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The Socrates Annual

Updated: Feb 22, 2019

at Socrates Sculpture Park, through March 10th

9am to sunset, free admission

Installation art feels the most inclusive especially when it lives in a shared public space. Astoria's Socrates Sculpture Park has been nurturing artists at early stages of their careers through The Socrates Annual for over a decade, allowing each artist to develop their work on their own terms rather than influencing their work through an overarching theme. However, the works have to be site-specific and become part of the landscape—and its community.

The 15 works shown on the exhibition are quite diverse in their media (resin, rubber, wood, sound, metal, and textile), subject matter (ranging from a decolonial greenhouse to audio-sculptural portraits of Queens hip-hop legends) and approach (community-centered pedagogy and production, material experimentation, and redeployment of historical forms of construction, among others.)

I have to admit I'm partial to this park as it's really close to where I live. I've had a chance to take a look at this exhibition a few times. So let's show go through some highlights:


1. Nancy Nowacek’s MANEUVER

An ever changing arrangement of textile-clad sandbags, each different textile is codified to represent a different socioeconomic aspect (wealth, collectivity, crisis, courage, and development) and through participatory moving events reflect the complexity the overlapping of these ideas.

Rematerial Wall

2. Leander Mienardus Knust’s Re-material Wall

A sculture that embraces its context and circumstances through a self-constructing setup that runs on a solar panel that allows copper molecules to pour into suspended jars and take unique forms.


3. Nathaniel Cummings-Lambert’s Corral

A labyrinth that is both playful and metaphorical, as it blends the construction of a rural animal pen with the design of urban footpaths to bring the notions of public space and accessibility into question.

Home(-) and Garden features

4. Ronen Gamil's Home(-) and Garden

Features aluminum cans turned into miniature tents to evoke homeless encampments as a commentary on NYC's ongoing gentrification and broader urban planning issues.

5. Nicholas Missel’s

The Real Deal

A pair of deconstructed sculptures cast from decommissioned machines belonging to the park itself that can be understood as an observation on the relationship between construction and sustainability.

6. Amy Brener’s Fort-dress

An inhabitable sculpture filled with tools and gadgets where viewers can walk into and be sheltered by an abstraction of the female form.

7. Lionel Cruet’s Reverb/Ensemble Space

A musical instrument you can enter in, a cube in which each of its walls allows you to feel a texture that you may play music with while being immersed in its blue light while standing on sand to keep you grounded.

The remaining 8 works not pictured here are quite equal in depth and execution. I do hope these are sufficient enough to entice you to come all the way out here. If the weather proves tricky there's always the Noguchi Museum (which is very close by) and in combination with The Socrates Annual both will give you a well-rounded view at what the mediums of sculpture and installation can express.

Author: Julián León



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