Monday, February 16, 2009

On Being Caught in a Daily Routine – A City Within the City

posted by Tara O'Con

We all have daily routines whether we are aware of them or not. Some routines go on for years, some maybe for months, weeks, or perhaps change every couple of days. For me, the Winter Garden at the World Financial Center is a convergence of daily routine rituals; performed by people from all walks of life in one place simultaneously. There are the business folk, staff from multiple cafes and restaurants, the store vendors, the nanny's with their little ones in tow, the construction workers from Ground Zero, the production staff, the security guards, and us–the artists. Within the confines of this vast, marble, and pillared landscape, one can meet so many daily routine criteria while on auto-pilot. I like to think that seeing us in the midst of our own daily routine (performing, rehearsing, running to get coffee or go to the bathroom in our mismatched rehearsal clothes) is a way to snap other people out of theirs. Even if only for a brief moment.

This environment manifests accessibility, even to the point of absurdity. Once you are in, you're in; there is no need to leave. On one hand, it is incredibly convenient and efficient–especially given the building's location (nestled behind the Ground Zero sight, accessible only via the subsequent foot bridge to the east, the Hudson River sprawled out a few feet away to the west). On the other, I find this place to be freakishly Orwellian.

Above video from Day #7 (Created by Tara O'Con) of Undercurrents & Exchange

The latter, was actually my first impression. The place totally freaked me out. However, a couple of weeks into rehearsing and performing, I am quite comfortable in with my own daily routine within the building. Now, I sort of flip between those two impressions. I find myself swept up in the energy of the space and that of the people who interact, or don't interact, within it. Other times, I am jolted by the nuances of this odd microcosm. Both continue to inform my performance experience and the work I make for the space.

We are making work and visual installations about unlikely pairings. How brilliant! Whether blatantly obvious, or hidden in the undercurrent, unlikely parings is exactly what makes this place function. Regardless of what we, the artists, bring into its environment of orderly chaos. The funny thing is, what defines an unlikely pairing in the Winter Garden depends on who you talk to.

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