Every spring, New York jolts to life with a new crop of site-specific commissions. These public projects come courtesy of the many non-profits and museums who call this city home. Here are the ones worth the schlepping around for and where to find them.
Diana Al Hadid | Madison Square Garden
Diana Al-Hadid is the latest artist to tackle the behemoth that is Madison Square Park. Installing a series of site-specific sculptures, the Brooklyn-based artist interrupts the skyscraper-enclosed green space with two porous walls and a fleet of female figures. “The obvious difference in my conceptualizing of this project was scale,” Al-Hadid says. “Although the boundaries are less clear outdoors than they are indoors as far as walls, there are still many boundaries to consider. Some of these boundaries are pretty clear, like the size of the reflecting pool, the dimensions of the lawn, the placement of the trees or low hanging branches that obstruct the view, but there are other less clear considerations: the flow of foot traffic, how the sunlight changes throughout the day, bench seating, long views from across the park from various entrances.”
Anselm Kiefer | Rockefeller Center
A preposterous eagle-winged tome marks the entrance to 30 Rockefeller Plaza this summer courtesy of Anselm Kiefer, whose first U.S. public commission comes via the Public Art Fund. The piece’s title, Uraeus, an Egyptian symbol of an upright cobra, references supreme power and entangles it with troubled symbology of the written word. In a time defined by a search for truth, Kiefer’s sculpture is a haunting reminder of our current political climate and access to freedom of the press.
Sable Elyse Smith | The High Line Park
You can see Sable Elyse Smith’s C.R.E.A.M. (2018) from blocks away, like its inspiration, Los Angeles’ iconic Hollywood sign, the history of which Smith unpacks with a simple turn of phrase. Her version, which reads “Ironwoodland,” conflates the name of the California State Prison, Ironwood, with “Hollywoodland,” the segregated real estate development advertised by the original billboard. As with previous bodies of work, Smith seeks to bring a sense of humanity and transparency to those within the U.S. justice system.
Virginia Overton | Socrates Sculpture Park
Once a landscape composed of small inlets, Socrates Sculpture Park in New York sits atop a man-made landfill of construction materials like concrete and steel. This summer, Virginia Overton brings together the natural and the artificial with a suite of seven site-specific works that draw upon the institution’s history as well as her own. Visitors familiar with Overton’s work might recognize materials, such as a truck and steel tank, from previous exhibitions. This repetition is critical to how the artist builds a material language. “In a white-cube setting there is a consistency, but in a park you contend with different elements,” Overton says. “Over the past year I’ve been able to visit and see how the park changes and how people navigate through it. The work is in part a response to the orchestration of those sight lines.”
Peter Burr | Times Square
As part of Times Square Arts’ monthly Midnight Moment series, Peter Burr takes over the screens of New York’s busiest intersection with his rhythmic video-game inspired animation, “Pattern Language,” through May 31st. Meditative in its computer driven repetitions and aberrations, Burr’s work seems to hint at the interconnected network that powers the impressive cinema of advertisement and commerce.