Tagged: park avenue armory

Clothes Horse: Christian Boltanski at the Park Avenue Armory in NYC.


Waaaayyy bigger than the pile of dirty laundry I cultivated in high school. (Photos by C-M.)

Rising up like a Mt. Fuji of clothing from the floor of the Park Avenue Armory is the latest, over-sized installation by French photographer and sculptor Christian Boltanski. Dubbed No Man’s Land, this sprawling piece is centered around a 30-ton mass of clothes that is picked up and dropped — in an act of abject futility — by a massive, industrial crane. All around are tidy squares of used clothing, illuminated by harsh fluorescent lights. In case you didn’t get the life and death message, a soundtrack of thumping heartbeats pours out from the speakers anchored on each of the light poles. The dire industrial backdrop keeps things suitably grim.

Certainly, there is something powerful about clothes when, as Boltanski puts it, their “subject is missing.” His pieces are intended to evoke a nostalgia for those who are no longer with us (in a way that echoes — uncannily — the  tragic mountains of shoes left behind by Holocaust victims). But there’s another message here as well. During the press conference, Boltanski said that the garments on display were lent by a used clothing dealer in New Jersey that works with 70 tons of clothes everyday — shipping them off to the Third World for resale. According to the artist, the volume of cast-offs is so high, that it’s become impossible for the company to keep up. (Besides, there are only so many 5K T-shirts the Third World needs.) “People don’t keep clothes anymore,” he said. “They keep things a couple a of months and then discard them.”

And this is where Boltanski’s piece actually becomes interesting. As a meditation to life and death and the power of nostalgia, No Man’s Land feels overwrought. But as a monument to our society’s wasteful habits, the mountain of clothing — and the crane that helplessly tries to move the pile, only to see it go nowhere — couldn’t be more fitting.

No Man’s Land is up through June 13.

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Art That Loves You Back: Ernesto Neto at the Park Avenue Armory.


Drippy nutsacks as far the eye can see. (Photo by C-M.)

We love art. We hold it in high esteem. We write about it. We talk about it. We fix it when it’s broken. But what does art ever do for us? (Besides provide us with something to look at while sipping bad chardonnay.) Well, in the case of Ernesto Neto’s piece at the Park Avenue Armory, in NYC, it loves us back. His sprawling installation — think: mom’s pantyhose gone fantastically amoebic — contains various chambers that embrace you in the most womb-tastic ways.

A small, red-tinted tent (on the right), is filled with a squishy soft floor and lavender pillows. Perfect for midday naps. A testicular-looking chamber towards the back features a giant Barney-purple pillow that engulfs you in a spongy bear hug. And a Chuck E. Cheese-style ball pit, filled plastic spheres, suspends you above the ground, while providing needed acupressure. (It’s incredibly restful, provided you’re willing to fight off the three-year-olds.) Connecting all of these sensual delights are monstrous intestines lined with dangling organs that are scented by a line-up of aromatherapy-worthy spices like ginger and clove. 

What’s it all mean? Who gives a crap? All I know is I haven’t felt this good since I chilled out on those labial pillows at the Pipolotti Rist exhibit at MoMA earlier this year. 

The show is up until June 14. Do not miss.

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