Prepare to be unsettled by Rafael de Cárdenas' zigzagging, mirrored maze in downtown New York

Step into the Maze

Prepare to be unsettled by Rafael de Cárdenas' zigzagging, mirrored maze in downtown New York

Order is upended in AMAZE, a collaborative installation by architecture and design firm Rafael de Cárdenas/Architecture at Large (RDC/AAL) and artist and composer Sahra Motalebi, on view at Cadillac House in downtown New York until June 10th. Presented by Visionaire, the collectible art and fashion publication, the installation presents a topsy-turvy world for visitors to lose themselves inside Cadillac’s SoHo coworking space cum showroom.

As the name suggests, AMAZE is a veritable labyrinth. Comprising four spaces, the installation folds into itself and fractures endlessly through layers of mirrors and see-through plexiglass that confuses boundaries and borders. Set in a dark void, visitors can roam in and out of the various rooms, seemingly going everywhere and nowhere at once.

(Plamen Petkov. Courtesy Cadillac House)

Visitors enter through a darkened anteroom where a lone orb of light hangs in the center of a ring of beads, encouraging a circumambulatory passage onto the riot of patterns beyond. Collisions of black and white that take RDC/AAL’s zig-zags and push them full-on into the realm of optical illusion explode in the next room to striking effect.

Throughout this second room, a hall of mirrors repeats the space endlessly like a fashion-forward funhouse, with zigzagging reflections that riff on the patterned walls that lead up to it. There is a button placed discreetly next to one of the mirrors, which, when pushed, lights up the glass to reveal itself as two-way mirror, exposing a sort of janitorial closet. But, like everything else in this fractured space, it’s been turned entirely upside down. By unveiling the messy behind-the-scenes of this composed and collected (if bizarre) space, AMAZE only becomes stranger.

Photo: Plamen Petkov. (Courtesy Cadillac House.)

Of course, beyond reflecting the hall ad infinitum to great visual effect, the mirrors offer ample opportunity for selfies, easy to find on the Cadillac House geotag and a fitting, if amusing, complement to the installation’s constant toying with visibility.

The stark black and white patterns are juxtaposed with blocks of inviting colors that lend a certain warmth to this defamiliarized space. Similarly, panes of colored plexiglass muddy the boundaries between rooms and offer new possibilities of visual play.

(Plamen Petkov. Courtesy Cadillac House)

Set in a line across two of the rooms are three built-in tables with vases of flowers on top. Placed in front of plexiglass or mirrors, they further repeat themselves, heightening the totalizing effect of the installation.

Not merely visually audacious, shrieks and murmurings recorded by Motalebi punctuate the installation, making viewers feel that they are in a decadent house of horrors. Equal parts pizzazz and paranoia, AMAZE is true sensory overload.

AMAZE, Rafael de Cárdenas/Architecture at Large and Sahra Motalebi presented by Visionaire
Cadillac House
330 Hudson Street, New York, NY
Through June 10th