New York is a city in constant motion, and in a new public
art exhibition, even the skyscrapers seem to be getting in on the action.
Steel sculptures of 10 prominent city buildings dot
the median strip of Park Avenue between 54th Street and 67th
Street in Manhattan as part of contemporary artist Alexandre Arrechea’s No
Limits installation. But passersby can be forgiven if they
don’t instantly recognise the structures. Each has been given a tweak that, as
the project’s statement explains, “play[s] on the idea of elastic architecture
as a metaphor for [the] challenges and opportunities of shifting conditions and
For example, in Arrechea’s interpretation of the Chrysler
Building, the Art Deco spire snakes skyward like a firefighter’s hose; the Empire
State Building is coiled into a 9.6ft-wide pentagon; while the Flatiron Building
is flattened and hoisted up like a flag. And the Seagram Building undulates almost 20ft into
the air from a movie reel-like base. To see its real design by Ludwig Mies van
der Rohe, just look down the block between 52nd and 53rd
Indeed, several of the buildings represented in the
site-specific installation have Park Avenue addresses, and the sculptures were
placed as close as possible to their actual locations to establish a dialogue
with the city. “The closer the better,” Arrechea said. “So people can make the
Two of the pieces – versions of the Helmsley
Building, a one-time railroad company headquarters, and the Sherry Netherland apartment-hotel –
appear to be rolling down the avenue. Each is curved base to top, like a snake
eating its tail, in a nod to New York’s reinventive nature.
“The city exists because we make it exist,” Arrechea
Bookending the exhibition are two towers — Citigroup Center,
distinctive in the Midtown skyline with its 45-degree slanted roof, and the
building — set atop giant spinning tops. The tops are designed to rotate, although
trampling through the flowerbeds to touch the art is not sanctioned by the New
York City Department of Parks and Recreation. Their placement, however, is symbolic,
Arrechea said, as a way to “[keep] the city dancing”.
The free exhibition can be seen through 9 June.
Amy Brader is the New York City Localite for