During a visit with my nephew Sean in Rome, he took me to the Roman Forum, treating me to a guided tour through his six-year-old eyes and basing our itinerary on where various groups of feral cats lived. This tour inspired me to create a project in which I asked individuals to take me on tours of their own cities based on locations significant to them.
The Tourist, conceived for The Museum of Modern Art in New York, asked randomly selected volunteers to take on the tour-guide roles. These guides took me to popular tourist attractions as well as to more private or idiosyncratic locations across New York City, each creating for me a city or borough as seen through their memories and emotions.
Using the tourist trope is a fruitful way to explore issues of personal identity and cultural multi-centeredness, of memory and history, and raises a number of issues: What draws us to the places we select to show others? What is the dynamic between foreigners and locals? How does one define the roles of guest and host? When does the external tourist become an internal explorer? “How does here,” to borrow Lucy Lippard’s phrase, “look from there, and there from here?”
2003 The Museum of Modern Art, New York