Sitting at the edge of Fort Tilden, the former aquatics building marks the transition from the manicured lawns of the former U.S. Army base to the sandy expanse of the Far Rockaways’ beachfront. Yet the prominently placed structure, which saw considerable damage during Hurricane Sandy, has been slated for demolition in the coming months, opening the door for MoMAPS1 to commission a temporary intervention by artist Katharina Grosse at the site.
Marking a new chapter in its ongoing engagement with the sandy outpost of the Far Rockaways, this year’s project takes the building’s slated demolition date as an opportunity to both mark its place on the beachfront, while memorializing its structure and relationship to the landscape around it. Grosse, whose work has frequently taken the intersection of natural space and urban architectures as a site for practice, again turns her massive streams of paint towards the crumbling facade. It’s a gesture that turns leftover space, architectural remainders and fragments of prior labor into sculptural material with a minimum of actual interjection. Her arcing lines and twisting whorls of paint spill over the roof and walls of the building, running down onto the concrete surrounding the building.
Yet Grosse also takes great care in sparing much of the space around the building, and even leaves some segments uncovered with her swirls of white and red. Accordingly, the marks of graffiti writers and taggers contends with Grosse’s own hand, and opens an extended dialogue with fellow painters who have repurposed the walls of the structure after its original purposes had been abandoned. Inside, the walls gleam with coats of paint, yet the sand that has pooled inside the building also remains untouched, allowing the fusion of nature, architecture, time and weather to present themselves in relation to the building. Her work presents something of a hyper-accelerated mode of accumulation, spreading layer after layer of paint over its surface in a manner that implies the structure’s presence and interaction with beach-goers long past its tenure as an abandoned structure. In some ways, Grosse’s work is an act of reclamation, seeking to regain some of the space’s capacity to change over time, soon to be lost when the wrecking ball drops.
Grosse’s installation is on view through through November 30th.
— D. Creahan