Bold As Love; Adam Parker Smith’s Broadway Windows in New York

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Part of the tension in Adam Parker Smith‘s work has come from the contrast of the scale and seriousness of his installations and the mannekins which populate them; his stuffed figures are soft and almost cuddly in their association with dolls, despite their nudity, frank genetalia and bodily blemishes.

Bold As Love
Bold As Love

Bold As Love, an installation currently at Broadway Windows (through June 7, 2009 ) has the added dissonance of its location: a set of store windows near New York University that wrap around the corner of Broadway at 10th Street, one block up from Ann Taylor Loft and across from Blockbuster.

The only indication that these windows are not displaying merchandise is the discretely placed title, Bold As Love, at the bottom of one window. The windows are filled with life-sized heads (made of felt) that have all the mythic themes, passion and gore of nineteenth-century opera, where love inevitably leads to death. But only an artist familiar with comic books would show eyes popping out of their sockets, still attached with ligaments that will surely snap them back into place.

detail of Bold As Love
detail of Bold As Love

The heads are impaled on stakes or lying on the ground which is strewn with roses. Most of them drip blood which has also splashed across the back of the displays. Some heads give the impression of wearing masks and a couple are so thoroughly-bandaged that they might have come from a WWI film, or perhaps a horror film.

Several heads have disfiguring details consistent with Smith’s previous work: a newly-stitched wound, pimples, a bump on the head; one bump has its own face, as if the injury produced another being. Most of the eyes are rolled back in their sockets in deathly unconsciousness. There is no indication of who is responsible for the windows, but after a while I saw a small bronze plaque that read: Broadway Windows, New York University, information 998-5751.

Broadway Windows detail
Broadway Windows detail

According to the artist’s statement the felt figures were inspired by an execution scene from Hemmingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls and were begun as a project Smith did with a group of high school students in Chicago (which explains the adolescent appeal of some of the heads). Bold as Love is the final project for Curatorial Praxis, a graduate course offered by the Visual Arts Administration Program in the NYU Steinhardt School’s Department of Art and Art Professions. One of the heads was made in collaboration with the project’s three student curators: Han-Yuan Chia, Sarah Ferguson, Molly Kleiman, and Sari Mandel.

Tags

adam parker smith, broadway windows, new york university

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