From a smiley snowman to an "awareness of death"

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Three to see: New York

From a smiley snowman to an "awareness of death"

VICTORIA STAPLEY-BROWNGABRIELLA ANGELETI and IVY OLESEN

21st June 2018 21:15 GMT

 Portia Munson, Pink Project; Bedroom (1994-2018) Victoria Stapley-Brown

Portia Munson, Pink Project; Bedroom (1994-2018) Victoria Stapley-Brown


Dime-Store Alchemy at the Flag Art Foundation is a successfully united mix of works by 24 contemporary artists, including Mark Dion, Rachel Whiteread, Mona Hatoum and Damien Hirst, (until 17 August), that frame everyday objects through cabinets, shelves or other means to make them strange or compelling. Portia Munson’s Pink Project; Bedroom (1994-2018) is the star of the show, and could stand alone as its own exhibition: a dizzying room-sized installation crammed with thousands of pink mass-produced items marketed at girls and young women, collected by the artist for over 20 years and spread all across the walls, floor and tent-like ceiling (made of girls’ onesie pyjamas). There is something that is, paradoxically, both extremely cosy and comforting, and grotesque and off-putting, about standing in the rosy-pink, womb-like space. Beware: you might find yourself unable to tear yourself away, mesmerised as you scan all the items—and maybe even spot a few you have owned.

The Chilean poet and artist Cecilia Vicuña, known for her spiritual and meditative works and performances, is having a New York moment. Her solo show Disappeared Quipu at the Brooklyn Museum (until 25 November) features a 24 ft-tall immersive installation of knotted raw wool that evokes a quipu, an ancient Andean device for record keeping made of knotted threads. A recurring subject in Vicuña’s oeuvre, the quipu “is an awareness of death because it’s an animal material—it comes from life and death and all disappears eventually”, the artist says. An adjacent gallery shows Andean textiles that Vicuña chose from the museum’s collection. Vicuña is also included in the museum’s current exhibition Radical Women: Latin American Art, 1960-85 (until 22 July). Head to Lehman Maupin for another solo show of Vicuña’s work, La India Contaminada (until 6 July), with paintings, a quipu, a video installation and mixed-media sculptures from nearly five decades of her career. Look for the influence of the Surrealist artist Leonora Carrington, a mentor, in her flat and dreamlike paintings.

Feeling overheated? A cool creature that has taken up residence in the Museum of Modern Art’s sculpture garden might make you jealous, but is worth the visit. Peter Fischli and David Weiss’s Snowman (2016) in the outdoor exhibition If Everything Is Sculpture Why Make Sculpture? Artist’s Choice: Peter Fischli, is a version of the wintertime “folk art” favourite, kept cool inside a glass door freezer. The frosty figure is actually the younger brother of a site-specific 1987 commission for a power plant in Saarbrücken, Germany, which provided the continuous flow of energy needed to create the work. The childlike piece is a complex commentary on the subject of energy use and global warming, says Cara Manes, the assistant curator of MoMA’s department of painting and sculpture. And while the Snowman’s eternal smile from behind his glass freezer door may start to seem smug to visitors through what is sure to be another long, humid city summer, he is due to stay in place throughout the fall and winter, when chillier temperatures could create a sense of more camaraderie.