May 12th, 2004


Heave a sigh of relief, everyone: my sister's thesis is finally in!

The final product ended up being a lot more artistic and a lot less anthropological than she'd originally intended, and, frankly, it's a really good piece. It gets at the ease of looking at Cuba as a cliche or of only seeing what you want to see. She takes three different tacks - a documentary piece, some fiction, and excerpts from her journals - to show how no single way of looking at Cuba gets at the whole story. I'm really proud of her for getting it done.

Of course, I wish there had been less stress and agony along the way. I've got two moments competing for least-favorite status. The first: two nights before her thesis is due, I call her to ask what she's working on. "Oh," she says, "I'm in the computer lab scanning more photos, because I didn't think the ones I had were quite right." I was very proud of myself: I was very calm. I just asked her, calmly and quietly, whether not having those photos was going to prevent her from getting her thesis done - and since that clearly wasn't the case, her job was to get her ass home and work on finishing the things that would prevent her from being able to hand in a finished thesis. Then there was the moment, the day her thesis was due, when she got stuck at Kinkos waiting for them to print her file. I called her and told her to just hand it in on CD, and get them the printout in the morning - but she completely ignored me, and instead waited at Kinkos until long after the deadline for handing in her thesis had passed. (She ended up getting it in a day late, but it looks like they accepted it anyhow.)

So there's the grumbling: I spent a lot of time being frustrated, but mostly I'm proud of her. She's a great photographer and an even better writer, and I can't wait to see what she does next.
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For Your To-Do List

First, go visit The Infinite Cat Project.

Then, if you live in New York, get yourself to the Whitney Biennial, which is going on until May 30. As with most exhibitions of modern art, there was a lot of utter crap and a lot more that I was more than a little dubious about. But it's worth the admission fee for one piece alone: Yayoi Kusama's Fireflies on the Water, an installation which feels, quite literally, like being in heaven. I can't describe it adequately. Go and see it. You'll want to go in several times.

Ernesto Caivano's delicate, obsessive drawings; Glenn Kaino's giant zen garden; Amy Cutler's fable-like, disturbing gouaches; and Zak Smith's obsessively brilliant paintings of what happens on each page of Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow - all 755 of them - are also more than worth the trip. Unlike the last Biennal and the Whitney's superbly disappointing "digital art" show, there's more than enough here to enjoy. So what are you waiting for?
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