Dan Graham Watches Us Watching
THE DAILY PIC: On the roof of the met, a glass pavilion bills drinking as sociology.
This is the latest installation on the Met’s rooftop garden, and it’s the best yet, because it’s the subtlest and most complex. We’re looking at one of the glass “pavilions” that Dan Graham has been making for decades now, but that have rarely worked as well as here.
When Graham had his retrospective at the Whitney, a few years ago, I wrote about the beautiful things his pavilions do to your sense of where and what you are, and what you’re seeing, as a creature in a space with others. At the Met, however, I realized that the effect isn’t only perceptual. At best, it’s also deeply social: His glass walls shape how we move and interact; we use them as tools for sorting out which tribe we belong to, or which pecking order to peck our way up. When I first arrived on the roof, I was annoyed that most people were treating the piece as cocktail-bar décor. Then I realized they were helping this art do its work, by allowing it to swallow them.
The Graham pavilion is like a sociologist’s two-way mirror, except that it makes everyone play both subject and observer. (Photo by Lucy Hogg)
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