Jun 242021


From The High Line’s information page on this work-

Simone Leigh presents Brick House, a 16-foot-tall bronze bust of a Black woman with a torso that combines the forms of a skirt and a clay house. The sculpture’s head is crowned with an afro framed by cornrow braids, each ending in a cowrie shell. Brick House is the inaugural commission for the High Line Plinth, a new landmark destination for major public artworks in New York City. This is the first monumental sculpture in Leigh’s Anatomy of Architecture series, an ongoing body of work in which the artist combines architectural forms from regions as varied as West Africa and the Southern United States with the human body. The title comes from the term for a strong Black woman who stands with the strength, endurance, and integrity of a house made of bricks.

Brick House references numerous architectural styles: Batammaliba architecture from Benin and Togo, the teleuk dwellings of the Mousgoum people of Cameroon and Chad, and the restaurant Mammy’s Cupboard in Natchez, Mississippi. The sculpture contrasts sharply against the landscape it inhabits, where glass-and-steel towers shoot up from among older industrial-era brick buildings, and where architectural and human scales are in constant negotiation. Resolutely facing down 10th Avenue, Leigh’s powerful Black female figure challenges us to consider the architecture around us, and how it reflects customs, values, priorities, and society as a whole.

Leigh works across sculpture, video, installation, and social practice, stitching together references from different historical periods and distant geographical locations. As a sculptor, Leigh works predominantly in ceramics—a medium that she mastered early in her career—continually pushing the boundaries of her chosen material by working in new methods and larger scales. In her intersectional practice, Leigh focuses on how the body, society, and architecture inform and reveal one another. She examines the construction of Black female subjectivity, both through specific historical figures such as Josephine Baker and Katherine Dunham, and more generally through overlapping historical lineages across Europe, Africa, the US, and the Caribbean.

The High Line’s website also has some excellent videos and additional information on the making of the sculpture well worth checking out.  This work was on view until May of 2021.

Jun 032021

Barbara Kruger designed this mural, Untitled (Blind Idealism Is…) for the High Line in 2016. It is based on the quote “Blind idealism is reactionary” by Afro-Caribbean psychiatrist and political philosopher Frantz Fanon.

From the High Line website-

The original statement by Fanon, “Blind idealism is reactionary,” suggests that political and religious convictions stem from the situations from which they grow, not from the inherent nature of individual human beings. According to Kruger, the work reflects “how we are to one another” within “the days and nights that construct us.” These texts, along with Kruger’s own writings, resonate with particular potency in today’s political climate.

For more on this work at the time it was made, check out this interview with Kruger by The Intelligencer at New York Magazine.

Jul 032015

Diller + Scofidio- Soft Sell

Walking by a small room on the third floor of the Hammer Building at LACMA, you may hear the voice from this video calling out to you with a series of questions that all start off  “hey you, wanna buy…?”. The choices range from the more abstract ideas of “a second chance” or “a piece of the American dream” to the more practical, like “a set of encyclopedias with a four color atlas”, to the more ominous options of “a judge” or “the mayor’s ear”.

The video was created by the team of Elizabeth Diller and Ricardo Scofidio working together as Diller+Scofidio.  Soft Sell was originally displayed in the windows of an abandoned porno theater on 42nd Street in NYC in 1993 and is currently part of LACMA’s photo exhibition titled Lens Work: Celebrating LACMA’s Experimental Photography at 50.

Diller and Scofidio added Charles Renfro as partner in 2004 to form Diller Scofidio + Renfro,“an interdisciplinary design studio that integrates architecture, the visual arts, and the performing arts”. They have designed many high profile projects including the first mile of the High Line in NYC, the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston, and the Broad Museum, soon to be opened in Los Angeles.

More info:

This 2007 article from the New Yorker about Diller Scofidio + Renfro offers an interesting portrait of the group- http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2007/05/14/the-illusionists