E.V. Day, Bride Fight Lever House Lobby Gallery
390 Park Ave
Slowing a speed-walking New Yorker is no easy feat, but art installed in unlikely locations occasionally does the trick. People rushing by the Lever House recently have been pausing to take in E.V. Day’s current installation, Bride Fight. The white explosion of tulle, lace and silk, peppered with two pairs of pumps, a string of pearls and a blonde braid, at first appears to be a model of a galactic phenomenon. A closer look — and a glance at the title — reveals that the supernova-like abstraction in fact represents an earthly situation: two dynamically positioned wedding gowns within the installation suggest larger-than-life brides having at each other with superhuman rage. This is a catfight from nuptial hell, a humorous yet nightmarish representation of the stress of having a “fairytale” wedding. Day’s piece functions visually — the energized outward blast of white material could be a 3D rendering of an Italian Futurist painting — and also as social commentary, but what sends New Yorkers on their way with a smile, for better or worse, is the work’s one-liner quality: they look, they understand, and then they get on with their day.
Sarah Sze, Corner Plot 60th St and Fifth Avenue
The one-liner appeal of this sidewalk curiosity beckons to pedestrians from afar. The brick building rising up from the pavement (or is it sinking into the pavement?) promises to give passers-by the simplistic pleasure of gawking at a sci-fi movie set. Its perceived predictability slips away, though, when viewers bend over to look in the window of the oddly positioned structure. Inside, there is no perfect replica of a New York apartment and no scene from Poseidon. Instead, Sze has arranged a collection of her trademark objects: Rolls of toilet paper, pushpins and empty bottles populate the interior of the partially submerged space in a disorienting jumble. While some might be relieved that the piece isn’t consistent with its Epcot Center-ish exterior, the unexpected tableau of ordinary things isn’t satisfying either. Sze’s most successful works are her expansive installations of quotidian objects in the hundreds, assembled with Rube Goldbergian logic. The cramped space inside Corner Plot’s windows doesn’t allow for the careful, ordered nature of those larger works, and consequently people walk away from the piece more confused — and just as unstimulated — as they were on the approach.