the difference for me between movie blockbusters and art blockbusters: with movies, i never believe the hype. when it’s an nyc exhibition, i am rarely disappointed.
i have been trying to get to the rain room since it opened in may, and friday was finally the day. it was beautiful weather for line waiting, which i knew i would have to do… when i got there, the line just to get inside was 3 hours long (the museum was closing before that time was up). luckily, that day they had implemented a line that allowed admission, but only along the outside of the rain. that wait was only 45 minutes and since i was already there, i figured that’d be my best bet. the weather was beautiful and the wait ended up being less. once inside, i was overwhelmed by the sound; it was like the perfect, rainy day, steadily clattering against a perfect window pane. it was cool and dark… perfect bass, perfectly engineered drops… and the light at the head of the room illuminated each person inside, haloed perfectly in rainbows. though not in the rain, i was completely enchanted.
for those of you that aren’t familiar, the piece has sensors, so that it doesn’t rain where you are standing… you are in the rain, without protection, but not getting wet. upon seeing my excitement, the security guard on duty came over to chat. she said that a lot of people haven’t been able to experience the exhibit because of the ridiculous wait time, exacerbated by the absence of a time limit for visitors. (in the time i was watching from the outside, the same group was taking the same photos over and over, while the entrance line looked on angrily and impatiently.) we laughed a bit about some of the photo poses… and then she suddenly lifted the rope and nodded, sneaking me right into the rain. i was nervous, as the angry, waiting mob clearly saw the maneuver, so i went in too fast and got a little wet - the sensors take a second to work - but once i got the hang of it, it was nothing short of amazing. it was like stepping inside a fairy tale. had it not been for the super nice security guard, i wouldn’t have been able to experience that. (kindness is a good universal key for opening seemingly locked doors.)
on saturday, i went to see james turrell’s ‘aten reign’ at the guggenheim, which was rather ambitious, as it had only opened the day before. we got there about an hour early, but the hot wait was beyond well worth it. it was quite possibly, my favourite art experience ever. the gentle, gradual hue and saturation changes elicited every emotion. at the risk of sounding cheesy, i literally laughed, and a few tears did gather. i remember going to see meeting, a james turrell piece at ps.1, when i first moved here… it is obviously less controlled, as it is dependent on the weather and time of day, but the effect was similar. he’s a genius.
at one point, when the hues turned a deep, cool purple, one of the docents approached me… i was laying back - looking up, completely immersed in the light meditation… she startled me ‘have you seen your skirt?!’ from the way she said it, i thought it was on fire… i looked down and it kind of was… the bright stripes of my skirt were glowing neon. i looked around to find everyone else staring at me as well; save a pair of shoes and two ladies with bright tank tops, i was the only one glowing. it was an amazing moment and i felt more than a little special. after that, i stood up and focused on the people and objects around me as the light changed… it was awesome to see the way the light enhanced and manipulated colours.
beyond that, all i can say is GO. go to both. even if you don’t care much for the art world… both ‘rain room’ and ‘aten reign’ will rock yours.