Support Hyperallergic’s independent arts journalism.
In May 2020, amid New York City’s COVID-19 lockdown, Brooklyn-based artist Marcel Dzama shared his most unexpected longing during home isolation with GARAGE Magazine: “Riding the subway.”
Now, post-lockdown, Dzama can have the double pleasure of riding the subway and seeing his own works adorning the walls of the recently refurbished Bedford Avenue subway station in the Williamsburg neighborhood of north Brooklyn.
Commissioned by MTA Arts and Design and fabricated by Mayer of Munich, Dzama’s permanent installation, No Less Than Everything Comes Together (2021), includes two pairs of colorful, large-scale glass mosaics located on the station’s two mezzanines: one at Bedford Avenue and the other at Driggs Avenue.
Like subterranean portals to another dimension, Dzama’s extramundane compositions feature anthropomorphic blue-tinted moons and red-lipped suns hanging above a congregation of ballerinas in Zorro masks, performing a synchronized dance with animals and beasts of all sorts.
As if reflecting the around-the-clock-ness of the busy subway station, the mosaics alternate from sun-washed backgrounds in yellow to cool-toned nocturnal scenes. In each, there’s a dance occurring, and there’s a mixture of tension and delight in numerous esoteric plots and sub-plots that are only comprehensible to Dzama. If you look closely, you’ll find walking fruits, mice in suits, foxes in bow ties, and other fantastical creatures, including a guest appearance by Pinocchio in one piece.
So rich with detail, these mosaics require a level of attention seldomly afforded by the typically hurried commuters of New York City. On Wednesday morning, September 8, none were seen pausing to admire the artworks or try to untangle their mystery. Stopping any of them for an interview felt like it would be a rude, unforgivable interruption of their day.
The only individuals who were available for an interview were two NYPD officers — last names Marcelle and Jaquiz — who were stationed inside the entrance at the corner of Bedford Avenue and North 7th Street. Their job, as we know, includes enforcing the controversial policy of ticketing turnstile jumpers. Nevertheless, they had plenty of time to inspect the pair of mosaics in front of them.
“I like this one because it reminds me of summer,” said Marcelle in a moment of candor after inquiring me about my intentions. He was referring to a piece that shows the sun and moon in a cheek-to-cheek pose, almost kissing.
Fully armed and with handcuffs dangling from her waist, Jaquiz approached me with a stern face, then pointed at the same mosaic and interrogated: “What does this mean?”
I pleaded the fifth, knowing that logical interpretation of Dzama’s works is a futile pursuit. The best you can do is join the ride.
Tabitha Arnold’s rugs pay tribute to organizers who lay their bodies on the line in the workplace, in the public square, and in the depths of private prisons.
The intentionality of Booker’s abstraction gives me the impetus to discuss something about the current zeitgeist that’s been on my mind for a while.
The Morgan Library & Museum Presents Another Tradition: Drawings by Black Artists from the American South
This exhibition celebrates the Morgan’s recent acquisition of drawings by Thornton Dial, Nellie Mae Rowe, Henry Speller, Luster Willis, and Purvis Young.
After years in the making, New Time opens at the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive.
The museum details the process of moviemaking, from its inception in storytelling all the way to its marketing. But interwoven into these exhibits are ugly truths.
Part of the John Michael Kohler Arts Center in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, the Art Preserve also functions as a curated collection facility and is filled with immersive installations.
The former panels, removed in 2017, featured images dedicated to Confederate Generals Stonewall Jackson and Robert E. Lee.