Thursday, December 20, 2007

Red day

Late nights

The night before last, Gord lay awake, visited by the thinking-too-much demons. To bed later after 7 pm squash & 9 pm dinner, he just couldn’t turn it off. Last night it was my turn. There’s never a moment when there isn’t something to work out. At breakfast it’s how are we going to manage the pours? What if they’re not completely frozen?

At lunch it’s: Are the surfaces adhereing to the ice properly? At dinner, it’s observing the mysteries of the day: One corner of the plates isn't melting as quickly; they moved the buckets overnight, so that’s not a good space to keep them. Chaotic as it seems at The Fulton, they’ve definitely got a method.

Cab chits arrived; we need more buckets, a dustbin and a broom for the icy bits; a photographer is coming tomorrow. What’s happening Friday? More visitors - can we take someone off to make sure they arrive to our hidden location safely?

Gord and Patrick are constantly unraveling the particular details of the room and how it affects the freezing. There’s always a warm spot. No matter where you are, no matter how cold, the ice tells you where that spot is. In Fenestrelle (for the Turin Olympics ) it was the wall shared by the cafe.

Last night, we walked, a balmy winter night, over the river to Banderas, sat in the corner overlooking Michigan Avenue, Patrick was brimming with pride. “This has been a great day,” he beamed. His son had been accepted to NYU - with a scholarship. Briefly: are we Scrooges or do we like all the lights and Xmas music? The thought raced through my mind and quickly evaporated - I haven’t done a single thing for Christmas - and I probably won’t - there just isn’t enough time. Then, we were back to the warm spot, and how are we going to solve it?

Don’t get me wrong. It’s cold in that room. Deep within the building, it’s oddly quiet, too, in a sort of menacing way, the way extreme cold can be.

But the space below is a loading dock, open to the outside. And the theory is: the refrigeration is sucking all the heat of the room into itself, so the pours aren’t freezing from the bottom up. A solution: pallets under the plates to allow the air to circulate.

Not that you need to know what I lay awake thinking about. Saying the wrong thing. An inelegant choice of words.

My own myopic vision of whom is affected by what I see and state from my particular point of view.

The oddly reassuring conversation of the Egyptian cabbie. “When I was a boy,” he said, “Christians and Muslims lived together in peace. Now, I don’t understand how they can hate you for your beliefs.” he was clearly sad. A small picture of his two young children was taped to the dashboard. “How can they hate me for what I believe? As a boy, they were my friends. I just don't understand, I can’t go back.”

Wed. Dec 19th.

A red day.

And we get to meet Amit and his family at The Market. The warm room has a radiator where we rotate gloves every ten or fifteen minutes. A good system, especially when they’re wet. Angus Dei is playing out of the static radio on the table, heaped with an assortment of things from decades apart.

It’s afternoon. An eerie silence descends in this huge, frozen space, surrounded by boxes of Italian sausage, beek jerky and frog legs; so many creatures who have come to a halt here, boxed up and surrounded by shrink wrap.

Amit and his family have put on a holiday party in the office, which is just around one of the corners off the main loading dock. Amit and his legendary father, Nehemiah Hasak, who writes his name in my book, and who started the business, stand in front of the Christmas tree.

They are all from Israel, Etty met Amit in their village many years ago. They treat us like family, “Eat, eat.” Here I am with Etty and Malka Weiss (Etty's Mother) and Judith, Amit’s mother.

They engage with the crew in a discussion of the work. Judith is most intersted in how the paintings are made.

Tim, Ari, Gord, Patrick all chime in about the random nature of the paintings, how the ice is a force itself in the making of the work.

Amit is happy. An art project, completely out of the ordinary.“What more can we have now?” he says, pointing to the food they have lovingly prepared, “pork, chicken, beef . . .and you.”