Art-in-Buildings is pleased to announce one of the newest exhibitions in the atrium and lobby of 125 Maiden Lane: Caitlin Cherry: Arctic Sovereignty. Cherry favors techniques traditionally employed to designate power and authority: history painting, monumentality, and the use of modernist materials. Combining these signifiers with a disregard for traditional distinctions between mediums and a humorous theatricality, Cherry explores complex issues brought to the fore by the non-traditional exhibition space of a Financial District office building.
In the atrium, Cherry's site-responsive painting and sculptural installation, Arctic Sovereignty, her largest work to date, dominates the space. Cherry's artistic practice explores the line between painting and sculpture, engages the tradition of history painting, and highlights the inextricable relationship between power, technology, and violence. In Arctic Sovereignty, Cherry strapped her monumental painting to a motorcycle poised to drive away and pull the painting off the wall. The spectacle of motorcycle crashing through the atrium windows onto the street, pulling the enormous 6-panel painting off the wall is only implied- the work is in limbo, awaiting an activation that may never come. This moment of stasis also speaks to the atrium of 125 Maiden Lane, itself a liminal space between the street and the offices upstairs. The main figure of Cherry's painting is a stylized queen, modeled after Elizabeth Taylor's depiction of Cleopatra, but rendered as a black woman rather than the white Hollywood version. This queen rules over a slick, futuristic, psychedelic world and the site of Arctic Sovereignty, a glass and granite atrium space in New York's Financial District, imbues the work with a sense of privilege. However, the painting's precarious position on the verge of being torn off the wall manifests the artist's dissatisfaction with the tendency for simple resistance by marginalized people to be met with distorted reactions by those in power, which ultimately results in the further disenfranchisement of those who sought to empower themselves. The Queen of Arctic Sovereignty stands for this struggle: despite all the trappings of her power, very little stands between her and destruction.
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