I stopped by the opening of Outlaw Arts’ graffiti and street art show 21st Precinct last Saturday evening. The 1863 NYPD building will be demolished in the coming months and a condominium will take its place, so, as has become recently popular in NYC and abroad, the four-story space was handed over to street artists who covered every wall, door, floor, ceiling, bathroom, and other nooks and crannies throughout with their art. The irony of graffiti in a police station was not lost on many of the artists who themed their work accordingly: there were excerpts from the Miranda Rights sprayed in beautiful type graffiti; there was a bathroom that looked like a murder scene with a blood-filled sink; a machine gun vending machine; Pacino’s Scarface above writing in white powder simulating cocaine on the floor, and much more. Each artist was apparently given a room or hallway or stairway to go to town on, and go to town they did. Some of my personal favorites included Rae-BK, Alice Mizrachi, Yok and Sheryo, Mr. Toll, and of course others who I was not able to identify, such as the bottom photo. (Update: it’s Erasmo.)
It’s interesting to see how street art is increasingly making its way indoors and with that so is the sense of a downtown gallery scene. There were even iPads displaying additional works in some of the rooms and business cards abound. And why not? Just as with any art, there are some truly exceptional artists among many of the more mundane, and I, for one, would be thrilled to have any one of a number of these artists’ works on my walls.
Many of the featured artists were wandering around the opening, blending in with everyone else, except for the rare case of red spandex pants that far from blended, but that seemed to be the point. If you missed the event last weekend, don’t despair, the 21st Precinct at 327 East 22nd St. will be open to the public again this coming weekend 8/23 and 8/24 from 1 to 6pm. If you can’t make it live, you can see many more (and better) photos here and here.
Look up New York! The Water Tank Project has started to roll out…or maybe “wrap around” would be more accurate. I first learned of Word Above the Street’s project roughly one year ago, but was happy to hear yesterday, via an interview on wnyc, that this is actually taking place right now. Filmmaker Mary Jordan, the creative and driving force behind the project, was working on a documentary in Ethiopia in 2007 when she fell gravely ill due to contaminated water. It was the women in the village she was in who nursed her back to health. In return, they asked that she let people know of the global water crisis when she returned to the U.S. Jordan founded Word Above the Street and set out to fulfill her promise through a citywide exhibit on the very icons that proudly contain our own fortunate and excellent water supply. Over 100 water tanks will be wrapped with art by acclaimed artists (such as John Baldessari, Jeff Koons, Maya Lin, Andy Goldsworthy), street artists (including Icy & Sot, Barry McGee, and Fab 5 Freddy), emerging artists, and even NYC public school students. The first one, by Laurie Simmons (top photo), went up two weeks ago on 29th Street near the High Line, and another one (I couldn’t find the artist, but third photo down) on West 25th Street.
Tanks in all five boroughs will be included and, in addition to the art above, action will be taken on the ground through educational programs, tours, and a symposium dedicated to global water issues. So, keep your head up and eyes peeled for the next 3 months if in NYC. Or, if not, you can always follow them on twitter or instagram for the latest updates. Water above all!
Photos & images courtesy of The Water Tank Project
This isn’t the first time artist João Onofre displays his art installation titled Box Sized Die, nor is it likely to be the last. It is, however, the first time the installation has gone to London. Consisting of a large soundproof steel cube, the Portuguese artist invites a local Death Metal band to play inside the cramped space both with the door open, and then with it closed, limiting the performance length to how long the band can last before the oxygen runs out. Placed in the heart of the business district for this summer’s Sculpture in the City festival, Box Sized Die, according to Onofre, is meant to symbolize the office buildings that surround it filled with cubicles and impossible to know what’s going on inside from the exterior. Spectators put their ears to the box to hear the band Unfathomable Ruination play their self-proclaimed “unrelenting brutal death metal” to no avail, but the band seems to be embracing the challenge wholeheartedly having lasted between 19 and 25 minutes in the sealed box so far.
If you’re in London, the band will be performing Wednesday to Friday through August 1, 2014.
via the guardian
I get a particular thrill out of exploring and discovering things on my own, by chance. I’m not a big fan of GPS and forever get annoyed at the level of detail on Mapquest or Google maps when trying to get directions. For me, part of the fun is making the effort to figure it out myself and the mistakes I may make in doing so are part of the adventure. So it’s not surprising that I like the concept behind Watershed’s Playable City Award in Bristol. In their second year, The Playable City Award aims at getting people to use technology to capture that element of surprise/fun and adventure instead of using it to solely engineer our lives. They invite entrants from all over the world to submit ideas that use technology to create playful interactions connecting the people of the city and helping them engage with their surroundings in unexpected ways.
This year’s award of 30,000 pounds was presented to New York-based interactive designer Jonathan Chomko and Treviso-based architect/designer Matthew Rosier for their interactive light installation titled Shadowing. Using infrared tracking and triggered projections, the shadow of a previous passerby will be replayed to the next person who walks under a modified streetlight. The creators are hoping for a playful experience, though there is potential for a little creepiness, too, but they are working on ideas to avoid that as well as many more features before Shadowing is unveiled to the public on September 10, 2014.
I suppose you could say that by posting this I’ve spoiled the element of discovery and surprise, and you’d probably be correct. Sorry. Quick…stop reading! But, if your memory is as bad as mine, even if you happen to be one of the few people reading this who will be in Bristol come September, the odds of remembering this as you pass under a streetlight are quite slim.
If you’re not one to care about spoilers, you can see Chomko and Rosier’s animated prototype below.
The German street art trio Mentalgassi (previously here) joined forces with Mundano in São Paulo, Brazil, to create this clever series of characters donning their customized trash backpacks for Pimp My Carroça, an environmental and cultural group that aims to add a little color and humor to the importance of recycling and not littering. The message is particularly on point with the hoards of tourists in town for the World Cup, leaving a trail of garbage behind.
It was a spectacular day this past Saturday here in NYC, ideal for strolling through Chelsea and taking in a lot of art. To my delight most galleries still had great shows up and hadn’t yet reverted to their quieter summer group shows. Over at Pace, the amazing Tara Donovan (previously here) had two new large-scale sculptures. For over a decade, the NYC-born and based Donovan has taken volumes of everyday materials and turned them into impressive works. Whether toothpicks, drinking straws, paper plates, styrofoam cups, or pieces of mylar, Donovan, a MacArthur Genius Award recipient, layers, piles, or clusters these items with a precise repetition until these products assume forms that evoke natural systems. These two sculptures currently at Pace are no exception. The first room in the gallery welcomes you with what seem to be a group of conical rock formations, possibly of a volcanic sort but, upon closer inspection, the millions of 3″ x 5″ index cards stacked and glued become evident, proving, once again, her ability to create amazing effects through the accumulation of identical objects. The second room contains what looks to be an almost fluffy or furry sculpture, but in fact is made of thousands of acrylic rods of different lengths, quite the opposite of soft or fluffy. These “bursts” are interconnected much in the way coral appears to be. Donovan has experimented with these rods before, but this work is her largest of the series. Tara Donovan’s sculptures will be on exhibit at Pace Gallery through
June 28, 2014 extended through August 15th!
“No one will be there on a Friday at 4pm in the pouring rain,” she said confidently. Wrong. You would think, after close to a lifetime in NYC, at some point it would kick in that nothing is ever empty, especially an event the likes of Kara Walker‘s monumental Sphinx-like sculpture/installation at the soon-to-be-demolished Domino Sugar Factory. Of course there was a line! One filled with soggy, windblown New Yorkers though, fortunately, it moved quickly with only the waiver-signing process causing a minimal delay. Once inside, it was easy to see why the line advanced swiftly; the space is so vast (90,000 square feet is what I’ve read) that even the biggest of crowds becomes minimized in appearance. All the more reason to be impressed by Walker’s 75 foot long and 35 foot high sculpture whose presence is still quite imposing despite the enormity of the factory. The official title of the work is long, but pretty much spells it all out: A Subtlety or the Marvelous Sugar Baby an Homage to the unpaid and overworked Artisans who have refined our Sweet tastes from the cane fields to the Kitchens of the New World on the Occasion of the demolition of the Domino Sugar Refining Plant.
Apart from the white sugar-covered (4 tons of sugar were used) sphinx with the Mammy-inspired head, there are fifteen large-scale black figurines based on ceramic racial tchotchkes that Walker came across online, of brown-skinned boys carrying baskets. These 5-foot tall sculptures are made of molasses-colored candy, much of which is slowly melting (can’t wait to see what these look like in the heat of late June) and in some cases are more red in color than brown, making it difficult not to associate with blood and the horror of beaten slaves, or of the workers who lost their limbs and lives in the dangerous process of feeding the cane into large mills. Blood sugar. There was an interesting interview with the artist on NPR last week in which Walker pointed out another curious parallel: sugar is originally a brown substance that is considered more valuable as it is “refined” and turned into a white crystal.
Walker has given us lots to think about here. In addition, I should point out that the factory itself is worth the visit. What an amazing space. Every direction makes for a great photo-op filled with rusty textures and machinery.
A Subtlety will be up Fridays through Sundays until July 6th at the Domino Sugar Factory on Wythe and South 2nd Streets in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. And it’s free! Be sure to check out the geometric street art by Rubin415 outside along the fencing while you’re there (bottom photo).
Chilean artist/designer Sebastian Errazuriz (previously here, here, & here) has taken the birthday piñata of his youth and put a spin on it for this year’s NYCxDesign Festival. His monumental Golden Calf, or Cash Cow, will provocatively serve multiple purposes: a symbol of celebration; a symbol of capitalism; and as a symbol of “anti-capitalistic” greed. At the end of the festival, guests will be invited to smash the symbol of capitalism to smithereens. The oversized piñata will be filled with over 1000 dollar bills that will tumble out once the beating is successful. The irony that Errazuriz anticipates is the moment when the anti-capitalist rage in the piñata bashers turns into greed as the very same crowd ends up running for the cash themselves, stuffing their pockets with the bills. “I’d like to see people rolling on the ground and fighting for dollars,” he said. Wouldn’t it be nice if he were wrong.
Errazuriz’s golden calf will be on view at Industry City in Sunset Park, Brooklyn until May 20th at which point mayhem should ensue at 5pm.
Top photo: NY Daily News. All others: courtesy of the artist.
The Frankfurt based Luminale 2014 — one of the world’s largest and most renowned light festivals — concluded this past weekend. As per usual, there were many impressive installations this year including Cornea Ti, a collaboration between Interior Architecture students from the School of Design Mainz and Ensemble Modern Frankfurt. Consisting of three connected containers that formed a sort of interactive stage, visitors would step through the amorphous tunnels triggering the many integrated LEDs hidden within the walls of the structure with their movements. In addition to the movement, sound caused the light to change, illuminating letterforms that would transform and morph into anagrams, only visible from the perspective of the audience. I haven’t been able to make out any words myself in the video below, but I sure do like the effect.
Reminiscent of the summer of 2000 when The Cow Parade hit the streets of NYC—we were huge fans, having set out on the mission to find all the cows and photograph ourselves with our favorites, pre-social media era, just for our own pleasure…imagine that!— this April the city has kicked off The Big Egg Hunt NY with close to 300 eggs “hidden” around town that Fabergé commissioned artists, designers, and architects to paint, or create their own, all in the name of charity. The participants are an impressive bunch, from artists such as Jeff Koons and Julian Schnabel, to architects Zaha Hadid and Morphosis, to graphic designer Debbie Millman, fashion designers including Cynthia Rowley and Diane Von Furstenberg, and, of course, street artists: Dain, Cost, Faust and plenty more. Unlike the cows at the beginning of the century, the eggs can be tracked via smartphone app that will notify a person if they’re near an egg and will place it on a map once it’s been discovered (and checked in) by ten people. It seems many of the street art eggs are located downtown, other eggs are exhibited in Grand Central, Rockefeller Center and Columbus Circle (there are a whole bunch more photos here.) But those are just a few eggsamples… there are lots more to find all across the boroughs, so get cracking! Well, you know what I mean. You have until April 17th. After that they’ll be exhibited at Rockefeller Center through the 25th and then auctioned off. Anyone can bid via the website and there are also more affordable mini versions available in the site’s shop.
via gothamist & nytimes
Earlier this year, Madrid launched an innovative project that seeks to “redecorate” lower income neighborhoods of the city with contemporary art interventions, both in the form of sculpture/structure as well as murals. Starting in Tetouan, the initiative to improve the urban landscape has been quite successful and is continuing on into other neighborhoods: first Usera, then Villaverde in the southside of the capital. One such project is Hypertube, a collaboration between PKMN Architects and Taller de Casqueria. The playful looking structure is made up of six precast reinforced concrete tubes two meters in diameter and two and a half meters in length. These dimensions make it possible for anyone to stand inside, from child to adult. Its objective: a “gathering place for neighbors and passers-by.”
via abc via lagaleriademagdelena
Fashion shows keep pushing the boundaries and blurring the lines between art, performance, design and fashion. Last week in Paris, Karl Lagerfeld and his Chanel team took their Fall 2014 runway show to a whole new level. Stepping into the Grand Palais, all attendees were welcomed by the over-the-top Chanel Shopping Center. An entire supermarket recreated with every item rebranded/repackaged and emblazoned with the highly recognizable interlocking C’s of the Chanel logo. From every food product you can imagine, to cleaning products, welcome mats, brooms, soap, garbage bags and much more. The models walked through the runway aisles clad in the new Fall line, all wearing sneakers (because you can wear a Chanel suit to pick up your groceries, but heels might be too much?) pushing grocery carts or carrying baskets. An impressive feat, which apart from the obvious wow-factor, was meant to be a commentary on the state of consumerism. You’ll be relieved to know that all of the items are being donated to charity. It is difficult to wrap one’s head around all the design, printing, and organization that clearly went into this event, in addition to the fashion line itself. It’s the ultimate mega pop-up shop/installation… it’ll be tough to top.
Here’s a video of the models strutting their wares:
via Garance Doré
It’s been an art-intense week in NYC, with more art fairs in town than time to view them. I did, however, get to almost all of them and will cover some of the highlights for me, sporadically over the next couple of weeks. Overall, and very in general, I continue to have a bit of a weakness for VoltaNY and The Armory Show, but Spring/Break was a nice surprise, with its edgier works and installations and its very topical theme of PublicPrivate. Less surprising were Scope and Fountain, which seemed to have a lot of repeats from previous years, but then, arriving at Fountain after over four hours at the piers might not have been the freshest way to take it all in. The banners hanging from the upper floor were pretty great, though.
So first here, from the Armory Show, are West African artist Romuald Hazoumé’s whimsical contemporary African masks made using discarded plastic containers, in particular gasoline canisters. Though the masks link to the artist’s heritage, they also represent his critical vision of political systems. “I send back to the West that which belongs to them, that is to say, the refuse of consumer society that invades us every day.” Hazoumé was at the Armory booth when I was there, explaining to a small group that in several of these masks, the hair was very telling of a woman’s relationship status. For example: the criss-crossed braids topping the black diamond-shaped mask represents a woman who is content, but not thrilled by her husband. The yellow jug with the bunched up hair on top, is a woman who is thrilled by her man. The blue canister with the twisted braids shooting out and turning downwards, is a very dissatisfied woman. So, there you have it. Romuald Hazoumés masks reminded me a little of Willie Cole’s shoe masks (here), and whose work was nicely featured at Volta this year, including this fun sculpture made using irons.
For performance artists/architects Ward Shelley and Alex Schweder (previously here) sharing an unconventional living space is not a new concept. Their “performance architecture” has taken unusual forms such as a hanging see-saw-like structure or a stacked-living arrangement, in each case co-dependent on the other’s movement. Their latest installation/performance is titled In Orbit: a 25-foot wheel hanging from the ceiling, complete with two beds, desks, chairs, sinks, and apparently porta-potties (fortunately those don’t flip with the wheel), one of each at the counterpoint of the other. Ward Shelley lives on the exterior of the wheel, while Alex Schweder on the interior. And live they will, like this, without getting off, for a total of ten days. Currently they’re halfway through their stay. Any time one of them wants to use the sink or lie on the bed, they both have to slowly walk, rotating the wheel—much in the way a hamster makes his/her cage wheel rotate—to get to that particular item, in unison, and they both have to be in agreement as to the current activity. Schweder can’t choose to work at his desk while Shelley lies on his bed. That simply won’t work.
For those of you in NYC, you can visit In Orbit and witness their cohabitation at The Boiler through March 9, 2014. After that the structure will remain on view until April 5th sans artists. For everyone else, there’s the video below:
German artist/designer/architect Tobias Rehberger (previously here) currently has a three-part exhibit titled Home and Away and Outside at the Shirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt. For the purposes of this post, I’m focusing only on the first part: a floor to ceiling installation with an optical illusion all-over effect combined with paintings and sculptures that create a dizzying state of sensory-overload. The dazzle camouflage graphics covering the surfaces are based on an optical technique employed mainly on ships in World War I making them difficult to pinpoint as targets. Once visitors make it through this first, trippy, part of the exhibition, they are greeted by a second, more tranquil section that contains applied and functional artworks including much of the sculpture that has set Rehberger apart since the 90s.
Home and Away and Outside is on view in Frankfurt through May 11, 2014.
If you walk by Madison Square Park here in NYC from now through April 13th, you’ll spot a confusing sight: three water towers, the sort we usually see perched atop the city’s buildings holding much of our water supply—and usually a familiar part of the urban landscape. The three tanks in the park, however, do not contain water but rather are Brooklyn-based Chilean artist Iván Navarro’s (previously here and here) latest light installation titled This Land is Your Land after the Woody Guthrie song. This site-specific piece “reflects” the experience of immigration through mirrored neon type, as well as a neon ladder, that repeat infinitely within the wooden cylinders. The word “me” reflects becoming “we” alternating up the interior of one tank, while “BED” in another. I stopped by during the day and then again at night to see these and enjoyed the experience both ways. Having them stand low in the park, with the backdrop of the Flatiron building from one angle and, at night, each one glowing downward with the brightly lit Empire State Building behind from a different position, make the choice of location all the more appropriate. So, make a point to pass by, and peek under, Navarro’s water towers before April 13th.