The Beverly Center, a 900,000-square-foot mall in Los Angeles, California, has recently installed two large-scale art installations within the iconic street-facing escalators along Beverly Boulevard and La Cienega Boulevard. They are the latest work of Pae White, a local artist who grew up near the Beverly Center, and were organized by independent curator Jenelle Porter. “In my opinion,” said Porter, “[White] is the only artist who could make such incredibly beautiful and keenly intelligent works for Beverly Center; artworks that will contribute to the already rich cultural landscape of this city.” The installation facing Beverly Boulevard, Day for Night for Day, is a light sculpture comprised of over 900 uniquely-shaped pieces of hand-shaped neon. Each element within the five-story piece is color-keyed to a perceptual temperature (warmth) in the daylight spectrum, resulting in a constellation of vibrant hues akin to the many characters of the Los Angeles sunset. The artist referred to the piece as both “a kind of magic carpet” and an immersive Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) lamp visitors interact with prior to and following their shopping experience. The title of the installation is a nod to the city's movie history, particularly the cinematic technique of simulating nighttime during the day. The La Cienega-facing installation, Moonsets for a Sunrise, is made up of a mostly dark-hued palette to represent nighttime and the four types of moons—the harvest moon, strawberry moon, blue moon, and snow moon. Made up of 73,635 pieces of tile glazed in over 100 colors, White ensured that no color combination module repeats anywhere within the entire expanse. The many shades on display exemplify the myriad hues of moonlight, allowing for differing interpretations of the piece from up-close as well as from passersby on the street. White was inspired to create the two site-specific pieces after observing the unique qualities of the glass-enclosed escalators and the constant movement they provide between the parking lots and the main interior spaces. “In their simultaneous explorations of the phenomenological effects of light,” said White, “both art installations generate different experiences during the day and the night. The neon of Day for Night for Day offers one kind of experience during daylight hours and another kind at night when its illumination is most prominent. The same applies to Moonsets for a Sunrise, though conversely: the ‘moonlight’ colors are most glorious in the morning sun.”
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Peter Halley’s Heterotopia II, a candy-colored shrine to geometric abstraction closed on December 20 at Greene Naftali gallery in Chelsea (Manhattan). The exhibition, which embodied the relationship between painting and architectural space, brought visitors into a disorienting, hyperreal world collaged out of references to science fiction, modernist architecture, and mass media—all painted in fluorescent hues. The installation was both a fortress and a stage set and brought to mind the importance of creating alternative worlds and ways of seeing while also probing the ties between architecture, art, and image. The experience could be described as stepping into one of the Neo-Geo paintings Halley became known for in the ’80s. Or, like stepping into a Josef Albers color study—the same floor appearing to drastically transform in color as one moves from a room with pink walls to one painted orange. Housed between floor-to-ceiling yellow walls coated in Roll-A-Tex, visitors could catch small glimpses of the polychromatic, multi-level interior spaces from narrow cut-outs along the perimeter prior to entering and one could enter one of two ways: through a long hall covered in glimmering metallic tinsel, or an entry immediately confronted with a set of low, blue steps. Eight rooms in total contained eight new shaped-canvas paintings that incorporated the same Roll-A-Tex coating as the exterior walls. Like the three-dimensional space the paintings occupied, symmetry was abandoned in favor of variously sized stacked rectangles reminiscent of prison cells, circuit boards, or maybe a section taken through a PoMo building. The rooms emanated from a central glowing core which was the only space in the gallery that could not be climbed into and occupied, but only looked down into through three distinct apertures in the surrounding rooms. Both the positive and negative shapes recalled iconic elements from modernist architects—Luis Barragan or Ricardo Legorreta’s stairs (not a handrail in sight), Louis Kahn’s concentric cut-outs, or Peter Eisenman’s grid. Halley utilized such elements to compose sightlines, resulting in the most exciting views of the paintings being not from directly in front of, but mediated by the architecture itself—from the top of a staircase, at the intersection of two contrasting colored walls, between beams and columns, or framed by a “window”. The paintings themselves are worlds within a world within a world and have accordingly been named after Isaac Asimov’s fictional universes: Helicon, Galaxia, Terminus, and Gaia. Creating paintings that depicted both social isolation and connectivity, the artist's work has often looked to geometry as a metaphor for society. A heterotopia can be defined as institutions that are in opposition to the utopia, spaces that are different and that operate outside of societal norms (prisons, temples, cemeteries, and brothels are some of the examples Michel Foucault outlined in his essay "Of Other Spaces: Utopias and Heterotopias"). At the same time, heterotopias often reveal as much as they conceal, acting as a mirror that reflects back the values of the dominant culture. Halley’s Heterotopia II is a labyrinthian universe that highlighted visitors’ relationship to and perception of color in the built environment whether applied to a canvas, a wall, or pixels of a photo uploaded to social media. In today’s terms, the installation is “Instagrammable,” to say the least. The work exhibited tensions and connections between rationalist geometry, color, and the relationship to technology that seem inescapable. So of course, I posted an image of the alien green room housing the painting Terminus to my Instagram story, to which my sister replied: “Wow! It looks like Mario World.” Despite her distance from any sort of contemporary art world discourse, she’s not all that far off. And perhaps like Mario World, much of the essence or aura of the installation was lost in stillness, on pause, or in a photograph. It took traversing the space, hugging the wall so as not to fall off the different heighths of stairs, moving up to go back down again, hopping over obstacles, or darting past other gallery-goers to truly experience the work. It’s impossible to enter this exhibition and not think about the thousands of uploads it will, and has, generated in digital space. In the age of pop-up experiences and Instagram museums, Heterotopia II inevitably lends itself well to fashionable stories and selfie opportunities (yes, it was listed on FOMOFeed). Perhaps the work was more of a reverie than critique. The installation depicted digitally in the square cells of Instagram, rather than the physical location itself, could be viewed as the heterotopia at hand. How we see and perceive color on the screen, as opposed to witnessing the interplay of surfaces IRL, reveals a lot about how we’ve come to relate to, consume (and share) both art and architecture on a broader level.
Installation artists Ilya and Emilia Kabakov unveil their architectural influence at the Tchoban Foundation
“During the renaissance a lot of artists did everything,” says Emilia Kabakov in a video released by Berlin’s Tchoban Foundation Museum for Architectural Drawing. And she and her artistic collaborator Ilya Kabakov have done just about everything. Pioneers of installation art, the U.S.S.R-born, U.S.–based duo’s work, as well as Ilya’s earlier solo projects, have become seminal examples of conceptual and spatial practice in the annals of contemporary art. Installation work and architecture often have shared affinities—not only by virtue of being architectonic in nature but also often installations must be planned and built, relying upon architectural know-how and construction practices. As with buildings, installations nearly always begin as something else: drawings, texts, or models. The Kabakovs’ illustrations and maquettes are now on display at Tchoban Foundation in an exhibition titled In the Making: Ilya & Emilia Kabakov. From Drawing to Installation that opened this past month and will remain on view until February 23, 2020. On display are watercolors and drawings for The Toilet (1992), one of the first installations that Ilya and Emilia embarked on together. Ramshackle public toilets housing all the details of an ad hoc apartment were first exhibited next to the Fridericianum museum for Documenta IX in Kassel, Germany. There are also drawings of The Red Pavilion which was shown at the 1993 Venice Biennale, and the Palace of Projects, a 23-foot-tall spiral structure packed with 61 smaller installations over two levels, on permanent display at the Zollverein in Essen, Germany. Unbuilt works are also featured, like The Vertical Opera, which was meant to be performed at the Guggenheim. Ilya Kabakov is one of the most prominent Soviet-born artists to reach global acclaim. Living within the Soviet Union until 1987, early in his career he spent around half the year illustrating children’s books as an “official” artist, using the rest of his time to develop his other projects, such as the pioneering installation The Man Who will Fly into Space From His Apartment. In the 1970s and 80s, he was a central figure to the unofficial Moscow Conceptualism movement. He began collaborating with Emilia in the late 1980s and they later married. Since then all their projects have been realized together. Their work is distinguished by its elaborate construction of interior spaces, at once fantastic and realistic, with various furnishings, knickknacks, letters, and other objects from daily life. Their walkable spaces, which they term "total" installations, evoke the peculiar lives of imagined occupants, connecting issues of memory and personal narrative with grander utopian ideals. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oJ8Rj7wIe4s&feature=youtu.be
Cycle or stroll along the Regent's Canal in northeast London and you'll find a new addition to a mad-hat menagerie of quirky architectural interventions populating the water's edge. The Potemkin Theatre, designed by London-based studio Maich Swift, is the third Antepavilion—a yearly competition run by the Architecture Foundation and Shiva Ltd. The Potemkin Theater sits atop a warehouse and looks north over the canal. At 27 feet tall, its prominent position means it can be seen from far down the canal, rising against the post-industrial landscape like a skinny timber Torre Velasca. However, the timber intervention only truly reveals itself as you get much closer; the slender yellow structure's canal-facing facade comes into view and displays a green checkerboard pattern made from gesso-treated canvas panels. Spanning three stories, the building will serve as a performance space, with the structure itself able to be used as a prop as well as a backdrop and theater gallery for performances. The pavilion's name comes from Grigory Potemkin, a Russian who in 1787 supposedly painted the facades of buildings in a Crimean village to impress Empress Catherine II upon her visit. Maich Swift adopted the same notion, taking interest in the way the internal structure can be hidden behind a lively and colorful frontage. "We thought early on that the structure could be accessed by both an audience and performers," said Ted Swift, who cofounded Maich Swift in 2016, speaking to AN. "We wanted the structure to be something that was as flexible as possible," added fellow co-founder Paul Maich. "Stuff like this is slowly disappearing in Hackney." Maich Swift was founded in 2016, with both architects coming from the London-based practice Caruso St. John. Along with Grigory Potemkin, the pair said they were inspired by Monsieur Hulot's home in Jacques Tati’s 1958 French film, Mon Oncle, drawing on the highly visual circulation space exhibited in the film. Behind the canvassed facade, a stair linking the pavilion's three levels is clearly visible between the laminated veneer lumber structural frame. The theater was assembled in just 25 days for a mere $30,000. "We knew we had to build it ourselves (with the help of volunteers) so it had to be practical," said Swift. Furthermore, the pavilion is designed to eventually be unbolted, though before that happens, a two-month-long program of performances, discussion, and events as been planned throughout August and September. In winning the Antepavilion competition, Maich Swift beat out 187 other entries. "Not only were the jury impressed by Maich Swift's quirky design and eclectic references, but we were particularly drawn to Potemkin's potential to become a new cultural venue," said Chloe Spiby Loh, who chaired the judging panel. "This showed the maturity of their approach, which projected a future for the pavilion beyond the commission." An opening party for the pavilion was attended by more than 1,000 people, though the structure has yet to be put through its paces as a performance space; capacity is for ticketed events is 180 people. "Hopefully we'll be surprised by the way people use it," said Swift.
I know it rains a lot in London, but you have to wonder if Olafur Eliasson is playing a joke—the Danish-Icelandic artist has installed a "Rain Window" (Regenfenster, 1999) inside the Tate Modern just as summer begins. Eliasson has previous experience when it comes to playing with the weather in England. In 2003, The Weather Project illuminated the Tate's Turbine Hall with a miniature "sun" to create a sunset-like haze in the former power station and attracted some two million visitors. Sixteen years on, Eliasson is back. Olafur Eliasson: In Real Life, the Tate Modern's latest retrospective of the artist, pulls together 38 works dating back to 1990 through to today. While none are as exhilarating as the 2003 show, however, Eliasson is still able to able to tantalize the senses. Fitting that many of Eliasson's works into one exhibition was no mean feat, and not all of them can be found inside. Waterfall, from 2019, is the most impressive, and as its name suggests, water cascades down from a 36-foot-tall scaffold structure. It seems like an informal emphatic start. It's odd then, that In Real Life actually begins inside passed ticketed doors with a glass box of geometric models. The work, Model Room, collates some 450 models, the result of Eliasson's collaboration with Icelandic artist, mathematician, and architect Einar Thorsteinn. They're not bad by any stretch, but this isn't the stellar stuff one expects. Thankfully more, much more, in fact, lies around the corner. Audiences are encouraged to touch—but not grab—a giant wall of Scandinavian moss stretching 65 feet. The work dates back to 1994 and presumably, new moss has been installed. Here we find the aforementioned Regenfenster too, though, if you didn't know it was a work dating back to 1999, it could easily be mistaken for a leaking pipe (Now that you're in the know, keep an ear out for people questioning: "Is it really raining outside?"). In the same room is The Seeing Space, a circular viewing portal nestled into a wall which lets viewers approach and peer into a room of what seems to be nothingness. Walk around though, and it's revealed that The Seeing Space is a ruse, another Eliasson joke, for one's face is focused in on and unflatteringly framed on the other side. As a result, you have to immediately go back and ask someone to film you, to see just how embarrassing it was. It's not going to be good. This is what Eliasson is best at, creating stuff that's fun, and there's more of that to come, as squeals of delight from around the corner forewarn us of. The sound, you find out, is of children running through shimmering heavy mist that has had a spectrum of color projected onto it. The work is called Beauty, with good reason, and is for anyone daring enough to let go of their apprehensions and enjoy themselves at the cost of getting mildly damp. More interactive art follows. Your Blind Passenger, the exhibition's pièce de résistance (if fellow visitors' Instagrams are to tell us anything), is a 130-foot-long journey through dense fog. It's certainly visceral—you can only see five feet ahead—and along the corridor, the fog's color gently changes from white to yellow and finally blue. While other exhibits are best enjoyed with a partner, it's best to experience the passage alone to get the full feeling of discombobulation. In Eliasson's native tongue the work is called Din Blinde Passager, the Danish term for a stowaway, for who captivity in the artist's work is pretty sweet, literally so; the fog vapour is sugar-based. Your Blind Passenger is from 2010, the same year Eliasson produced Your Uncertain Shadow (Color). More fun for the young and young at heart is on display here: dance in front of an array of colored lights to see your silhouette, duplicated and overlapped in pastel hues. Unlike Your Blind Passenger, this piece seems to scream the more the merrier. Aside from that, the rest of the works follow the tone set by Model Room. Mirrors have been cleverly used in a few, such as Your Planetary Window—another portal in a wall, which you can see yourself in. Big Bang Fountain is also noteworthy; the 2014 work is set in a black room and harder to navigate than Your Blind Passenger, and uses flashes of light to illuminate bursts from a small water fountain. Don't bother trying to take a picture on your phone, and don't dare use a flash. In Real Life doesn't dazzle with every turn, but for the moments of genuine playfulness and engagement, the show is well worth it. Olafur Eliasson: In Real Life runs through January 5, 2020.
Plastic drinking straws take up to 200 years to decompose, and with 500 million thrown away each day in the U.S. alone, they are a huge part of the growing plastic waste crisis that is fatal to fish. This is the impetus behind the installation Killer Net by the 16-year-old artist and designer Adriano Souras, who found 9,000 straws and fashioned them into a plastic fisherman’s net. Fishermen’s nets should be used to catch fish but due to ocean pollution, they increasingly collect old plastic. Souras’s art represents the idea that the ocean and plastic have become synonymous. “The Killer Net is visually pleasing and disturbing at the same time, as its complexity, vibrancy, and harmony appeal to the viewer, in the same way plastic has, to the consumers, for so long. On the other hand, it is a terrifying reminder of our future, if we continue to disregard the evidence and impact plastic already has on our environment, we will destroy our oceans and our sea life. The net is adjustable and takes on different shapes, indicating the constant spread, sometimes subtle and sometimes aggressive, that pollution causes. This is disguised behind the appealing colors of the straws,” said the artist. Killer Net Through July 9, 2019 Blackbox Gallery, Some Office 1551 West Homer Street, Chicago, IL 60642 By appointment only.
Surrounds: 11 Installations, an exhibition opening at the Museum of Modern Art this fall, will feature a series of immense, whole-gallery installations, each on view in the museum for the first time. The installations, which MoMA collected over the last two decades, represent watershed moments in the careers of 13 living artists: Jennifer Allora and Guillermo Calzadilla, Sadie Benning, Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller, Sou Fujimoto, Sheila Hicks, Arthur Jafa, Mark Manders, Rivane Neuenschwander, Dayanita Singh, Hito Steyerl, and Sarah Sze. Among the most memorable works are The Killing Machine, a haunting scene of automated parts, electronic sound effects and flickering screens, and Fault Lines, a mesmerizing live performance by two plainclothes choir boys amid cleaved stone masses. Each installation will be displayed in its own gallery on the sixth floor of the museum, where it can be appreciated as an individual, immersive environment, or as part of a larger exploration of how physical space shapes our experiences. Although they were “conceived out of different individual circumstances,” explained the show’s press release, “the installations are united in their ambition and scope, marking decisive shifts in the careers of their makers and the broader field of contemporary art.” Surrounds: 11 Installations will be on view October 21 through Spring 2020 in the Steven and Alexandra Cohen Center at the Museum for Modern Art. More information on the show is available here.
Filipino artist and designer Leeroy New has created a fluorescent installation in Pintô International's new gallery space in New York City's East Village. After a two-week residency in February 2019, New created the sculptures along with multi-colored costumes that performers have donned while traipsing around Lower Manhattan. Aliens of Manila: New York Colony has a sort of psychedelic, fungal look, as though prosaic objects had somehow mutated into funky new lifeforms. Both the sculptures and the costumes are made of cheap plastic home goods and fabrication supplies like zip ties and fiberglass strips. The photos of performers on the street are part of the artist's broader Aliens of Manila project that "speaks to the wider experience of cultural displacement but is profoundly informed by the artist’s own familial experience with the phenomenon of what he refers to as 'OFW'—Overseas Filipino Workers." The photos show people in the costumes popping against the backdrop of day-to-day activity in New York City. Pintô International is the new space from the Phillippines-based Pintô Art Museum, a museum that collects and exhibits the work of many prominent local artists. Aliens of Manila: New York Colony marks the launch of a quarterly exhibition schedule, an artist residency, and a monthly Pintô Sessions event series. Aliens of Manila: New York Colony Pintô International 431 East 12th Street, New York, New York Through May 27, 2019
Miami’s Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA Miami), in collaboration with Miami Design District, will unveil a towering art installation by Yona Friedman, Hungarian-born French architect, designer, sculptor, and urban planner, whose innovative works represent humans’ complex relationship with the environment. The public sculpture, titled Space-Chain Phantasy-Miami 2019, features intertwined, geometric cubes composed of metal wire. The lightweight installation reflects Friedman’s perception that architecture should be flexible and capable of adjusting to the needs of its users and inhabitants. This concept originates from his personal history as an emigrant and nomadic refugee who often depended on temporary shelters to survive. While major urban centers can be dense, harsh, and chaotic, Friedman believes that temporary, ephemeral architecture can help democratize a city and empower its inhabitants, promoting a city that evolves with its people. Friedman's work, including temporary structures similar to Space-Chain Phantasy-Miami 2019, has been featured in collections of the Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles, the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, and the Centre Pompidou in Paris, among many other locations. The sculpture will be unveiled on February 22 at Paradise Plaza in the Miami Design District. ICA Miami is free and open to the public all year.
As temperatures continue to plummet in New York, it may not be a total surprise that a giant iceberg has found its way onto the city's streets. Last week, the Garment District Alliance bared its latest interactive art installation, Iceberg, which can be found at the Broadway pedestrian plazas between 37th and 38th Streets. The installation, composed of jagged metallic arches that illuminate and make noises evocative of melting ice as visitors walk through them, was created by ATOMIC3 and Appareil Architecture in collaboration with Jean-Sébastien Côté and Philippe Jean. The work was inspired by actual icebergs and is intended to chronicle the life cycle of a floe, from when it first breaks off the edge of a glacier to when it ultimately melts due to climate change. Part of the motive behind creating the installation was to acknowledge the significance of climate change and global warming, and how they will continue to worsen if people don't make more environmentally-conscious changes to their lifestyles. “This is an astonishing installation that transforms Broadway into a gleaming, interactive experience for pedestrians, while reinforcing an important environmental message,” said Garment District Alliance president Barbara Blair in a statement. Despite the serious message that the piece tries to convey, it appears to be a fun addition to the streetscape, where visitors can playfully interact with the structure, as well as pose for a photo-op. Aside from the arches flashing different colors and emitting loud “drip” noises as people pass under them, the arches make thunderous crashing sounds every so often to indicate an iceberg calving. The energetic spectacle draws in large crowds to the already bustling Garment District, just a few blocks south of Times Square. This isn’t the first time the sculpture has been unveiled to the public; it made its first debut at the 2012 Luminothérapie festival in Montreal. The installation is part of the year-round public art program, “Garment District on the Plazas,” and it will be on view through February 24.
This past month, architect-turned-artist Phillip K. Smith III revived the 100-foot-long walkway that links two of Detroit’s most celebrated skyscrapers with a dynamic light installation. Wedged between the Guardian Building and One Woodward Avenue, the suspended passageway was built in the 1970s to allow employees of the American Natural Resources Company and Michigan Consolidated Gas Company to pass freely between the two office buildings without interference from inner-city traffic and congestion. When one of the companies relocated in the 1990s, however, the bulky walkway was abandoned. Fortunately, the sky bridge has now been revitalized with a permanent installation by the California designer known for his extravagant, light-based, and Coachella-esque works of art. Phillip K. Smith III has completely transformed the neglected passageway into a vibrant, floating bar of light that electrifies the streets of downtown Detroit. “Detroit Skybridge is another example of how underutilized spaces can be reimagined for the benefit of the public,” said the owner of Library Street Collective, the art organization that conceptualized the project. “Phillip’s use of light and color, along with his understanding of architecture and scale, makes this a compelling project for the city.” Smith drew inspiration from the geometric white concrete of Minoru Yamasaki’s 1962 One Woodward building and the variegated interior of the 1929 Guardian Building. His design, which is composed of shifting tones and moving planes of light, has added a pop of color and a renewed interest to the historic city’s constantly evolving skyline. “By day, the Skybridge will continue to be seen as its historic self within the architecture and massing of Downtown. But by night, it will become a beacon for the beauty, creativity, and innovation of Detroit,” said Smith. “I am interested in creating experiences that tap into ‘universal beauty’—experiences that make us step away from our pattern, our life, our work, our errands, and allow us to see sublime beauty shifting and changing before our eyes.”
On October 10, the doors of Detroit’s long-abandoned State Savings Bank will open to the public and reveal a space radically different from the building's original interior. Among the building’s elegant columns, historic bank vault, and vast interior space sits Doug Aitken’s latest art installation, a mystifying sculpture in the form of a one-story American suburban house, equipped with a maze of mirror-clad rooms and hallways that will leave visitors both disoriented and perplexed. The sprawling design, known as Mirage Detroit, diffracts and reflects every aspect of its surroundings, including the historic architecture of the antiquated building in which it resides. The resulting contrast is intense: the bank, with its bold sculptural supports, decorative enrichments, elaborate cornice, and over-scaled features, is juxtaposed with Aitken’s angular, mirrored sculpture and the room’s marble floor, which has been completely obscured by raw earth and river rocks. The merging of these elements conjures images of “a constantly shifting landscape that incorporates the organic and inorganic, reflects the past, and questions the future,” according to a statement from the artist's studio. Mirage Detroit will mark one of the first times that the public has had open access to the State Savings Bank, which was built in 1900 and has been vacant for decades. The bank, which is impressive by virtue of its sheer size, classical décor, and adaptation to the urban American landscape, represents the history of Detroit while looking towards its future. It was saved from demolition after it was purchased by Bedrock in late 2014. “In many ways, Mirage will become its surroundings,” says Anthony Curis, owner of Detroit-based art gallery Library Street Collective. “It will reflect and intensify one of the city’s greatest historical and cultural contributions—its grand architecture.” Over the course of the exhibition period, Mirage Detroit will host an array of cultural events ranging from educational programs, musical performances, and community programs funded by organizations like Cranbrook Academy of Art, Art Museum, Museum of Modern Art Detroit (MOCAD), and College for Creative Studies.