The Brooklyn Rail

APRIL 2022

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APRIL 2022 Issue
The Miraculous The Miraculous: New York

97. Greenpoint

An artist who grew up not far from Disneyland moves from Southern California to New York where he finds a cheap apartment in Greenpoint and a job at a framing shop. It’s the mid-1980s and the city seems like a rough place filled with a lot of obnoxious people. He wonders whether the problem is that New Yorkers never get to see the night sky. This thought leads him to conceive of a sculpture in which a detailed map of the heavens is transposed onto six large plexiglass cubes. The cubes, which he fabricates at night using the table saw at the framing shop, are covered with black paint with tiny points scratched out for the thousands of stars. Inside each box is an electric light and each facet of the cubes represents a facet of the night sky. Something about the work recalls to him his teenage experiences with psychedelic drugs, that sense of being thrown into “a sea of multi-dimensional information.” He is aware that his glowing, wonder-inducing artificial cosmos doesn’t fit in with then-current postmodernism, which holds that art should concern itself not with the sublime but with critique. Looking up at the night sky, he thinks, must have been humanity’s first way of turning its back on the world, and maybe what he’s done is to offer a commentary on the human need for escape, epitomized by Walt Disney’s Anaheim fantasy, while also delivering, for those who want it, an escapist experience. He never moves back to California.

(Fred Tomaselli)

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

APRIL 2022

All Issues