A Quartet Vs. An Orchestra

After attending both a quartet and an orchestra, I have to say that I enjoyed the orchestra more. The quartet was more cozy and comfy, especially the distance between my seat and the stage. I could clearly see every person’s face when. The hair from one person flapping up and down as he was swaying to the music and another performer falling over his viola. It was very well performed, but I wasn’t exactly captured by the music. They were very talented indeed, but it wasn’t exactly as big of a production and it didn’t have as much of an impact as the Carnegie Hall performance did. But I do understand that the four performers at the 92nd street Y were extremely skilled because since there were only four performers, if any one person made a mistake, it would have been very obvious, while at Carnegie Hall, if one person made a mistake, it wouldn’t be as obvious since there were more performers to cover your mistake.

The hike up to my seat at Carnegie Hall was completely worth it. I thought I was going to be late for the show, and the large amount of stairs didn’t help me either. When I got to my seat, I noticed how beautifully simply the inside of it was. Compared to the Met Opera House, it was very plainly white and embroidered- no chandeliers and no fancy lighting either. The Stage was simply a space that had wooden floors and no curtains – something I also noticed. But when I finally sat down, I noticed how awkward the seating was. Even though I’m rather short, my knees were almost touching the head of the person sitting in front of me. It made me feel very uncomfortable because I felt like I would knee her in the head, or even if I lean back myself, the person sitting behind me, would knee me in the head. So throughout the two hours that we were sitting there, I tried not to move anywhere.

The Carnegie Hall Performance really had a big impact on me. The music that the performers produced was really strong in a sense that it was more “inspiring” then it was “soothing.” I was really surprised to see that all the performers were able to move their bows at the same time. Even though every performer was swaying to his/her own beat of the music, I could tell that every person was focusing on the conductor and each person was using the tip and the frog of the bow at the same time. I was also very interested in the way the performers dressed. All the women wore long black dresses and most of them had their hair tied up in a bun. All the men wore black suits, and I thought they were all uniform in what they wore and I thought it made the whole occasion not only elegant, but also very professional. Even though I couldn’t see every single person’s face on stage, I was very happy to look over that small detail, and be able to listen to the strength of the music, even from a large distance from my seat to the stage.

Something that was very strange that I noticed from both performances was that after each song, people in the audience would start coughing, as if they were holding the longest cough throughout the performance so that they wouldn’t distract the performers. It was strange to see everyone coughing, sneezing and moving around right after the song, that it made a huge restlessness between the songs. I’m not much into going to classical performances, so maybe I’m not very knowledgeable about these rituals, but do people actually cough at the end of each performance? Or was this just a coincidence?

An Engaging Play

I thoroughly enjoyed The Cherry Orchard on Tuesday Night, because it was very different from any other event we went to. It was a mix of every theme we had seen from the other events, except we were thrown into the play as audience members. The music was amazing, and it really complimented the setting of old Russia. The music didn’t overpower the play, and the only time it was the main focus was actually during scene changes and intermission, which I really though was a great addition.

My favorite part of the play was definitely the fact that I could see every actor and actresses’ faces. Their expressions were so clear. I saw every frown, every smile, every evil stare; it seemed so close that we as the audience were actually part of the play itself. It’s great to feel like that because we understand the play more, it’s more of a cozy event, rather than the very grand Don Giovanni at the Met, because at the Met, it was all very far away. I would have to say that event wise; I enjoyed the Cherry Orchard more. Also I would like to comment on the costumes of the actresses because they were very well made. Every dress was greatly detailed, and even at such a small play, it was fantastic that they were able to have those small elements. Of course there were not as many dress-changes as there were in Don Giovanni, but I really applaud the costume because not only did it fit into this setting (that was simple but extremely well represented) it was very authentic looking, even down to the boots that the men wore and the beautiful black dress that the mother wore at the party.

The theater itself was very different from any theater I’ve been to. The last event was at Carnegie Hall was a big auditorium where we had to look down at the performers. The Classic Stage Company had a great three-sided stage where people can actually look at the performers without straining their eyes. Also the performers ran on and off stage, using the exits that we used, and sitting next to some of the people on the first row. It was very funny when the old woman in the play took a bite from a cucumber and gave it to an audience member; it was also funny when she danced with a girl in the first row. It’s such a participatory play that it became engaging, not just because of the plot, but because of the way the stage director led the play.

The Diego River and Rockefeller Center Controversy

When I visited the Diego River murals at MoMA, I was actually stunned to see the different tone it set from the rest of the museum, and even from the rest of the city. There was not much “gore” and “bloodiness” in the paintings, but there were many brutal depictions, and there were a couple of paintings that really struck me. “The Uprising” struck me because of a mother who was holding her infant child in her hands and having her husband next to her, while a soldier was holding a sword pointing towards that family. Even though there was no blood, it seemed very brutal and because of the little small details that he drew- the baby crying in his mother’s arms, and a person crouching and holding (his/her) head near the father figure. And in the background we could see other soldiers holding up guns brutally beating innocent family members, and it was really hard to think of this actual scene happening, in the midst of a great city, one that upholds capitalism and freedom as its ultimate theme. The other painting that struck me was called “Frozen Assets” and my friend and I (who went together) were actually staring at this painting for a long time, and I think we were both very moved by this. To be honest, I’m not very much into paintings, especially ones with political agendas, but this one really caught my eye. At first when you look at it, you see the huge skyscrapers and even Rockefeller Center, but then when you look a little deeper, there were these dead bodies in grey suits all lined up in the middle floor, while a guard was keeping look over them. It is a horrible scene. People seemed to build beautiful cities over these dead bodies that just rotted underneath all those cranes and construction. It really was ironic that Rockefeller Center would be portrayed under this light, and it changed my view on New York City.

But if you ask me whether we should know the information behind Rockefeller Center and the controversy in order to visit this famous place, I would say that you do not need to know the history. I feel that Rockefeller Center is a place where people can just enjoy the city, and look at the great architecture and the different décor that it has. Especially near the winter holiday season, it’s a great place to spend time at because it really does have that holiday spirit, with all the decorations –the trees, the lights, etc. Knowing the history behind the Diego Rivera controversy is helpful when you’re trying to understand the history of Rockefeller Center, but if you’re trying to just enjoy yourself, it becomes a burden to understand every historical background of the place, because then you’re just trying to learn history and understand politics, it’s not a vacation anymore. It’s just like if you were to go to Coney Island, in order for you to “visit” it correctly, you would have to learn who built every ride, what materials went into it, and how many accidents occurred- it seems to be more of an assignment, then just a carefree visit. But if you were to evaluate it at a point where you have to understand the motifs and events that occurred at Rockefeller Center (because you’re interested, or because it’s part of an assignment) then it would be extremely justified to understand the historical background, but as for tourists or people who just want a relaxing day, it would become quite the opposite if you had to internally think about all the controversy behind this masterpiece.

I also believe that the removal for Diego Rivera’s murals from Rockefeller center was a great decision, because it really did not have the same motifs that Rockefeller wanted to symbolize for the Center itself, nor for New York City itself. Rockefeller hired Rivera to paint something that would have theme of modernism, of moving forward, but instead Rivera thought since he was a good friend of Rockefeller’s family, he would paint the communist murals that depicted Lenin, and that really should not be approved of. I’m am a big fan of artists painting what they feel, and not holding back what they believe, but at the same time, if someone is going to hire you to promote a theme that represents not only the Center, but the huge City of New York, it’s important that you either not take the job (because you feel that your ideas a inconsistent with the theme, and you feel that you cannot betray either yourself or the person who hired you, OR you can take the job and curve your own ideas so that the people who hired you are satisfied with your work). It’s really frustrating for someone to try to hire someone to express a theme that they believe is very important and have them think that the painter is on the same page, and then it turns out that the painter had a whole different hidden agenda, and that seems very unfair. I’m not saying that Diego Rivera was wrong in painting his murals, because I thought they really did depict harsh realities in places that New York is so opposite from, but at the same time, Diego Rivera shouldn’t force his ideas on such a large scale in one of the most important and famous places in New York, especially when the person who built the Center is opposed of it.

A Black Tie Affair

When I got off the 1 train to get to the opera, I thought Don Giovanni would be some sort of class responsibility, like homework, or late night projects, but right when I got to the physical building of the Met, I was stunned at how gorgeous everything was. The sounds, the people, the place itself were all fused into one huge, elegant event. Despite the fact that the Macaulay building was only three blocks away, I have never been, or seen the Metropolitan Opera House. When I finally walked up the stairs (that lit up), it was a spectacular sight to see a huge building, made of mostly glass windows. Women dressed in black gowns, and men dressed in tuxedos and black bowties. It really was an elegant affair. When I actually got into the opera house, I saw that the whole place was covered in red carpet, and people were actually eating dinner there. It really showed a glimpse of the high society art events that many of us, students, were limited too, since this was a very expensive production. It really did open my eyes to the social etiquette of operas, and how classy they were. Before I even got into my seat and watched the opera, I had a great presentation of sophistication. I would have never been exposed to these events before, if it weren’t for this opera.

           Once the opera started, I realized that there was one problem that I had to constantly faced while I watched. It was the subtitles. I had read the libretto before, but I couldn’t help but read the subtitles on the screen in front of me, just to understand everything that the characters said. This really distracted me from the opera, because it was either me watching them, and not understand exactly what they said, or it was me reading the subtitles, and not watching the opera. It was a constant shifting back and forth, and I found that distracting. Also, it was quite difficult to read the expressions on the actors’ faces. But what I found really stunning about the opera itself was the set design and the costume design. All the dresses were so beautifully made, and even though the same set was used throughout the acts, it was really entertaining to see them just rotate the set, and it could be used for a completely new scene. That was very clever. My favorite scene would have to be when Zerlina and Masetto were about to get married, and the whole town was dancing, because it really reminded me of the Broadway play, Beauty and the Beast, which I thoroughly enjoyed. It was lively, and creative, which is a great contrast to the many dark, and gloomy scenes in the opera.

            The final scenes of the opera would probably have to receive the most credit from me, because before I watched it, I wondered how the production would be able to make Don Giovanni be casted into hell. Since this was an opera, and not a Broadway play, special effects would not really be used as often. But it was amazing to see that the stage floor actually open up and fire was bursting through the cracks, while Don Giovanni slipped into hell. Though I was sitting not far from the last row, I could feel the bursts of heat from the fire. I wonder how hot it would have been for the people sitting in the first rows, or even the actors themselves. But they definitely did not disappoint me for this final scene!

Oh, you don’t believe in outer space either?

Disorienting, insane, strange, awkward, entertaining… confusing?

“I don’t believe in outer space” was a one of a kind experience. I don’t think I have ever seen a performance as complicated, but simple at the same time. To say that words cannot describe the dance, is a total understatement. The underlying theme of the song “I will survive” throughout the different “scenes” was so cleverly done, because at times, the song was used for comedy purposes, but what stuck out for me was the ending scene. It was very depressing, how one of the main performers started listing out things that people might have to live without, for example, No more parties, No more husbands, No more barbecues, No more drinks, No more love, No more smiles… It was a huge emotional shock, since the scene before it was a comedic one. It was very cleverly done that this song had the flexibility to fit into angry scenes, sad scenes, scary scenes and funny scenes. But I do feel as if the actual song wasn’t as important as the underlying idea that this whole production was completely random, and goes against all societal expectations.

This production, for me, definitely related to Nietzsche. Though it wasn’t completely Dionysian with regards to music and the inner self taking over, it was a very good bridge to join together reality and the surreal. First of all, this performance had no linear plot (maybe I’ve missed it…or something?) and though our human brains are trying to make some sort of connection between all this chaos and emotions and loud music, our brains really can’t come up with something this disconnected. It forces us to just enjoy the dance, and not question where all these ideas were coming from. It honestly felt like a dream sequence. One minute you could be scared out of your mind because of “the new neighbor wanting whisky” or the next moment you could be wondering “As if by chance…” It was truly a roller coaster ride. Nothing seemed to make sense together, (not that this should be analyzed) but thing’s seem to make sense part by part.

I was really amazed at the talents of these dancers, because it seemed graceful, but at the same time, it had that awkwardness to it, which seem to contradict each other, but it worked very well in this performance. Also, I was wondering the whole time how one of the performers (can we call her an actress?) memorized all the lines to “As if by chance…” It all seemed to correlate so well with the dance movements of the other performers, that she could not have possibly improvised any of it. I actually did find myself trying to imagine what would happen if “everything fell” or if “nothing fell at all”.

After it was over, it was the first time I felt myself lost for words after a performance. I couldn’t come to terms with what I just saw. And when one of my friends asked me what the play was about, I actually could not even give one concrete detail of it, except that “At first I was afraid, I was petrified”

A View on Two Attractions

As I was traveling on the F train heading towards Coney Island, I could barely recall the last time that I’ve actually visited this amusement park. Perhaps I was five or maybe even younger. My recollection seemed to consist of me being afraid of my life, as my parents boarded me onto a rollercoaster. No other images came to my mind. The posters and banners that advertised Coney Island seemed to display huge rollercoasters paired with vivid colors. Everyone seemed to be either eating traditional, American fast food, or screaming on the top of their lungs, as they, themselves were on the top of a rollercoaster. In my mind, I actually compared it to the Atlantic City boardwalk, preparing myself for a “fun for all ages” wonderland.

When I finally arrived at Surf Ave. I could smell the food that was being served. There must have been dozens upon dozens of small shacks and restaurants. Everything seemed to involve food. Whether it was the huge sign in front of Nathans advertising the annual hot dog eating contest, or the many colorful shacks along the boardwalk, food part of, if not fully, the main attraction.

Before I physically entered the park itself, I noticed that the gate was painted with all these colorful, but yet semi-abstract paintings. They were all unique from each other. One’s advertising the park, and others just paintings of cartoon- animated people enjoying Coney Island. I actually thought this was a very nice addition to the park, especially since every other amusement park lacked the aesthetics. It seems like many amusements parks today only hang posters advertising rides, instead of letting artists map out how people really feel about the park. After the full visit, I could truly say that the artwork was my favorite part.

When I entered the park, I instantly felt a disconnection with it. I found myself disliking the park, even from the start. Everything seemed very artificial. Koolhaas’ observation that “…this infrastructure supports a largely cardboard reality” and that “technology + cardboard (or any other flimsy material) = reality (Koolhaas, 42) Even on a gloomy day when no one was there, it felt congested. All the rides were stacked right next to each other. Rollercoasters lined up with other rollercoasters. It seemed jam-packed, and that was a negative not only because it made me feel claustrophobic, but the sounds of multiple rides running at the same time, in the same 20 feet radius made it seem even closer to each other.

But what I thoroughly enjoyed was the boardwalk. This part of Coney Island seemed relaxing. Music was playing (finally a noise other than mechanical wheels on a track), and tables were set out so that families can enjoy a quick snack. The shacks also had interesting designs on them. And another thing I thought was interesting were the garbage cans. All of them had pictures on them that were drawn abstractly, like the paintings at the front gate. The garbage cans (even though they seemed like a minor detail) really juxtaposed the mechanical, congested gloomy feel of the park. It added a great layer of personality to the park.

Reading Delirious New York and personally visiting Coney Island, I could see the similarities between my opinions of Coney Island the analysis behind Koolhaas’ history.  I felt in par with Koolhaas’ analysis that Coney Island was too congested, and it seemed like it was built to fast, and it amazed too many people who looked at it at a superficial level. Koolhaas even takes a majority of his “Coney Island” chapter to talk about the superficiality of destroying Coney Island’s nature, and then creating this man-made “nature.”


The inordinate number of people assembling on the inadequate acreage, ostensibly seeking confrontation with the reality of the elements (sun, wind, sand, water) demands the systematic conversion of nature into a technical service… the introduction of electricity makes it possible to create a second daytime…giving those unable to reach the water in the daytime a man-made 12 hour extension. (Koolhaas 35)


To take one look at Coney Island, I could easily be content with the variety of rides, and the amazing smells of the food, but after reading about its history, I could see that underneath all the commotion, Coney Island seemed very one dimensional. It offered nothing but congestion and rollercoasters. But there were some points that I didn’t find as accurate as Koolhaas stated. Coney Island itself had no aesthetic qualities, but the boardwalk connected to it did. Its colorful paintings really stood out, and created more of a relatable family park. When I visited that day, there was a model doing a photo shoot there, and I found it ironic that she actually used the boardwalk and beach section of Coney Island in her photo shoot rather than using the amusement park itself, since that was the main attraction.

Also what I found interesting was that the community adjacent to Coney Island was not at all emerged into the Coney Island theme, in fact it seemed very disconnected from that area. Once I got off the subway station, I could tell that the subway tracks that ran above ground separated what was the touristy and loud Coney Island from the quiet neighborhood of apartments. I could have easily observed an imaginary wall dividing these two distinct areas. It was a bit amusing to see the contrast, that as I crossed the street, one side was lined with “Coney Island stores” selling key chains, t shirts and picture frames, and the other was a ordinary, quiet community.

The culture of Coney Island was almost non-existent. I feel as though the amusement park was trying to preserve the old, glorious days of when the park just opened, while mixing it with the modern views of an amusement park, which made it more congested. Also, the culture of Coney Island comes from all the tourists that visit, and since tourists are never the same, its culture is based on something that is forever changing.

The High Line, however, was a complete contrast to Coney Island. The area was serene and quiet. The only sounds you could hear were the casual conversations of people enjoying the area or the bustling of the city below the park. No one was in a rush to go anywhere. Though the whole park seemed to be a bit repetitive, it served as a place of relaxation, something that people of all ages, could truly appreciate.

I entered through the 14th Street and 10th Avenue entrance, and right when I entered I immediately felt the serenity of the area. People were sitting around on the benches and at the tables enjoying a cup of iced tea, and just letting themselves absorb the atmosphere of the park. Children were running around with Popsicle sticks while adults were taking photographs of the different landscaping.

The city around the High Line was completely emerged with the park itself. There was not a trace of differentiation between them. The High Line ran through its neighborhood, and everyone seemed to enjoy both the housing apartments around the High Line, as well as the park. Unlike Coney Island where the community had nothing to do with the attraction, the High Line was literally in people’s backyards. Plants that were growing from the sides of the park, grew into people’s fences. While walking through the path, I could actually hear people’s conversations in the apartment buildings. The two were inseparable.

The High Line wasn’t as aesthetically decorated as Coney Island was. While Coney Island had the abstract paintings, the High Line focused on nature. Most of its artistic décor came from the plants, which was beautifully juxtaposed by the rather artificial New York City. The part that I found interesting was the seating areas that had a plastic screen in the front, which let visitors sit and watch the city as if it was on television. I thought that was a very clever idea to let visitors enjoy the serene nature of the park, while not losing the atmosphere of being in the heart of New York City. Also, the benches that were placed in the park were also a very interesting piece of art, because one side was a regular wooden bench, but the other side was curved, so that it connected with the floor. At first I didn’t understand what this was used for, but then I saw a child sliding down the bench, and I realized how artistic and child-friendly it was.

The only thing I found ironic was that there were strings put up around the landscaping and signs that were posted, saying “Protect the Plants, Stay on the Path.” I found this strange because the High Line was basically a very ancient railway system that was no longer used, and so all these plants and weeds were the results, and after people saw how natural and not artificial it was, they really enjoyed it. But yet they institutionalized it, into a way that it was in this imaginary glass case, just as if it were in a museum. It reminded me so much of the Fluxus movement, where the artists meant for it to be touched and experienced, but yet people these days want to protect it, which defeats it’s meaning.

Joel Sternfield comments on the High Line saying that it is unlike Central Park because it


… is really cosmetic in many ways. This is a true time landscape, a railroad ruin. The abandoned place is the place where seasonality resides. These little shoots-see this! This is the real look of spring.” (Sternfield 45)


I disagree with this slightly because even though the nature aspect of the park was definitely there, it feel as if people did institutionalize it and made it cosmetic, (not as much as Central Park though). There were signs also saying that they were “Lawn Closed for Restoration” which I saw as an insult to the park. The park was already beautiful as it was, why do people have a need to control how nature grows? Of course the seasons change, and so some plants die off, but then people feel like the park should always maintain a specific look to it, and that is what made it a bit superficial for me. But I would definitely have to say that I relate more to the High Line because it shows more genuine culture than Coney Island does.

Koolhaas, Rem. Delirious New York. New York: Monacelli Press, 1994. Print.

Gopnik, Adam. “A Walk on the High Line.” The New Yorker May 21, 2001: 44-49. Print.

Anti-Art…categorized as art? [Fluxus.]

Fluxbox Containing God

Fluxus, when I first heard of it, was something I thought I would never be interested in, partly because the idea seemed too contradicting, and the philosophy behind it (at that moment to me) seemed to go around in circles. It was suppose to go against art, but at the same time, it was art itself. So even if the artist was trying to relieve himself from that realm of categorization, it seemed like he was always stuck there, behind this perception, that people on the outside would always view it as art. But today after visiting the Grey Art Gallery, it really did open up my eyes about the Fluxus movement. Even though the visual art sense behind it didn’t really change my opinion, the philosophy and the thought process behind it really amazed me, because it’s very difficult for art (especially visual art) to make their viewers think about their own opinions, not just about that piece, but instead a whole spectrum of controversial topics. Of course art can have religion, politics and social etiquette involved, but with the Fluxus movement, I was especially interested in Ben Vautier’s Fluxbox Containing God, because it was subtle on his part about the meaning, but at the same time, people could interpret it anyways they wanted, due to their lifestyles (especially if they are religious/non religious). I’m not a very religious person, so what I thought of the piece was that there’s this good visual of religion itself that people seem to see (which would be concurrent with the Bible, as portrayed by the Victorian picture on the box), but yet the box is glued. Which I think means that people who follow religion really don’t understand the core of religion because it’s something that’s impossible to learn, but yet people paint a picture for themselves (and essentially some guidelines) to help them deal with the mysteries. And people can never open this box and find out if God is really in the box, which is analogous to people having faith and believing even if they aren’t exactly seeing.

Robert Watt

Another piece that I was interested by was the piece by Robert Watts, because it really did demonstrate the role changing in American society and how women were beginning to receive the same roles as men were, and that was very innovative and liberal at that time period, especially with the medium that Watts was using, which was essentially underwear. It really did take “She wears the pants in the family” to a whole new level. Even though I didn’t exactly agree with the art work, visually, I completely understood and agreed with Watt’s thoughts on sexuality in America and the exchanging of roles, as demonstrated by the cross dressing etc.

And my favorite part of the whole exhibit was the Event score, which was very open-ended and I thought it was so unique that an artist would give up his own power to visually impact you, and instead he’ll use his words so that you can create art to impact yourself. And I thought it was so liberal, because usually artists are very particular about what they put their own names to, but for the event score, it was all up to you, and I would have never thought of art to be so interactive, but at the same time individualistic. It was very neat.

I’m actually very glad that I went to the exhibit because the art really did convey a deeper meaning, but at the same time it was mixed with humor, wittiness and subtleties. It wasn’t exactly planned out, and I loved how it represented ordinary life, instead of painting picturesque pieces, because even if we don’t necessarily agree with the art work, it does relate to use one way or another, whether through everyday clocks, or doors that keep us safe, it holds a meaning to one person, that is only unique to that one person.