REMASTER is Irena Haiduk‘s ongoing cinematic adaptation of Mikhail Bulgakov’s novel, The Master and Margarita (written 1928-40). Her project is guided by one of the central principles offered by the novel: the existing infrastructure of this world must be used to create a new one. Glittering surfaces, velvet furnishings, bright flowers, and shifting light conditions create a seductive environment containing fragments of spells and hidden designs. The sound of a cat’s purr reverberates around the galleries with both comfort and threat. [source: The Swiss Institute]
Trash and Vaudeville, was founded by Ray Goodman in 1975, back when St. Marks Place was the epicenter of the City’s rock-and-roll and bohemia. Iggy Pop, Debbie Harry, the Ramones, and everyone who was anyone in the rock scene, were regulars. Tommy Hilfiger would buy clothes and resell them in his upstate stores Underground and People’s Place. It introduced Doc Martens to New Yorkers, the first ever shop in the United States to carry the brand. In 2016, it was relocated to 96 East 7th Street, not far from its original location, just far enough from the noodle shops that have taken over St. Marks Place.
On our way to the Swiss Institute, we passed by this wonderfully preserved building. Back home I looked it up, and it was only then I realised that the area was once the centre of Lower Manhattan’s German community. No coincidence then, that the Swiss chose the very same location for their Art Institute.
She Who Sees the Unknown: Kabous, The Right Witness and The Left Witness (2019), commissioned by The Shed, features a VR film, sculptures, and a bedroom installation. Upon entering a bedroom modeled after my childhood room in Iran, the audience will lie down on a daybed and put on a VR headset to view a film about Kabous, a jinn who brings nightmare and sleep paralysis to human body. Surrounding the bed are two 3D-printed sculptures of the ‘witnesses’ of Kabous (I have re-appropriated these two witnesses from different illustrations and named them the fictional characters of The Right Witness and The Left Witness).
”A huge manmade mountain measuring 420 meters long, 270 meters wide, 38 meters high and elliptical in shape was planted with eleven thousand trees by eleven thousand people from all over the world at the Pinzio gravel pits near Ylojarvi, Finland, as part of a massive earthwork and land reclamation project by environmental artist Agnes Denes. The project was officially announced by the Finnish government at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro on Earth Environment Day, June 5, l992, as Finland’s contribution to help alleviate the world’s ecological stress. Sponsored by the United Nations Environment Program and the Finnish Ministry of the Environment, Tree Mountain is protected land to be maintained for four centuries, eventually creating a virgin forest. The trees are planted in an intricate mathematical pattern derived from a combination of the golden section and the pineapple/sunflower system designed by the artist. Even though infinitely more complex, it is reminiscent of ancient earth patterns.
Tree Mountain is the largest monument on earth that is international in scope, unparalleled in duration, and not dedicated to the human ego, but to benefit future generations with a meaningful legacy. People who planted the trees received certificates acknowledging them as custodians of the trees. The certificate is an inheritable document valid for twenty or more generations in the future, the first such document involving the future in human history. The project is innovative nationally and worldwide, the first such document in human history. This is the very first time in Finland and among the first ones in the world when an artist restores environmental damage with ecological art planned for this and future generations.
Tree Mountain, conceived in 1982, affirms humanity’s commitment to the future well being of ecological, social and cultural life on the planet. It is designed to unite the human intellect with the majesty of nature. Tree Mountain was dedicated in June, 1996 by the President of Finland, other heads of state, and people from everywhere.” [source]
From a retrospective of the work of Agnes Denes, at The Shed.
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