Positive Thoughts

Manhattan Skyline from the Gantry Plaza State Park and Hunter’s Point South Park, Long Island City.

The canoes are part of Xaviera Simmons, Convene, 2018,  installation (aluminum canoes, paint and rope) painted with designs that abstractly and explicitly evoke national flags symbolic of the diverse historical and contemporary demographic makeup of Astoria and Long Island City.

August 12th, 2018

MoMA PS1 + 1 (The Art is in the details)

The Art is in the stairwells, meeting face-to-face with Abigail Lazkoz’s agonizing Cameramen; walking In the Woods, deep into Ernesto Caivano’s dark, magical forest; bathed in nature’s ephemeral reflections, outside in the courtyard.

Stairwell art:

Abigail Lazkoz: Cameraman

Abigail Lazkoz created the series Cameramen in 2002 and displayed it for the first time in MoMA PS1’s exhibition Greater New York 2005. The work consists of three large-scale drawings that reinterpret Jose Guadaulpe Posada’s 1914 engraving Se Aproxima el Fin del Mundo Las Profecias Se Cumplen Temblores, Erupciones, Guerras, Pestes, Hambres E Incendios. La Celebre Madre Matiana (The end of the World is Near, Prophecies Come True, Earthquakes, Eruptions, Wars Diseases, Famine, and Fires).

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Ernesto Caivano: In the Woods

For MoMA PS1’s stairwell A, Ernesto Caivano created a wall mural based on an ongoing story he developed over three years called After the Woods. While After the Woods consists of drawings and paper sculptures, In the Woods is composed of black latex paint and gouache to create a dense visual web of images composing Caivano’s larger-than-life sized environment. The exaggerated scale of the piece creates a total experience for the viewer, allowing an escape into this imaginary world. Naked and gnarled tree branches wind around the walls and sprout up and out onto the ceiling, entangling the viewer in their dark and magical embrace.

March 24th, 2018

MoMA PS1 || Part I (The Building as a work of Art)

MoMA PS1, one of the oldest and largest nonprofit contemporary art institutions in the United States, was founded in 1971 by Alanna Heiss as the Institute for Art and Urban Resources Inc., an organization devoted to organizing exhibitions in underutilized and abandoned spaces across New York City.

In 1976, Heiss opened the P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center in a deserted Romanesque Revival public school building, exponentially increased the organization’s exhibition and studio capacity. This building, dating from 1892, served as the first school in Long Island City until 1963, when the First Ward school it housed was closed due to low attendance and the building was turned into a warehouse.

Site-specific art includes James Turrell’s Meeting, one of his famous Skyspaces.

Staircase art by:
William Kentridge || Stair Procession
Ernesto Caivano || In the Woods

March 24th, 2018

 

Nari Ward: G.O.A.T., again @Socrates_Sculpture_Park

Reading about how the local community took the initiative to save this abandoned space, between Long Island City and Astoria, by converting it into a sculpture park – and being the first to applaud such creative initiatives, I thought I owed it to myself to take a closer look, not least because it is named after Socrates (470-399 B.C.), the great Greek philosopher, which is not surprising considering New York’s largest Greek community is in Astoria.

The exhibition on view those days was Nari Ward: G.O.A.T., again, G.O.A.T. being an acronym for Greatest of All Time, a phrase commonly used in American sports. The exhibition examined ‘how hubris creates misplaced expectations in American cultural politics. This exhibition also brought new insight into the artist’s exploration of identity, social progress, the urban environment, and group belonging.

While it was difficult for me to grasp the higher meaning behind the flock of goats carrying stuff on their backs, I found the artist’s explanation ”… articulation of social dynamics, conjuring the animal’s attributes and symbolic connotations, from an ambitious climber of great heights to an outcast” equally puzzling.

On the other hand, the Apollo/Poll sign, that read ‘APOLLO’, the letters ‘A’ and ‘O’ blinking on and off to spell out “POLL” was easier to interpret even without the help of the artist (but here it is anyway): ”… The size and font of the red LED-lit letters are inspired by those of the iconic neon beacon hanging over Harlem’s Apollo Theater, a renowned venue for African American entertainers. The word ‘POLL’ suggests not only the theater’s well-known amateur night in which the audience decides the winner, but also the democratic election process.

I wonder what would Socrates have made out of all this…

August 26th, 2017