When I was a child we sometimes played a game in the school gymnasium. My kindergarten class would line up around the periphery of a parachute-blanket. Everybody grabbed a piece of the outside and, following the count of a teacher, we all-together lifted the blanket up at the same time, over our heads. The blanket filled with air, ballooning above us like a mushroom cap while we scrambled underneath its canopy, still holding our respective corners. I remember the color of the light as it filtered through the red fabric—an orange world was born between the shiny, squealing wood floors and the quilted sail: I experienced a temporal suspension, being always surprised that the parachute stayed so long above us. The faces of my peers reflected that peculiar orange light. I remember we were always silent, waiting inside this temporary caccoon. Eventually the sail dropped on top of us, obliterating everything and moments later we’d squirm noisily, clambering out from under the material, giggling with sudden chaos. I was thinking about this recently because I was thinking about reciprocity, and the idea of commensurate value. It’s true in our world everything has a public exchange rate. What’s interesting, though, are those instances when an action creates a reciprocal experience greater than the sum of its parts.
A few weeks ago I read an essay by Juliana Dreiver about the International Montello Airport in Nevada. After purchasing a plot of land on ebay in 2004, artists Franziska Lamprecht and Hajoe Moderegger from eteam, created a temporary airport around an abandoned landing strip. The 10-acre property was purchased for a 500 dollars and after spending time with people in town (population 67) eteam decided to collaborate. “The airport didn’t have to be physically constructed; eteam proposed it could be conceptually built through events that would revitalize the culture around the landing strip” (eteam-International Airport Montello, Art in General, New Commissions Program Book Series, 2007). Given the overall depressed state of the town (its primary industry being that of service for neighboring casinos) citizens and artists alike grew invested in creating the fantasy of an airport. With support from the New York Arts Commission, they were able to bring art enthusiasts from New York to Las Vegas on a plane. They staged a layover at IAM. “Montello became a theatre, its people and visitors the actors, and the play—an abstraction of what a layover is—much of nothing. The willingness of every parti-cipant, whether citizen of Montello or cultural tourist, made the happening unique, collapsing the extraordinary and yet minimal characterist-ics of land art and the affective nature of performance.” I suppose I’m suggesting that everyone—the artists, the locals, the visitors and the coordinators were lined up around a large vision—a playful, imaginative piece of cloth. Everybody lifted it up at the same time and everyone clambered underneath it, to admire the cast of its light. For a moment, the airport came to life. Here is another kind of reciprocity—each constuituent is engaged, relied upon and capable of receiving a unique perspective/experience that would not have otherwise have been possible.
You can find out more about the airport by going to its website here.