So this is it. The last day. The last piece. The last outfit. The last blog entry. I decided ahead of time to make this piece out of a beautiful piece of red stretch wool I had picked up a few weeks ago. I wanted it to be simple. I chose red because a woman in a red dress is always striking and it carries with it so many connotations. I also wanted to shout a tiny call out to Jill Magid's piece where she wears the red trench coat and allows herself to be tracked by a surveillance team. None of this is important really, but I figured it was worth mentioning. I also had decided early on that I would take the day to go up to the top of the Empire State Building, as I have never been in all of the years that I have lived here in New York. I even used to work in the area and walked by every day for approximately six years. I cannot believe I waited this long to do this. Perhaps it was so potent because I had been quarantined to my studio and Brooklyn for the past 31 days, but I was utterly awed by the scope and perspective at that height overlooking this mind-numbingly massive feat of human ingenuity. I have come to appreciate this city this year, in ways I hadn't in the past, but this brought me to a different level. I wavered back and forth from overwhelming physical and emotional reactions. As I looked over the edge to the concrete below, I could feel the inner walls of my organs quiver with a carnal fear and intense awareness of death. But then my mind would distract as it tried to wrap itself around the sheer immense volume - volume of bodies, volume of cement, volume of everything. All of these bodies stacked one on top of another in these buildings, acting as one, but each with some individual creed, drive, desire, dream. The buildings, these stanchions of power without grace and generators of energy, how easy it is when you are at ground level to forget the absolute mammoth nature of the giant buildings, what feats of strength, engineering, and commitment they are. One would think you would have the opposite reaction, feeling the presence more from the ground, but seeing them from above, it seemed much more obvious to me. I was also struck by the flatness of such massive dimension, again calling attention to how far I actually was from the texture and weathered surface of these totems. Did I feel pride for these geometric giants, compact and cohesive in their ancient grayness? Watching the cars and people on the streets below, I could have traveled back in time to the essence of what New York is, to its representations and manifestations through time that have always reached desperately towards encapsulating its incredible power. Even just walking the perimeter of the observatory felt a little like time travel, five steps could give you an entirely different view and perspective. You could travel 50 city blocks by craning your neck. This was better than flying. I will say that I might have been the only one there actually looking. Everyone else seemed to need to view it all through their camera lens or iphone screen. If there is one thing I do not like about technology (and let's be honest, there are many, but this one is worrisome), it is when people fail to live an experience, as they are too busy scrambling helplessly to cling tightly to a representation of the exact moment that is passing them by. As if it will help them to remember it, or memorialize it and make it more potent as it is recorded. That being said, I did ask the guard what the quietest time of day is and he said 1:00am (apparently it is open until 2:00am, and I think I saw a sign that says there is jazz at midnight some nights. What? If you can't find me, surely this is where I will be). Sometimes 8:00am is quiet too, he said.
So to come full circle here, I wasn't entirely sure why I wanted to go do this today, on this last day, to commemorate the completion, but it became apparent once I was up there. Seeing this city from its namesake landmark, and from 1,050 feet up in the air, brought light to what we are capable of as human beings. If you are feeling hopeless about humanity, feeling as though we are only destructive pests, go to the top of the Empire State Building. It could possibly remind you that we do incredible deeds, that we can conceive and build entire empires with our measly bodies and hands. It might remind you that, yes we are animals and can do evil on one another, but we can also imagine the impossible and bring dreams into reality. Some day, New York will be ruins, and future generations will look back at what we had done and wonder how we were able to persevere without certain technologies that don't exist yet. And the future will marvel at this present, and forget about all of our neglect. My act was humbled by these thoughts, but I was still proud of the gesture, as it felt a little like an homage to this energy and drive that exists within us all to build something spectacular and outlandish.
Sometimes I look at my family as an Empire. The scale of perception can vary, what you behold as valuable is up to you, and kings and queens are only a state of mind.
Thank you all for reading, thank you for your support in all of its manifestations. I hope that I have inspired some sort of something in some of you, that you take something away from this, as that is the best I can hope for when I put something like this out into the world. I love you all and I am grateful.