I'm guessing that the Gates will be the most photographed things in New
York since, well since what was left of the WTC became a tourist
attraction. They are actually very difficult to photograph.
There is a sheen on the fabric that reminds me of the oil on leaves
that creates glare if you aren't careful. And of course, waving
around as they do, they are never really the same. I'm sure
that's part of the concept. But there is something else that
makes them difficult to photograph, and that is - let me try and figure
I first saw the Gates, before the curtains came down. I had a sense of
joy and amazement. From a photographers point of view, they were
great because you could use them to frame things in the park that had
never been framed. And they felt very, New York. The
grid. The typical New York building. Same basic shapes.
On the second day, the fabric was unfurled. This was not exactly
awe-inspiring. There was a lot of excitement. The fabric
had been rolled up on a cardboard tube, like the inside of a roll of
toilet paper. There was some sort of tape with a loop in it that
held the roll in place. A mighty brigade of Gates trainers came
by, and with a pole with a hook grabbed a loop and pulled the tape, and
the cardboard tube dropped out like the cork from a bottle of flat
champagne, and the crowd cheered.
Little kids were allowed to handle the poles and open some of the Gates.
By my third day (2nd with the curtains down), I was getting bored with
the whole thing. Yes, it was an event. It was a great
once-in-a-lifetime event. But like other once-in-a-lifetime
events that I have attended, such as a wedding or two - it began to
bore me. And not only bore me, but annoy me; a minor sort
of irk, the way the little orange cones had annoyed me in the beginning.
What is hard to show in pictures is that it is the gargantuan nature of the
project that is the essence of the art. It is not the Gates
themselves; it is idea of the Gates. The audacity. In fact, after
seeing them for the second day, I came back to my little abode and
began to think about the monstrous ego that must be behind such a work.
New Yorkers - well, if the guy in the Deli can get my sandwich order
straight - I'm happy. If the subway does what it was
designed to do once
in a while. But to pierce the park with 7500 vinyl covered gates,
the exact same color, in the middle of Winter? This is ego on a
scale... difficult to imagine.
Who are these guys? How do they come into my city with their
orange agenda? Did they ask permission of New Yorkers? Yes,
yes, yes. The mayor will go for anything that attracts
tourists. Fine. No big deal. Was I blind to the
beauty of the thing? Was it self-promotion beyond imagination?
So that is where it stands with me and the Gates. The Christos
Gates, they say that the color was inspired by the saffron robes of
monks. But it is hard to imagine anything less monklike, and more
Napoleonic. Maybe I will waver back again, like the flapping
fabric, but I doubt it.