KATE NEWBY: don’t be all scared like before

KATE NEWBY, Don’t be all scared like before
Rope, 2015
38 Ludlow St., New York

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THE ROPE THAT LOST her tension BUT FOUND HER ARTIST

by Rosanna Albertini

38 Ludlow street, New York. I must raise my chin and eyes toward the top of the wire screen to see the rope, and follow the vertical face of the building to the last floor, which is frowning behind the red, incongruous, and irregular line: a red rope, again, from one side to the other of a flat modern face riddled with window holes.

One would think the residents inside would spend their energy glued to the glass, stuck like flies that can’t find their way out. The red rope grabs the side corners of the building tightly. It is there to stay for a while. A perfect parasite and a rebel form in which secret meanings are fastened: that fat bundle around the pole is as unreadable as the Chinese ideograms painted on a nearby banner. (Unreadable if one is not Chinese.) How absurd! But, I need it more than a dictionary. The garbage bags on the sidewalk and the cracks of the wall are easy, life cycle. Not the rope.

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Richard Tuttle* wrote:
IT’S THE COLORS INSIDE THE COLORS THAT ARE TOUCHING, THE MEANINGS INSIDE THE MEANINGS.

(HOW TO HANDLE THE ART WITH GLOVES OFF)

Watch out, even these artist’s thoughts, written in capital fonts, look like the modern building. They wrap my mind like a blanket. Get rid of it. There is a strange gap between me and my mind, still conservative. Kick it out, says my instinct. Out of the window? Yes, stop looking and jump. Kate Newby, where are you? I do know the red rope is your soul.

There are mostly Chinese children in the P.S. 42 Benjamin Altman school, 38 Ludlow Street. They like the red, it’s good luck color. They love the rope without knowing why, lucky them. They are confused. “What’s your job?” they ask the artist. And Kate tells them she moves from one country to another making forms and colors she can leave on the ground, or on the top of a building, so they become moments of other people’s lives, as footprints after footprints many other humans also leave their traces on the ground.

I’m flying out of the window. The red rope sounds like a musical instrument changing form at each loop, bending, stretching out. The artist is the player. The red of the bricks sends iron vibes toward the rope, one more voice in the visual music of city. And Rembrandt says hello through Benjamin Altman’s spirit who collected his portraits, so densely red. Meanings? Maybe. Or the simple evidence that art brings into the air: the evidence that children can only see as a mystery with no answer: what’s life? Not only children, for that matter. But they are inside the school, to be trained for life.

Looking at the red rope, they gasp. It’s impressive to look at something that unfolds, without words, the whole messy but strong and obstinate line between birth and the last breath. Perhaps the only case in which beginning and ending make sense. My legs disappear, wings grow from my shoulder blades, I am an owl searching for a palm tree to spend the night.  

Meanwhile teacher and kids paint red lines inside the school, at the angle where the wall meets the floor. Magically, a small palm tree starts growing from one of the new red lines.

IMPERFECTIONS BECOME VIRTUES

IN THAT RARE MOMENT WHEN SOMETHING REPRESENTS NOTHING, BECOMING ITSELF**

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  •  ***Richard Tuttle, In Parts, 1998-2001, catalogue of the exhibition at Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsiylvania, Philadelphia, Dec.2001 – Feb. 2002.