The P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, located in Long Island City, Queens hosts an annual competition for emerging architects to design a temporary installation in the courtyard. Programmatic requirements included providing areas for shade, use of water, and seating. MOS architects won this year for their entry, an urban shelter titled afterparty. I dragged my friend along to check out the installation and the P.S.1 galleries. While I must admit, I was not thrilled with the MOS entry, which my friend appropriately described as “furry mountains”. Sorry MOS. The plan was for the hut-like chimneys to create a cool breeze involving induction. I don’t recall feeling a breeze, only mist which just made me want to quickly leave the sheltered areas. While the exhibition didn’t take my breath away, the building, exhibits, and courtyard party definitely did.
Having never been to P.S.1 before I couldn’t wait to check out the space. P.S.1 or Public School No. 1 was originally built in 1893 and thrived as a school for decades before falling into disrepair in the 1960s. The Institute for Art and Urban Resources Inc re-opened the building as an exhibition space in 1976. P.S.1 has undergone several renovations since its inception, the most major was in 1997. Despite the transformation of the interior spaces, the essence of the school it once was still remains. One of the most striking exhibits was Leandro Erlich’s Swimming Pool . Initially, one is lead to think that this is just an ordinary indoor pool. However when you look down, you can see other gallery visitors fully dressed in the pool. What I love is the simplicity of this illusion. The pool is empty with perhaps 2″ of water suspended at the top with a thin piece of acrylic. And from inside the pool, the experience is just as unsettling. The Leandro exhibit will be up through October 2009.
My friend and I spent quite some time meandering through the many galleries including ones in former classrooms. We unintentionally showed up at P.S.1 for Warm Up, their summer music series held on Saturdays. I loved that each time we emerged from an exhibit into the common areas, the silence was interrupted by the muffled pulsing beats of the DJ playing in the courtyard. Every space at P.S.1 was filled with some kind of activity. And there was something so wonderfully summer about people drinking beers, dancing, and enjoying the tunes. So stop in at P.S.1 while the summer lasts, the exhibition is up through September 14. For more information go to the P.S.1 website.