Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Rivane Neuenschwander: A Day Like Any Other

My ribbon finally fell off! Now let me explain.

Last summer I was interning in women's couture at Ralph Lauren in New York, and I spent basically every other minute either museum-trolling or sniffing out good live music. Magic, I know. One of my favorite exhibitions I ran into was the "A Day Like Any Other" show at the New Museum.

The ground floor featured this overwhelming room hung (almost) floor to ceiling with colored silk ribbons, stuck into little holes like lovely long insects burrowing into tree bark. Holes that were missing ribbons instead held tiny scrolls of paper, rolled tight and waiting for attention. Visitors were invited to choose a ribbon, each of which was printed with a wish, written on one of those tiny scrolls and printed by the artist onto the ribbons. In return for a ribbon, you were asked only to make a wish of your own and leave it in place of your ribbon. Tie your ribbon 'round your wrist, claimed the installation, and when it falls off, your wish will come true.

Ok, I'll admit, I couldn't keep that thing on my wrist for six months. Too itchy. But I tied it onto the spiral binding of my sketchbook, which is practically one of my body parts, and I figure that's good enough. Do I get my wish now?

Upstairs there were two police sketch artists. "Tell me about your first love," one said. I watched a man sit down on the other side of the table and speak in a five minute-long run-on sentence about his high school sweetheart. Not just physical description, but other things; she loved cheeseburgers and was a terrible dancer. When he was finished, so was the sketch artist. A perfect portrait, a ghost from the past. More magic. They hung everywhere, hundreds of first loves.

My favorite installation was neither of these, however. I walked in on "Rain, Rains" almost accidentally, and then didn't want to leave. Dozens of tin pails, some strung up high, others holding fast to the floor. The ones above had holes drilled into their undersides, tiny holes to make tiny leaks. Drip. Drip. Into the pails below. Standing in the middle of that installation, I found a soft chorus, a quiet, strange sort of company. Other people floated around the perimeter, but I was right in it, and I think they missed out.


  1. You saw the ribbon exhibit!? I'm so jealous! I thought it was the coolest thing ever when I read about it over the summer

  2. I did I did! It was so lovely, and I took two wishes- I'll pass my non-used wish along to you if you like. I actually think it would suit you.