whitehot | April, WM issue #2: McKendree Key @ PS1 Contemporary Art Center
PS202, McKendree Key
February 11 – April 30, 2007 @ PS1 Contemporary Art Center
By Greggory Bradford
“All of my installations are titled after the location in which they exist, because I see them as a way of altering a specific space or landscape by adding a foreign element.”
- McKendree Key
The installation, PS202, continues in the examination of ‘unnecessary wastefulness’ pursued throughout McKendree Key’s work. To gaze from a distance one might think that the space is off limits in its presentation for that reason, to stand as an object to observe. On the other hand, Key asks us to engage the piece, to physically interact with the environment. “Once people have physically entered the place, they are bonded by the feeling that they all are sharing a similar physical experience,” she says. This exploration is a chance for someone to rediscover the space, by seeing down the site lines of the fluorescent green masonry twine that plots the room or by the awkward slow dance required in maneuvering.
By navigating the terrain, the preciousness of space is realized through its confrontation. The cubic yard measurement provides the appropriate size for the viewer to negotiate the space in slow increments, giving different perspectives to its participants. Through the grid, the cord’s framing of existing elements becomes highlighted compositions otherwise taken for granted in their normal existence. These revelations, Key notes, are captured as she sits and draws these intersections of personal experiences in the grid, evidence of the investigation’s excavations represented on paper.
Gathered in the corner are possessions and furniture, in states of what appears to be ‘moving’ (cardboard packing boxes, quilted moving blankets, stacked pieces). These items in this fashion act as a possible metaphor for the re-evaluation in the use of space within personal contemporary environments. Familiarity with the objects lends a more intimate relationship with onlookers, tying the audience to the location emotionally.
Like in her Pier 17 installation, Space #2085 divided into cubic yards, PS202 at PS1 provides an arena that McKendree sums up in this quote, “I thought that the division of the space into cubic yards could speak to the symbiotic relationship of vacant space to real estate value in the city, but it is rarely visible or accessible. Dividing the space highlighted its potential, but at the same time rendered it useless.“
A break from other installations that Key has constructed in oceans, through rooms with spandex, or “water” on rooftops, the grid attends to an everyday locale. Her more public displays may garner attention in their newness, but are more likely over time to become part of the ‘optical unconscious’ of passers-by; or as Anthony Vidler describes urban landscapes in Dead End Street (in Warped Space), “…background for introverted thought, passages through which our bodies pass ‘on the way to work”. Choosing locations like a living room type environ the on-looker is able to envision themselves with the space and carry with them an addition to their memory of inhabiting such spaces.
In Terrace, a rooftop installation covered in balls, which engulfed the participant to mid-thigh upon entry, the viewer relates to an object overlooking the fact of displacement that occurs. Like climbing into a tub of water the level rises, but with the plastic balls one may only notice the immediate contact of the balls from touch or sound. A reaction to the external apparatus of the balls will be the empirical artifice. However the grid works are more successful due to the instigation of introspective query ascribed to the displacement of the audience. I can’t wait to find this series expanded into public works instead of limited to sequestered spaces.
For now, you can find yourself enjoying PS202 through April 30th at PS1, Long Island City, NY.
Noah Becker: Editor-in-Chief