NEW YORK.-Park Avenue Armory announced today the next step in its evolution as a dynamic arts institution with the launch of an annual program in which an artist will be commissioned to create a work of epic scale catalyzed by the Armory’s vast drill hall. The inaugural artist will be Ernesto Neto who is known for creating immersive installations that invite viewers to engage with and often literally enter the work. Incorporating materials such as spices, fabric, beads and shells, Neto’s interactive pieces go beyond the visual, heightening and expanding the visitor’s sensory experience. The Neto commission will open on May 14, 2009 and will run until June 14, 2009.
The Armory’s commissioning program will allow artists to create, and the public to experience work that could not otherwise be realized in New York—epic, participatory works that are not restricted by walls or encumbered by traditional institutional operational limitations.
“We are filling a critical niche in the arts ecology of New York, providing an opportunity for artists to work at a scale and in a way not possible elsewhere in the city,” said Rebecca Robertson, President and CEO of Park Avenue Armory. “Ernesto is the ideal artist to launch our annual program, as he works to create entire environments brought to life by the humanity that interact with them. Though we will continue to partner with other cultural institutions to realize and bring extraordinary works to the city, this commissioning program represents an evolutionary step for the Armory as we forge our own programming and distinctive institution.”
The Neto project is being curated by Armory curator Tom Eccles, former Director of the Public Art Fund and current Executive Director of the Center for Curatorial Studies and Art in Contemporary Culture at Bard College. “Ernesto often draws inspiration from his surroundings, and I cannot think of a better place than the Armory for New Yorkers to be able to immerse themselves in one of his largest works to date,” said Eccles. “His work is awe-inspiring, visceral and remarkably accessible to all generations. He encourages the participation of his audience and this new installation will create an unforgettable public space in the middle of Manhattan.”
The Armory’s new commissioning program is supported by an award from the Rockefeller Foundation’s New York City Cultural Innovation Fund. The award celebrates innovation in the creative sector through grants for trailblazing initiatives that strengthen the city’s multi-faceted cultural fabric and its economy.
About the Work - The Park Avenue Armory installation will be Neto’s largest work to date and will virtually fill the Armory’s expansive Wade Thompson Drill Hall. It will be comprised of several monumental structures that together form an overall environmental installation (including both a massive suspended piece and an enormous floor piece which will have several pods) in which various activities, including presentations and participatory experiences, will take place.
Neto’s installation will incorporate the architecture of the Armory itself, and the public will be able to explore the piece from the different perspectives of the drill hall’s various interior balconies and windows, interacting with the work from both the ground and from a “bird’s eye view.”
The work as it has been originally conceived will consist of a fine, net-like fabric (or “skin”) to be suspended from the drill hall’s majestic steel latticework ceiling and spanning an area of approximately 192 feet by 100 feet with pieces suspended from its trusses up to 69 feet long. Hundreds of pounds of spices, including turmeric, clove, ginger, black pepper and cumin, will infuse the environment with scent and provide ballast for the vertical elements.