Sunday, August 15, 2010

PS1's Pole Dancing Installation and Warm Up Music Series

PS1's Open Courtyard and 2010 Installation

This year, I didn't race out the door to visit PS1 in Queens for their summer warm up series and urban landscape design contest as I've done in years past.  I'm not exactly sure what turned me off.  I've never minded a cross-borough trek and often use any excuse to check out a unique neighborhood.  The line up of DJ's even looked good -  at least the few names I recognized on the list.

I think it was my nervous anticipation that this year wouldn't provide the "wow" factor I seek from the annual installation and music series.  I heard the this year's winner of the Young Architect's Program, that created the urban landscape in MOMA's PS1 courtyard had a great concept but didn't execute the job well.

The Entrance 

I finally snapped to my senses yesterday and headed out to the great land of Queens for a bit of art, music and people watching.  More than anything else, my annual visit to this rare exhibit reminds me of what's so amazing about living in NYC.  The show draws a mix of crowds including the "beautiful people" (which I have to place in quotes since this group seems to have named themselves), architects, artists, club goers, tourists, and urban families.  It's a strange mix to say the least.

Moving Through the Installation

In the simplest of terms, PS1's Young Architect's Program winner creates a temporary outdoor "shelter" that incorporates a beach theme, water, shade and "green" elements.  The installation is staged in the courtyard of the city's first public school (now a MOMA property).and leads visitors towards an open square and stage, which hosts the summer "warm up series" featuring some of the city's top DJ's on Saturday's from 2-6 pm.  I provided a lot more detail on how the projects are selected and built in my 2009 PS! blog entry (,

The Explanation of Pole Dancing

This year's project was themed around pole dancing.  As I entered the space I saw hundreds of long narrow white poles holding up a huge off-white net, reminiscent of a goalies soccer net, about 20' about the gravel and sand covered ground.  The closer I looked the more sense it made.  The net bowed down in sections between the poles to reveal a concrete style swimming pool, hammocks or abscess where visitors could toss balls up onto the net.  But, then I read about how all the elements of the installation were meant to work together, and my confusion returned.

Visitors were encouraged to swing the poles (no, not like a stripper) to move the net and work with other guests to coordinate a social media type of experience.  This coordination was intended to work through an iPhone App my friend Skye and I both downloaded.

The Pole Swinging Attempt

Once we downloaded the iPhone App as instructed, and swung on the poles (as Skye kindly shows us in this photo) we realized we weren't making much of a difference on the "pole dancing map."  The App was also supposed to allow us to build pieces of digital artwork and music together, but we never got it to work.  After several failed attempts we ventured off to see the rest of the installation and grab a beer.

Ball Caught in the Net
Misters in Action

The entire courtyard was littered with exercise style balls which everyone used as the primary seating.  The colors helped the space a bit, but it still lacked enough color to be called summer themed.  The netting didn't provide any shade and except for a couple spots where overhead misters bathed the crowd, there wasn't enough water in the installation to keep me cool.  I realize I'm a VERY white girl, but I saw others fanning themselves as well so it couldn't have been just me.

Who Doesn't Love Touchable Art?
We moved along to the stage and danced to the DJ for a couple hours were we took the photos below.  As you'll see the exercise balls turned into beach balls as the party turned into a dance club.  The production of it all still leaves me in awe after each visit and I'll continue to applaud MOMA's support of young architects, artists and proving NYorkers with a unique summer experience.  Although it wasn't my favorite Young Architect's Program installation my incredible friends, the beautiful weather and good music made for an amazing Saturday afternoon.

Check out past years installations here.  My personal favorite is Liquid Skye by Ball-Nogues in 2007.  And yours?
The View from the Stage

The View from the Stage

The Exercise Balls, Catching Air Above the Crowd

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