Saturday, November 28, 2009

Get your rocks-off!...NY is simply [bike] pornographic

I've already confessed to fetishising bikes so finding NYC absolutely titillating will come as no surprise.

Mayor Bloomberg's award-winning work has made the five boroughs easy for cyclists , (I assume for the fact that one would need to be rich/mad/ostensibly patient to even consider driving) which means that NY is now awash with bicycles.

A bike is moored to a post every few metres. Each has its unique character: some are bawdy and over the top, others technological perversities; there are elegant fixies, and sissy bars and banana saddles galore.

Beyond simply painting the tarmac green and hoping for the best, the City has constructed dedicated bike lanes that isolate cyclists from other traffic. It means the chances of being run off the road by an angry bus or cab are lower and cyclists are guarded from surprise 'clothesline-style' dismounts (opening-car doors frighten the hell out of me).

Glorious pedestrian-free lanes that safely deliver over bridges, maps, bike fashion parades, guitar-shaped bike racks, bike clubs, big signs, greenways - not just being utilised by the slightly mad and fit, but by Nannas, business people, students, littler kids. Almost everybody in NYC is riding a bike - hallelujah!

[This said, the fact that I saw at most two people wearing stack hats was a little worrying, the whole ' I don't have to wear a helmet - you can make me' ethos must be firmly entrenched in the Bill of Rights...somewhere.]

Sydney could have all this and more. And while progress is being made, it is excruciatingly slow. People are still not confident enough to commute, when it comes to creating bike infrastructure it absolutely must be case of 'build it and they will come'.

We all know that bikes can save the world - obesity, peak oil, emissions, mental health etc. etc. - yet there is still widespread resistance. Silly duffers on Burke street protesting because they'll lose their car spot and obstructionist 'can't-do, won't-do' attitudes from unimaginative councillors means that rather than burgeoning into a progressive cosmopolitan city, Sydney will inevitably be known as a dirty, congested cesspit of a city. Particularly as the population swells in numbers (and size - yes, I mean fatter).

It's a calamity. But not hopeless. Doing your bit is easy.

1. Get your rocks-off with bike porn for a little inspiration - I will upload the best of mine and there is more here
2. Get on yer' bike (especially all those duffers spending thousands of dollars on 'Boot-Camp' every morning - if you just rode to work your bum would be hard within weeks, you'd get to sleep in, save money and not undergo ritual public humiliation)
3. Have a whinge

Enjoy. And sincere apologies to my NY colleagues, pausing every few metres while I took pictures of bikes must have been really, really annoying - but you'll be 'right ;)

Thursday, November 12, 2009

New York By Peer Review - Jesse Presley Jones

Irish Artist and current fellow at the Location One artspace, Jesse Presley Jones is another peer of Dan Cass, with whom I reviewed New York City.

As far as I could tell, Dan and Jesse met in Coober Pedy while shooting a film that was an adaptation of a Bertolt Brecht play. I have to admit I hadn't heard of Jesse or her art before but the Whisper Choir she conducted in Bucharest looked intriguing.

Jesse had been in New York for about a week - so not really a Phyllis-type experience but a great one nonetheless. An Irish artist, I met her at her Soho studio in the Location One artspace. As I walked in I was greeted by angry Richard Bell art - which was even more pointy taken out of the Australian context and dropped into NYC. It made Australia feel like a silly (racist) pimply teenager.

Anyways, Jesse and I meandered East over toward Bowery and the New Museum.

There's nothing like a gaudy artspace to help bond with an artist. It was the loudest, screechiest, over-done art gallery space I have ever been to in my whole entire life. Though it did give us something to tak about.

It's a pretty controversial space. Though no-one can doubt that it has been beautifully built, the heavy involvement of curators in the process has made the space feel like a five-year old chucking a tanty in a supermarket. The building screams attention and detracts from the works.

This was most offensive on the top floor where there was some great installation video art. But instead of being able to quietly sit-down and watch and attempt to 'get' it, the bloody door kept screeching open for the endless thoroughfare of people trying to get in and out of the room.

Having given-up, we had a coffee and checked-out the book store (which was by far the highlight of the whole experience) - which was kinda cool, Jesse kept pointing out books made by friends of hers and one where she herself featured. Needless to say, I was super impressed.

We headed-out and cruised the Bric-a-Brac, street art and cemetaries. Jesse gave some insight into how New York (calm and well-behaved) compared to Dublin (angry and a bit mental). It was also really interesting meeting an artist who was completely 'normal'. Not a skinny jean, hipster do, abnoxious iconic t-shirt or word of wank at all - it really made me think how freaking weird and pretentious the Sydney art scene actually is.