The days are lengthening, the air is warming, and birds are chirping (at least in the Northern Hemisphere) as spring approaches. As the seasons change once again, another annual fixture is coming into view: the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s summer installation in the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Roof Garden.
For 2022, the museum has tapped Los Angeles artist Lauren Halsey to bring an inhabitable structure to the roof overlooking Central Park, one that will blend Egyptian influences with 1960s-era radical utopian ideals and plenty of graffiti inspired by Halsey’s native South Central L.A. Dubbed the eastside of south central los angeles hieroglyph prototype architecture (I), the blockbuster installation will from May 17 through October 23, 2022, opening a month later than its Sesame Street-inspired predecessor in 2021.
“We are thrilled that Lauren Halsey will bring her compelling vision to the Cantor Roof Garden this spring,” said Max Hollein, Marina Kellen French Director of The Met, in the museum’s announcement on March 14. “With this installation, Halsey channels The Met’s unparalleled Egyptian Art collections through the lens of Afrofuturism, while also creating a powerful form of documentation of her neighborhood in South Central Los Angeles. Engaging with the past, while also exploring a space of speculative imagination, Halsey offers us a powerful statement about civic space, social activism, and a reconsideration of the possibilities for architecture and community engagement.”
“My installation for The Met’s roof garden,” added Halsey, “reflects my interest in conflating narratives from contemporary South Central Los Angeles with those evoked in ancient pharaonic architecture. My hope is that viewers in New York feel the connections intuitively.”
Combining past, present, and future influences of The Met’s collection with on-the-ground-views of Los Angeles and prospective “what-ifs,” Halsey will reinterpret hieroglyphics for a contemporary audience, drawing a throughline from ancient pictographs to contemporary ones. According to the New York Times, that also includes a remix of the columns, sphinx, and pavers traditionally found within Egyptian archaeology. Once The Roof Garden Commission: Lauren Halsey is over in October, the project will be moved and put on display in L.A.
The show will be accompanied by a book in June consisting of an interview between Halsey and “poet, performer, and librettist Douglas Kearney,” according to The Met.
Halsey, 34, is a multimodal artist working across visual art, fiber, and large-scale sculptural installations that draw inspiration from architectural forms. Resembling carved columns and gypsum-panel-clad hallways emblazoned with contemporary reinterpretations of hieroglyphics, her past work is likely indicative of what to expect this summer. And, for New Yorkers who can’t wait until summer, Halsey’s first New York solo exhibition will be opening later this spring at the Chelsea location of David Kordansky Gallery.