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Invert, 2016


As the city space becomes increasingly privatized, places to sit and watch it become rare and heavily regulated. Invert is a bench-like structure whose primary purpose is to provide a sliver of reflective space between the gallery and the glass wall giving onto 5th Avenue in Manhattan. A place to sit and watch the city, a place inside the mirror-play of the modernist architectural monolith, as place for the public that is manifestly not in public but rather in some third space—an interstice.


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Q:
Your sculptures are often highly symbolic forms that are translated or amplified. Where does this particular form come? Why a bench for this space?

A:
Invert is a headstone, a quarter pipe, the inside of an archway, a rainbow, a husband pillow, an abstract horizon and a bench. It is important to me that the viewer can touch the sculpture, use the sculpture, be supported, comfortable, and embraced by the sculpture. Invert creates a tight space near the gallery's window and its directional, frontal bench points the viewer's resting body towards a mirror game of gazes. People look in through the street level window and people look out with invert behind them as a throne, spectating the activity on the street outside.

Q:
What is important about the covering material for this project? What experience does it evoke for you

A:
Invert is covered with a reflective safety surface. This material is designed for visibility but when used in large quantities bounces light in such a way as to obscure whatever is in front of it. The surface creates a mirror game with light, a reflective canyon, mimicking the large pieces of glasses it is positioned behind. The surface is confusing, it is soft but looks hard, puckered and taut but shiny and metallic.

Q:
How do you conceive of the viewing body in your work? Where is she, and why?

A:
The viewing body is omnipresent, it moves around the static object and stitches together a full picture. The viewing body approaches first from the front, mediated by the window, unable to touch, then from the rear, the sculpture's armature and innards exposed. The body can circumnavigate to position itself in the narrow space in front of the sculpture, unable to gain distance, their field of vision consumed by the object's largeness. In a simultaneous moment of disavowal and recognition, the body can turn its back on the object and sit. The object is no longer in sight, the body and object unite.


Elizabeth Tubergen is an artist living and working between Queens, NY and New Haven, CT. Tubergen’s work stems from a negotiation of queerness as a spatial condition and relationship as site. Her work has been shown internationally and she is the recipient of fellowships from Socrates Sculpture Park, the Jacob K. Javits Foundation, the Fulbright Program, the American-Scandinavian Foundation, the MacDowell Colony, the Vermont Studio Center, and Ox-Bow School of Art among others. Tubergen received her MFA from Hunter College in New York City in 2013, attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in 2015, and is presently a lecturer and critic in sculpture at Yale School of Art.

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