Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Streaking at the (7/25) Met Museum, Fitzcarl 1998

        bored?nothingtoread?checkthis: 7/25,Streaking at the Met Museum, Fitzcarl, New York Press
        Fri, 27 Nov 1998 02:19:24 PST

The Complete Article
Streaking at the (7/25) Met Museum, Fitzcarl
New York Press, August 6-12, Page 21

Paradise Lost
by Melissa De La Cruz

Friday Afternoon at the Metropolitan Museum's roof sculpture garden,
 just high enough so that Central Park treetops resemble puffy cotton clouds of green topiary nestled peacefully between skyscrapers.

 We're sipping champagne and enjoying the view, our companions an off-weekend 
Hamptons culturati crowd: midtown ad execs and their horsy-faced dates 
in bright Pulitzer prints, some pretty-boy college types showing off 
European boyfriends and the sounds of French-, German-, Japanese- and 
Australian-inflected English adds to the contented, appreciative buzz. 
It isn't a bad scene, and one that surely repeats itself every Friday 
afternoon in the summertime.
  Except perhaps, for the naked black man lying supine in the middle of

the terrace. Between Rodin's "Three Shades" and the hulking shadow of a

boxy Tony Smith creation, he is, in effect, a living human sculpture, 
head to the ground and body curved to reference to a typical Rodin 
composition--all dancing muscles and burnished skin. The crowd is 
intrigued, but not disturbed, quietly contemplating. It's New York, 
after all, no one really looks twice. It's not polite to stare, after 
all, and this is a polite crowd, also a heavily white one. But the kind

of white people who are comfortable with artistic expression,
of an African-American kind. A naked black man on the roof? Didn't we 
see that at the Whitney once?
  But this is the Met, where this kind of spontaneous reaction to the 
art on display just doesn', and soon enough, a
older man in a gray uniform approaches the naked man. A few words are 
exchanged, and we watch as the the black man nods his head, somberly 
straightens himself and heads for the nearest bench, walking slowly and

unabashed, toward where his clothes are neatly folded. He begins to 
dress himself.
  A smattering of applause, and then the crowd returns to perusing the 
view, speaking quietly to themselves. So it wasn't a musuem showpiece 
after all. What an interesting anecdote to tell at dinner!
  "That was extraordinarily courageous," says a spectador in a crisp 
white broadcloth shirt and orange silk tie to the newly-clothed man. 
"You are very brave." He repeats, articulating the general audience 
response: Brav-oh.
  Fitzcarl, the artist who staged the impromptu performance piece, 
explains that he was moved to his gesture because, "although we admire 
Rodin's sculptures nobody sees their significance." Up here, he seems
posit, more attention goes to the view from the roof than the artwork.
  "Art is so static. A naked body--well, that makes people think. I 
wanted to make people think about what Rodin was doing."
  Carl has an easy demeanor, saying he was "just inspired" by seeing
Rodin, and that "he doesn't take his clothes off in public on a regular

basis." An artist himself, Carl says he works  mainly with natural 
materials, proffering a tote bag filled with leaves and branches as 
examples of what he uses to create "poems and pictures, mainly from the

Bible," which he sells downtown, on the streets of the Village.
  He says he was told by the man who approached him that "if I didn't 
put my clothes back on, a special officer from the precinct was coming 
just to see me." Carl laughs: "My sister is having a baby this weekend,

and I'd like to see her. I didn't really want to get acquainted with
special officer." Then he turns from the Rodin to look out over the 
  As we take leave of Carl, we can't help but notice that huddled in a 
far corner are a number of gray-uniformed Met officers. Moving closer, 
we hear them speaking rapidly to each other in hushed tones.
  "Well it's not really appropriate.."
  "Just can't allow that..."
  A verdict is reached, and three of them, a ruddy-faced, dark-haired 
woman in a very tight red suit, whose rotund proportions can easily be 
described as Botero-esque, and two men, whose faces echo those of 
rank-and-file bureaucratic character villians in dozens of Tom 
Clancy-inspired Hollywood action movies, move purposefully toward Carl 
with a determination that belies their excitement. It's not often that 
museum security is so severely threatened. They make the most of it.
  They watch, tight lipped and edgy, as Carl slowly gathers his things,

a backpack and his tote bag filled with leaves, and escort him out of 
the roof garden, forming a phalanx in front and behind him. Carl walks 
with a resigned air, as if knowing all along it would come to this.
  A small opposition is voiced--and the crowd murmurs: "It's a shame." 
"There's really no need." "No disturbance, really." It's not enough to 
register a formal complaint, though, not enough for any of us to go up 
to the woman and her henchmen and say, "Hey, they guy's put his clothes

back on. What's the big deal?"
  Carl is led away to waiting police and issued a desk-appearance 
  "I wonder if they execute," someone jokes, and we return to admiring 
the view once more.


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