NewYorkland's impact is anything but temporary Nov 19, 2011

by Sheila


In some ways I can only think in single words...devastating, mesmerizing, raw, profound, rare, inventive, haunting.... There is a moment where a cop describes meditation and I can only put down my own thoughts about this stunning piece of work, this assemblage, by entering into a meditative state myself.

I won't describe the plot here....first of all there really  isn't one, but also because you should go see this with as little presupposition as possible....and you should go see NewYorkLand, no question. Suffice it to say the videography, music, direction, performances combine together into a whole that was both both personally shattering and artistically inspiring. There are so many fine elements - the quietly devastating performances, the constant and varied and dynamic use of video and sound, and particularly the use of light as character....a flashlight, the sudden fluorescents that made my eyes have to adjust in a moment that made it actually phyically uncomfortable to watch, the lights to create silhouette, and a caged practical that hid from me the face I most wanted to see. This company has somehow managed to create a piece that is somehow completely unassuming and highly theatrical. And a piece that is unafraid to go deep rather than wide, to examine a major force in our society as neither heroes or villians but as humans. There are flashes of stereotype, but they are suddenly then blown apart by revelations that are deeply unsettling.

It is discomforting to see this in relation to Occupy Wall Street...or for those of us who 30 and up, to WTO. But the power of NewYorkLand is that IT IS NOT ABOUT COPS VERSUS ANYBODY BUT THEMSELVES. It is not trying to be about anything else. It is not trying to say anything - only to ask us to look. It is convenient for us in our anger about these big events that feel unjust, to forget about the cops excavating bodies from the wreckage of the Twin Towers, and even easier to forget about the cops in our neighborhoods....the woman who stopped to ask my parter how he built our garden beds, the guy who spent an hour with me over my stolen car. The men and women who show up when someone is being beaten. And who they face in the mirror every day, the internal revelations, is what this piece so richly captures - it is not "pro-cop" - it is far beyond anything so simple.

Not many artists, liberals as we tend to be, would have the art or the courage to look at cops this way - but Temporary Distortion are visionaries - artistically and socially. I will be haunted by NewYorkLand, and particularly by the last 10 minutes of it, for a long while.