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Twenty Six Hours in Philadelphia

kawaiidaigakusei at 12:00AM, Dec. 18, 2023

Photo: “La Mariée Mise à Nu Par Ses Célibataires, Même (The Green Box)”. Marcel Duchamp. 1911-1915. Photograph taken by kawaiidaigakusei. The Philadelphia Museum of Art. (December 2023)

Tomorrow will mark one month of continuous cross country travel in the most real Kerouac sense of the word. The trip across the United States started with a train ride from the west coast to the east coast in a path along the map that resembled a y=cos(x) graph, a total of five days and four nights in coach class. Along the way, I have hopped on and off buses and light rails in cities waiting to be experienced for the first time. I have sat in crowded lounge areas alongside strangers in different states with a universal goal–to get from point A to point B while making every connection.

Detours make the journey more exciting, so the opportunity to spend a day exploring a new city for one entire day is favored over directly traveling from one city hub to the next without any stops in between. One day of the journey sent me back to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, a city that I was only able to visit for four hours, four years ago. Holding a train ticket for the following morning, I was able to check-in two bags of luggage for twenty four hours, freeing me from the excess baggage while I explored the city on foot.

Yearning to return to The Philadelphia Museum of Art since the day I left four year ago, I wished for the day that I would get a chance to explore the new installation rotations and current exhibits. One day's admission covered a ten hour ticket to explore all three floors of the museum and was a welcome haven to escape the forecast of afternoon rainfall.

Photo: (Left) “Nude Descending a Staircase (No. 2)”. Marcel Duchamp. (1912). (Right) “Bride”. Marcel Duchamp. (1912). Photographs taken by kawaiidaigakusei. The Philadelphia Museum of Art. (December 2023)

A sense of peace and homecoming washed over me as I entered a familiar room in the Modern Art wing of the museum. I stood in front of the same Large Glass displayed in the center of the room that I did in 2019. It was like visiting a friend after a long leave of absence. I turned around, looked over my shoulder, and saw the painting “Nude Descending a Staircase (No. 2)”, the main reason for the original visit that never came to fruition, for the first time. The corners of my lips raised in a smile nearly twenty years in the making since the first night I opened the Gardner's AP Art History textbook and discovered the painting when I was a junior in high school. Side quest achievement unlocked and no longer haunted by the desire to seek out the original painting that was right in front of me.

A detailed painting of the mechanical bride, simply named “The Bride” was displayed to the right of “Nude Descending a Staircase (No. 2)”. The two pieces shared a similar color palette and theme, having been completed the same year.

Three hours were spent in the room that housed the Large Glass as I scanned each display case searching for new details to be uncovered. There was a very new addition to the room of a Green Box (pictured above) with its contents of miscellaneous papers that contained blueprints, symbols, music sheets, photographs, mechanical drawings, and handwritten notes spread out and displayed inside a glass box. The display, titled, “La Mariée Mise à Nu Par Ses Célibataires, Même (The Green Box)”, accompanied the Large Glass, of the same title. The Green Box and the Large Glass were meant to be studied simultaneously, side-by-side, with the viewer only understanding the full extent of the work after seeing the full picture.

I was fixated by The Green Box, only learning about its existence that day that I began reading the words on the handwritten letter, penned in the French language. I scanned the letter several times when I spotted a special detail at the bottom right corner of the page that was better than any gift I could possibly imagine. There, in Marcel Duchamp's own handwriting, were the final words “claire voye”. I traced the script of the familiar name written one hundred years ago with my eyes. It was definitely a sign, and I am thankful for noticing and appreciating the details.

Photo: Handwritten letter detail from “La Mariée Mise à Nu Par Ses Célibataires, Même (The Green Box)”. Marcel Duchamp. 1911-1915. Photograph taken by kawaiidaigakusei. The Philadelphia Museum of Art. (December 2023)



HawkandFloAdventures at 2:36PM, Dec. 19, 2023

Excellent Blog entry! ^^

marcorossi at 3:24AM, Dec. 18, 2023

This travel diary reminds me of the two times I took an interrail tiket in my twenties (for those who don't know, it is a discount train pass only available to europen youngsters between 20 and 27 so they can visit different european countres by train, the logic is generally to visit a new city every day and try to sleep in the trains travelling by night).

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