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The Superintendent's Keys

NYU Broadway Windows
March 18-May 28, 2011
Broadway & 10th Street, New York, NY

NYU Broadway Windows is an exhibition space of the NYU Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development, Department of Art And Arts Professions

NYU Broadway Windows, The Superintendent's Keys, David Colosi, 2011
The Superintendent's Keys, David Colosi, 2011
The Superintendent's Keys, David Colosi, 2011
The Superintendent's Keys - David Colosi, 2011



You are on the street. You kick something. It makes a familiar sound. But it’s not yours. A set of keys. Many. Less than one hundred but more than forty. A superintendent has lost his keys, and you have found them. What do you do next? There is no way to find the super. You ask at the buildings near you, but no one has lost a set. They could have fallen out of a car, dropped from a pocket on an errand. There is no way of knowing which building these keys belong to. They are unmarked. There is no "return to" address written on them because this would provide too much information if they were stolen. Or lost. The keys know. They know a lot. They have seen behind every door. The key ring itself is a burden to carry. No wonder it was lost. But any super would know if it had dropped. The sound it would make. The familiar sound. The levity the loss would bring. Perhaps this solves the mystery. Perhaps the super had had enough. Perhaps he or she threw the keys away. The burden was too great. The landlord had taken one too many liberties.

But now you have the keys. You have access to several apartments in the city. You don’t know which ones. You begin trying doors. For years you will be trying doors. If you could get one, then you would have them all. Or most of them. There is no order to them, at least no order anyone but the super could know. They belong to one building. They belong to several buildings. You do not know. You do not know the order. They are not marked with apartment or lot numbers. This would be too revealing. The super knew his job well. He didn’t mark the keys. Yet there is an order to them. In his mind. He knows them by feel, by look, size and color. You cannot acquire this knowledge. You must create your own order; devise a memory system of your own. But without the building or the doors you don’t know where to begin. Yet you must begin. The keys have access to so much information, more information than one man or woman needs. Each key knows only one door, but inside each door there is so much more. The color of the curtains, the arrangement of the furniture, the personalities of the residents. All of these contribute to the memory of the key. A new key or a tarnished key. A big key or a small key. A bent key. The one you have to put in only so much and not too much to get the door to open. There is another that you must put in and lift the knob just the right amount to get the key to engage. But once you’re in, everything is exactly where you expected it to be. Except for a few slight changes. The major objects remain in place. But a shirt is here, dishes are there, a toy here, the remote control, always in new places.

The people inside know what they’re suffering from. Everybody is suffering from something. Happiness is a form of suffering, suffering too much, suffering in excess. Suffering from an excess of joy. Death also produces suffering. Sadness is also an excess of suffering. Loneliness. That is suffering. Suffering alone is far worse than suffering with others. To suffer together, that’s the best you can wish for. Some are anxious for suffering. Without suffering, they will suffer from a lack of suffering. They are inspired by suffering. Like the tenant in apartment 11C. You know that’s not the real apartment number, but you realize, you must begin somewhere. You must choose a starting point. From there you can progress at a rapid pace, even if you begin in the wrong place. You must take a step, make a decision. Either that or you throw away the super’s keys. They mean nothing to you. They are a burden to you. As quickly as you find them, you discard them. They are not your problem. You don’t want that kind of access. You have your own memories. Your own keys. You are disinterested. You pass by, step over, move beyond them. Leave them for the next person. Another pedestrian will pick them up. Another pedestrian does pick them up. This is you. You pick them up. You begin trying them. As an object, the key chain is gorgeous, bulging with access, bulging with excess. Each key finds more to interest you. Each key overwhelms your curiosity. You are an inventor, discovery at every step of the way. There is nothing that is familiar to you any more. Everything is new and your curiosity is at the boiling point. There is no cooling it down. You are overflowing with curiosity as the key chain is overflowing with an excess of access to that which is curious. You cannot stop solving the mystery. You cannot believe there is an end to your pleasure. So you begin. Where do you begin? You begin here, right here. This is where you begin. Your place to start. Now. The key fits. The key turns. The lock disengages. The door slowly, ever so slowly opens. You don’t know if anyone is on the inside…


David Colosi - The Superintendent's Keys, Gary and Bandito, 2011
David Colosi - The Superintendent's Keys, Belleny & Tryst, 2011

David Colosi - The Superintendent's Keys, Carnation & Hoah, 2011

David Colosi - The Superintendent's Keys, The Silver Saxer, 2011
David Colosi - The Superintendent's Keys, Muriel Fendertooth, 2011
David Colosi - The Superintendent's Keys, Lauren & Hardly, 2011


Green - Joseph Burwell; Blue - Virginia Worley; Red - Eve Bailey;
Silver - David Colosi; Yellow - Katherine McLeod; Purple - Philip Hall
Still photographs - Lan Cheung

The Superintendent's Keys - David Colosi
The Superintendent's Keys - David Colosi
The Superintendent's Keys - David Colosi
The Superintendent's Keys - David Colosi
The Superintendent's Keys - David Colosi
The Superintendent's Keys - David Colosi
The Superintendent's Keys - David Colosi
The Superintendent's Keys - David Colosi
The Superintendent's Keys - David Colosi
The Superintendent's Keys - David Colosi
The Superintendent's Keys - David Colosi
The Superintendent's Keys - David Colosi
David Colosi - The Superintendent's Keys, 2011

The Superintendent's Keys was made possible in part by "Swing Space," a program of The Lower Manhattan Cultural Council. Materials were generously provided by Materials for the Arts, NYC Department of Cultural Affairs/NYU Department of Sanitation/NYC Department of Education.



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