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Rendering of Situ Studio’s “reOrder” at the Brooklyn Museum (image from brooklynmuseum.org)

Situ Studio‘s reOrder, a new project under construction at the Brooklyn Museum, looks like Alice in Wonderland, wandering among surreal spaces not quite of this world. The folding cloth and underlying structure of hoop skirts actually provided inspiration for the installation, Situ Studio partner Bradley Samuels tells me.

The project will be constructed in the Brooklyn Museum’s newly renovated first floor in a space that was referred to as the “Hall of the Americas,” but is now designated the “Great Hall”. Designed by McKim, Mead & White, the late 19th century structure is a dazzling example of Beaux-Arts architecture divided by a 4 by 4 grid of large central columns. Now, the hall will be colonized by 16 new columns designed and fabricated by Situ Studio. Built from bent steel tubing and plywood rings, the basic structures have fabric draped and stretched over their architectural bones.

The Brooklyn Museum’s facade (image from wikipedia.org)

The studio confronted the massive space with a sense of artistic play. They worked to introduce “another scale to this space,” Samuels says, “The profile of the columns create more intimate spaces within the original.” Bending to and fro, the columns shelter the benches and tables that cluster around them at the ground. They poke fun at the grand seriousness of the hall and turn it into something fantastical, an effect heightened by the use of fabric as a skin for the volumes of the new columns.

“We got interested in different methods for gathering and folding fabric,” explains Samuels. The design of the columns “had a lot do with behavior of material itself and what the material itself wanted to do.” Fashion provided an important precedent, in particular the architectural qualities of hoop skirts. Throughout the exhibition, the space will be used to host lectures, concerts and museum events, so visitors will have plenty of opportunity to interact with the studio’s work.

Situ Studio’s reOrder will open on Friday, March 4 at the Brooklyn Museum (200 Eastern Parkway) and will run through January 15, 2012. Samuels is expecting the biggest crowd on Saturday the 5th, though, since the museum opens free to the public on the first Saturday of each month. Go and frolic!

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Kyle Chayka

Kyle Chayka was senior editor at Hyperallergic. He is a cultural critic based in Brooklyn and has contributed to publications including ARTINFO, ARTnews, Modern Painters, LA Weekly,...