Sundays in the park with Janet

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Today’s NY Times story by Sarah Ivey reminded me that Janet Cardiff, Berlin-based Canadian artist famous for her arty audio walks is leading the troops on a stroll again. (user name lrrfartblog; password artblog)

This time, Cardiff’s site is Central Park and the walk, called “Her Long Black Hair” (image) takes the walker through the southeast quadrant with the artist whispering instructions, poetry and some control freak demands “Don’t look back,” etc). The piece debuts June 17 and runs to Sept. 13.

Libby and I and our friend Bay took a Cardiff walk in the Carnegie Museum of Art library at the 1999/2000 Carnegie International. It was the high point. Disorienting, paranoia-producing, and a lesson in self-awareness (just how well do you fare when being controlled by another?), the audio and video tour was conceptual enough to keep you thinking and weird enough to throw you into a kind of self-questioning. It’s outward bound for the visual arts crowd, I guess.

The way it worked in Pittsburgh was you got a headset connected to a small video monitor that had a pre-recorded tour of the space you were walking through — only the video was slightly different and threw you into a space-time conundrum). (image) For example, actors were hired for the pre-recorded video. They were also hired to be in the museum while you walked through it. But they were doing slightly different things in real time than in the video. I can’t remember if this was pre-Matrix or not but it had some of that Mr. Smith body-cloning feel to it — and, a little bit threatening for that reason.

Read a Q&A with Cardiff at the Carnegie’s website.

The Central Park walk, called “Her Long Black Hair” is sponsored by the Public Art Fund. According to their information, this walk includes a cd, headphones and a pack of photographs for visual cues. The walk’s free but reservations are required a day in advance. See the PAF website for how to reserve.

Of course the big news locally is that Cardiff is working on a piece for Eastern State Prison, courtesy of a PEI grant to independednt curator Julie Courtney. I’ll have more for you on that shortly. Here’s some info from PEI.

The Dickens-era solitary confinement establishment, a creepy walk under any circumstances, seems an enlightened site for a Cardiff out-of-body, out-of-time experiment. See Libby’s post for pictures of the prison and some of the current art projects on view.

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