He's a little bit of a 21st century Houdini and a little bit Kafka's "Hunger Artist" come to life, and over the years I've been as magnetized by David Blaine's public spectacles (including his suspension above London, his live burial, and his immurement in ice) as the hundreds of people I saw milling about Lincoln Center Plaza. He entered the watery sphere this past Monday and is aiming to hold out until this upcoming Monday, despite the numerous dangers that his aqueous sojourn poses. If he makes it till Monday, he supposedly is going to cap thigns off with a Houdiniesque escape. Some people are more willing to tempt fate than others, I guess.
One thing I do enjoy about Blaine's performances above all is how they're usually free, at least part of the time, and bring all kinds of people out to see them, just as similar stunts would have drawn similar crowds 100 or 200 years ago. The crowd I saw was a typical cross-section of New York: all ages, colors, classes, assembling to participate in a communal experience in an iconic, semi-public space, which have become rarer in the city with each passing decade. Since I first heard about Blaine's current project, I've had one basic, very prosaic question, which I heard a young woman vocalize as I was snapping the pictures. How does he go to the bathroom?
Here are some photos:
The distortion caused by the sphere's curvature, the light and the water made Blaine literally look larger than life.
People were watching from the balcony of the New York State Theater, where a ballet was also taking place today.
From a westerly perspective.
Blaine's bubble with the Metropolitan Opera House in the background.
Blaine greeting fans.
Reaching out to touch a fan.
The woman in the red hat was grinning widely seconds after I snapped this photo.
Some of the many who were out to see what was up.
: Blaine survived his week underwater, but he was unable to hold his breath long enough to break the record. He unlocked the double wrist locks as the clock counted down, but blacked out with more than a minute to go. Nevertheless, it was a great bit of showmanship of the kind that this culture often seems to have lost sight of.