At the stroke of noon Paul-Andre Fortier appears on a broad, shady plaza near where the East River and the Hudson mingle at Battery Park. He takes possession of a taped-off square about 25 feet on each side, saluting Manhattan and bracing our attention.
A tall, lean man who is, at 62, in better shape than many New Yorkers half his age, he explores every surface and joint of his body, pushing against the stone surface with his feet, his hands, his hips. In a white crew-neck shirt and black trousers and shoes, he flexes his knees and elbows, windmills his arms, and raises a hand to greet each direction, honor each corner of his contained spot.
Staffers from the Joyce Theater shoo away distracted office workers who wander into his path. Curious folks sit on a nearby ledge to watch his focused movements, which call to mind yoga or t’ai chi. He creeps backwards on all four extended limbs, tries a few push-ups. He turns again to each side of his square, bidding us goodbye before stepping out to drink some water and mop his brow.
Fortier’s in residence here every day for 30 minutes; his final show, on Aug. 14, marks the 360th performance of a glorious ritual that’s taken him around the world. Come and greet him.