Wednesday, February 2, 2011


I first and foremost apologize for the somewhat sporadic posting. Here I go informing you all of this blog, and BOOM, there my internet goes for a few days with no explicable reason. Sincerely sorry folks! Will try to not let that happen again.

This is the long anticipated review of the Whitney's exhibit of the work of Charles LeDray, workworkworkworkwork. It really is a quite fantastic show, and overall experience, and it's all over on the 13th people! GET there before it's gone forever! Less than a fortnight to see this.

When I saw this show, it was late in the day, and the day itself was a miserable, horrible excuse of a snowday, which I dragged myself through for hours prior to entering the all but deserted museum. Needless to say, I felt rather monstrous (even before seeing the main event). I made my way to the 3rd floor which was occupied entirely by the exhibit of Charles LeDray, and it is was if a whole universe existed on this one floor, in this one building, on this tiny island, on a single countries coast, on this lonely little planet.
Upon exiting the elevators or stairwell leading into the gallery, one is greeted with raised hats. Not the handlebar-mustache-bearing, monocle-wearing, top-of-the-mornin'-te-ye' tip o' the cap, either, but with a few dozen hats, each one of a kind, and more unique and specific than the last, hanging in a row, wayyy up high. Next to the ceiling, track-lighting-adjacent high, to be more exact. As if craning your neck upwards isn't hard enough, did I mention these hats are wee tiny things? Pint sized, bite size, fun size, snack size, small fry, miniature golf pencil, really really really little. Not so small you need a microscope, of course, but small enough to think 'Jeez these things are hella tiny!' (I thought about that Zoolander quote).
I loved the selection of hats though, as a wearer of many hats, I'm a fan of any and all head gear, and was thoroughly amused with the array of styles. Cowboy hats, fedoras (goes without saying), fez caps, those stupid frat-boy cheesehats, party hats, big fancy British wedding madame hats, colonial style (captain crunch) hats, and even a japanese samurai style headband (?!) and thOse are just the ones that I can recall, because, lets admit, they're ridiculous.
This amazing display barely prepared me for what was around the corner....

This is an image that sums up my statement in the previous post about any fans of Polly Pocket or Godzilla loving this show. I'm not 100% positive that this is the Whitney's show, as I remember it being more dimly lit and spooky, but it is the same layout.
Each and every item of miniature clothing (as well as other typical everyday items) is painstakingly handmade and self fabricated by the artist, there are over 600 items of just clothes in this one show. Other items made mega-mini are books, magazines, cups and mugs, wallets, all perfectly to scale, as if they'd been hit with a shrink ray. Along with the regular bric'a'brac of these items are thousands of vases, appearing to have been made on a pottery wheel, displayed all together, in separate glass cases from the minuscule wardrobes. They were organized by color. See below.

As soon as I was wildly impressed with every one of these little monochromatic trinkets I saw this:

Each one is painted!!!

Not only was this show entirely mindblowing in execution, but the concept and inspiration behind it was very familiar and nostalgic for me (and any other New Yorker who's been here since the 90's). The notion sparking this show's engine are street vendors in the village in early 90's New York! We still see them every day, on 6th Avenue, peddling books, odd shoes, vinyls, magazines, everything they could find, laying them out on tables, spread blankets and jackets on the sidewalk. In fact, part of this show was originally installed (or displayed, rather) on the sidewalk in Greenwich Village in 1992.

I know what you're thinking. Adorable.
For further reference, here are average-sized actual children, standing adjacent to the smaller than small life street vendor exhibit (image via google search).

I was pretty much the only museum-goer while attending this show, which I would highly recommend everyone try at least once, and I had the advantage of near-deafening silence as I strolled around the floor, with only my footsteps from slushy boots echoing eerily form time to time. I couldn't help but feel e-n-o-r-m-o-u-s the whole time. I asked the guards if they ever felt this way, they all agreed they had. How can one not feel huge when everything around you is? Like when Alice ate too much of that biscuit attempting to remedy that whole 'drink me' fiasco and grew too quickly in the white rabbit's cottage.
Feeling large wasn't the only sensation that overtook me, I felt the puny scale of all these objects put things into perspective on a universal level. The clothes, the bound books, the magazines, the vases, were all essentially manufactured at a proportion that renders them useless. Every item's purpose, a shirt to clothe you, a vase to hold a bouquet from your sweetie, a magazine to flip through, a wallet to hold a wad of singles, no longer exists. None of these tiny versions, however perfect and crafted impeccably to scale, has any meaning any more. What would usually be any person's everyday essentials, become nothing.
This deep revelation I made peering into a plastic display case holding two books.

^'Long Story Short' ^ enlightened me to the insignificance of everything humanity has ever had to offer. It was almost like seeing all of mankind from a distant place, a far off galaxy where the new zodiac sign was discovered or something, and really knowing deep down that these things are just things. Things we keep on our coffee tables and bookshelves coat hangers, in our little apartments in little buildings in little cities on this little speck of a dot of a planet in the infinite abyss of space. Pretty heavy.

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