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To celebrate the 35th anniversary of the Central Park Conservancy, a not-for-profit organization responsible for raising 75% of the park’s operating budget, Creative Time has curated, “Drifting in Daylight,” an eight-part, site-specific exhibition that activates newly restored parts of the park. “Drifting in Daylight” is curated by Cara Starke and Nato Thompson and is a collage of art experiences by an impressive list of artists that includes Marc Bamuthi Joseph, Spencer Finch, Alicia Framis, Nina Katchadourian, Ragnar Kjartansson, David Levine, Karyn Olivier, and Lauri Stallings. These artists responded to the challenge of making work uniquely for this site, and curator Starke emphasizes the importance of the work’s context, explaining, “Central Park is one of the world’s great civic spaces, so it’s a natural—and exciting— place for Creative Time to work. The Park is a public arena animated by city inhabitants and visitors alike. Invigorated by its people, it has come to represent countless meanings—a place for congregation, play, personal reflection, ecology, history, and more.”
In fact, Central Park receives over 40 million visitors annually, who, from May 15 – June 20, can now experience “Drifting in Daylight” every Friday and Saturday. Olivier’s holographic signboard greets visitors with an illusory collage of water, buildings, and object imagery on the riverbank. Katchadourian’s Lamppost Weavers is an installation of bird’s nests professionally woven and suspended from lampposts in the North Park. Also suspended, Cartas al Cielo, by Framis, is a large stainless-steel globe that invites visitors to write and mail letters with no specific address, having the letters quite literally be mailed to the ether.
Live performers also abound. Icelandic artist Kjartansson teamed up with musician Sveinsson to create an original musical composition for a brass sextet that play the score onboard a 1930s Icelandic fishing boat called the “S. S. Hangover” that loops around the Harlem Meer. Dancers, as part of Stalling’s And all directions, I come to you, beckon visitors to join them in movement, perhaps interfacing with Joseph’s Black Joy in the Hour of Chaos. A participatory performance, trios of poets, dancers, and performers gather beneath a “revival tent” supported by a group of people with their hands in the air in recognition of the needless deaths of unarmed black men shot by the police. For Private Moment, Levine has hired live actors to reenact famous movies scenes across the full length of the park, unexpectedly entertaining its occupants.
However, it is Finch’s Sunset that will most surely delight. An ice cream truck will be serving free soft serve ice cream made in the colors of the sunset drawn from watercolor studies of the shifting light over Central Park as viewed from the Metropolitan Museum of Art rooftop at dusk.
Location, it seems, is everything, and curator Stark concluded, “Some of the works are participatory, others heighten our sensory perception of this area, but all of them are about animating and making us look anew at this iconic park in the middle of our city.”
“Drifting in Daylight” is on view through June 20.