One of my favorite moments at the New York residency was listening to a Justin Bieber song – twice. I waited for the second loop to hear again a rendition of “Under the Mistletoe” by six teenagers in matching semi-formal outfits singing at an at-home holiday party. It was part of a refreshing “electronically mediated” video installation Plymouth Rock (2011) by 28-year-old artist Trisha Baga at the Whitney. The artist set up a landscape of small standing objects from everyday life, and across them projected an easy-moving video around a trip to the oddly enshrined Plymouth Rock. An occasional fingernail polished-hand appeared in front of the camera, along with a curser. I realized later that I had seen another work by the artist the day before over at PS1 in the “New Pictures of Common Objects” show there. One of my classmates, Patricia, beckoned me into the room. We donned 3D glasses and laughed as a floating cube appeared in middle of the room. This time I was the one putting my hand out.
There were other rewarding moments: one was running into artist Diana Cooper (one of my artist-mentors from graduate school) at her solo show at Postmasters in Chelsea. Another was seeing some of the most forceful sculptures I’ve seen in a long time of tribal, masculine figures and masks by another young female artist, Huma Bhabha from Northern Pakistan (they were constructed from Styrofoam packing material). Called “Unnatural Histories,” it reminded me that other parts of the world are embroiled in war in territories that have been contested since ancient times. Also at PS1 was Turkish artist Ferhat Özgür’s I Can Sing (2008), in which a woman in a heavy coat and head-scarf awkwardly mouths Tim Buckley’s famous track “Hallelujah” in front of soon-to-be finished high-rise apartments. Later, I chanced upon one of those shocking scenes of Pasolini’s Salò in a makeshift theatre on the first floor that was featuring his life’s work. Best of all was lying on a wooden bench cooled by the winter air and looking up at the magical light of James Turrell’s “Meeting.” Sharing the moment with two close friends, I met a satellite moving across the sky… Now that I’m in my second year at IDSVA, I ask myself “how has reading philosophy changed me?” Maybe it is appreciating more deeply the wonder of art, even in a Justin Bieber song.