Week 1: "Her Long Black Hair," a Central Park soundwalk by Janet Cardiff

I took the walk through Central Park on a warm Sunday afternoon, and absolutely loved Her Long Black Hair by Janet Cardiff.  The elegance of synchronization between narrator and participant, via the matching of steps and location - it added up to super impactful.  A very powerful simplicity to it’s themes of spatiality.  You look up and around, you even ‘look’ down when she brings up the graves of the WWI soldiers and the creeks that were covered by more recently constructed foot paths.  You look ‘behind’ (as the Greek myth tells us that Orpheus could not without escaping punishment), when she alludes to the violent American history we cannot disregard.

Orpheus was a singer.  in Cocteau’s Orphée, he was depicted as a poet.  In Her Long Black Hair, we intermittently follow the narrative of a woman who exists only in the found imagery of some acquired photographs, which serve as both the matching signposts of our synchronous journey through Central Park and alsoa symbolic story arc that plays on themes of memory, curiosity, and dimensionality.

The favorite serendipitous moment (of which they were a few) was on the final bridge of my walk, when a street performer playing solo jazz guitar mixed beautifully in key with Cardiff’s recording of the gondola driver singing a romantic tune.  Just one of a few very powerful moments of synchronicity that a strong piece of work creates when paired with such a classic and bustling location.