Last week Cindy and I had to make a quick trip down to NYC, something I’ve done very infrequently ever since I relocated to the peace and tranquility of the Catskill area. It was the best of days – right between Thanksgiving and the Tree Lighting ceremony at Rockefeller Center. The Holiday decorations and displays were up everywhere and the crowds hadn’t yet materialized. And, best of all, temperature of 68 degrees at the end of November – the most perfect weather for a long and leisurely stroll up Fifth Avenue from Union Square to Central Park.
Neither of us had seen the window displays in years and this was a fine opportunity to take them in. I always marvel at the creativity of the displays – so clever and lush, so full of little surprises if you look close enough. And that always leads to impromptu fun shooting. The two images above are fine examples of that. While, to me, they say absolutely nothing about the holidays, they can be interesting props to explore.
We eventually made our way to 57th Street and Fifth Avenue – Tiffanys, Bergdorfs, etc. – and it was there that I began to have mixed feelings about my little photo exercise.
Clearly, the displays were stunning – a true pleasure to take in. The art and the craft are of the highest caliber yet something didn’t sit right with me. It was then I realized that we were in the heart of the retail playground of the Newts and Mitts of the world! – the 1%. And I remembered, during the early Reagan years when homelessness in the city was record-breaking and heart-wrenching, how Tiffanys was chastised by some for their displays at the time (bag ladies in the street surrounded by garbage interspersed with diamonds). How chic during that age of “Greed is Good.”
All of a sudden I saw these windows not as the pretty little vignettes that attempted to elicit smiles (and sales, for sure), but rather as reflections of our world gone awry.
How pretty! How lovely! How the eyes conflict with the soul! Look closer. The little baubles inserted into these scenes are each probably worth more than most people earn in a year. The opulence is masked by an aesthetic gauze. And the tourists line up for a peek, or a walk through the Trump building down the street, just to get a whiff of “real” money, only to return home to their mountains of debt and the hopelessness of life in a capitalist world gone mad.
In the end, I was happy to return home to my rusty, aged props and 380 million year old fossils. They help me to realize that the madness of out times is barely a blip in the continuum of life on this planet. Hopefully we can evolve to a better place. And there might be no better a way to begin than by donating to a local food bank or charity this holiday season instead of increasing the profits of the multinational retail giants.
Here are a couple of new fossil images that might cleanse the palate:
As always, you can subscribe to this blog at my homepage https://artandfossils.wordpress.com
Thank you for the visit. More images at www.artmurphy.com