on the side of the willis tower – downtown chicago – is affixed the atmospheric wave wall. created by the same artist whose rainbow bridge we loved at the milwaukee art museum, olafur eliasson’s piece is striking and imbues the colors of the lakefront – sky, clouds, water in all its moods.
in speaking about his piece, olafur – also a climate and community activist – says, “what we see depends on our point of view: understanding this is an important step toward realizing that we can change reality. it is my hope that this subtle intervention can make a positive contribution to the building and to the local community by reflecting the complex activity all around us, the invisible interactions and minute fluctuations that make up our shared public space.”
the steel catches the light of the sun. the piece seemingly shifts with the movements of everything around it, with time as time passes.
we have not yet seen it at night – lit from behind – but i imagine it is stunning – with light escaping from the intersection of the colored tiles. the places of light: in-between.
just as weird as it was to sit on the train it was equally with wonder to move freely about in the city – after all this time and so much that has happened in our country – sans innocence. it is with a bit of heightened awareness we move in the world now, though i don’t suppose heightened awareness helped any of the victims of the latest violent rages at the hands of angry out-of-control people. it is impossible to figure out why the wrong front door or the wrong driveway or the wrong ask-of-a-neighbor could elicit such unconscionably brutal responses.
we were driving to the grocery store. we took the route we usually take, a side street. two-thirds of the way down this road – before the traffic light – our attention was driven to a guy on the sidewalk, staring at us. brandishing something – we don’t know what – he flailed his arm around, pointing to the sidewalk, swinging, pointing, staring at us.
pre-whatever-phase-one-would-call-the-phase-that-this-country-is-in we probably wouldn’t have thought twice. we might have wondered what he was doing, might have wondered why he stared at us, might have pondered what he was brandishing. but we wouldn’t have been entirely creeped out and we wouldn’t have planned a different route home and, perhaps, a different route to our store for the continuing future. it felt like the place between was unsafe. and i find that devastatingly sad.
we live in a normal midwest town. only – i guess – not so much. our town is now known – in these last years of the more-unsafe-phase – for a plethora of events that have no light in-between. our small city is as broken as every other small city, as every other big city.
were there to be a wall of art to represent this phase of our world what colors would it be?
in his rush to get one of the coveted front spots at costco, the guy in the infinity cut me off in the parking lot. i parked in a different row, but watched as he got out of his car. he bent down and pulled out some kind of revolver, tucking it into the back waistband of his pants. then he walked into the store.
i must say – i haven’t ever felt a need to protect myself in costco. maybe from overspending, but never from violence. it was disturbing – almost to the point of turning around and going home – to know this guy was walking around – maybe getting a rotisserie chicken or ribs or a bottle of wine or eddie-bauer-sweats or glucosamine-in-bulk – with some big handgun in his pants. i told d about my reticence to go into the store.
we have a code word for anytime we are in a situation that suddenly feels unsafe. post-parade-massacres, post-grocery-store-shootings, post-concert-devastation, post-festival-tragedies, post-school-maulings – post-all-of-it and in the middle of all of it – we know to drop everything and get out or get away if either of us senses danger. no questions asked. no lingering. just go.
it is without light in-between that this country has come to this point. the intersections of peoples and genders and ethnicities and belief systems and economic statuses and, apparently, any differences whatsoever, seem to have no light. they are not backlit nor are they reflective of the sun streaming over this land.
“our shared public space.” shared. from sea to shining sea.
how do we create the invisible interactions and minute fluctuations of a safe shared public space? how – in a country that seems to have insidious anger and no shortage of violence – do we find the light in-between us? because “we can change reality”.
read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY
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