The opening of “Come Together: Surviving Sandy Year 1” on October 20 was fun, intriguing, and challenging. Curator Phong Bui has brought together works with breadth and depth, treating Hurricane Sandy both directly and obliquely. The most large-scale, eye-catching pieces were easy to find on the ground floor, such as an installation by the Bruce High Quality Foundation featuring two giant rats like those put on the street by unions to protest the use of non-union labor. One rat inflates while the other deflates, and then the relationship is inversed. These rats are truly iconic (I saw tourists taking a photo with one on a busy downtown Manhattan street the other day), and it was interesting to see them in a different context. Between the rats, in the middle of the room, a cityscape is spread out on a giant, realistic-looking cheese pizza. Like competing developers poised to grab the latest parcel of real estate, the rats stand at the ready. Their menacing claws are the last part to inflate.
The works were accessible, in the literal sense (pleasant, wide open spaces to walk through) as well as the figurative sense. But it wasn’t so easy to determine who had done what, as the titles and artists’ names were nowhere to be seen. I found a pamphlet with a listing of all artists participating, so looking at the list for Gallery 1, you might be able to guess that the giant rats represent the Bruce High Quality Foundation’s work, if you’re familiar with it, but a bit more guidance would have been nice.
Another ground-floor highlight was Dustin Yellin‘s “Triptych.” It’s hard to believe that he made this piece before Hurricane Sandy — it seems made to order for a show about the storm. The mesmerizing underwater landscape, several layers of glass deep, looks like a post-flood apocalypse. It’s beautifully enchanting but also terrifying, with a god-like giant of the depth spewing out colorful detritus.
Industry City on the industrial edge of Brooklyn’s Sunset Park neighborhood is a great place to see a show. The raw cavernous spaces on four floors, adding up to 60,000 square feet, allow for large installations and the space has been broken up into smaller galleries for video and smaller artworks. The Dedalus Foundation, one of the partners of the show, is planning further collaborations with Industry City, and this is very good news.
Photo by Kate Deimling