Short descriptions of two New York exhibitions

1. Marta Minujín, The Neon Tunnel, from La Menesunda Reloaded, 1965. New Museum 2019. 95 words.

The vista to the tunnel is covered by tinted Plexiglas with the lower part cut out to the shape of a human figure. Only one person at a time can enter the tunnel measuring two spans. Decked with a fragile tangle of neon signs, text and figure can hardly be deciphered at the proximity where the viewer is accommodated. They are less actual signs than paradoxes that point to nothing but their being a sign. First mounted in 1965, the neon tunnel still glows with the same seductive advertising pulse but with a layer of vintage patina.

2. Marta Minujín, Mirror room, from La Menesunda Reloaded. 1965. New Museum 2019. 93 words.

The weight of an adult person pressing on the floor of a glass booth in the middle prompts a fluorescent black light to flood the room.  This makes the white of your eyes or teeth glow in the dark. At the same time, six desk fans turn on and a hurricane of confetti rushes around. The bits are luminous and seem to hover infinitely through reflections on scratched mirrors. La luz como el agua, Gabriel Garcia Marquez once wrote. A few minutes inside and you get a sense of drowning in the light.

3. Richard Serra, Triptych #2, 2019. Gagosian Madison Avenue. 98 words.

Photograph: Robert McKeever, © 2019 Richard Serra/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York, courtesy Gagosian

The work is not exactly monochrome, if we abide by the definition that monochromes should be painted with only one- in this case, achromatic- color. Serra certainly plays with the visual uncertainty in his use of material. Chunks of pigment remain palpable at close range, unevenly distributed in their raw state on binders prepared in an automatic order with molten wax.  They have the visual weight of three dimensional works yet they never appear to be squarely on the wall.  At a certain distance they seem to float, and in another, they appear to be retreating to the wall.

4. Richard Serra, Nine, from Forged Rounds, 2019. Gagosian West 24th Street. 100 words.

Photograph: Robert McKeever, © 2019 Richard Serra/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York, courtesy Gagosian

The shadows cast by nine hunks of forged steel fall rather gently on the polished concrete. They are the only things that give us a hint of movement in the gallery. Each of these floor bound, 50-ton elements, defines one another, making space, volume, and movement more apparent. They sit with solemnity, as if a Platonic idea had materialized by mistake into a real figure. If other sculptures lead our eyes around itself and out of this world, Serra pushes us back into it. They are unsettlingly settled, provoking a constant wavering of feelings between security and threat.

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