Delirious Matter, the 36th season of outdoor art at Madison Square Park, is now officially open, and park goers can discover ruined busts, dripping walls, and a mountainous, 14-foot-tall sculpture plunked in the northern fountain. AN recently had the opportunity to tour the park with Delirious Matter artist Diana Al-Hadid and discuss both the current installation and her upcoming exhibition at the Bronx Museum of the Arts.
Citadel, the voluminous fountain sculpture, was inspired by Hans Memling’s Allegory of Chastity, a 15th-century painting of a woman emerging from a mountain. Painting plays an intrinsic part in Al-Hadid’s process; Citadel started as two life-sized paintings, and Al-Hadid cut and welded steel rods to follow her design, later reinforcing it for stability. The dripping “snow caps” of aluminum foil and gypsum lend some solidity to a structure that would otherwise be made of voids.
Continuing the dichotomy between new materials and old techniques and void and solid form, three female Synonym busts have been scattered around the park. The headless figures, resembling hollowed-out classical antiquities, are elevated on plinths but still totally accessible to the public and were created by dripping a gypsum polymer mixture over Al-Hadid’s existing works, Antonym.
At the park’s center is the anchor of the installation, a hedged-in “room” created by opposing walls of dripped gypsum and paint. Gravida, named for the Roman god Mars Gradivus, is 36 feet long and arched to create an entrance way and directly frames the opposing wall, a 22-foot-long rising peak that also references Allegory of Chastity. The forms were originally painted on the wall and reinforced from behind after they were peeled off.
Delirious Matter is Al-Hadid’s first outdoor installation, which necessitated thinking about how the sculptures would interplay with the landscaping, the elements, and the demands of the public. For a more traditional example of Al-Hadid’s work, the Bronx Museum of the Arts will be running a sister Delirious Matter show from July 18 through October 14, with the massive Nolli’s Orders sculpture at its center.
A collection of voids and twisting figures supported by iconic pieces of Roman architecture, Nolli’s Orders references the 1748 survey of Rome by Giambattista Nolli. While the 2012 sculpture doesn’t correlate directly to Nolli’s map, Al-Hadid drew on the poses and depictions of public and private spaces in the city when planning Nolli’s Orders.
The Madison Square Park show will run through September 3, 2018.