It’s beginning to feel a little like Big Brother – “Day Five in the Postopolis! household…” – but as Pruned’s Alexander Trevi quite brilliantly depicts it in a set of doctored photos, it was time to face the final curtain. The last day of Postopolis! is cooler than yesterday, thankfully, but still perfect weather and we swing the building open one more time. The letters did indeed peel off – I’m briefly CITY F SOUND but Geoff gets the raw deal as BLDGB OG.
As ever, the Storefront crew invisibly swing into action and they’re quickly replaced. Later on, I notice that our blog posts, 3 months of which adorn the wall, begin to really come loose as spray mount finally gives in to the inevitable. It’s as if the exhibition is taking itself down. There’s a thin layer of grime on my keyboard now, accumulated over the week, thanks to working in this permeable place. I wipe it clean, and settle down into my now familiar mobile office – two wooden folding chairs facing each other – and get listening and typing one more time.
Today feels the loosest structure thus far, and perhaps a little too loose. It lacks the fluency and consistency of the other days, and I think part of that is down to the fact today’s format is a bit too open, too unpredictable, a little over-focused on discourse rather than subject … Plus we’re really tired, if we’re honest (I haven’t discussed these points with my fellow organisers, by the way, so it may be just me). I think the other days worked better, as we actually had a fairly rigid structure, with some curation of theme, but within a very informal space. The right balance.
It’s not that today’s presentations are bad – far from it. Just that the structure was wrong. The tight lattice of overlapping themes and ideas that had emerged during the week, partly organically, partly shaped (like Joachim’s FabTreeHouse) begin to drift clear of the moorings a little today. We’re also beset by unforeseen circumstances. Like the fact that two of the first three speakers are actually in Montreal and Lisbon rather than New York City. This is, as they say, a curveball.
So we miss Beatriz Colomina, sadly, but we try another new format with Mark Wigley: the disembodied phone conversation. Notes on that to follow, but it just about worked. It was a good conversation but the technicalities added actual noise to the signal-to-noise ratio. Keller Easterling followed, with a smart, feisty talk; then Randi Greenberg of ‘Metropolis’ magazine, on the emerging structures within architectural journalism. The Archinect crew did a panel, reflecting on their development into one of the pre-eminent architecture sites. Then, an architecture blogger open house – or “open mic day at the architectural sauna” as George Agnew had it. We were keen that we weren’t seen to represent the entirety of architecture blogs. Far from it, obviously, and so we wanted to open it up to whoever could make it. Again, a bit variable, but it worked.
Afterwards, we break open the booze and clear the decks for some real decks, manned by the excellent combination of N-RON HUBBARD and DJ Rupture. I’m not sure the old Storefront has seen anything like what followed (although seeing as Vito Acconci designed it, it may have seen other things.) It’s packed, and we have a ball, giving the show a proper send off. I can barely bring myself to leave, which is possibly why I find myself clearing up the beer-sodden wallpaper with the Storefront crew. That, and the genuine thanks I owe them.
A taco at the life-saving La Esquina later, I walk through the SoHo streets for the last time, in a state somewhere between extreme tiredness, glowing satisfaction and the numbly blank feeling that often accompanies the end of such things. It’s a beautiful evening, and beautiful people are strolling around. Again, the place feels perfect.
I have an early morning flight to catch back to London, so decide to stay up rather than get three hours kip. Stanley Greenberg tells me about the Bang On A Can marathon, a 26-hour concert taking place at the World Financial Center Winter Gardens. After our marathon of ‘near-continuous conversation’ this week, it seems appropriate to watch someone else have a go at near-continuous performance. Plus, it’s like the city’s offered me up a solution for staying up all night. So I go, and hear Michael Gordon’s wonderful ‘Gotham’ with a film by Bill Morrison, some pretty good Uzbeki stuff, and best of all, Brian Eno’s ‘Music for Airports’ played live by Bang On A Can Allstars. What could be more perfect before my flight home? (Despite the notes of doom Eno put in the piece). I actually drift asleep a few times, but it turns out that this piece, just like the ‘Paprika’ movie a couple of nights earlier, is perfect for falling in and out of consciousness to. You have a series of microsleeps, only to find the same Eno motifs hanging in the air around you. Lovely. I stumble out at 3AM, and then head to JFK before returning home to a grey, cold London.
I’m a little sad it’s all ended, to be honest, but massively pleased with the way it’s turned out. I hadn’t actually met any of the other organisers until the day before this all started. We literally met each other for the first time last Monday evening. I’d only met Joseph Grima, Storefront director, for a glass of wine briefly in London, 4 weeks before. It was all rapidly assembled over email, but somehow it worked, it really did. Shortly, after finishing my coverage of the individual talks, I aim to post some reflections on the themes of the event, rather than these more personal daily experiences, plus some thoughts on the organisation and realisation of the show. But for now, and you can skip these next few paragraphs if you don’t like long goodbyes, thanks to everyone who showed up, listened so intently, and asked such smart questions; plus those who have blogged about Postopolis! or contributed photos to the Flickr group (400+ photos now); and of course huge thanks to everyone who presented, in perhaps the most variable conditions they’ll ever be asked to present in. We owe you.
And of course, huge thanks also to my fellow organisers: Geoff Manaugh, Jill Fehrenbacher and Bryan Finoki. I couldn’t have wished for smarter, sharper, more likeable colleagues, and now friends. They know how much it meant. The Storefront crew – Camilla, Jess and the rest – are all stars too, and big thanks to them for their patience and hard work.
And finally, and perhaps most of all, thanks to Joseph Grima, the Storefront director, for inviting us and making it all happen. It was an incredibly brave move, in the face of the often conservative architecture establishment (where it caused a few ripples, believe me), and his faith in us, patience, inspiration and subtle guidance were invaluable throughout the entire event. So if you enjoyed the show in person, or via any of its various digital offspring, you owe Joseph too.
And with that, arrivederci from New York. Coverage resumes shortly.
[All Postopolis! posts are gathered here]
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