Nick Cave Goes Deep With A Symphony Of Glass


On a stormy afternoon in late August, a team of dedicated construction workers walked through the corridor connecting Times Square and Grand Central Station. 42nd Street Service. Here, beneath the streets of New York, were more than two dozen living glass figures dancing along subway walls.

on Friday, MTA Art and Design Inside the new 42nd Street connector, “Every One,” the first of artist Nick Cave’s three-piece installation, will be officially unveiled. The other two parts – “Each” at the new shuttle entrance and “All Equal” on the central island platform wall – will be installed next year.

The $1.8 million budget for the project, commissioned by MTA Arts & Design, is part of a project to rebuild and reconfigure the 42nd Street Shuttle, which cost more than $250 million.

A sculptor, dancer, and performance artist, Cave Known for his soundsuitsWearable fabric sculptures made from materials such as twigs, wire, raffia, and even human hair often make noise when the wearer moves. (It’s also no stranger to displaying art at train stations: in 2017 brought a lot 30 colorful life-size “horses” into Grand Central Terminal’s Vanderbilt Hall.)

As they walk along the new and improved corridor, the figures on the wall are depicted as bouncing and swirling figures in mosaic Soundsuits.

“It’s almost like looking at a storyboard,” Cave said in an interview from his Chicago studio. “As it moves from left to right, you see it in action.”

Chosen from a pool of artists in February 2018, the sculptor wondered and worried: How would a dynamic, fluid Soundsuit turn into a static mosaic? He was relieved with the answer: No problems.

“I felt like I was in the middle of a performance, so up close and personal,” Cave said when he came to New York to see “Every One” in early August.

“You just felt this fast, different, internal texture,” he added, “and the sensation in motion and the flow of material completely resonated.”

Soundsuits has anytime Cave explained a mix of cultural references: concepts of shamans and masquerades conceal the wearer’s race, gender, and class and form a new identity. It has ties to Africa, the Caribbean, and Haiti.

“It’s very important that you can reference, that you can connect to something,” Cave said. “There are sneakers in one of the mosaics in the hallway. Which brings it to this urban, right-handed moment.”

Under the pink and black raffia cape carefully crafted from glass pieces, a contemporary sneaker in salmon, white and burgundy tones emerges. Cave loves the game played here: The form is sometimes figurative, sometimes abstract. “Sometimes it’s identifiable and sometimes not,” he said. “But that’s the beauty of everything.”

The sculptor chose the manufacturer after completing the design of “Every One” in early 2020. Franz Mayer of Munich From a list provided by MTA Arts & Design. his company, Mayer of Munich – one of the world’s oldest architectural glass and mosaic studios – understood Cave’s vision.

Mayer of Munich has been in the family of current managing director Michael Mayer for generations. (Michael is Franz’s grandson.) After the German manufacturer gets to know the artist and his perspective, the team can turn the scanned designs of the piece into a mosaic.

Artists, “they are people with magic,” Mayer said.

The manufacturer prints designs to scale, places them on a table and works on them. Cave’s custom mosaic was made using a positive placement method, meaning the glass pieces were glued directly to a mesh backing, rather than creating the design backwards like a mirror image.

“What is the stone that goes to the next and creates a certain symphony?” Mayer said of the process: His team cut glass pieces, applied them to the mats, and then the mosaic slowly and gradually grew outward. The finished piece measures approximately 143 feet on one side and 179 feet on the other, divided by 11 digital displays in the middle. For three out of every 15 minutes, these screens will play videos of dancers performing in Soundsuits.

Shortly before closing, Mayer visited Cave at his studio in Chicago. Later, the artist came to see work in progress in Munich.

While this represents Cave’s first work with mosaics, he is now more than interested in reusing the environment.

“I think of the mosaic as sculpture—you just go around the work because it exists in space, not on walls,” Cave said. “So yeah, I’ve been thinking about that ever since I entered that field.”

And his work on 42nd Street will befriend the giants: Jacob Lawrence’s “New York in Transitof Jack Beal “The Return of Spring” and “The Beginning of Winter” and Jane Dickson’s “revelers” They are all glass mosaics in the Times Square station.

Roy Lichtenstein”Times Square Mural” in porcelain enamel. And Samm Kunce’s “under Bryant Park” is a mosaic made of glass and stone.

“Times Square is the center of the world, of the country,” Cave said.

Sandra Bloodworth, longtime manager of MTA Arts & Design, stressed the artist’s focus on other artists.

“He’s an artist who cares about people, is very connected to the community, and very connected to people’s feelings,” Cave said in an interview at Bryant Park.

Having an artist with “foundations” he That’s what we’ll see when we get back,” he continued, “as everyone returns and the city comes alive, the timing is absolutely perfect.”

Cave, “Every One” is all about action. Glass dancers in their raffia and fur Soundsuits reflect the hustle and bustle of over 100,000 people. Ride the 42nd Street Shuttle every day before the pandemic – up to 10,000 riders per hour.

On that stormy day in late August, the movement captured in the walls matched what was going on in the corridor under construction. A man wearing a hard hat sliced ​​through the stones in the middle of the hallway with a waterjet cutter. Another man carefully polished the newly placed mosaic with glass cleaner and steel wool. Sweat was dripping and workers were buzzing around building new tracks.

“We’re not just the audience, we’re part of the performance,” Cave said.


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