A Group Show Captures the City as Neither Dystopic nor Utopic
Bruce High Quality Foundation’s Hooverville (2012) shows a skyscraper-dense section of downtown Manhattan as filtered through chalky shades of pale green and black. If not for the presence of two figures, perched impossibly at the edge of the Hudson River, the city scene may be convincing in terms of scale. In the background, one can make out the faint tracings of the World Trade Center, which takes on an especially poignant meaning when viewed in relation to the group’s biographical narrative. Bruce High Quality Foundation represents the legacy of a fictional artist, Bruce High Quality, who supposedly died on September 11. The Brooklyn-based artist group, whose public programs and mixed-media pieces connect “the interstices of machination, education, reform, and premonition,” points to 9/11 as a point of seminal cultural shift.
Other artists capture the city as a bastion of architectural innovation and achievement—but with nuance. In
Whether from an aerial or ground level perspective, or from an imagined or real point of view, the artists in this exhibition grapple with the meanings of contemporary urban space with incredible acuity and historical sensitivity. As Ebony distilled it: “‘Metropolis’ is not intended to convey a post-9/11 dystopian vision, nor do the works here suggest a hierarchical social study of the urban landscape...instead, the exhibition offers a fresh discourse on urban existence considered from a rather cool, contemplative distance.”
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