Friday, September 22, 2006

Anish Kapoor's NYC Sky Mirror

I saw it yesterday by chance, a lucky accident, as I had forgotten it was coming, so it was not in my plans, but I was stopped short on its Fifth Avenue side --which is convex and tilted towards the street, both factors making this its inclusive face. Caught unawares, I was compelled along with many others to stare at it, and at myself and others in it, observing ourselves as never before, all members of the midtown street scene viewed from above. (The windows at Saks, Bendel and Bergdorf don't count; one looks through them, not at them.) The Sky Mirror is a seemingly weightless yet obviously hefty object with extremely fine edges to the segments, which comprise an abstraction of a primitive representation of the sun. It has perfect looking contours, and is set on a friendly, low platform. There is of course no part of the sky reflected on the street side-- those views are seen from its other, concave, and possibly therefore exclusive, private and quirky, upside-down side, with a view of the reversed reflections of Rockefeller Center pointing downward. The raised concave surface gives most people below a miss, eliminating them from the reflection and enabling a more abstracted image for the interior view. The moving sky above or behind appears and changes in surprising ways as one walks around the plaza, because the Sky Mirror itself is variously reflected in shop windows along the promenade, its reflection bright enough to keep one's focus on the surface of the plate glass. One aspect of the Mirror that the stills on this page can't convey is that the reflection is in constant motion, so one is never fooled into thinking that one's eye has captured and held a moment.

I think it's a stretch to say that there is irony involved in seeing the top of 30 Rockfeller Center pointing towards the ground, after 9/11. On the other hand, it does make the top of the building accesible to people on the ground, and is certainly very pretty in its magnification and exploration of symmetry.
It is 33 feet across and weighs 23 tons, as is widely reported, and looks more like a huge blob of mercury than steel, even having been rained on at its unveiling. Will New Yorkers get enough of looking at themselves by October 24?

Strangely, Anirudh Bhattacharyya of CNN-IBN describes this installation as "Indian reaches for Manhattan Skyline," but I could not see any evidence of this, despite Anish Kapoor being a Dosco who took a slightly alternative path. Sky Mirror is but one of a series and if anything, it serves as a preview for the sculpture Anish Kapoor will create for the World Trade Center Memorial.

Click here for a view of AK's 'Cloud Gate' in Chicago.
Pictures from artnet and Architectural Record

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