How did a sharply dressed insurance agent with a desultory love life, who preferred brothels to relationships, who held crappy middle management jobs before retiring early due to poor health, become, as his one-time lover Milena Jesenská puts it, a “clairvoyant” storyteller, let alone one with a still-unrivalled capacity to take readers deep into the cold core of what it means to be alone and to be human?
The story of a man who wakes up transformed into a hideous insect isn’t exactly the showpiece you would imagine for a lithe principal of London’s Royal Ballet, but in The Metamorphosis dancer Edward Watson takes all the refined control of each muscle and transforms his body from grace into an image of the grotesque.
There is a rather large and forbidding object currently on display on the second floor of the New Museum.
More than 9 ½ feet tall and 6 ½ feet wide, it is made up of two sections: an upper level composed of three cabinet doors, one of which is open to expose a set of gearwheels, and a mattress with arm and leg straps below. Twenty five cables hang down from the machinery in the cabinets, terminating in large, hair-raising needles.
My friend was trying to convince me the other day that $20 was not an unreasonable amount for a museum to ask visitors to pay. We were standing in the lobby of the Whitney shortly after the Biennial had opened, and maybe I was having none of it simply because I was feeling snarky while remembering previous years when I occasionally got invited to the press opening or whatever. Or maybe it was because I’m basically a starving student still, while already well-advanced in years, and such amounts really are a significant outlay for me.
I’m trying to sleep at the Whitney. I rest on a white pillow, a white bath towel covering me. On my head I wear a plastic grocery store bag, the handles tied under my chin, two rubber bands on either side of my head cinching the plastic into a pair of ears. I’m supposed to be a mouse.