Monday, December 3, 2012

Welcome to the Hotel Synesthesia


I'm going to write a lot more about the 21C, the new art-museum/hotel that just opened here in Cincinnati for Aeqai, the online art journal I do some stuff for, but I wanted to just bask in the glow of the initial experience of going there.  We went last Friday night, and the place felt haunted and yet brand new simultaneously, packed with artsy middle aged married couples, many wearing the funky, stylized eye wear of Brooklyn hipsters and/or the funky, stylized scarves of ladies who lunch.  It was like a quiet, orderly carnival, with art everywhere, just everywhere, and people drinking in a plush bar, and the whole universe encapsulated by this European wonderfulness:  a classy hotel. 

Most of the art though is a little too rigidly contemporary and chalky and corporate for my taste.  Still I went through and it was a synesthesic experience:   your senses get overloaded not because there's so much to see, but because someone has taken the time to curate and structure so much art and art-like objects you feel like an art orphan trapped in a beautiful art orphanage.

Or Alice wandering room to room, floor to floor. No Mad Hatters though.  Just those whispering artsy middle aged married couples.

My favorite surprise:  a little boardroom on the second floor, claustrophobic and blond-wood-bureaucratic, with several Kara Walker cutouts beautifully framed and installed on all four walls.  Remember that scene in The Empire Strikes Back?  The one where Lando Calrissian fucks over Han, Luke, Leia, Chewbacca, and C3PO, escorting them to a conference room on Cloud City, and there sits Darth Vader at the breakfast nook?  That's the feeling I got:  a sweet, ironic little shock, Walker's silhouettes providing both respite and a weird, innocent terror.