Maya Lin’s Here and There: an Artist’s Take on Geography

I headed over to the Pace Gallery a few days ago to catch architectural artist Maya Lin‘s project, Here and There. For the project, Lin mapped out major New York City waterways using melted metal and hundreds of nails to create an ethereal re-imagination of geography. The pieces are stunning in their aesthetic simplicity, yet enthralling when considering the complex array of information that the artist presents on the Pace Gallery’s walls and floors.

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I also loved Lin’s use of space in the gallery, as the floor, only sparsely covered by the artwork, becomes a sort of pedestal for the works. There was little to be seen but the small-scale (at least compared to some of her previous works) marble cross-sections of the global terrain, apparently marked by an accompanying map; and the metal rivers and tributaries behind them.

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What excites me most about the collection of pieces is their simple consideration of our earth, and their reframing of earth in such a way as to be intriguing, interesting and beautiful for museum attendees. I’m always really into the reliteralization of the natural world in art (i.e. relinquishing the classical notion of Mother Earth or Gaea and replacing it with literal representations of the physical world), and Lin achieves that through abstract presentations of the natural world.

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Pin River closeup

Pin River closeup

It was also incredible comparing Lin’s Silver Rivers to her Pin Rivers (see the two photos below), as they become a series of pieces encapsulating the development of a more complete geographical perception of the aquatic New York. And yet that New York is inseparable from the industrial New York, as implied by the intensive, tedious metalwork involved in the installations. The resulting art is a marriage of environmental study and cultural presentation, the pins and silver serving to eradicate the lines dividing nature and culture.

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It’s a great exhibit, and it’s up at the New York Pace Gallery until June 22nd!

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