It’s not really surprising that Italian artist Marco Bottin of Padua wrote his graduate thesis in Philosophy on Economic Sociology, specifically the theme of gift and reciprocity. He has carried the theme, and related ones, into his art using everyday objects and filling them with symbolism and contradictions or tensions. His sculptures in particular are at once humorous and troubling, and if the visuals don’t pack enough of a punch on their own, the titles finish the job for sure. From top to bottom: A Middle Class Portrait (top two); Growing Up is not for Adults; In Loving Memory; and Statements, Injuries, Predictions.
This looks fun and since we’ll be attending festivities in Maryland this weekend, maybe we’ll be able to squeeze in a quick jaunt to the National Building Museum in Washington D.C. before the maze comes tumbling (well, maybe not tumbling) down on Monday, September 1, 2014. Danish architecture firm Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) (previously here and here) has created a concave wooden labyrinth in the middle of the museum’s main hall. Constructed with maple plywood, the structure rewards your efforts by revealing a 360-degree view of the maze once you reach the center, the point where the 18 ft tall walls are clearly a lot shorter. Of course, there’s always the option to get a different—and more complete— perspective/view from the second and third floor balconies without doing all the work, but then, what fun would that be?
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.
Can’t say that any electrical pylons I’ve seen are particularly attractive with all those cables protruding from their metallic structures, but at least this design by Jin Choi and Thomas Shine of Choi+Shine Architects in Boston injects a little humor and personality into these massive forms. Known for their innovative and creative designs and experimentation, Choi+Shine submitted a proposal for a High-Voltage Pylon competition in Iceland—put forth by Landsnet, a national power transmission company requesting that careful consideration be given to the appearance of the towers—converting the existing steel-framed tower designs into iconic pylon-figures with minor alterations. The result would transform the Icelandic landscape, adding expression and fun, varying the forms and styles while keeping the cost low through repetition in production and simple assembly. These 150 foot tall giants across the land would silently transport electricity 24/7. Might be a little creepy coming across them on the road at night, but a fun alternative to the norm, nonetheless.
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
Artists Bob Seng and Lisa Hein have created their Jello Brick Wall sculptures on more than one occasion. Their most recent was at the Seattle Center in, well, Seattle. The jiggly installation consisted of 500 lbs. of Jell-O made into loaf-size bricks of varying flavors (raspberry, orange, cherry, lime, and more) and colors held in place with gypsum mortar. The artists cook the Jell-O on a hot plate and cool it in molds in a fridge. The final wall measured roughly 5 feet in height and 12 feet in length. And then there’s the melting/deteriorating aspect. Hein and Seng like the temporary nature of the work. Each brick apparently has the approximate lifespan of cut flowers, eventually melting or crumbling leaving just the mortar. The work is part performance, part installation. You can see more in the video below: