch a feather or a camera are also fanatical
(if unconscious) adherents to the notion of birds as commodities. How else can
one explain some people’s sense of personal injury when they are not informed
of somebody else’s observation of some animal or another? Similarly, it is
clear that many birders feel a genuine and personal sense of injury at the
prospect of someone else killing, capturing, harming, harassing, or flushing
some bird of interest. Protests of this sort seem inevitably to be cloaked in
the guise of less selfish, more universal values (such as conservation, animal
welfare, or private property rights), but the associated emotion belies these
ruses--people’s outrage over what they perceive as other people’s poor behavior
is generally entirely out of proportion to what is actually at stake in terms
of damage to the environment, disregard of animal welfare, or violation of
property rights. Rather, people really seem to feel t!

hey are entitled to (variously) see, photograph, capture, kill, or eat
particular organisms that they deem somehow desirable.

When, on 27 Feb, a person approached us and announced she intended to walk the
edge of the woodlot toward the Great Gray Owl, I felt incredulous. I did not
feel outraged, indignant, or fearful that crimes against nature or private
property were about to be committed; I simply found it difficult to believe
that someone would behave so discourteously. So I left.

The reason I call this person’s behavior discourteous is because it was so
obviously contrary to that simplest tenet of civility--the Golden Rule of the
ancients and Kant’s categorical imperative--in which one strives to behave
toward others as one would have them behave toward oneself, or at least to
behave in such a way that could be adopted by others without conflict.

Most of the facts related so far concerning this person’s conduct have been
more or less accurate to my knowledge, but they have neglected a couple of
dimensions that I think are very important. The person’s original justification
for behaving in a way so contrary to what everyone else was doing was that she
had received explicit permission from the landowner. An additional
justification expressed after the fact is that none of us present objected to
her stated intention. We were actually aware that it was ok for birders to walk
around the woodlot, but had chosen not to. It crossed my mind to say, “By all
means, let’s walk toward the owl--I hope you don’t mind if I stay 20 yards in
front of you.” (I had longer legs and lighter optical impedimenta, as I recall,
so I feel confident that I could have beaten this person in a foot race.)
Instead, I offered an ironic comment that was later adopted by this person as
yet a further justification of her foray, “[I] courteously m!

entioned to ALL birders present that [I] had permission to enter the field and
intended to try to slowly approach the bird, at which point NO-ONE mentioned
that they had any objections, in fact some mentioned that it might be nice to
see the bird in flight if indeed that happened.”

Several people, in defending the person who approached the owl on 27 Feb, have
come to a curious (to me) conclusion regarding basic etiquette. After restating
the obvious (e.g., no irreparable harm to the biodiversity of NYS or the planet
was perpetrated, no animal was tortured or killed, no laws were broken, and the
minimum requirements of polite conversation were mouthed), these commentators
have concluded that it is impossible, and even inappropriate, to consider
people’s intentions. I couldn’t disagree more. To me, this is the crux of the
debate over courteous conduct, once the smoke and mirrors of conservation,
animal rights, and private property law have been cleared away. It has been
said that the goal of good manners is to avoid offending others

Well, what might the person who approached the owl have intended? Did she
sincerely want to know how other people felt about her plan to approach the
owl? Would she have acted differently if someone had expressed discomfort? Did
she sincerely believe that none of the people already present might have liked
a closer view of the owl? If not, did she ponder their reasons for exhibiting
self-restraint? Would she have acted differently if others had offered to
accompany (or precede) here into the field?

To me, it was absolutely obvious that her ‘courtesy’ was strictly formal and
not genuinely motivated by concern for other people’s feelings. Her ex post
facto defense concludes with the following peculiar statement, “Bird
photographers have rights, too.” Are these rights exclusive to photographers,
or are they merely the same as those shared by everyone? If the latter, how can
it be considered courteous to behave in a way that you would prefer others to
desist from?

Shai Mitra

- alex 3-10-2005 4:52 pm [add a comment]

Roberta Smith on the suspect art.
- selma 3-14-2005 7:05 pm [add a comment]

sound about right to me. she likes the building.
- bill 3-14-2005 9:43 pm [add a comment]

Spot on.
And the building certainly seems to be the highlight. Architect Newspaper has a front page piece (not online though) by Anne Guiney (Bill, she is the one who had factual errors in the container piece you noted a while back). I wonder if N. Ouroussoff will weigh in? In some ways I hope not, because I don't think this project is worthy of so much NYT ink, but on the other-hand I kind of hope yes, in that Joseph Giovannini did us such a disservice with his puff piece in the house & home' section (he is supposed to be an architectural writer).
From The Architect Newspaper:
"Unlike many of his contemporaries who are exploring the use of containers as reprogrammable spaces, Ban uses them here as if they are big bricks.
'I am not interested in the spaces inside the containers-I don't think it would be nice', said Ban. 'I wanted to use them as an existing material that can have more than one function.'"

- selma 3-15-2005 1:43 am [add a comment]

photography isnt (wasnt) always held to as high a standard as (chelsea) art. selma is correct identifying this project as photo journalism. but even at that, as roberta points out its really just following a formula for success. the whole thing really starts to stink when thats combined with the other big budget ambitious elements of the project (including an admission charge and advertising) and the rather holier than thou attitude of the photographer. next.

- bill 3-15-2005 6:45 pm [add a comment]

Roberta really shines when going after hacks:

Mr. Colbert's sepia-toned images prove once again that while colonialism may be dead or dying, its tropes are ever with us. In these pictures, beautiful non-Western women and children interact with exotic animals in faraway places and at revered ancient sites. Beatific teenage monks bow before elephants at temples on the plain of Pagan in the former Burma. A nearly naked daughter of the African bush, her hair in exquisite cornrows, leans dreamily into the flank of a watchful cheetah in the Namibian desert. [Saw that on the PATH. It annoyed me.] The muscular, ponytailed Mr. Colbert, wearing a sarong, dives with sperm whales, plays hide and seek with a manatee, and swims in deep water with an elephant.

Many of these images are striking for their simplicity, serenity and how-did-they-do-that? drama. Who doesn't love majestic animals, or "nature's masterpieces," as Mr. Colbert calls them? But you would barely think twice about these photographs if you saw them framed under glass in a Chelsea art gallery. They're too derivative.

They take us back to nature along the familiar routes of fashion photography, spare-no-expense ad campaigns and National Geographic cultural tourism. They evoke Richard Avedon's 1955 fashion classic "Dovima With Elephants," Irving Penn's images of stoic Peruvian peasants, images of the young Dalai Lama and bus stop posters for expensive spas. They hark back to the 19th century, when early photographers traipsed the globe to record the alien glories of empire for the folks back home, and the early 20th, when Isadora Duncan was photographed dancing among Greek ruins.
- tom moody 3-15-2005 10:47 pm [add a comment]

oh dear...(and Tom yes, I love Roberta in this mood)

From today's Wall Street Journal:

March 15, 2005


Epiphanies in Sepia and Umber

March 15, 2005; Page D8

New York

Some images impossible to decode have the density of hieroglyphs. Once glimpsed, can they can haunt you forever. Three years ago, a newspaper report on a photography show in Venice acquainted me with one such. An adolescent of East Indian appearance, up to her waist in milky water, knelt in devotion before a man-size bird I have since learned to call an Antigone crane. The girl was seen in profile, the bird nearly head on, its mighty wings raised in a triumphant V. Aglow against a featureless black background, the two evoked a timeless communion between humankind and the animal kingdom never to be captured outside the realm of metaphor.

The source? "Ashes and Snow," an exhibition of work by the Canadian-born Gregory Colbert, then 42, who had spent the previous 10 years out of sight, represented by no gallery, showing no work, giving no interviews. (Was anyone asking?) Instead, funded by a well-heeled network of private patrons, he had been circling the globe in pursuit of interspecies encounters.

Pier 54
New York
Through June 6
Santa Monica Pier
Dec. 4 through Feb. 28, 2006

His astonishing pictures -- sepia and umber in tone, luxuriously produced at a scale of approximately 6 by 9 feet by an exacting encaustic process (involving beeswax, pigments and the application of heat) -- documented the whole caravan of beauteous creatures who had passed before his magic lens: Burmese monks reading their sutras attended by Asian elephants, a dancer in Egypt's Valley of the Queens winged by a Royal eagle, San bushmen of Africa snuggled up to cheetahs and meerkats. In one incredible sequence, Mr. Colbert himself appeared underwater, a buff yogi in harem pants and pony tail, free-diving (or, as he prefers to say, "dancing") with 55-ton sperm whales. Adding to the wonder, all the stills were single frames, captured in real time, free of the digital trickery we have come to take for granted. At the far end of the gallery, an hourlong film dissolved such magic moments into a slow-flowing Amazon of dreams.

In its original form, "Ashes and Snow" was housed at the Arsenale, the sprawling 13th-century shipyard (125,000 square feet!), familiar nowadays as a Biennale showcase for visual arts and architecture. The largest solo exhibition ever mounted in Venice, it attracted over 100,000 visitors. But that was a mere prelude. Today Mr. Colbert (who pronounces his name, à la française, "coal-BEAR"), is poised to colonize the planet. "This project does have its element of craziness," he says cheerfully.

The wonder of 'Ashes and Snow' is the photography. And the stunning photography it is. To capture the shots, Gregory Colbert traveled the globe to find humans interacting with wild beasts.

A considerably expanded edition of the show opened March 5 at the Nomadic Museum, a cathedral in one nave erected by the Japanese architect Shigeru Ban on Pier 54, over the Hudson River at West 13th Street. As the name suggests, the building is designed to travel, and when the New York run ends on June 6, it will. Next stop: Santa Monica Pier, Los Angeles (Dec. 4-Feb. 28). The following summer, it's on to the Vatican, with further ports of call to be announced. New photography will be added as Mr. Colbert produces new chapters in what he regards as his life's work. The species count today stands at approximately 30.

You may have noticed posters at construction sites, strategic print media placements, banners by the West Side Highway, but the promotional drum roll to date is as nothing to that of "The Gates." Still, by the time I arrived on opening day, 40 minutes after they cut the ribbon, the pier was bustling with the all-inclusive cross section of humanity you'll find any weekend at any zoo: the idle rich here, a grizzled biker wrapped in chains there, and over yonder young couples from the barrio with kids in strollers. (For the record, I spotted Bianca Jagger. Show me the demographic that doesn't adore wildlife.) Just wait until word of mouth has done its work.

At upward of 4,000 visitors, total attendance for the first Saturday and Sunday exceeded the expectations of the Bianimale Foundation, the entity formed to orchestrate the "Ashes and Snow" juggernaut, by a wide margin. "There's a good elephant vibe today," Mr. Colbert said out front, on his way to the bookshop, where the catalog (a collectors' item hand-sewn and bound in Italy, cover of handmade paper from Nepal that is sealed, if you please, with natural beeswax) was selling briskly at $130 a pop. This week brings the publication of the artist's epistolary novel "Snow and Ashes," redolent of Coelho and Calvino.

For architectural curiosity alone, the Nomadic Museum is a sight to see. The stark, contemplative vault Mr. Ban has designed -- 67 feet wide, 672 feet long, rising to a gable of 56 feet -- is built of 148 steel cargo containers, most of them rented locally, with trusses and columns of recycled paper (which get packed into 37 of the containers for later storage and transportation). "Post-industrial" and "sustainable" are the buzzwords here, in harmony with Mr. Colbert's ecological vision. Except for the apse at pier's end, where "Ashes and Snow: The Movie" shows continuously (as in Venice), there is no climate-control system. The day I was there, lingering winter and the damp of the river gave the place the chill of stone.

For all its apparent sobriety, this is an ecstatic space; as for the installation, it is Zen deluxe. Over a floor covered in crushed white stone, a 12-foot wooden walkway leads straight up the center of the pier. The art hangs at eye level on either side, suspended in midair on wires that are scarcely visible, casting rectangles of shadow within rectangles of spotlight. It's like a Rothko chapel writ large.

Forget the novel, the overpriced catalog, the architectural curiosity that is the Nomadic Museum.

Already, certain critics are dismissing Mr. Colbert: no poet, they insist, but an arty ego-tripper, showboating in The Last Great Places. His movie with its rhapsodic voiceover lays itself wide open to such complaint, and the quasi-ecclesiastical presentation will inevitably run some sensibilities the wrong way. In the end, what justifies "Ashes and Snow" is the still photography, one epiphany after another. A boy, his head clean shaven, points a feather with an archer's taut precision. Another, eyes closed, cocks his ear to a seashell, monitoring the heartbeat of the world. A woman cradles a sphere as if entrusted with the cosmos. Two children nestle together in the spreading roots of a mangrove, flanked by elephant guardians of the dharma. A naked waif and a wild cat perch on separate branches of a blasted tree. A cheetah lounges like the Sphinx on a termite mound that looms like Kilimanjaro. Mr. Colbert tumbles through an unseen sea, a joyous Captain Ahab, palms to the fluke of the whale. The world is still a wondrous place.

"If you put Bach in a glass box, and paraded schoolkids in front of him, they would never know what his music was," Mr. Colbert says. "We spend all this money on preserving the great works of art of the past, and that's good. But in the next 25 years, the human race will have to decide whether or not to preserve the bestiary of Nature's living masterpieces. 'Ashes and Snow' is not meant to tell people to do some things or not to do other things. It's meant to inspire. I hope it's not a requiem."

Mr. Gurewitsch writes for the Journal on the visual and performing arts.

- selma 3-16-2005 4:00 am [add a comment]

moblie museum

ban's nomadic museum on a grey easter morning - this is an over the shoulder shot heading north on west st and stopped at the light with just enough time to snap off a couple of shots. nice utility box architecture (forground) compliments of nyc? you know if it werent for the NM i would have never noticed those utility boxes, or that guy leaning against one, or that tree...

- bill 3-29-2005 5:49 pm [add a comment]

More on Ban:
"In the next month, he also expects to start construction on 100 new homes in a village in Sri Lanka where fishermen were displaced by the recent tsunami. He's using locally made brick and wood from the country's rubber trees. And he's found a way to make it easier for residents to build the structures themselves: The bricks fit together like Legos, so bricklayers aren't required.
A decade ago, Ban created the Voluntary Architects' Network, a nongovernmental organization to provide the needy with housing. He's worked on many humanitarian projects, from helping Rwandan refugees improve their temporary shelters without cutting down scarce trees, to combining his paper tubes with local resources to build emergency housing for earthquake survivors in Japan, Turkey, and India. After the earthquake in Kobe, Japan, he helped design not only housing but a temporary church using paper-tube columns"
- selma 5-04-2005 12:36 am [add a comment]

- bill 5-04-2005 1:19 am [add a comment]