In case you’ve missed it, the world is ending. There’s war, displacement, drought, famine, rising seas, sinking cities, faster winds, and a frightening U.N. report suggests irrevocable, possibly humanity-ending results if we can’t reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 100 percent of 2010 levels by 2050. Artist Josh Kline wants to give us a vision of this un-future. In Climate Change: Part One, Kline has transformed Chinatown gallery 47 Canal in Manhattan into a dystopian funhouse, one that reflects and refracts our world—and its possible undoing—back at us for unnerving effect. Through the first door, which features the stars of a mangled American flag peaking through plastered-on sand, you’ll encounter an irregularly shaped green table mounted with a lit vitrine. Against the nearest wall are a series of large, whirring industrial freezers. The tarp floors make a slight, sticky sound underfoot. This table is one of three bearing names that read like euphemisms for the current state of catastrophe capitalism: Transnational Finance, Technological Innovation. In this one, Representative Government, models of various seats of power—the White House, the Reichstag, rendered in Potomac River mud and placed against a satellite photo of Washington, D.C.—slowly drown under the water of melting miniature icebergs. The freezers sustain the chunks of ice just enough that the submergence is painfully slow, taking place over the month-and-a-half of the show's run. As we know, cooling a small space puts out a great deal of heat elsewhere, rendering the gallery quite warm. Other vitrines hold different building typologies, like skyscrapers rising together from an imaginary Manhattan made from all the world's tallest buildings. The Burj Khalifa and the Chrysler Building aren’t in the same city, and there's no iceberg floating and melting in New York's Upper Bay, but you get the idea. The real-life ice may be far away, but water, and the planet, is a continuity. An ice shelf north of Greenland crashing into the sea has implications that reach far further than the Arctic Circle. Through the doors there are other, unenclosed tables, with pink soy wax in the shape of insurance buildings and suburban homes melting down tubes that collect and direct the colored sludge into buckets below. Waste is not hidden, as everything is a system. The doors, each named after a degrees Celsius, with a second parenthetical appellation, are themselves artworks, but also serve their usual purpose. Some rooms, arranged together like a cartoon hallway from a Scooby Doo villain's mansion, can only be entered through a singular door, some an array of doors. They present a false sense of choice, and all lead to the same room, each degree of difference still resulting in the same ruins. The checklist is very clear about origins, at least for some of the more “natural” materials: beach sand from New York City, Shenzhen, and California; desert sand from Texas and the Sahara; steel powder from China. The flags, too, have origin stories, however misleading they might be. We might imagine that the nylon flags desecrated and pasted onto the doors with paint and sand and kelp may represent Germany, the U.S., China, and so on, but they are likely to all be from somewhere else, maybe the same factory, possibly located in none of these countries. To the tentacles of global commerce, borders are long gone. For the refugees of climate disaster and resource wars, the same can’t yet be said. The doors, with their disfigured flags, are meant to represent the dissolution of borders and nations that Kline predicts climate change and its cascading ramifications will bring about. They also represent our willful participation in the house of horrors-style drowning disasters shown in each of the different rooms as we open and close them. Even when faced with three doors, the sense of choice is false: each opens to the same room. Whether our actions raise global average atmospheric temperatures by 2º C (Dutch, Belgian, French, and German flags, all compressed with Sahara Desert sand—a Colonial Chain Reaction) or 3º C (a mashup of the Union Jack and Japanese flags along with kelp and chlorella) or 5º C (American and Russian flags, Potomac River mud), we’ll still find ourselves in too deep, so to speak. Particularly resonant are the banal and domestic scenes. Situated in hermetically sealed versions of the fume hoods from your college chemistry class painted in subdued, aesthetically-pleasing shades of urethane paints with lighting to match, are scenes with dollhouse miniatures, submerged underwater (or really, cyanoacrylate glue and epoxy). They depict sorrily-stocked grocery stores, bland offices, and suburban home interiors, but their titles are not so bland: Erosion, Inundation, and Submersion. Disintegration isn't loss, it’s transformation. Even as rising water washes away the mud of the miniature buildings, that same dirt just is transported elsewhere, but formless. Matter is conserved, even if our environment is not. What once was just becomes something else, and with us gone, who will be there to name it or know the difference anyway? Things happen on scales too large for us to know, or to know to even ask questions about. Kline shows us this, plainly, perhaps even at first propagandistically. In this show alone, the interlocking problems of political power, globalization, financialization, housing, architecture, technology, and climate change are all put on display. But there’s no real call to arms here, just a documentation of the future present. But it does make one have to ask: If this is Climate Change: Part One, what happens in part two? Climate Change: Part One 47 Canal 291 Grand Street, 2nd Floor, New York Through June 9, 2019
Posts tagged with "Public Art":
Manhattan’s Madison Square Park has opened its 38th outdoor installation to the public today, dropping an evocative, interactive “cityscape” from sculptor Leonardo Drew into the park that will stay up until December 15. The 100-plus-foot-long City in the Grass stands as a solitary statement on its own but also makes ample reference to the city surrounding it, including the Empire State Building, which looms over the park. The piece is a tapestry of colors, textures, and materials that simultaneously evokes growth, comfort, ruins, and intimacy on the park’s Oval Lawn. Three stepped spires, the tallest of which tops out at 16 feet, anchor City in the Grass and are an obvious allusion to the Empire State Building to the north. Each spire is made from a mixture of plaster and latex paint, and Drew says that their eclectic appearance is a reference to Cuba’s dilapidated hotels, where peeling paint reveals the underlying structure. Surrounding each spire is an abstracted landscape of black and white wood offcuts of varying heights, reminiscent of buildings, but without a specific reference. These urban islands “float” in between waves of steel panels adorned in colored sand and patterned after Persian carpet designs, literalizing the “ebb and flow” of urban life through peaks and valleys. The peeling, layered look of the carpet, complete with holes and seams that let the grass below poke through, is meant to evoke the feeling of a familiar, well-worn home item. While the piece may look like it was assembled from found materials, Drew was quick to point out that he doesn’t use found objects; every piece and tear is deliberate. Drew is typically known for his wall pieces and City in the Grass is his first outdoor public installation. Appropriately enough, the piece is meant to encourage public interaction. While City in the Grass might look fragile, visitors are encouraged to sit, stand on, and explore it from every angle (just don’t climb on the spires). City in the Grass was commissioned by the Madison Square Park Conservancy. As the exhibition will remain up throughout the fall and winter, visitors can experience the materials weathering in real time in response to the natural landscape around it.
The 37-acre Artpark in Lewiston, New York, straddles the Niagara River and Canadian border and has been showcasing public land art, installations, and performances for over 40 years. Now, the Artpark & Company board of directors has tapped SO-IL, urban designers and landscape architects West 8, and theater and digital design consultants Charcoalblue to create a master plan for the park that will modernize it for the 21st Century. The Artpark was, from its conception, an artificial landscape, as it was built in a quarry on top of waste material from the construction of the Niagara Power Plant, a hydroelectric plant nearby. The new master plan takes what works about the extent park and enhances it, while overlaying three key design principles, according to West 8. The first principle is “revealing a new nature,” or using strategic cuts to sculpt the landscape of the park and create programmatic areas using the cuts or plateaus created. Viewing platforms for land art will be created this way, surrounded by walking paths. An outdoor amphitheater is at the heart of the master plan and will be created by scooping out a deep depression and molding “mound” seats for the audience around the center stage, set against the bank of the adjacent river. The second principle, “amplifying environments,” means hills and galleries will be treated to capture views of the surrounding Niagara river and gorges, as well as the rest of the Artpark. New bridges, paths, and viewing platforms will also be integrated. The third, and most esoteric principle is “modulating frequencies,” or tuning the park’s programming to the seasons. Different performances, and new outdoor performance spaces, will build on the concerts offered in the summer and offer year-round reasons to visit. The new master plan is the fruit of a study commissioned in 2017, and will be funded by private donors, the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation, and Empire State Development, as the Artpark is part of the New York State Parks system. Artpark is welcoming public feedback from residents and parkgoers and will be fielding questions about the new plan at a public forum at 6:00 p.m. on June 5 inside the Mainstage Theater.
After a successful Kickstarter campaign last year raised $76,000 for the launch of the Orbital Reflector “art satellite,” the installation has been lost in space. The project arose from a collaboration between American artist Trevor Paglen and the Nevada Museum of Art. Once the diamond-shaped balloon was fully deployed, it was supposed to circle the Earth for two months, reflecting sunlight back to the ground at night. Once the small “CubeSat” carrying the balloon reached space, it was to separate from the rocket, establish a unique orbit, and inflate the balloon using a compressed nitrogen cartridge. Orbital Reflector was supposed to have been the first piece of public art visible from space, with a truly global reach (edging out Pepsi’s attempts at low Earth orbit advertising). The 100-foot-long reflective polyethylene balloon was launched on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket alongside 63 other satellites on December 3 of last year, but was unable to deploy as scheduled thanks to the ongoing government shutdown. Each satellite requires a unique ID number so that it can be tracked at ground level; unfortunately, the Combined Space Operations Center, a division of the Air Force that allocates those identifiers, was unable to perform this task during the government shutdown. The Nevada Museum of Art lost contact with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), who had requested the team wait for their go-ahead before expanding the balloon, during that time as well. Now it seems that the team has thrown in the towel. According to a letter dated May 1 posted on the Orbital Reflector website, communication with the satellite has been lost. “Orbital Reflector successfully separated from the rocket,” reads the final update, “and was deployed within a cluster of similarly sized spacecraft. To avoid collision, Orbital Reflector was set to inflate once it drifted away from potential impacts, and after it had received final clearance and approval from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The satellite’s electronics and hardware were designed to function during this waiting period but were not hardened for long-term functionality in space. From the start, the satellite was designed to be as light and functional as possible to allow for eventual disintegration. “By the time the government was re-opened and the Air Force renewed its attempts to sort out the cloud of satellites, communications from spacecraft had gone silent. At this point, it became clear that tracking Orbital Reflector, either before or after its inflation in space, would no longer be a viable outcome.” With the satellite dead in the water, the project’s Kickstarter backers at least received the pins, patches, and postcards they had pledged for.
An astronomical ballet has landed on the roof of Manhattan’s Metropolitan Museum of Art for the summer. The 2019 Roof Garden commission has gone to Polish-German artist Alicja Kwade, who has installed two stark sculptural interventions in the space overlooking Central Park; ParaPivot I and ParaPivot II, which will be on display through October 27. The Berlin-based Kwade has suspended nine marble spheres, each mined in a different country, including Norway, Finland, and Brazil, and uniquely veined and colored, in a simulacrum of our solar system. Each planetoid weighs between a hefty half-to-one-and-a-half tons, but have been effortlessly elevated by angular, interlocking powder-coated steel frames. The color and patterning of each carefully-selected stone mimic the most well-known features of each planet. (The nine planets represented include Pluto, which was demoted from planet-status in 2006.) As the frames fan out from a central point, the spheres’ arrangements suggest the elliptical, wobbly orbits found throughout our solar system, with many of them playfully balanced and wedged between the scaffolding. The Met describes the ParaPivot structure as evoking the “astrolabe, a scientific instrument invented in ancient Greece and perfected by Islamic astronomers in the medieval period to chart the trajectories of the stars and planets.” However, the piece is site-specific for a reason. Each rectangular scaffold creates a curated view of the Manhattan skyline, and both frames the city as well as suggests a “support” that holds it up. The effect is meant to tie the Earthly setting to the astronomical theme. Unfortunately, because of the delicate interplay between stone and steel, visitors aren’t allowed to walk underneath either ParaPivot.
A new 25-foot-tall statue of an Afro pick now stands outside The Africa Center in East Harlem, New York. All Power to All People, created by conceptual artist Hank Willis Thomas, was erected last Friday in its temporary location on 5th Avenue. Designed in collaboration with the Kindred Arts cultural equity initiative, the steel sculpture is intended to honor and celebrate cultural identities of the African diaspora. Thomas worked with fabricator Jeff Schomberg to imagine the larger-than-life Afro pick, which sits at an angle on a black podium and features a handle in the outline of a clenched fist. The design is an iteration of Thomas's 2017 sculpture made with Monument Lab in Philadelphia for Thomas Paine Plaza. In connection with the Afro pick’s distinct cultural and political identity, the piece symbolizes the strength, comradery, and perseverance of the African-American community, as well as the ongoing pursuit for equal rights, justice, and belonging. Marsha Reid, executive director of Kindred Arts and producer of the project, noted the important location of the installation. “Representation matters,” she said, “and this monumental art is placed here at The Africa Center in the heart of the community, with the purpose of inspiring conversation and facilitating a space where communities might affirm cultural citizenship and freely express identity.” All Power to All People will be on display through July 7, 2019, in the public plaza outside The Africa Center at 1280 Fifth Avenue in New York City. A slew of public programs will coincide with the monumental installation. For more information, visit The Africa Center’s website.
Two major players in art and design fabrication are merging into one powerhouse. UAP (Urban Art Projects) announced this week that it is acquiring the near 50-year-old, New York-based Polich Tallix Fine Art Foundry. The merger, according to a press release, will give both businesses a stronger geographical foothold and connect them to more artists, architects, designers, and developers. Together, both mainstay institutions have over 70 years of experience with the fabrication of fine arts and architectural projects. UAP, a global firm with 8 satellite offices, helps clients deliver bespoke structural art and design pieces for public and private use. The New York team has recently collaborated with Kohn Pederson Fox on the newly-opened 10 Hudson Yards, the Public Art Fund on the 2017 exhibition Ai Weiwei: Good Fences Make Good Neighbors, as well as SHoP Architects, and the Madison Square Park Conservancy. Polich Tallix, established in 1968, has worked on public art projects with prominent artists like Louise Bourgeois, Roy Lichtenstein, Jeff Koons, Alexander Calder, and Richard Serra. The company has also worked alongside major architectural studios such as Zaha Hadid Architects, John Portman & Associates, Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects, and Herzog & de Meuron to produce special art pieces for building projects. UAP’s Group Managing Director Matthew Tobin noted the importance of the acquisition. “UAP’s global reach, collaborative vision, and investment in advanced manufacturing and design robotics,” he said, “combined with Polich Tallix’s unmatched knowledge of traditional manufacturing, makes us a strong, dynamic and highly responsive art and design resource for world-class creatives.” Dick Polich, founder of Polich Tallix, expressed a similar sentiment: “Our greatest asset is the skill of our craftspeople and by joining forces, our firms have boldly expanded our capabilities and expertise.” A previous version of this article said that Polich Tallix's facility would be moving, however, we have since learned that is not the case.
This June, the Public Art Fund will install the seminal billboard, Untitled, 1989, by Cuban-American artist Felix Gonzalez-Torres in honor of the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising and WorldPride New York City. Set to rise above Sheridan Square’s Village Cigars at the intersection of Christopher Street and 7th Avenue, the powerful project will be on view throughout the month. Untitled, 1989, the first of Gonzalez-Torres’s iconic billboard artworks, was originally commissioned by Public Art Fund 30 years ago for the exact location it will be placed this year. The piece commemorated the 20th anniversary of the historic 1969 riots that helped catalyze the gay rights movement. Gonzalez-Torres’s large-scale signs—all of which feature two lines of white text set across the bottom of a black background—were designed to look like non-artworks and non-ads. “Gonzalez-Torres had a deep belief in the right for individual viewers to experience and interpret the work on their own terms,” the Public Art Fund stated in a press release. There isn’t a single label or an artist’s signature accompanying the installation. Untitled, 1989 reads the following:
People With Aids Coalition 1985 Police Harassment 1969 Oscar Wilde 1895 Supreme Court 1986 Harvey Milk 1977 March on Washington 1987 Stonewall Rebellion 1969As a series of moments and monumental figures with dates beside them, the text isn’t set up in chronological order. It also doesn’t distinguish between public and private histories. It’s open to interpretation by the viewer, but also stands as a “visual reference, an architectural sign of being, a monument for a community that has been ‘historically invisible,'” according to the statement which cites Gonzalez-Torres’s vision for the billboard. “Direct public engagement is fundamental to [Gonzalez-Torres’s] artistic practice, which expanded the possibilities for creative expression both within and beyond the museum walls,” said Public Art Fund Director and Chief Curator Nicholas Baume. “His integration of personal and political content that can bring about both awareness and action in the view has continued to inspire artists and audiences.” Untitled, 1989 is presented in collaboration with The Felix Gonzalez-Torres Foundation with support by Google. It will be on view from June 1 to 30, 2019, in Sheridan Square across the street from the historic Stonewall Inn.
Bulgarian-born artist Christo is making a triumphant return to the large-scale building wrapping projects that he’s famous for, with plans to fully envelop Paris’s Arc de Triomphe. From April 6 through April 19, 2020, Parisian bystanders, tourists, and art patrons will be able to view l’Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped (Project for Paris, Place de l’Étoile-Charles de Gaulle). Using nearly 270,000 square feet of recyclable silver-blue polypropylene fabric bound by 23,000 feet of red rope, one of the city’s most famous, and visible, public icons will be reduced to pure form. The project is moving ahead after winning approval from France’s government and the Center for National Monuments yesterday. Wrapping the archway has been a dream of Christo’s since 1962, when he sketched the monument while living with his artistic partner and late wife Jeanne-Claude in Paris, later returning to create additional studies in the ’70s and ’80s. That the piece is being realized now, Christo’s first wrapping project since the death of Jeanne-Claude in 2009, is no coincidence. l’Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped will run concurrently with Christo and Jeanne-Claude in Paris at the Pompidou Centre, which will document the couple’s formative period in Paris, where they lived from 1958 through 1964. The show will put previously unseen works on display, including sketches and paintings, as well as trace the lineage of the pair’s most well-known works, such as the wrapping of the Pont-Neuf in 1985. “Thirty-five years after Jeanne-Claude and I wrapped the Pont-Neuf, I am eager to work in Paris again to realize our project for the Arc de Triomphe,” said Christo in a statement. While the arc above is wrapped, the eternal flame at its center, installed in 1923 above the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, will continue to be fully maintained.
New York–based practice SOFTlab recently completed an interactive installation on the waterfront of Alexandria, Virginia. Titled Mirror, Mirror, the eight-foot-tall circular construction features a faceted surface made of acrylic lined with one-way mirror film. During the day, the acrylic is opaque, creating a crystalline mirrored exterior and a brightly-colored rainbow interior. At night, however, when LED lights behind the acrylic turn on, the construction becomes a lively lighthouse. Microphones pick up ambient noise and translate it into a flashing light show. When the area is quiet, the lights pulse with a wave-like flow. The work, not from the banks of the Potomac River, took inspiration from Alexandria's historic Jones Point Lighthouse, which used advanced lens technology in the 1800s to guide mariners to safety. Mirror, Mirror opened on March 30 and will be up through November, 2019. It is the first artwork in Site/See: New Views in Old Town, a program run by Alexandria’s Office of the Arts to bring attention to the city's historic core.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s flagship Beaux-Arts facade on Fifth Avenue will soon host art for the first time in the building’s 115-year history. Installing work along the museum’s historic frontage is part of a larger slew of contemporary art exhibitions announced by the institution last Thursday. The move to display new pieces, some of them site-specific, is a clear effort by the museum to fill the void created by winding down its presence at the Met Breuer. It was announced last September that the Met would be vacating the brutalist Breuer building in 2020, only four years after its renovation and rebranding, so that the Frick Collection can temporarily continue to operate there while its flagship house-museum undergoes an upgrade. From September 9 through January 12, 2020, sculptures from Nairobi-born artist Wangechi Mutu will adorn the facade's niches. Mutu’s designs will be the first in a newly-announced annual series of installations along the building’s stone facade, which was completed in 1902 by architect Richard Howland Hunt. Although Mutu's exact sculptures have not been revealed yet, her work has previously used collage to touch on elements of diaspora, African culture, and inequality. Additionally, Canadian Cree artist Kent Monkman has been tapped to create enormous, site-specific new paintings for the museum’s Great Hall, which will be on view from December 19 through April 12, 2020. Multidisciplinary Icelandic artist Ragnar Kjartansson will also premiere Death is Elsewhere, an immersive multi-channel video installation in the Robert Lehman Wing atrium, from May 30 through September 2. Other than marking a shift towards highlighting contemporary and new pieces, the three exhibitions also make greater use of the Met’s building itself to display them. "Artists have long engaged with The Met's collection, drawing connections between contemporary practices and 5,000 years of world culture," said Max Hollein, Director of the Met, in a press release. "These projects are a manifestation of The Met's desire and ability to collaborate with artists and current artistic production in an unusual way. The Met itself, the building, and its public spaces will become temporary platforms for presenting new work, offering powerful opportunities to display contemporary art for our broad audience to experience."
As throngs of tourists and New York City residents descend on Manhattan’s far west side for the opening of Hudson Yards’ first phase, AN joined the first tour of the Thomas Heatherwick–designed Vessel (interested visitors can reserve free tickets). Bill Pedersen, founding partner of Kohn Pedersen Fox (KPF), Thomas Woltz of landscape architecture studio Nelson Byrd Woltz, representatives from Heatherwick Studio, and Related Companies chairman Stephen Ross, who paid to construct the Vessel out of his own pocket, were also on hand to dive into the design behind the development. With the first phase of Hudson Yards opening to the public today, plenty of ink has already been spilled over the new neighborhood’s “fortress-like” nature, the accusations that it intentionally and discordantly stands apart from the street grid and city as a whole, and that the development is a playground for the one-percent financed through $6 billion in tax breaks (though some might passionately dispute that characterization). Those points have been argued elsewhere. What is definitely true is that the 11-million-square-foot, $16-billion first phase of Hudson Yards is now mainly open, or will open shortly, and it’s likely to draw shoppers, tourists, and High Line hikers to what was formerly an open-air staging area for the Long Island Railroad. The second phase of the megaproject over the still-uncovered western railyard will hold five more residential towers and a commercial project from architectural heavy hitters like Herzog & de Meuron, Frank Gehry, Santiago Calatrava, and Robert A.M. Stern. Related expects that infrastructure work on the second phase will begin next year before the site is decked over. Vessel, Heatherwick’s $150 million not-quite-a-sculpture, not-quite-a-building sits at the center of Hudson Yards’ Public Square and Gardens. The climbable installation is made up of 154 flights of stairs connected to 80 landings, and it balloons up to 150-feet-wide at its 150-foot-tall summit. As project architect Stuart Wood explained, Vessel (explicitly not “the Vessel”—although Related will rename the structure later, anyway) was designed to be open in its programming while not “jamming up” the plaza. “The project was built entirely from staircases and landings. They're public, publicly accessible, free to use spaces. It's non-prescriptive. That was absolutely our intent from the outset. This should be a project that is open to interpretation. It's open to different natures of use.” The underside of the piece is clad in warm, reflective metal paneling that distorts the glass towers around it and brings a sense of liveliness to the “sculpture” as more visitors gather at its base. As visitors scale Vessel, climbers see themselves reflected overhead as the panels act as mirrored ceilings; that interactivity is intentional. On the topside, Heatherwick has used wood railings, darkened steel, and stone for the steps and landings in reference to the site's industrial heritage. With a form so often compared to a beehive or garbage can by outside observers, actually entering Vessel produces an unusual effect. Standing in the sculpture’s base feels akin to entering a towering atrium, with the glass handrails resembling windows. Climbing the structure’s numerous staircases, at least when devoid of the crowds that will surely descend on it after the official opening, felt slightly dangerous. The view of Hudson Yards, the Shed, shops and dining areas, and across the Hudson River, open up towards the top, and might induce the same sense of vertigo found on construction sites. For mobility impaired visitors, Heatherwick Studio has added a glass elevator that travels along a curving track along Vessel’s inside rim, though it only stops at one landing per story. The plaza in which Vessel sits is elliptical and gently spirals out to each of the buildings on the site, a decision that Nelson Byrd Woltz came to in tandem with Heatherwick Studio. As such, it serves as the epicenter of Hudson Yards’ public space, and its central location in the neighborhood’s main plaza visually cements that status. Vessel, for better or for worse, is intrinsically at home in Hudson Yards and wouldn’t fit anywhere else in the world. And even if it wasn’t, as Wood explained, Related has copyrighted the design.