The Nosy Neighbor

mela-dream-house-resize-by-asha-agnishOne reason I started Tribeca Citizen was to get answers to questions I had just from walking around. Such as:

There’s a flyer taped inside a door window at 275 Church Street that says something called the MELA Foundation’s Dream House is inside. What’s that?
Dream House is a “Sound and Light Environment” created by minimalist composer La Monte Young and his partner, visual artist Marian Zazeela. The MELA Foundation, according to the website, was founded in May 1985, and “is a not-for-profit interdisciplinary arts organization designed to encourage creative work in the fields of music, the visual arts, and other media; to explore the applications of advanced technologies to artistic expression; and to present major contemporary works and extended duration art installations that eliminate the boundaries between artistic disciplines.” (The artistic directors are Young and Zazeela.) On the third floor of 275 Church since 1993, Dream House is open from 2 p.m. to midnight, Thursday through Saturday; the suggested contribution is $5 (212-925-8270). IF YOU HAVE ANY INTEREST IN EVER VISITING “DREAM HOUSE,” PLEASE STOP READING NOW BECAUSE I AM ABOUT TO RUIN THE EXPERIENCE. Pardon the yelling, but I find that much of the thrill of this kind of installation is the fact that you have no idea what you’re getting into. So, seriously, if you like avant-garde art at all, go check it out for yourself. It’s fascinating for a number of reasons. DON’T BLAME ME IF YOU KEEP READING! After you buzz the intercom, the volunteer minding the exhibit lets you in, and you walk up a straight, narrow staircase flanked by dingy white walls. When you reach the third floor, the volunteer meets you on the landing and asks you to take off your shoes and fork over $5. Then you go in, and he leaves you alone. There are two rooms, each with pillows strewn atop the plush carpet that I think is white (it’s hard to tell because the lighting is intensely pink, or at least it was when I was there, and pink plastic has been placed over the windows). Sculptures by Zazeela dangle from the ceiling, casting shadows. Incense is burning in front of a shrine to a guru named Pandit Pran Nath (Young and Zazeela are his disciples). And a composition by Young drones at high volume. I’m out of my league here, but the full title of the piece may give some folks a clue as to what Young is going for: The Base 9:7:4 Symmetry in Prime Time When Centered above and below The Lowest Term Primes in The Range 288 to 224 with The Addition of 279 and 261 in Which The Half of The Symmetric Division Mapped above and Including 288 Consists of The Powers of 2 Multiplied by The Primes within The Ranges of 144 to 128, 72 to 64 and 36 to 32 Which Are Symmetrical to Those Primes in Lowest Terms in The Half of The Symmetric Division Mapped below and Including 224 within The Ranges 126 to 112, 63 to 56 and 31.5 to 28 with The Addition of 119, which is described online as “a periodic composite sound waveform environment created from sine wave components generated digitally in real time on a custom-designed Rayna interval synthesizer.” What I can say is that the sound throbs. My reaction went from I’m-at-the-dentist to semi-entranced—at which point I was reminded of Meryl Streep humming along to a dial tone in Adaptation—to must-leave-now. Even if I don’t love it (I mostly agree with the visitor who wrote “Well that was quite something” in the guestbook), I love that it exists, especially here in Tribeca, especially these days. I think visitors are supposed to find it transcendent, but my thoughts, as they do every time I go to Walter De Maria’s “Earth Room” in Soho, ran to real estate. I can’t get over how remarkable it is that an entire floor can be devoted to such an endeavor—and yes, I’m aware that that says more about me than it does about the art.

Got a question? Email me at! Photograph by Asha Agnish.

Previous Nosy Neighbor inquiries:
• How come every every film and TV shoot seems to have a trailer with doors marked “Lucy” and “Desi”?
• I was walking along Church Street when I saw a sign for Kim’s Video. Is it moving into the neighborhood?
• What are those words painted on Murray Street, outside the new Poets House in Battery Park City?
• Does anyone know what happened to Steven Paoli, the former partner at Lappin Paoli?
• What’s going on with the half of Lance Lappin salon (formerly Lappin Paoli) that used to be a shop?
• What’s up with that fake supermarket set-up on the southeast corner of West Broadway and Worth?


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