In ‘Greater New York’ at PS1, James Nares Predicts the Destruction of Old New York

THE DAILY PIC: He shot a wrecking ball in '76, but it speaks to our demolitions.


THE DAILY PIC (#1464): Yet another of this week’s Pics from the “Greater New York” show at PS1, this time presenting one of the many older works that leaven this survey of “contemporary” art. It’s a still from a Super 8 film called Pendulum, made in 1976 by James Nares. Nares shoots a giant wrecking ball, or a weighted sphere that passes for one, as it swings slowly back and forth down an alley in TriBeCa, at a time when the neighborhood was so new it had just been given a name of its own. (Click on my image to watch a clip.)

One of the great things about the vintage pieces at PS1 is that they set the stage for much of the art made today, but also take on new meaning in their new context. “Pendulum” once spoke of the abandonment of much of New York; there were whole neighborhoods where an artist could swing a giant sphere without anyone much noticing. Its wrecking ball stood for decay and demolition, and for disappearing heavy-metal technologies. Seen today, however, it seems to speak of the destruction, and posh reconstruction, of the very urban fabric where it once could swing free. The film seems to predict the loss of the setting that gave it life. (Courtesy the artist and Paul Kasmin Gallery, New York)

For a full survey of past Daily Pics visit


Follow Artnet News on Facebook:

Want to stay ahead of the art world? Subscribe to our newsletter to get the breaking news, eye-opening interviews, and incisive critical takes that drive the conversation forward.


Subscribe or log in to read the rest of this content.

You are currently logged into this Artnet News Pro account on another device. Please log off from any other devices, and then reload this page continue. To find out if you are eligible for an Artnet News Pro group subscription, please contact [email protected]. Standard subscriptions can be purchased on the subscription page.

Log In