“I am interested in how urban space will be used. How much space do individual people need? “ Liz Glynn, commenting on her current public art work, Open House. 26 cast-concrete sofas, chairs, footstools and arches adorn the 3,500 sq. ft. Doris C. Freedman Plaza at the corner of 59th Street and Central Park South. The Public Art Fund asks each artist, who is commissioned to do a piece of art, to give a talk about their work. Monday, February 27, Liz Glynn spoke about her piece Open House.
Normally, I do not admit to being confused by an artist talking about his/her work. Last night was different. I couldn’t keep up with Liz Glynn’s rhetoric. She walked the audience through a history of her work over the past several years. She lost me after a couple of sentences.
“Liz Glynn creates sculpture, large-scale installations, and participatory performances using epic historical narratives to explore the potential for change in the present tense. Her work seeks to explore the individual agency within complex superstructures in the face of an increasingly abstract economy. Her practice embody the dynamic cycles of growth and decay by evidencing process, encouraging participating and inciting future action.”
Almost all of Glynn’s pieces have a political agenda. For example, piracy in Somalia, Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme, the Bush use of the platitude “Rome wasn’t built in a day,” ad infinitum. Glynn’s work also involves years of research, going through archives in museums and libraries; reading books on architecture, economics, philosophy, history; you name it… For Glynn these intellectual constructs are foundational to the final form of the work/performance. For the viewer, I am not sure these cerebral contortions have any relevance.
Glynn explained the process she used to create these “concrete” version of the ballroom furniture. Two years of research, reading and exploring museum archives is the first phase of her approach. Phase 2: She creates a digital version of the proposed work. However, Glynn said she did not find the digital version particularly useful. In the case of Open House, she made a cardboard maquette of the piece.
Glynn found inexpensive reproduction furniture, that reminded her of the original furniture in the Stanford White ballroom. She reproduced the patterns of damask on the furniture, by hand drawing the fabric based on vintage photographs. She used these pencil drawings of the damask to make a kind of “plastic” stencil that was employed to create the patterns on concrete.
Glynn noted that lots of time is invested in things that are invisible. For example, making sure that the placement of 26 pieces of concrete furniture leave a wide enough path for a snow plow to clear.
Even though I couldn’t make heads or tails of Glynn’s verbosity, I love Open House. It’s incredibly engaging. People sit on the chairs and footstools, someone is stretched out on the sofa as if they were at home… it’s truly an outdoor room in a congested corner of the city.
Glynn contrasted the immense luxury of the original single-purpose room (65 ft x 55 ft) to the current affordable housing crisis in New York.
Glynn has managed to give the public a new kind of luxury. TAKE A SEAT!
Public Art Fund
March 1 – September 24, 2017
Doris C. Friedman Plaza