Many years ago, two weeks fresh to New York from Nebraska, I attended my first Chelsea gallery art openings. I wandered into an enormous white room, painfully bright, filled with din. Over the heads of people with their mouths all wide open, were a series of black metal right angled sculptures, perhaps some unusable playground where children wouldn't last very long. Disheartened, but reluctantly present, I shoved my way through the crowd like I'd learned to do on the subway, to get a closer look.
There were a few of us there, investigating. The structure itself was rather alienating, and unwilling, and big enough to walk through without touching, because I was very small. When you were close up there was a little hope for searching, because there was a small hole in some of the vertical poles, with something soft and gray inside. We started to poke at it like monkeys. The little gray patch shifted a bit. Whatever posessed us to put a quarter in the hole, I have no idea. Of course nothing happened. It was not a jukebox kind of venue. I know that now. Since standing so close to the art essentially kept us invisible, we got closer. And then I put my ear up to the hole. And I could hear a soft and haggard lullaby.
I tried to tell the others, "You can hear it singing! It's soft, but very sad." Of course they could not hear me over all the crowds, and the noise made me doubt what I had heard myself. I gestured and they put their ears against the post. Their eyes brightened. We all heard something.
Maybe in silence the song would be clear.
On a few occasions I've been back to Chelsea, but never on a Thursday night.