Tag Archives: Christo

The Real Surreal

Don’t you just love it when the unexpected jumps up and butts you in the face? Bites you in the ass? Whether you are passing through well-known surroundings on your way home from work, or making a wrong turn down an unfamiliar path some morning while caffeine deprived, all at once, something you weren’t prepared for renders the scene inexplicable. What do you do?

When I lived in the San Francisco Bay area, something like this would happen every once in a while. On such occasions, a sculptor, for example, might position a piece—sanctioned or otherwise—in the wetlands near the highway, thereby punctuating the morning commute with a driftwood likeness of Don Quixote. This is the point, I think, of Cristo’s installations: the insertion of something incongruous into the commonplace in order to effect a reality disconnect.

You can therefore imagine my delight when I pulled into my neighborhood shopping center to purchase groceries, when I was confronted with a two-dimensional Indian war party. (And no, I’m not being politically incorrect. We can go into that one another day. In New Mexico, these people insist on being called Indians—not Native Americans.) 😛

Without warning, someone had positioned nearly forty mounted braves, replete with headdress and war paint, all around the market’s parking lot. No one could tell me why. No one seems to know who. We’re not even sure exactly when it occurred, yet there they’ve been standing there, gripping lances and tomahawks for nearly three months without explanation!

While there is probably some mundane reason for the warriors’ appearance, the writer in me constantly searches for something extraordinary: a rent in the temporal fabric, presaging an arrival. I hope it is more than the property owner got a steal at an auction, or they are decorations for a planned children’s playground—not a bad thing, but hardly thought-provoking.

And while, oops!, I promised Kate and Lisa I would dedicate every other post to something other than writing—this is one of those non-writing posts—my work is so intertwined with the rest of my life, I can’t separate the two. Therefore, whenever we write—you, you, you and you—me, too!—it is imperative we incorporate something that will introduce the surreal to our work—some little element that will transport the reader out of his/her world into the next, if only for a moment.

Back on track:

In times like these, when everyone’s resources are stretched to the limit, why not indulge one’s imagination? How would you explain this apparition?