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Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Where the Power REALLY Lies

Last Saturday afternoon we walk into P.S.1 at 3:45. The sign at the admission desk says the Turrell room will be open at 4:45.

We wander for a while, looking at the new shows. Mrs. FtF (usually pretty charitable in her opinions) says of one group exhibition, "This is horrible." She's right. It is.

The tool with so many more than five usesBy 4:30 we've seen enough. But I want to see the Turrell. So we sit down in the hallway outside the room to wait. Soon a crowd starts to form. At 4:45 it's me, the wife and kid, and a group of 20 German tourists. I can understand exactly three words of what they are saying among themselves: "Turrell," "Roden," and "Crater."

At 4:55 the door still isn't open. The Germans are getting restless. One of them starts making paper hats for the kid out of the floor plans they are all carrying. Security staff members are pacing the hallway. Mrs. FtF overhears them discussing the problem. They've lost the key to the door. Brilliant. You put a major piece of contemporary art behind a locked door, and you don't keep a spare key around?

I'm about ready to pack it in when along comes one of the art handlers. He's been installing a show in another gallery on the floor. He sizes up the situation, pulls a Five-in-One painter's tool out of his pocket, sticks it between the door and the jamb, gives a little pull, and pops the door open for us.

Now I know who really holds the keys to the art world kingdom. It's that anonymous guy who nobody trusts with a key but who's always got the right tool in his back pocket.

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