I am totally in love with this project by Lisa Anne Auerbach that I stumbled upon earlier this month while attending a poetry reading at the Hammer Museum of Wislawa Szymborska. Ok, here's how it works:
Last spring artist Lisa Anne Auerbach trained as a Hammer security guard to gain insight on the role of guards at the museum. She subsequently worked shifts in the galleries that informed her Public Engagement project, United We Stand. For her subtle intervention, Auerbach replaced the guards’ standard blazers with a new set of blazers, tailored for each guard and bearing a slogan on the back related to standing. She honed in on standing as she found it to be a definitive element of her experience as a guard, physically taxing and particular to the guards’ job at the museum. The phrases were selected by the guards and transferred onto the garments in their own handwriting. Hammer guards will wear the blazers by Auerbach throughout the museum from February until the end of April.
I walked around the galleries going up to all of the guards and asking them to show me the back of their jackets. Each had a "stand" slogan like "Get up, Stand up." or "Under / Stand" or "Stand back." I interacted with the museum guards far more than I ever did previously (previously: not much). I adore that each guard's blazer has their handwriting stitched in sequins. Thank you, thank you, thank you Lisa! The experience brought to mind this poem (translated by my long lost friend Joanna, whom I think of every time I hear a beautiful Polish woman read Szymborska, as I did tonight)
Miracle Fair by Wislawa Szymborska
translated by Janna Trzeciak
that so many commonplace miracles happen.
An ordinary miracle:
in the dead of night
the barking of invisible dogs.
One miracle out of many:
a small, airy cloud
yet it can block a large and heavy moon.
Several miracles in one:
an alder tree reflected in the water,
and that it's backwards left to right
and that it grows there, crown down
and never reaches the bottom,
even though the water is shallow.
An everyday miracle:
winds weak to moderate
turning gusty in storms.
First among equal miracles:
cows are cows.
Second to none:
just this orchard
from just that seed.
A miracle without a cape and top hat:
scattering white doves.
A miracle, for what else could you call it:
today the sun rose at three-fourteen
and will set at eight-o-one.
A miracle, less surprising than it should be:
even though the hand has fewer than six fingers,
it still has more than four.
A miracle, just take a look around:
the world is everywhere.
An additional miracle, as everything is additional: