8.2.13

TINPLATE TRAINS AS PERFORMANCE ART.

They can be deployed in the traditional form at the Festive Season.

At New York's Whitney Museum, they provide a gateway to the current feature exhibit, Blues for Smoke.




Here's the reviewer's interpretation.
You get a sense of all this in the David Hammons installation “Chasing the Blue Train” that opens the show. Its parameters are set by a half-circle of six turned-on-their-sides baby grands. A pile of bluish coal sits on the floor; an electric toy train, tinted cobalt, tunnels through it and circles the room. Several recordings play — Coltrane, Monk, James Brown’s “Night Train” — simultaneously, loud.

On an obvious level this is a playful homage to Coltrane’s 1957 “Blue Train” album. But it’s also an essay on the ceaseless, questing movement of blacks, often by night, through American history: on the underground railroad, on the freedom train, on the A train to Harlem. The installation had its debut at Exit Art in SoHo in 1989, but has been in Europe ever since. It’s great to see it, and hear it, in New York again.
I may have to rip off the multiple soundtracks for an upcoming Festive Season.

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