Dag Hammarskjold Plaza

Rachel Owens' Inveterate Composition For Clare In Dag Hammarskjold Plaza

Wednesday, November 9, 2011
No. 86


"Never for the sake of peace and quiet deny your own experience or convictions."
–Dag Hammarskjöld, United Nations Secretary General (1953-1961)

Parks & Recreation and ZieherSmith are pleased to announce the opening of Rachel Owens’ exhibition Inveterate Composition for Clare in Dag Hammarskjold Plaza. The sculpture will be on view from November 13, 2011, through May 31, 2012 at East 47th Street and 1st Avenue.

As expressed in his quotation engraved at this plaza, Dag Hammarskjöld was a man of conscience, and a dedicated proponent of social justice. With her new sculpture, Inveterate Composition for Clare, Rachel Owens honors Hammarskjold’s purpose through a bold and thought-provoking artwork with political and environmental overtones.

Placed in Manhattan’s Dag Hammarskjöld Plaza, the historic “Gateway to the UN” and designated protest site, the piece is composed of dissembled parts from two replica "kit" military Hummer shells, recomposed and welded together in a monumental pyramid-shaped stack. Sprayed with metallic icy-white paint, the piece also evokes the form of an iceberg. Additional parts welded between the two create a more cohesive form and refer to extra armaments that American soldiers have recently added to their own Hummers and equipment.

A bass heavy stereo system is installed inside the piece. However, instead of the hip-hop as heard in the city or the heavy metal soundtrack many soldiers use to motivate themselves, the moody songs of whales will emanate from the speakers – the haunting sounds act as a universal cry. In accordance with this soundtrack, the headlights of the cars will be set to dim and brighten. Thus, the lustrous and compelling form beckons visitors and reveals its true identity on closer inspection.

With its rearranged parts, Inveterate Composition also places itself in recent art history dialogue. The crashed car has become an iconic form of the violence and excesses of contemporary culture as seen in work from John Chamberlain's car part sculptures and Andy Warhol’s infamous Death and Disaster series, to Charles Ray’s Untitled sculpture and Jeremy Deller’s Conversations about Iraq. Summoning references from the political strife and conflict overseas to our planet’s general discord, Rachel Owens’s latest sculpture continues this discourse, while adding focus on environmental distress to the pile of ruins. However, her abstract, melodious form also has a hulking beauty and calming presence that speaks to an undertone of optimism and the potential for change and renewal.

This work was originally developed with the enthusiastic support of the late Clare Weiss, curator for the New York City Parks Department, who passed away in January 2010 after a long battle with breast cancer. This piece is dedicated to her.

This project is supported by The Foundation for Contemporary Art, Brooke and Daniel Neidich, Jerry Speyer and Katherine Farley, The Warner-Stanton Family, The Estate of Theo Westenberger, ZieherSmith Gallery, Industry City and 4x4 Bodies.com and donors from Kickstarter.com.

Parks’ public art program has consistently fostered the creation and installation of temporary public art in parks throughout the five boroughs. Since 1967, collaborations with arts organizations and artists have produced hundreds of public art projects in New York City parks.

Directions to Dag Hammarskjold Plaza


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