MuseumsWeekend

Free-Floating on the 13th Floor: Caroline Cox at the Clocktower

by Thomas Micchelli on May 5, 2012

Caroline Cox, "Spin"

Caroline Cox, "Spin" (2012), installation detail (all photos by the author for Hyperallergic)

Moving through Caroline Cox’s immersive installations at the Clocktower, the venerable exhibition space on the 13th floor of a city-owned building in Lower Manhattan, is like peeling free from gravity.

Although you don’t literally leave the ground, the sculptures’ pulsing aureoles do their best to convince you otherwise. One moment you’re in the institutional-white hallway of a neglected municipal building and the next you’re among star clusters and jellyfish, crepuscular clouds and aggregating amoebae.

Cox melds a sculptor’s sense of materials, solids and voids with a stage designer’s gift for lighting and space. In her work, which consists of synthetic netting, mirrors, lenses and clear acrylic balls, abstraction is less a distillation of form than an analogy for the textures of life.

Caroline Cox, "Orangeblueorange"

Caroline Cox, "Orangeblueorange" (2012), installation detail (click to enlarge)

She has transformed the two rooms of her Clocktower residency into contrasting domains, one glowing with unearthly pinks and blues, the other a netherworld of stark black and white. The door between them isn’t a demarcation sealing off opposites as much as a portal between complementary presences. Here, both light and darkness shimmer.

In a smaller installation set inside a deep and wide wall display, she has hung mirrors, lenses and netting on monofilaments above a floor dotted with concave, convex and flat circular mirrors. It is a small-scale version of an ongoing project that can expand to a height of 30 feet.

At once biomorphic and industrial, austere and eye-filling, the installation’s myriad reflective parts seem to dissolve the boundary between liquid and solid as they evoke architecture of the visionary sort and the psychedelia of long-ago rock’n’roll.  Its title is “‘Scuse Me While I Kiss the Sky.”

In a cityscape where One World Trade Center has just eked past the Empire State Building to claim the prize as the tallest skyscraper in New York, the 13th floor isn’t all that high. But who needs to rise above 1,250 feet when you can float free of gravity?

Caroline Cox, "'Scuse Me While I Kiss the Sky" (2012)

Caroline Cox, "'Scuse Me While I Kiss the Sky" (2012), installation detail

Caroline Cox, "Orangeblueorange"

Caroline Cox, "Orangeblueorange" (2012), installation detail

Caroline Cox, "Spin"

Caroline Cox, "Spin" (2012), installation detail

Caroline Cox, Spin continues at the Clocktower (108 Leonard Street, Financial District, Manhattan) through May 7.

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