Two Dispatches From Rome: New York Minute

Installation by Rafael de Cardenas.


New York Minute” is curator Kathy Grayson’s representation of the city’s art community for a European context fashionably enthusiastic for it, and hesitant to it take seriously. The exhibition in Rome, sponsored by the DEPART Foundation, comprises 60 artists in three themed sections: “wild figuration,” “new abstraction,” and “New York shitty,” with inevitable and substantial cross-over. Much of the responsibility to design the space came down to architect Rafael de Cardenas, whose effusively tactile, geometric designs unified the three spaces.

And how did he choose to represent New York to Rome? Of his pop-up shop for Aaron Bondaroff, he says, “The idea for shop was birthday party on steroids basically but enough to create something garish and frightening but cocoon like inside.” Sounds like a New York tourists might never become accustomed to. For the shop, de Cardenas brought to Rome 1000 feet of mirrored patterned mylar, 4000 feet of black and white pennant flags, and 40,000 feet of neon pink, yellow and orange tape, all of which he bought on Canal Street. The installation was devised on-spot, and wasn’t finished until the architect added 500 jumbo-sized black helium balloons.

Installation by Jim Drain and Ara Peterson


We also asked (Miami-based but presumably New York-minded) artist Jim Drain for an account of his time in Rome, and his collaborative installation with Ara Peterson. What we got was an impressionist account of free Italian labor:

The pinwheel installation was carried by trained dolphins all the way from New York to Rome in a giant gold box stamped in blood. On the side it said, “Fragile! A-Ron: Don’t Touch!” We promised them espressos as soon as we saw the dome of the Sistine Chapel. We had 30 pinwheels from two previous installations and in the three weeks in Rome we made 27 more.

The DEPART Foundation supplied us with local (beautiful, twenty-something) Art History students and a neatly trimmed bearded guy with the strangely appropriate last name “Bomba.”  They all worked for free and a few even drove two hours (both ways) to work on the show.

Our days were spent painting and cutting paper, gluing pinwheel designs, and spinning the pinwheels to test their effectiveness. We also met a truly amazing and ancient person, who sells  espresso at the little hut outside of the MACRO Future Museum.  She has orange hair and her name is Rose; in her telling, “Every day is boring… boring… boring!”

New York Minute is on view  through November 1. The MACRO Future Museum is located at Piazza Orazio Giustiniani 4, Rome.