Thursday, August 09, 2007

Greetings from CinCin

I'm here! It's BLEEPing hot. And by hot, I don't mean the sun shines and makes me hot. Walking out of the air-conditioned hotel into the Cincinnati air is like walking into a hot blanket that's been soaked in hot water and put in a hot dryer where hot air blows on you.
When I stepped out of the airport last night I immediately tried to think of metaphors for the humidity. "The air clenched the water in fists." No. "The air fisted the water." No. "The air held the water loosely, so that it might drench anyone who dared step from the manufactured environment into the cruel night air." Closer.

Today I went to the Rosenthal Center for Contemporary Art, called the CAC. (Good thing they didn't add another "A".) It was designed by Zaha Hadid, and I came to see the building so I could write about it for the DFL.
My favorite aspect of the building was the curved cement where the wall met the floor. It looks like a place to skateboard.
I was most precoccupied with the stairs. They are low and unnaturally long, which forces one to walk more slowly. Form dictating function, in a way.
Through the window I spied this painting on a building across the street. Clearly done for the benefit of CAC patrons. But the man looks exasperated. Also, like he's melting.
The Reds were playing today. The street next to the stadium is Pete Rose Street or Way or something. It should be Alley, right? Apparently they still love him here.

Let me just tell you my tale of woe: I got in last night and the hotel had no record of my reservation. I must have bad hotel karma. I found myself thinking, for the second time in less than a week, "Anyone can take a reservation, but can you hold a reservation?" It was the fault of Travelocity. So kind Scott at the Cincinnatian found me a room (a parlor, actually, but who am I to complain about the thin fold out bed?) and I called David in Bombay to work out all the kinks. I was on hold for the greater part of an hour. Luckily I found a magazine! If I had to listen to that recording of a couple talking about how to change reservations one more time I was going to gouge my eyes out with some of the sharp artwork in the room! Anyway, I got a refund and made my own, new reservations at the Westin. All hail the Westin. They let me check in this morning AND I have free wireless. Hurrah! And for lunch I hade a Big Salad in the lobby. It was delicious.

Overall, the Hadid building was disappointing. I know it's a museum and as such its main function is to display art. But seriously, the most exciting thing about the building is the facade. And the stairs. The display spaces are cool, but nothing astounding.
So my question is, can public space be feminist? I don't mean can the space or building challenge dominant ideas about public space, because I know they can. But what makes a space, or a building, feminist? Many of Hadid's buildings are curvy, but does this make them femininist? Many architects are using more organic shapes/lines in their buildings. I'd hate to think that curves are strictly feminine. I got a book that I read some of on the plane. It was interesting, in that many of the essays investigate the public/private, masculine/feminine split. And one (which I have not read yet) attempts to get outside that binary.
But in today's political culture are we bound by it, because so much public architecture is masculine and supports (literally and metaphorically) patriarchial institutions? One need only look at the downtown library to see curves and open space. Designed by a man.
I'm left only with questions.
My goal for the afternoon: write, find a shopping center, and see a movie. In that order? Maybe. I have found a place (across the street!) for dinner. JeanRo. Mussells marinare and pomme frite, here I come!!
I will pause now so that you may reflect.


Lisa B. said...

Thank you for this scintillating update. I am very excited for the dfl. I wrote an essay about the Mormon temple called "The Temple is a Body" that I will share with you (and then will pause, so that you may reflect) when you get back. I think the idea of feminine/-ist space is fascinating, and I also wonder if such space must be designed by a woman? Also, what about the inside/outside dichotomy? That's the one I was interested in in my essay. Cheers to good food and how it makes us feel better, always and reliably. Also, cheers and a big thumbs up for air conditioning.

Paulk said...

Did you ever read Columina's "Sexuality and Space"? (Kathryn usually had an excerpt in her course packets.) I seem to remember several discussions about gendered space (usually as related to the Gaze, though I'm not sure if that's what you mean).