Author: Melissa Duchan

Outside Arts Event: The Irish Hunger Memorial

Originally we had intended to go to the Museum of Feelings, however due to the 1.5 hour wait we opted to go to the nearby Irish Hunger Memorial instead. This memorial is truly a hidden gem; it is hardly talked about as a central tourist attraction but its design is incredibly interesting. It is also interactive: you can read the quotes along the exterior and walk on top of or through it. It’s a mixture of modern themes and old fashioned rock construction. It also makes a point not just about Irish hunger but about global hunger through the quotes on the walls. This message was in stark contrast to the grandeur and luxury condos of the nearby World Trade Center and downtown area.


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Snapshot Exhibit

The G train coming into Smith-9th Street station, the most elevated in the country

The G train coming into Smith-9th Street station, the most elevated in the country

This was the photo I entered into the snapshot exhibit. I feel it encapsulates the excitement of the train coming into the station, especially with the iconic downtown skyline beckoning in the distance. It is also the highest station in the nation which provides an overall feeling of thrill. I am being unusually brief because I feel the photo speaks for itself. I went out of my way to get a shot like this as I live in Marine Park, in southeast Brooklyn quite far and hard to access from the Gowanus area where Smith 9th is located. I am proud of the results of my effort and feel it was worth it.

Here is the link to my tweet about the actual event on Nov. 22:

Henry IV

Henry IV at St. Ann’s Warehouse was a distinctly different experience than the opera and the ballet. While both the opera and the ballet had a highly formal atmosphere and followed past formulas quite closely,  this performance of Henry IV deviated significantly from the expectations of a Shakespeare play. I appreciated the all-women cast (after all, Shakespeare used to be performed only by men, so why not let women have a turn?) but the setting, a women’s prison, seemed a shaky premise to me.  Besides the fact that this premise did not provide any additional substance to the overall plot, it was not evenly maintained throughout the show. Large intervals would pass until the guards would intercede in some altercation, reminding the audience that it was a prison after all.

Although I saw no reason why the play had to take place in a women’s prison, I did find the overall performance to be engaging and pleasantly offbeat. The austere environment (especially in contrast to the opulence of Lincoln Center) and smaller theater provided an intimacy to the show that was not present at Lincoln Center. Adding to this intimacy were the moments in which the actors directly interacted with audience members which also provided comic relief.

Opera Reflections

The opera is another one of those events, like the ballet, that I would likely not have gone to had it not been for Macaulay. I’m not going to lie; I didn’t find the opera instantly compelling like the ballet. I think it’s an acquired taste and it’s definitely a hard genre to get used to when much of my and my peers’ entertainment comes from 6 second videos. However, as the performance progressed the drama mounted to a jarring climax. I found the opera more and more interesting as the drama increased. The cruelty of Cavaradossi’s pursuers made me indignant as if it was a modern day injustice unfolding right in front of my eyes at Lincoln Center. I secretly hoped that Cavaradossi and Tosca would really get their happily ever after story the whole time even though I had a nagging feeling that it wouldn’t be that easy. The audience was rapt when the opera came to its dramatic close with the suicide of Tosca, and so was I.

Ballet Reflections

Thursday night made me really thankful that I’m in Macaulay. Although I try not to take the abundance of culture and exciting things to do that we have available in NYC for granted, without Macaulay I doubt that I would have gone to the ballet. And now that I’ve gone I’m really glad to have had that opportunity. The first two acts were romantic and elegant, as would be expected of a ballet; but the real standout was the final act, The Green Table. It was quite dark for a generally romantic and pleasant genre, but perhaps the fact that it defies the usual expectations of ballet was what made it so memorable. It announced its overtly political and antiwar stance from the first minute. The curtains were pulled back to reveal the dancers dressed up as old white male diplomats gathered around a green table, portraying the charade of international negotiations.  Tellingly, the green table was shaped like a coffin. Before long, the attempt at diplomacy degenerated into chaos and bloodshed.  One dancer fired an extremely disarming and shocking shot from a makeshift gun, heralding the breakdown of the talks. The act proceeded to depict all the suffering that occurs in war. The juxtaposition of the elegant and limber moves of the ballerinas with the heavy subject of the ballet only made the show all the more compelling. The images of the night will be embedded in my mind for a long time.

Brooklyn Museum Reflections

At Night at the Museum, I ended up in a group sort of organically because my group needed an extra person. I didn’t know anyone in my group because none of them were from the Brooklyn campus, so I got to meet new people. The first work that we recorded our reaction to was an ancient Egyptian gold headpiece. We remarked how it seemed very contemporary despite its age due to its obvious intention as a status symbol, indicating that some parts of human nature remain constant throughout the ages. After roaming through the Egyptian section, we proceeded to the American Identities collection. There was a smaller enclosed room within the gallery reminiscent of a temple. Enshrined within the room were comic book style icons of American culture. However, more telling was the phrase inscribed in Latin on the back wall of the temple which roughly translated to “nothing lasts forever.” This was a great example of the role of art as a kind of wake up call and reminder of the fragility of nationalism and global domination. The Latin also evoked the downfall of ancient Rome, which at the time was also seen as an invisible and omnipotent empire. I thought the inscription was an honest counterargument to the rampant nationalistic slogans and illusions of being an eternal power that can be found in the media. I thought that overall the ability to roam the museum unhindered by the presence of so many other people and tourists was an eye opening experience.