“Please Touch the Art,” a new exhibition by Danish artist Jeppe Hein featuring 18 playful sculptures designed specifically for public interaction, is coming to Brooklyn Bridge Park (BBP) this weekend.
Engaging visitors through pieces that are both accessible and surprising, the show includes three distinct bodies of work: “Appearing Rooms,” a series of “rooms” formed when water shoots up from the work’s gridded base forming “walls” that appear and disappear throughout the day; a large new Mirror Labyrinth, featuring equidistantly spaced vertical elements at varying heights made from mirror-polished stainless steel that multiply the surrounding landscape through myriad reflections; and 16 new Modified Social Benches that upend the idea of a traditional park bench with their unconventional angled, curved, twisted and bent forms.
“Jeppe Hein: Please Touch the Art” is on view at the park from May 17, 2015, to April 17, 2016.
“Imaginative, whimsical, irreverent and emotionally resonant, Jeppe Hein turns familiar expectations of works of art on their head. Instead of the respectful distance demanded in museums, Hein’s work invites participation,” said Nicholas Baume, public art fund director and chief curator. “Titling the exhibition ‘Please Touch the Art,’ he encourages us to interact with his art in the most direct physical terms. Through that immersive experience, Hein hopes that his work will also touch us.”
Known for his perceptually engaging, sculpturally inventive and conceptually layered works, Hein has created memorable works of art using mediums such as smoke, neon light, water and stainless steel. From the beginning, he has taken inspiration from nature and the built environment, often conceiving works specifically for public space.
This exhibition brings together works that exist at the crossroads of art, architecture and technology and responds to the character of BBP. On view throughout the space, “Please Touch the Art” extends from just south of the Manhattan Bridge down along the waterfront to Pier 6.
Visitors entering the park at Pier 1 will encounter Hein’s iconic water sculpture, “Appearing Rooms” installed on the Bridge View Lawn. Vertical jets of water will gradually appear forming 7-foot-tall “walls,” which moments later will disappear, enabling visitors to move to different “rooms,” all without touching a drop of water. Systematically, these “walls” appear and disappear through a timed cycle, enticing visitors to step onto the gridded platform and move from space to space within the sculpture. The cycle of changing walls may also be observed from outside the piece as a dynamic and perceptually engaging work of art.
The second major component of the exhibition is a newly conceived, large-scale Mirror Labyrinth to be installed at the Pier 3 Greenway Terrace. Hein has developed the design of this work in response to the site, particularly in relation to the spectacular views of Lower Manhattan afforded by the park.
Using equidistantly spaced vertical posts made from mirror-polished stainless steel, he has created a kind of labyrinth in three radiating arcs that alters the perceptions of visitors, as they see physical space and mirrored space in an alternating rhythm. The width of each element is the same but the heights are variable — inspired by the irregular Manhattan skyline across the river — adding to the perceptual shifts and illusions that will engage and delight visitors.
The third body of work, Modified Social Benches, will be on view throughout the park, surprising visitors with each chance encounter. The artist has designed a new series of 16 red benches that peak, twist and bend in response to the landscape and environment of the park. Inspired by the basic public bench, Hein has reinvented the form and use of these quotidian social objects, turning them into lyrical and evocative sculptures. Straddling the line between functional seats and eccentric art objects, Hein coaxes visitors to become conscious of the act of sitting as they perch, recline or rest on his benches.