Mirroring New York: Dan Graham and Dulce Pinzón’s Reflection of the City

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

In response to our Peter Hujar exhibition Berlin-based curator Christine Nippe will discuss how two artists from different generations and backgrounds reflect the urban conditions of New York City.

I wanted to have people looking upon the recent past
(Dan Graham)

It was at the beginning of the Nineties when Dan Graham erected his pavilion Two Way Mirror Cylinder Inside a Cube directly on the rooftop of a building in the neighbourhood of Chelsea. At the time the area hadn’t yet been transformed into today’s expensive gallery district but in Lower Manhattan the artificially planned Battery Park City had already been developed into a gentrified park, regularly exhibiting artworks in a public-private space. Graham’s project, consisting of the pavilion, a café, a video stack and a performance programme, was a reaction to the fast economical and spatial transformation of the city. Not only was the sky of New York mirrored by his pavilion but also its structure and planning history.

Christine Nippe will discuss her PhD-research, which compares contemporary artistic productions and space tactics (De Certeau) in the cities of Berlin and New York. With help of the artworks and her ethnographic interviews she shows how artists reflect urban transformations in their work and how these praxes are related to their everyday lives. Together with Dan Graham’s project she will explore the photographs of American-Mexican artist Dulce Pinzón whose Superhero Series shows Mexicans at work in NYC’s service sector. In a post-9/11 world, these photographs can be read as a sensitive comment on a world city which needs badly paid heros in order to keep its economic system running.