Posts tagged with "Cornelia Parker":

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Cornelia Parker's Psychobarn brings a haunting beauty to the Met Rooftop

Looming in a corner on the rooftop of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York is a new structure that looks like it’s been there forever: its mansard roof tattered, its blood-red siding weather-beaten, its porch crumbling. It looks haunted. It looks familiar. It looks like—it is—the house from Psycho. Cue the theme music, right? Well, no. Under the bright-blue sky of a perfect spring day, with Central Park stretching out in every direction, it looks a lot less menacing than it does in Alfred Hitchcock’s thriller. Actually, it seems pretty harmless. But so did Norman Bates.

The tree-house-sized installation, Transitional Object (Psychobarn), was created by Turner Prize–winning artist Cornelia Parker, who has previously used architectural fragments in her work to explore themes of memory, transition, and transformation. Psychobarn plays with our preconceptions, and its menacing exterior belies a surprisingly wholesome origin. Daunted by the skyline, Parker decided to create a small domestic structure to contrast the city’s glass and stone towers. Looking to Edward Hopper’s paintings for inspiration, she found her answer after learning that his 1925 House by the Railroad was the model for the iconic Bates residence in Hitchcock’s masterpiece. To re-create the house while cultivating tension between the familiar and the unfamiliar, Parker used repurposed wood and rusted metal salvaged from an old red barn slated for demolition. She built her house like Hitchcock built his: A stage set that looks whole only from the right perspective. The metal scaffold behind its facade is clearly visible from half of the rooftop. Like its cinematic inspiration, Transitional Object (Psychobarn) is part fiction and part reality.

Hopper, Hitchcock, barns, Cornelia Parker, stage sets—I love all those things, which makes it all the more frustrating that I don’t love Psychobarn. The work’s title is a reference to psychoanalytical theory related to the emergence of a child’s identity independent from his parents. Perhaps it’s appropriate then that Psychobarn struggles to separate itself from a rich artistic heritage. It’s clever, I guess. Funny, even. But it doesn’t quite transcend the role of pop-culture punch line to become something greater, something that offers more profound insight, which Parker is certainly capable of producing. She first came to my attention with her pieces Mass and Anti-Mass—two nearly identical, large black cubes composed of charred wood fragments suspended at each end of a large gallery space—Mass is the remains of a church that burned down after a chance lightning strike; Anti-Mass is a church that was burned down by arsonists. It’s a challenging and provocative piece that I still think about often. Psychobarn has none of that power or complexity. There is no hidden psychosis.

I’m not saying that I need to have a deep emotional experience on the Met rooftop. This is, after all, a summertime installation that’s only 50 feet from a bar. It should be fun, and it is. But previous Met rooftop installations managed to be fun while also transforming our perception of the roof, the museum, or even the entire city. Dan Graham and Günther Vogt’s phenomenal Hedge Two-Way Mirror Walkabout (2014) and Tomás Saraceno’s Cloud City (2012) come to mind. These interactive installations distorted, refracted, and re-presented the skyline to the rooftop revelers at the Met. Psychobarn aims for a similar populist appeal (and it will surely capture hundreds of likes on Instagram), but unlike those previous projects, it doesn’t need to be experienced to be appreciated. It gains nothing by being on the Met’s rooftop. Worse, the rooftop gains nothing by having it. Originally, Parker wanted to build an entire barn on the roof. That would have been a transformative experience. Imagine stepping out of the refined galleries of the city’s greatest fine arts museum into a dirty, hay-filled, chicken-clucking space. Alas, it proved unfeasible.

Don’t let this deter you from making a pilgrimage up to the Met rooftop this summer. There is that aforementioned bar up there that, for the duration of the installation, will be serving Hitchcock-themed drinks. I recommend the Corpse Reviver (gin, Cointreau, Lillet, and absinthe). Like any good cocktail, the thoughtful blend of ingredients results in something that’s more than the sum of its parts. I just wish I could say the same for the art.

Transitional Object (Psychobarn) is on view through October 31 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

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Cornelia Parker puts a "Psycho-Barn" on top of the Met

Esteemed British artist Cornelia Parker has placed an ominous looking barn on the roof of The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. The installation, according to Parker, was inspired by Edward Hopper's House by the Railroad painting. Under its official title, The Roof Garden Commission: Cornelia Parker, Transitional Object (PsychoBarn) is the fourth rooftop installment the Met has overseen in what is becoming a yearly occurrence. When speaking of the rooftop feature, Parker says that she was "daunted" by the skyline surrounding the site. As a result, Parker, who's from Cheshire in the North of England, says that she wanted to place an "incongruous, domestic house" on top of the Met. Initially, Parker had planned for a much bigger traditional red barn, however, she quickly realized that these were "far too big." The result is a sinister looking barn, dubbed "PsychoBarn" due to its similarities with the infamous Bates mansion used in Alfred Hitchcock’s film Psycho. In fact, that is in part from where Parker drew her inspiration. When reading into Edward Hopper's House by the Railroad she discovered that the painting inspired Alfred Hitchcock to use an eerily similar barn structure for Bates mansion in his epic, Psycho. Likewise, Parker's creation is equally ominous. Formed from a deconstructed red barn, a prominent image in American architecture and indeed Hopper's work, the PyschoBarn rises 30 feet on the Met's rooftop. While it hardly makes a dent in the New York Skyline, it's a welcome variation on the typical imprint new builds have on the cityscape today. A closer look reveals that the barn is incomplete. Instead, it is two facades merely held upright by scaffolding and supports, emulating how Bates' mansion was constructed on set for Psycho. The successful deception of being a real barn is Parker's way of blurring authenticity and illusion through the process of assumption. “When you round the corner, you might think it’s the house from Psycho, or you might think it’s a red barn,” Parker said. “It’s cognitive dissonance. You oscillate in between two things—one is cozy, the other malign.” She added, “It’s not a one-liner.” On their website, the Met says: "The piece flickers between the physical reality of the barn and the cinematic fiction of the house, bringing up their respective ties to comfort and discomfort. Neither entirely real nor completely false, it vacillates unnervingly between its identities." “The title of Parker's work alludes to the psychoanalytic theory of transitional objects used by children to help negotiate their self-identity as separate from their parents.” Sheena Wagstaff, the museum's Leonard A. Lauder Chairman of modern and contemporary art, also said: “Cornelia has developed an astonishing architectural folly. It intertwines a Hitchcock-inspired iconic structure with the materiality of the rural vernacular." “Combining a deliciously subversive mix of inferences, ranging from innocent domesticity to horror, from the authenticity of landscape to the artifice of a film set, Cornelia's installation expresses perfectly her ability to transform clichés to beguile both eye and mind."