Sunday, March 10, 2013

Me Watching Them Watching Her

by Leann

This past Friday, my daughter, who is a performance artist in NYC, had a unique experience to offer the world via live stream and, without getting on an airplane, I got to watch it all--as did many New Yorkers who happened to pass by. It's called Rooftop Dance At the Window at 125--

There is an archive on the site but we're talking durational art. Long. So I will describe what I saw. As I mentioned, it was live-streaming all day Friday--from 8 in the morning until 8 in the evening. My daughter was in a little black room, no bigger than a closet, with a window that looked out onto a busy NYC street. 12 other artists each have a day when it is their turn to produce a duration piece.

My daughter chose to fill the space with not only movement but by drawing  a unique mural on the three walls that the onlookers could see. She wore black and white stripes and slowly adorned the walls in black and white with what looked to be ladders and lightbulbs in perspective leading down and illuminating an imaginary floor below. At times you couldn't tell where she began and the walls ended.

As we all watched, she constructed the mural, taking great pains to measure, draw and tape sections of art to the walls--and interspersing drawing with dance and music and movement. And then, she carefully began to deconstruct what she'd created. I found this so fascinating because, as a writer, I construct a story, deconstruct it in an outline so I can write it, then reconstruct it on the page. It is the way of art, but until I watched what she was doing, I was never aware on a conscious level that this was what I was doing. The mother learns from the child. I like it.

I was completely fascinated by the people walking by who stopped to watch. For the most part, my daughter was emerged in her work and paid no attention. Many were fascinated by what she was doing, some seemed confused, some looked like stalkers (I was a little worried at one point) and then, toward the end of the day, there were these three guys. I couldn't hear their words but it was obvious they were making fun of what she was doing--at least if I read their body language correctly. What a metaphor. So many times, I feel as if other crime writers make fun of the cozy mystery. It's not "good enough." It's not "serious enough." It's "fluff." And yet we cozy writers smile and keep true to our work. Many of us offer the world great insight into that person next door who isn't quite trustworthy. It's all there between the lines.

What my daughter did in response to those three young men, who were apparently laughing at her, made me so proud. She made eye contact and she smiled. She interacted with warmth. They backed off--but then they came back. She struck the most amazing dance pose. To my eye it spoke of shyness, humility and a pulling inward. They left. She had touched them and made them think about their behavior without saying a word.

You see why I love her so? Yes, proud mother has spoken. :-)