tsatsas a 14th street pilgrimage:      
new york, october 1-10,2011
October 3rd, 2011: Third day of A 14th Street Pilgrimage

Today, I strayed. I decided to take a break from 14th Street as a focus & go down to the Wall Street protests and the former site of the WTC, because (roughly) these feel like places where change in raw form is currently afoot. I made a glancing orbit of the Sept 11th memorial pilgrimage sites - around the unbelievably huge and ferocious constrution pit & and into the refuge of St Paul's Chapel. Around the pit: hard surfaces, tight security, compact determined crowds & no place to leave anything. In the Chapel graveyard, two tsatsas in trees, one of which was already marked by ribbons as a sacred site.


Inside the church, I added a tsatsa to the station where people light candles with their prayer intentions. I've always loved this part of churches - the lit and exhausted candles are the most tangible sign of people coming through the space and leaving traces of their paths & aspirations. It's also the place where laypeople are their own priests.

From there, I walked down to the square where the Occupy Wall Street protestors were still going strong, despite sometimes brutal interventions by the police and reports that 700 of them had been arrested while trying to cross the Brooklyn Bridge on Sunday. I saw drumming, flag-waving at spectating open-top tour buses with Rockettes ads on the sides, and protestors along the sidewalk explaining their position to polite, attentive passersby. The Reverend Billy of the Church of Stop Shopping was in attendance, as were a number of people made up to look like zombies. The first tsatsa site I gravitated to was a tree holding a large dream-catcher, from which hung many small laminated slips of paper bearing (on one side) participants' dreams and (on the other) their nightmares.
Right near this dream-and-nightmare tree is the protestors' kitchen, where about half a dozen young people were setting out sandwiches, granola bars, fruit, and drinks for the occupiers' community & anyone else who happened to be curious or hungry at the time. I talked to a college student from Pennsylvania who told me the kitchen was getting food through direct donations and delivery orders that supporters made on their behalf. The protest-cooks are also preparing hot food in kitchens elsewhere, and then bringing it to the square. Drizzling rain fell as we talked, but there was no sign of anyone abandoning their post. Rough bedding stood in piles under tarps at the edge of the square. I added tsatsas to the banquet: not very toothsome, but a gesture of support.  
On my way to the subway, I noticed this excellent, updated publication. How often, otherwise, is a young woman with red hair on the first page of the WSJ?
The last tsatsa of the day: if the idea is sacred-ordinary space, why not the toilet? After a grateful meal nearby two other women reading & eating on their own, I am thinking that the quiet & solitude of the bathroom may be a good place to find a tsatsa. Water-closet as contemplative space.
14th Street project pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7


Art in Odd Places 2011: RITUAL is guest curated by Kalia Brooks, MoCADA Director of Exhibitions and Trinidad Fombella, El Museo Del Barrio Exhibitions Manager/Assistant Curator. Festival Producer, Lucia Warck Meister. Founder/Director, Ed Woodham.

Art in Odd Places (AiOP) aims to present art that stretches the boundaries of communication in the public realm by presenting artworks in all disciplines outside the confines of traditional public space regulations. AiOP reminds us that public spaces function as the epicenter for diverse social interactions and the unfettered exchange of ideas. www.artinoddplaces.org