The Storefront for Art and Architecture launched Ingredients of Reality: Dismantling of New York City last Tuesday night. The show features work by Lan Tuazon, whose bio reads that she was born in the Philippine Islands and “lives and works in New York whether she likes it or not.” It would seem from the show, that she likes it–but with reservations. Through a series of seemingly disparate works, Tuazon calls attention to how real estate decisions have the ability to divide the New Yorkers economically and socially.
The piece exemplifying what Storefront’s website calls the “repressive logic of property” is “New York City Bar Graph.” The installation uses a series of building models, not all necessarily based on the same scale. The models are separated onto different shelves. Sprinkled among some of the more recognizable buildings, like the Chrysler and One World Trade, are several proposed buildings that haven’t been built yet. Separated onto its own shelf are the unmistakable forms of public housing complexes. That shelf is dwarfed by the many long shelves devoted to corporate architecture. The artist’s commentary is clear: the amount energy the city devotes to corporate square feet far exceeds efforts for public housing.
A good chunk of the show addresses the automotive landscape. Two sculptures placed on the floor of the gallery deal with existing parking lots. One wooden sculpture forms an typographical island derived from the city’s parking lots, while a similar “landmass” formation made of foam invites visitors to sprawl out on territory that was heretofore verboten for lounging.
The most dynamic piece in the show is a wrought iron sculpture called “Architecture of Defense.” For the average city dweller the piece looks a tree guard gone awry. Three concentric layers of wrought iron fences culminate with a circular fence at the center whose exclamatory gesture seem more celebratory than threatening. Eva Franch, the gallery’s director, compared the piece to the temporary fencing that remained around the circumference of Zuccotti Park several weeks after the Occupy Wall Street demonstrators had been evicted. Likewise, Franch said that the show as whole deals with “different notions of protection, what’s public and private–not just for you and me but for us and them.”
Ingredients of Reality runs through April 12.