Zabludowicz Collection: Six Weeks in New York
What do you do with six weeks access to the top floor of a skyscraper located at one of the busiest street corners in Manhattan? If you're the folks behind London's Zabludowicz Collection, you turn it into a pop-up gallery with compelling installations to rival its sweeping midtown views.
Six Weeks in New York, the first ever US exhibition by the Zabludowicz Collection, took place from March 1st to April 15th across the entire 33rd floor of 1500 Broadway (at the corner of 43rd Street). Anita Zabludowicz, coâ€founder of the Zabludowicz Collection, said of the project: â€¨â€¨We’re so pleased to be able to introduce the Zabludowicz Collection to New York City â€ the show will give new audiences insight into the work we do, which extends well beyond collecting art and takes a very active approach to supporting artists, curators and galleries.
Comprised of two exhibitions – The Shape We're In (curated by the Zabludowicz Collection's Director Elizabeth Neilson and Exhibitions Curator Ellen Mara De Wachter) and Proposal for a Floor (curated by independent curator Alex Gartenfeld) – Six Weeks in New York didn't so much compete with what's to see from the floor's massive windows as much as it interacted with the lofty setting.
As one-third of an overall exhibition on show across three idiosyncratic locations: the Collection's permanent London home (a former Methodist chapel at 176 Prince of Wales Road); a number of vacant shops in the London borough of Camden; and this temporary high rise outpost, The Shape We’re In (New York) featured new commissions by four New Yorkâ€based artists – Sarah Braman, Ethan Breckenridge, Sean Dack, and Nick van Woert – and introduced British artist Matthew Darbyshire in his first exhibition in the United States. Each artist had been invited to respond to this vacant space in the “picture postcard” heart of New York City. “My Thoughts on Your Thoughts (Fifteen, Fifteen, and Thirty For Lunch)” by Ethan Breckenridge with audio by Sean Dack plopped a coffee vending machine with bespoke backward lettered garble text paper cups and eerie electronic soundscape into the venue, while large scale mixed media pieces (from painted cardboard to metal, Plexiglass and lumber) by Sarah Braman imposed and demanded focused consideration from the viewer. All works – most notably Nick van Woert's “Lady Lady” Fibreglass statue covered in bright green polyurethane – maintained an arresting presence.
Taking as its premise the challenge to occupy the empty forâ€lease floor of such a highly foot-trafficked and well known site, Proposal for a Floor arose out of dialogue with noted British curator Sir Norman Rosenthal and included a number of artists whose works are held in the Zabludowicz Collection. The exhibition featured pieces by Sam Anderson, Zak Kitnick, Dominic Nurre, Anselm Reyle, James Richards, David Scanavino, Josh Tonsfeldt and Kon Trubkovich. Using strategies of artifice and display, the artists' works suggested novel and intriguing possibilities for such an unique venue. Sam Anderson's “Another day in Paradise” nine minute and 46 second audio offering yielded disconcerting commentary via headphones while gazing out the windows toward Times Square and the Hudson River. Similarly, Dominic Nurre's “Objection Chair” installations (office chairs with seated salt licks) seemed to mock the presumed usual corporate and banal use of such a place of potential wonder.
Both exhibitions meshed harmoniously to inspire contemplation of modern urban society's relationship with its surroundings. What's the true worth of and best use of a piece of real estate? How would such a space normally be occupied? Whether there to admire the commendable curating of contemporary art, gawk at the setting or simply take in the sweeping view, visitors to Six Weeks in New York were granted a spectacular opportunity to engage with a temporary yet dramatic art space.
Chris Osburn is an American transplant living in London where he has a blast working as a freelance photographer, writer, consultant, blogger and more. www.tikichris.com