What popular fashion accessory is hidden in this picture?
a) A fedora or “fez.”
b) Even though my roots trace back to a different place (the New Jersey suburbs, then Allston-Brighton, Mass., then the East Village, then an artistic collective in Fort Greene, then here), my heart beats to the calypso rhythm of the neighborhood that has folded me into its spicy batter with minimal deflation. I believe that among my newcomer peers, I am uniquely capable of seeing and appreciating the beauty inherent in the cultures I am nominally out pricing in the rental market. What newbies don’t realize is that the community that exists here gives back—my neighbors offer a kaleidoscope of color, while I offer locally made condiments, including pesto pickles, sold from a storefront that used to be a car wash. And yes, I do feel safe here. 80-85% of the time.
c) I don’t see anything.
What do you see hidden in this picture?
a) Vriksasana, or “tree pose.”
b) I see my imagining of the POV of a woman of color (WOC) in my predominantly white yoga class, in which I am the occident and she is the orient; in which my tiny rear is the mean and her larger gluteals are the deviation; in which I am the Lululemon and she is the GapBodyFit. In this class, I excel at vinyasa, while she, in my periphery and in the periphery of the classes’ normative view, collapses into child’s pose under the weight of double standards and a high center of gravity. She probably doesn’t know that she is moving to a Chvrches remix. Each of us treads the narrow rubber path society has assigned us; she coveting and resenting the crisp sine and cosine of my trikonasana, and me powerless to ford the eight-inch gulf of floating laminate floorboard to her mat. Even though my asanas are laudable, the yoga class is a fail whale because I am equally privileged at the start as at the end. When I leave, my shakras are shaking.
c) I don’t see anything.
What piece of urban iconography
do you see in the below circle?
a) A pair of sneakers dangling on a power line.
b) A pair of retrofitted Converse All-Stars drying on a clothesline after a Tough Mudder (thug life!).
c) A set piece from Rent, which perfectly captured the struggles of artists and poors in Giuliani-era New York, and gave voice to the epidemic of shoelessness in the early ‘90s.
d) Those dots would make sweet wallpaper, done in a velvet flocked print in a cocktail bar.
What is happening in the below scene?
a) A spray can tagging something? Someone is going to get arrested.
b) Someone is using aerosol paint to reclaim the urban environment as a viable art space at the intersection of the private, the communal, and Newtown Creek. The resulting dialogue (a towering squirrel snacks on a square ramen cake) is democratic and unabashedly populist, belonging to the locals, and free for everyone to experience. Arguably, the broad strokes of rodent street art are more important to the critical conversation then the Van Goghs locked up inside MoMA. For one thing, they’re a lot bigger. When a property owner decides to paint over them, they are engaging in censorship. When a property owner decides to demolish them, we as a society find it’s really, really hard to spray paint on the smooth glass planes of a new condo building.
c) Mmm… not sure.
Which piece of cultural heritage is depicted below?
a) My culture takes absolutely no credit for that.
b) An artist engaging with a vivid dance tradition and shaking her booty in an expression of joy, autonomy, and side-vulva, while at the same time offering sexual liberation to those who surround her. I see an entertainer just blurring lines, bringing people together, putting on a great show, while her dad looks the other way.
c) In the periphery, I can see the shucked remains of a manufactured persona. In the foreground, I see a newly manufactured persona.
What do you see?
a) A symbol of the broken social services, law enforcement and criminal justice systems.
b) A CRONUT!!!!!
c) There is no right answer.