Manipulating our built environment is one of the first, most fundamental acts humans perform—often unwittingly. Architectural thinking, with its emphasis on intentionality, permeates not only other artistic disciplines but even the simple gestures and ways we position ourselves against the day-to-day. “The Architectural Impulse,” a group show currently on view at New York’s Cristin Tierney Gallery, explores the presence of architecture—not with a capital “A” but rather as a series of processes and ideas—in the work of 12 international artists, creating a space that highlights the fluid coexistence of art and architecture. As the show’s curator, Warren James puts it: “Everyone is born an architect, just as everyone is born an artist. What happens thereafter determines the outcome.”
The stage for spatial reverie is set by Alois Kronschlaeger’s Grid Structure #1: Configuration #4 (2015), framed by the gallery’s entrance. The towering figure is assembled from modules of basswood grid structures that, when stacked and painted in varying colors, contradict the universality of their component parts and create an animate form that is constantly changing depending on the viewer’s vantage point. The dizzying, shape-shifting effect is explored in 2D by Richard Galpin. In Black Mirror, 4x1, no. 4 (2014), he alters a photograph of an urban space by sanding it down with planks of wood behind it—an interpretation of frottage that allows a very tactile, hybrid space to emerge.
The gallery’s compact back room is transformed by Jennifer Marman and Daniel Borins’s installation Floor 1-25 (2000), which employs boxes topped with laminate flooring and staggered at different heights to warp the gallery’s level floor. The walkable landscape invites viewers to traverse its discontinuous ground in order to reach a small screen showing Barbara Kasten’s video Shadow=Light (2010)—a play on the fundamental architectural dialogue: that between shadow and light. In the same space, Francisco Ugarte’s Self-Portrait (2012) initially reads as a straightforward cityscape, but is actually a charcoal outline of the long shadows cast by a composition of the artist’s personal effects. The title succinctly suggests that our spaces—as small as the objects we accumulate on our desks or as large as the collectively imagined skylines we inhabit—are our selves.