Culture Shock: City's New Installation Opens Downtown

Street Art, Sound Art, Performance Art Are All Found On Central

Graggie Mimason
3 min read
Keystone Light
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As part of Albuquerque’s Downtown revitalization, the stretch of Central between Fifth Street and High has become the unofficial hub of street art and culture in the area. This corridor explores grandiose themes and pulls them, gut wrenchingly, to eye level for pedestrians, sidewalk bikers and drivers alike. To fully immerse myself in the ever-shifting works and to save money, I decided to traverse this mile-long stretch in each direction once daily, exploring the themes and becoming intimately familiar with the inexplicably greasy materials that comprise the exhibit.

In the early morning, after some bleary eyed stumbling around my house, I began to stumble down Central en route to
Alibi headquarters. I quickly came upon a standout installation near Broadway. In a finely crafted brick niche level with the sidewalk, an emptied Fun Dip package was playfully tucked in a dirty swatch of anemic grass. Juxtaposing the youthful sweetness of the remnants of a sugar high, a dented can of Keystone (full flavor) rested nearby in the foreground of the piece. As I bent over to snap a picture of the ephemeral work, the interactive elements of the installation became apparent when a middle-aged man in a Chevy Silverado 4×4 honked and shouted something lost in the wind. This provocative display of sound art elucidated the grittiness of the rainbow of trash in the purposeless alcove. The piece elicited a strong reaction from me, like, a middle finger—a testament to the visceral nature of the work.

As I neared First Street, the performative aspects of the expansive art installation were highlighted as I stood on the exterior side of a giant glass window and watched a man shave pieces of an enormous hunk of meat onto the plate of a small child. As I watched the scene, a commentary on the feebleness of the American food industry and the callow nature of factory farming, the small boy hoisted a fork, a gesture conjuring the obscure future of America’s youth. As I observed, another performer or spectator, I’m not sure which, arrived at my side. What was left of his thin, white hair was pulled into the smallest ponytail I’ve ever seen with not one, but two, black elastic ponytail holders, illustrative of, perhaps, the distorted perception that can only come from being a white man. As I continued on, a man using Google Maps to navigate his walk crossed my path. I felt disoriented myself as he moved passed, the electronic voice indicating that he should head east. He moved towards the mountains, flushing a pigeon that was going to town on a bag of Dorito’s.

As I neared the end of the performance, I experienced what was undoubtedly, the most lingering element of the show. Near the door that leads already buzzed patrons up the steps to Anodyne, multitudes of the most recent issue of the
Alibi laid open on the sidewalk, their contents gutted by the wind. In perhaps the ultimate biting piece of satire, my own work, my own byline stared up at me, discarded on the street—forcing me into a state of self reflection that I’ve been avoiding since 2014. From there, the line between art and life blurred. This piece is both haunting and fleeting, a volatile combination of sound, sight and tactile (but really, don’t touch it) material. Experience this immersive piece now until the imminent collapse, 24 thought-provoking, too often brutal hours a day.

Keystone Light

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