MacDonald & Subritzky – New York City Exhibition Series
From March 14 to May 5 2007, Fiona MacDonald and curator Ricky Subritzky will collaborate on a series of three installations in New York City. Entitled Lobby, Fold, and Spin, these provocative installations were part of an international project that The Washington Post has called “charged” and “striking” and The Sydney Morning Herald has described as “subtle and beautiful.”
As a compelling leitmotif, MacDonald & Subritzky included America’s last Liberty Tree in all three New York installations. Originally an elm tree on Boston Common used by protesters of the British Stamp Act, Liberty Trees were subsequently established throughout the colonies as rallying points for patriots in the years leading up to the American Revolution. In 1999 America’s last Liberty Tree was felled at St. John’s College in Annapolis, due to instability.
Rosette, 2007, based on America’s last Liberty Tree, is a special edition print sold to support the project in NYC, MacDonald & Subritzky offered these special edition prints for sale prior to the installations’ openings.
About the Installations
Lobby and Fold
Michael Schimmel Performing Arts Center Lobby and Peter Fingestin Gallery
Pace University, 1 Pace Plaza, Lower Manhattan (Spruce Street Entrance)
Daneyal Mahmood Gallery
511 West 25th Street, 3rd Floor
Liberty is on the line in America today. President George Bush asserts “the future of America and the security of America depends on the spread of liberty”. In his second inaugural address Bush referenced the ideal 44 times. MacDonald & Subritzky wonder what liberty might mean now? Is liberty actually being mobilized to underwrite the ongoing accumulation of property for some, at the cost of others–or perhaps for all?
In Lobby, installed in the lobby of the Michael Schimmel Performing Arts Center at Pace University, America’s last Liberty Tree forms an immense mandala-like canopy circled by doves and hawks, while the surrounding space is completely wrapped with 900 metres of silk drapery depicting a kaleidoscopic crowd scene. In this installation MacDonald & Subritzky contemplate relationships between citizens and governments, and the influential sway of lobby groups in the struggle between liberty and authority.
With Fold, installed at the Peter Fingesten Gallery at Pace University, MacDonald & Subritzky bring the implications of the accumulation of property home. This second installation immerses us all—Americans, Australians, whomever—in intricate, insidious, and repetitive patterns, enfolding the heady mix of capitalism and militarism into domestic flows and architectures. In a disquieting tableau a rocking chair and light shade merge in a wallpapered flurry of falling leaves and ascending warplanes. A drape repeats a geophysical survey of lurid magnetic intensity data overlaid with a crystalline motif of B-1B bombers. A grid of 50 paper shopping bags, a ‘bag-flag’, is silhouetted with birds of prey. And the last Liberty Tree flutters on a wall covered with US one dollar bills, and looms on a shadowy rug below.
In the third installation, Spin, at Daneyal Mahmood Gallery, a series of lamps are transformed into zoetropes; precursors to cinema, zoetropes use cylinders set in motion to animate still images. Riffing on the mendacity of political “spin”, and satirizing mass media’s problematic predilection for simplification, MacDonald & Subritzky animate imagery drawn from current affairs. As each trope spins erratically–a hand passes a buck; someone does a back flip; somebody else fans the flames; and the canopy of America’s last Liberty Tree spins in perpetuity.
MacDonald & Subritzky first worked together in 1995 at the Museum of Sydney, Australia, where they developed work that now resides in public and private collections, including the National Gallery of Australia. More recently they collaborated on the Strangely Familiar exhibition in Sydney in 2005, and in 2006 on the Dream Home exhibition in Washington D.C.Lobby, a project developed in collaboration with Ricky Subritzky, University of Technology Sydney mounted at Michael Schimmel Performing Arts Center, Pace University, New York as part of a three concurrent exhibitions Fold, at Peter Fingestin Gallery, Pace University and Spin, at Daneyal Mahmood Gallery, Chelsea in New York in 2007.
This project was has been generously supported by Ann Lewis A. M. Sydney, John Melick, New York, Blue Medium, New York, Signature Prints, Sydney, Think Positive Designer Prints, Sydney, Leanne Barnett, CambellBarnett, Sydney, Meegan Williams Williamsburg NY and Ken Allen Studios Brooklyn
Liberty (installation view), gouache on U.S one dollar notes, dimension variable, with Loom, wool weft cotton warp, 2.5 m dia. 2006
Lobby installation view. Movement 2007 Digitally printed silk drape, 227m x 3m (198 panels, each 1.14m x 3m)
Photo Credit: Justine Cooper