Wooden Idols

Wooden Idols, New York City 2012

Wooden Idols, New York City 2012

Just off The Bowery, these wooden mannequins were lined up outside a store – perhaps waiting for clothes, or some dinner. They were gone the next day.

Mattress LES: D. Johnstone, New York City 2010

Mattress LES: D. Johnstone, New York City 2010

“We have so much to unlearn here”

These words were scrawled in black magic marker on a discarded mattress in the street on the Lower East Side of New York City. It had been a dismal rainy day and the grey mise-en-scène echoed an industrial mayhem straight out of Dickens – full of despair and the promise of depravity lurking around every corner.

I’m always amazed by the contradictions of New York City – the über urban landscape sheathed in decay and metamorphosis. Who would think that while walking down a street in the Lower East Side that one would see poetic words scrawled on an old, discarded mattress; “We have so much to unlearn here”.

I envision a broken, forlorn, soul, evicted from his tiny East Village apartment, dumping possessions into the street that cold not be quickly or easily moved on his back. In a state of despair, he records the finality of his thoughts on an old mattress that now, serves as a cultural marker and I – questing for meaning – take a picture of it with my phone. I now hold a record of this marker in the palm of my hand. Has the status of the object has been changed? Is it the mad reflection of a soul gone to Hell? Is it the collective unconscious played out in a physical state? Is it poetic? Is it art? Or is it simply the whim of a passerby who happened to have a black magic marker in her pocket?

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