Art & Design

Cover Letter to the Guggenheim Museum: Application for the Position of Night Guard at ‘James Turrell’

Art & Design

Cover Letter to the Guggenheim Museum: Application for the Position of Night Guard at ‘James Turrell’

All images: James Turrell Aten Reign, 2013 Daylight and LED light, dimensions variable © James Turrell Installation view: James Turrell, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, June 21–September 25, 2013 Photo: David Heald © Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, New York

Attn: Nancy Spector, Carmen Giménez, Nat Trotman, and Stephen and Nan Swid
1071 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY

Dear Nancy Spector, Carmen Giménez, Nat Trotman, and Stephen and Nan Swid,

My name is Fiona Duncan and I am a student of life currently residing in New York City. I recently had the opportunity to visit the new James Turrell exhibition, which opens to the public today, at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. I had never seen a James Turrell before and the experience was positively transformative. I am writing to you, the exhibit curators and museum director, to see if there might be any openings for a night guard position at the museum during the run of the show.

I would like to work at the Guggenheim as a night guard for the duration of the James Turrell exhibition because I believe his work holds revelatory promise, but its powers, I feel, will be greatly diminished by the hordes of people who will no doubt be frequenting the museum floors during opening hours. I was particularly taken by the site-specific Aten Reign in the museum’s central rotunda. Just being in its presence for the 30 minutes I was yesterday felt like a kind of rebirth. My breath steadied as the light shifted from violet to pink to green and blue. I saw spots like when you look at the sun and then look away, and I was suddenly aware of my ephemerality, my physicality, my oculi, but not in the way that I usually am, which is like noooo, give me the Singularity—this time I felt ready to enter the light, so to speak.

Although I have no security experience per se, I think I have the skills to manage the job expertly. I am responsible, loyal, relatively punctual (that is, reliably 10-30 minutes late), and quite charming; I am regularly told how “likable” I am. I look great in a suit. I can run fast enough. And I love saying “Roger”; I once had a lover… My availability is flexible. I am willing to work both days and nights, although as I mentioned above, I’d prefer the hours when there aren’t nose pickers, yahoos, and knowitalls deafening my meditation. Sunrise and sunset would be ideal.

I overheard James Turrell say something wonderful about how we are not designed—as humans, id est—to be in broad daylight: we squint, our pupils shrink to the size of a candy Runt, we’re forced to cover up with shades. Whereas in twilight (and also, I imagine, in the light spaces Turrell orchestrates), the pupil widens, becomes more receptive. Twilight is when we can best feel light. This made me think of my experiences on a drug called MDMA (street named Molly, Miley, M). Have you ever looked into the eyes of someone on Miley? It’s as if they are feeling up your soul. You can practically see your reflection in their dilated black orbs. This is kind of beside the point, except in that this is all—Turrell, Miley, the being of being—a point of interest for me.

As a night guard, I would be vigilant in protecting the sanctity of the museum space as it would be in my own best interest to do so. I also promise to maintain the rule of “no photography” because, really, photographic reproduction will only castrate my vision quest. It’s been a difficult year for me but I feel like I’ve started to flirt with the sacred. I’ll have shivers of pure life, within which I can sense my oneness with every cell on earth, perhaps through the medium of light? (Light is that which enables me to see and phenomenology is the basis of my philosophical belief.) Being in the presence of James Turrell’s work at the Guggenheim, especially Aten Reign, is the best form of therapy I can imagine. You see (it all comes back to sight), I’ve been told I should seek therapy, but since I am uninsured and relatively-impoverished, I try and find my therapy in the everyday. By the way, is health insurance included among your employee benefits?

Mr. Turrell seems like an affable and generous man, like someone who is making work for the experience of the other, which strikes me as a rare endeavor these days (have you heard of this “Robbie Antonio”?). Given Mr. Turrell’s giving nature, I imagine hiring less-experienced-more-passionate me might be something he would be for. I hope you too will consider my cause.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Best regards,
Fiona Duncan

James Turrell will be on view at the Guggenheim Museum in New York from from June 21 to September 25, 2013.