The Brooklyn Rail

DEC 21-JAN 22

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DEC 21-JAN 22 Issue
The Miraculous The Miraculous: New York

85. A Rooftop in SoHo

A British sculptor known for her casts of architectural spaces is invited to create a public artwork in New York City. After traversing the metropolis in search of inspiration, she notices the “weird wooden barrel-like objects” that sit atop many Manhattan buildings. At first the artist has no idea what purpose these structures serve (to supply water to sprinkler systems) but they intrigue her. She decides to make a 12-foot-high translucent resin cast of the interior of one such tower and install it on the roof of a building in SoHo near the corner of West Broadway and Grand. Not only does the translucent material evoke water, but it proves beautifully responsive to the weather: on cloudy days it almost vanishes; against a blue sky it glows; at night, it becomes, as the artist puts it, “like a sort of smudge.” Unfortunately, at the end of its time on the roof the sculpture is acquired by a museum, never again to be exposed to the elements, never again to display the mutability that was its most notable quality.

(Rachel Whiteread)

Contributor

Raphael Rubinstein

Raphael Rubinstein is the author of The Miraculous (Paper Monument, 2014) and A Geniza (Granary Books, 2015). He is currently writing a book about the Jewish-Egyptian writer Edmond Jabès. A Professor of Critical Studies at the University of Houston School of Art, he divides his time between Houston and New York.

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The Brooklyn Rail

DEC 21-JAN 22

All Issues