One thing that always reminds me of Princeton Privilege is the fact that there is a giant gallery space in the depth of my high school.
It is aptly named Numina: a divine place. The space is versatile, hidden in plain sight. Since the artwork is often only student pieces, anyone can make themselves an artist in resident if they please.The gallery has grown significantly in the past year, incredibly, due to a strong student leadership. Seriously, shit gets done with a group of imaginative geniuses all under the age at which you can legally buy a lighter.
The most recent event was the first ever mixed media show which focused on contemporary work.
Drapes hung from the ceiling, pillows were nuzzled on the ground under duct taped canopies. The Good, The Bad, The Ugly played on a big box TV – sharpness turned all the way up. Hanna Szabo titled the piece, Works Great – Free!. Hand made dresses stood on hand made forms against the wall. Carefully created costumes for harlots were designed and sewn by the most daring dresser in town, Fia Miller.
A triptychs of quite cryptic political pieces and a whole corner of randomly placed artwork made up the 2D pieces for the show. The room had projectors rolling and the perfect mix of Icelandic pop music and Norwegian edm. We have a certain taste. I highly recommend you listen to Röyksopp while reading this article.
A separate enclave was sectioned out of the gallery with a large white bed sheet. Chicken wire was ornamented with a hundred colored zip ties and, from the ceiling, a beautiful collection of neckties dangled like jellyfish tentacles. Clara Roucke and I decided to collaborate on an interactive performance piece based on the complexity of platonic relationships.
We invited spectators to grab a pair of scissors and cut ties. Zip ties will only get tighter when put under stress. Once one is cut, there is no going back but the broken plastic still hangs on our conscious. You can trim fabric too, cut and maim the ties, but at the end of the night there were still so many loose ends.
On the floor we set up a space of the things we find comfort in. A picnic blanket was carefully set with fresh fruit and stuffed animals, French, Latin, and English literature were placed in stacks, my two cutest cacti joined us too. We had pens and ropes, pads and tampons, cups of tea and one another. For an hour straight we stayed interconnected and completely silent on our blanket. The only sounds we made were squeaks, giggles, and the words from our literature. We would fight and throw shoes but always hug it out. We communicated more in that one hour than perhaps ever before.
At the end of the show I was covered in red ink and met with the confused smiles of a dozen or so spectators who told me that it was hard to look away. I think as people we love to think about intimate moments. We like to share these moments but also we often borrow them. Friendship tends to have an indistinguished line of what is appropriate since relationships have varied degrees of intensity in our lives. Either way, we rarely set our boundaries and we rarely say when they have been crossed.
This Numina Art Show was a new kind of success for Princeton High School; not because of who stopped by but because of the support everyone involved had for one another. After four hours of eating gluten-free gallery snacks and a bowl of clementines, everyone still hanging around sat in a pile for the final gun shot in The Good The Bad And The Ugly. It was a technicolor dream.