Whiteout, a newly commissioned public art project by artist Erwin Redl (Austrian, b. 1963, lives and works in Ohio and New York City) is comprised of hundreds of transparent white spheres, each embedded with a discrete, white LED light and suspended from a square grid of steel poles and cabling. The orbs are opportunistic, gently swaying with the wind currents from their positions of one foot above the ground plane. The white LEDs are animated in large-scale patterns superimposing a virtual movement on top of the kinetic movement of the spheres. The sequence of light is an incandescent treatment of urban public space across the dark seasons of the late fall and winter.
The use of white in modern and contemporary sculpture is notable. Louise Nevelson, Charles Ray, David Smith, and Cy Twombly have all created in white, often as a unifying formal element. In Whiteout, Redl assesses white for its typical association with light, but he pushes the associated imagery through repetition and kinetic movement.
Whiteout is the thirty-fifth outdoor exhibition organized by Madison Square Park Conservancy. The project is organized by Brooke Kamin Rapaport, Director and Martin Friedman Senior Curator, Mad. Sq. Art, Julia Friedman, Curatorial Manager, and Tom Reidy, Senior Project Manager.
Madison Square Park’s 6.2-acre site welcomes more than 60,000 daily visitors—a richly diverse audience including local residents, families, public school groups and day camps, office workers, students, artists, and international visitors.
UAP, with offices in New York City, Brisbane and Shanghai, worked with the artist and the Conservancy to fabricate Whiteout.
Erwin Redl said: “I am intrigued by the Park’s option of a large-scale installation that blurs the border between the virtual and the real. The physicality of the swaying orbs in conjunction with the abstract animations of their embedded white lights allows the public to explore a new, hybrid reality in this urban setting.”
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“It is an honor for us to bring Erwin Redl’s work to Madison Square Park,” said Keats Myer, Executive Director, Madison Square Park Conservancy. “Redl’s project, based on how light can impact a space, will be a beauteous interpretation of the Oval Lawn during the shortest days of the calendar year. Park goers will be able to view the industrial elegance of Whiteout from our pathways as they traverse the site.”
Brooke Kamin Rapaport, Director and Martin Friedman Senior Curator, Mad. Sq. Art said: “Redl is summoning Earthworks for his project in Madison Square Park. Like Dennis Oppenheim and Robert Smithson’s art, the overall form of Whiteout brings a geometric expanse to the outdoor realm. Whiteout’s carpet of light, realized with hundreds of orbs lit with LEDs, is just above the ground plane and will transform our perception of stillness and subtlety in an urban setting.”
A celebrated series of sculpture exhibitions by living artists, Mad. Sq. Art was launched by Madison Square Park Conservancy in 2004 to bring free public art programs to New York. The program has received extensive critical and public attention since its inception and has developed into a world-class cultural institution. Its ambition and scale expands each year alongside an increasingly diverse range of innovative, world-class artists.