Monday, March 13, 2006

Art that I get
It's safe to say that for the most part, I don't get art. I mean, I like pretty pictures and all. But as far as "getting" it, I generally don't.

Friend C and I went to the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) while I was in NYC. It was fabulous. Admittedly, most of the exhibits and photos and paintings and sculptures, I just don't get. It's artistic on a level that is beyond my wee brain. It's fun and pretty to look at. I enjoyed it.

But it makes no sense.

There was one room full of scribblings on shards of paper from lots of different artists. I'm pretty sure I scribbled a lot of the same stuff when I was a kid, and my mom hung this type of stuff on the fridge. If only she had thought to turn it in to the MoMA, I'd be a famous artist by now.

I just don't get why some of that stuff is "art". I can scribble with the best of them, ya know? As far as I know, none of my scribblings are in demand or worth any money.

But, one really cool thing that we saw was this. The link isn't for MoMA, but this exhibit is now at MoMA. It's called The Brown Sisters, and it is a series of 24 photos of the same four sisters, in the same order in each photo, over 24 years, documenting their aging.

I'm fascinated with anything "sistery". I miss sistery in unimaginable ways sometimes, and sometimes I don't know when that will strike. I could have stared at these 24 photos for a lot longer than I did, which would have thoroughly bored Friend C. But it would have been therapeutic for me to pore over each photo in detail.

It was just cool for me to see these four sisters for each of these 24 years, and how they changed. Whoever thought up this project is genius, whether it was the photographer himself, or someone else. I think it is something we should all have of our own families. Intentional togetherness documented for as long as possible.

In a way, we do this. We take photos at Christmas of our families. Or other special occasions. But sometimes we forget. Or sometimes one person is missing. And it's not intentional. We don't really capture that time. We're not necessarily preserving a memory or creating something to last. We're just trying to use up a roll a film or make the obligatory Christmas card.

In just a few feet of space you could see dramatic changes in each sister from the first year or two to the last years. Towards the end of the row of pictures, it almost gets hard to recognize the faces as the same faces from the beginning photo. But the eyes are the same in each.

I wondered what was going on at the time of each photo. Hard times for one sister? Good times for all? Was this just a project for them, were they just subjects on film? Or did it mean something to each of them?

I look at photos of my sister and me, and she never changes. Turning 30 this year, I've been thinking a lot about age. I will continue to age. I've aged 7 years since the last possible time my sister and I were photographed together. But she will never age. We'll never have another photo together.

She's always 21 in my dreams. She looks the same when I think about her or when I "see" her. But I get older. We're not two years apart anymore. It just doesn't match. It doesn't feel right.

24 years of photos together is really amazing and beautiful.

And that's the kind of art I can get.


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