Strangelove is bizarre indeed, yet very successful. This installation by Michael Zansky takes full advantage of its unique location. Curated by D. Dominick Lombardi, itâ€™s staged at The Lab, a gallery in a busy corner of midtown Manhattan. The viewer cannot enter the all-glass gallery but must view the piece from the street. This installation is minimally staged, consisting of four large circular lenses, actively reflecting street life, and an expressionless female mannequin dressed in business attire and slumped on top of a rotating pedestal. She is tied up with USB cords, and half her body is covered in bubble wrap. A gold rock rests on top of her, quite an odd scene. The curator, D. Dominick Lombardi, writes that the installation is a riff on Stanley Kubrickâ€™s film Dr. Strangelove, â€œwhich exploited the basic fear and paranoia of a global nuclear war.â€ According to Lombardi, Zanskyâ€™s piece reinterprets that collective fear, which we are now experiencing in the present economic crisis.
The day that I viewed the piece, this interpretation was apparent. The activity in the street, which was reflected through the lenses, integrated the installation with the chaos and zaniness of midtown street life. An armored security vehicle idled in front of the gallery. The truck reflected into the space, but more engaging were the repetitive stutters and gurgles of the churning motor, which acted as a soundtrack to the visual elements. Delivery people, cars, buses, and homeless people entered the piece as reflections. The minimal staging is augmented by the bustle of the city, always changing and ephemeral.
Two of the lenses rotate and move, creating an even more dynamic and temporal vision of the chaotic streetscape. The store next door to the installation is having a closeout sale on shoes. The store merged with the installation because one of the storeâ€™s walls is mirrored and captures the freakish rotating woman.
The colors in the piece are moderate and tame in tone but actively engage the public, who become part of the constantly changing piece. The uniqueness of the piece exists in the ability of the modest items in the installation to transform the entire New York street corner. I would love to go back on a quiet Sunday morning or at dusk -- I wonder if the impact would be the same. - Margaret Roleke
Strangelove: an installation by Michael Zansky
The Lab (for installation + performance art)
Roger Smith Hotel
501 Lexington Avenue
New York City
Ms. Roleke is an artist whose work has been exhibited throughout the New York Tri-State region; she is also an independent curator.