My latest 60-second crush struck at a Diane Arbus exhbition at the Walker Art Centre in Minnepolis. We all know Diane Arbus for her pictures of freaks, right? Literally mid-century circus freaks and also assorted oddballs like female impersonators and the children of the extremely rich. But who knew that she took way more photos of ordinary New Yorkers? Except under her eye they manage to be both ordinary and slightly off — so much so that the freaks start to look normal and you start to get the creeps from the happy couples in Central Park.
This was the setting for my latest 60-second crush. I was on vacation, so I went on a weekday, thinking I’d drift idly through that and other exhibtions, unbothered by crowds. My prediction mostly came true, except that there was an entire school in attendance. Teenagers were everywhere, giggling at the tattooed lady and the naked midgets, but you could tell that some of them were secretly blown away by this sudden prospect of a whole other world where the camera gazed on everyone with the same cold eye, irrespective of sex, weight, amount of facial hair, or degree of beauty.
A tall lanky boy was crouched in a corner, as far from his classmates as he could possibly be. He was sitting on some steps and writing in a journal, furiously. He had on black pants, a dress shirt with a t-shirt over it, and–wait for it–one perfect long rosary around his neck. Oh, it slayed me.
Realizing that my latet 60-second crush had deposited me into the realm of the illegal, I moved on, to another exhibtion, by this guy called Cameron Jamie, who was not unlike Diane Arbus in that he was interested in the fringy subcultures of our day. He took photos and drew pictures of teenage wrestlers and people who put on haunted houses in New Jersey. One part of this exhibition was a mountain that you had to walk into — a room that had been outfitted so you felt like you were entering a cave. There was a path and some rock walls that quickly gave way to darkness. They gave you a flashlight but as you peeped in all you could see was pitch black. They told you that there were certain “works” inside. But they only let you go in one at a time. Not that I had anyone there with me to go mountaineering with, but the fact that they made you go it alone (and there was a guard there enforcing it) simultanously freaked me out and impressed the hell out of me. It was so dark that I had a little panic attack and didn’t go in. On my way home I thought:
1. Wow, there didn’t even have to be anything inside: the whole thing was unsettling enough that it made its point. But I wish I had seen what WAS inside there.
2. I suck.
3. Rosary Boy would have gone in.