Aliens on the roof of The Met.
A visit to the roof of The Met has become a summer tradition for me. The views are always spectacular and I never tire of seeing the sea of green that is Central Park surrounded by the Manhattan skyline. As an added bonus, The Met commissions a different living artist each summer to make the space feel fresh and new.
This year that artist was Huma Bhabha, a Pakistan-born artist whose work "addresses themes of colonialism, war, displacement, and memories of place." I haven't experienced works by this artist before, so I can't comment on how these large sculptures fit within her larger body of work. For this installation, the artist handcrafted the sculptures to scale using ephemeral materials such as cork, styrofoam, air-dried clay, and plastic. Those sculptures were then cast in bronze and finished to retain the look of their original materials. The result is convincing. I initially wondered if one of the sculptures was covered in black plastic to protect it from the recent inclement weather.
The title of the work (We Come In Peace) comes from a classic American science-fiction film, The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951), a tale of first contact between humans and aliens. These sculptures become more interesting with the title in mind. But I'm not sure if they become more or less friendly. The sculptures are unnerving and suggest that the relationships between "residents" and "aliens" are uncomfortable at best. And unkind at their worst, with the powerful expecting others to submit to unrealistic expectations. I couldn't help but associate this installation with the current immigration debate, pondering how our society treats those who "come in peace" in hopes of creating a better life for themselves and their families.
Creative director and art nerd contemplating travel, books, theater, and art.