Monday, November 23, 2009

Below and Beneath

A few glimpses of the chasms beneath our sidewalks and beneath our feet. First the brightly lit, oddly warm and inviting room beneath this sewer drain. It was cold and dusky and I think this was under 5th Avenue as I walked home from work a few weeks ago. The golden light is so much like the one that glows from the Gap or J. Crew right there.

On the other hand this enormous open pit on a platform at Broadway/Lafeyette was pretty scary even though it was tightly locked up in its big blue box. Some kinds of holes feel like their emptyness is going to jump up and grab you.

And of course I always notice the Subway grates from above. Especially if there's a beautiful blue puddle inside.

But this was the first time I'd noticed the blue sky shining down from above the sidewalk grates. So beautiful -- though a little uncanny -- seeing the outside so flimsily separated from the underground.

Bumper Crop

It's Ginkgo season again! These fragrant berries must be New York City's foremost agricultural offering. I mean, you don't see anyone gathering Callery Pears or pigeon eggs. I wonder how far ahead of time this lady sets the orange cone out.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Park construction

The new phase of the Washington Square Park unnecessary (but are all the lawsuits and all the reporting in the Villager really necessary either?) makeover means the playground is wrapped in fencing and then wrapped again in mesh. For some reason it's really disorienting to be inside, the whole place looks different.

But there is something nice about the view of Judson Church through the mesh.

And it's really nice when you put your face right up to it. Mesh-fence moire.

Meanwhile, over on Lafayette there's a new pocket park being built, with lots and lots of chain link and orange caution fencing.

There's something about the construction zone and the green space being one and the same that's sort of nice. And all being overseen by the enormous woman in the left corner.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Styrene Fantastic in the Park

Here's video of our happening in Prospect Park the other day. It seems sidewalks-relevant since it's in the park. Starring Lydia Bell, Mieke Duffly and Josh Rowe. Apologies to those hordes of readers who follow both blogs!

Coming soon: Things that lurk beneath the city! (maybe)

Monday, August 17, 2009

In praise of the Tree Pit

A rhapsody on tree pits -- the urban answer to the lawn. (But aren't the stoop, the park, and the hell strip also the urban lawn? you rightly ask -- yes, yes, all in good time.)

Of course, I love street trees, but I'm not talking about the tree right now. Today I'm celebrating the pit itself.

The way they can be meticulously landscaped, totally covered, whimsically fenced or simply a 36" x 36" square of dust cut out of the sidewalk. Surrounded by stones, littered with trash, planted with flowers. They're almost as varied and individual as the citizens and workers and citizen workers who maintain them.

Although perhaps most of all, I love the pure ugliness of the name. Tree Pit. There's no beauty or romance in that name, just macho city grime. Maybe we need to hide our green behind the language of urban blight so we don't lose our edge.

Tree pit. Tree pit. Tree pit.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Stop the war on clutter!

There’s so much smugness out there about simplifying and paring down. All those self-improvement reality shows that begin with throwing away all your clothes or all your furniture or both. I have a friend who says that for every new possession you need to get rid of five old things.

And it is very satisfying to go through your stuff and get rid of things. It gives me a great sense of accomplishment to fill boxes or bags with stuff I don’t need and get it out of my life. Such moral clarity.

But lately I’ve been thinking it’s a really easy virtue. The hard thing would be to stop consuming, but paring down or ending clutter usually means buying more stuff.

I propose we try to live by a much harsher moral imperative. Keeping everything we consume, including the packaging.


Monday, May 4, 2009

In Artforum

There's a nice piece by Claudia La Rocco about the Movement Research Festival's Recessional up at

It has a great picture of Mieke's shockingly dirty feet:

and ends with me and Josh talking about dance as visual art:

It’s unclear what sort of bridge results from an event like “Recessional.” But at Rachel Uffner's gallery down the street, an alluring synergy bloomed between Josh Blackwell's whimsical works on paper depicting colorful items of clothing and The Styrene Fantastic, a work by Lizzie Scott for two female performers, who alternately hoisted and flopped on their unwieldy Styrofoam-filled garments.

“It’s interesting to see the interaction between my static work and something kinetic,” Blackwell said. Nodding emphatically, Scott added, “It’s where art needs to go: to take into account all that has happened in dance in the past fifty, or one hundred, years.”

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Introducing The Styrene Fantastic Blog

The first Styrene Fantastic performance is tomorrow. The project has already grown so big it's taking up the whole sidewalk, so I'm moving it to a new home, The Styrene Fantastic blogsite.

We're all still family, so Sidewalks will still be getting updates from Styrene. But this is the place to find pictures of fences and drains and sidewalks (and styrofoam in drains on sidewalks) and The Styrene Fantastic is the place to look for performance videos, photographs, updates and other documentation.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

A little Non-dancer Dance Practice

My dance costumes are coming along, here's an unfinished "Fainting Couch" modeled by me, non-dancer extraordinaire.

The Styrene Fantastic will premiere at Rachel Uffner Gallery on Sunday April 26th, as part of the Movement Research Festival

Friday, March 20, 2009

styrene fantastic coming to Movement Research Spring Festival

Save the date:

Sunday, April 26th

Styrene Fantastic
world premiere performance

at Rachel Uffner Gallery

as part of Roll Call, the Movement Research Spring Festival

Good Fences

I just wanted to give a shout out to the Parks Department for the loving care they give to mending their fences.

Look at how many kinds of fence there are in one 3-foot stretch. Wrought iron, chain link and those wooden slats that arrive in big rolls on the back of Parks Department trucks. I can't decide if this is one complex fix or several attempts to correct the problem.

This one is hard to spot, but it's the most exquisite fence-mending. Two thin, hand-twisted wires spanning the gap horizontally.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Barbies Dance the Styrene Fantastic

A performance (starring the styrofoam) danced en maquette. Actual performance and performers coming soon -- stay tuned for details!

"Fainting Couch"

"Fainting Couch" in action

"Bench" and "Fainting Couch"


And be sure to stick around for the after party!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Rescue Mission in Park Slope!

On Saturday while walking across the park to the bank I suddenly saw this on Garfield Place:

All this clean white styrofoam in the trash! I know the city picks up Christmas trees, but it doesn’t recycle styrofoam. I am actually quite self-conscious about trash picking, but this was too much to let go. Also, way too much to carry in my hands.

So after depositing my checks, I had to do a quick calculation: would buying plastic garbage bags just to carry styrofoam home offset the good done by rescuing it?

But of course, I’m not really saving the planet, I’m saving styrofoam! So I bought recycled plastic bags, but art was always going to win this battle anyway. I would have bought bottled water if that was going to help me get this sweet styrene into my studio!

On the way back to the site, I was so excited my heart was pounding. I was sure someone else would beat me to it, and that my styrofoam would be gone.

Not only was it still there, it seemed to have spawned.

Walking across the park was also a nice little performance piece**. Everyone stared at me, one woman stopped me to ask what it was -- it’s funny that carrying styrofoam turns out to be more provocative than crawling around a subway grate in knee pads.

**Interaction is my preferred word for this kind of piece, actually.

Happy Newish Year!

Some celebratory aftermath in Prospect Park -- the lovely shadows of the firework fences on the path around the long meadow, and a little accidental painting -- confetti and silly string fused to the asphalt.

Happy 2009!