Large-scale sanctuary by artist Raul Cordero opens in Times Square in April

Times Square Arts, the largest public platform for contemporary performance and visual arts, is pleased to present THE POEM, an immersive public art installation by Cuban artist Raúl Cordero, from April 8 to May 4, 2022.

THE POEM aims to provide a unique and transformative experience in which visitors can momentarily transcend the hectic activity of Times Square and the monumental scale and energy of the neighborhood. At the heart of an attention economy, Cordero plays with the architecture of Times Square to offer us a gift of poetry and art.

“It is difficult to create meaningful art for people in an age when their attention is dispersed across so many mediums and technologies simultaneously. THE POEM seeks to stop time, reminding us that humans also have the ability to invest in one thing at a time – like listening to “the secret dialogue of trees” (as Reinaldo Arenas poetically puts it) and reading a haiku, even while standing in the center of Times Square,” Raúl Cordero said.

THE POEM is a large-scale, sculptural tower that features an interior of illuminated text juxtaposed with a landscaped exterior of cascading mountain laurel foliage designed by Canal Gardens Inc. Words from a haiku written by poet Barry are affixed to the inside the temple-like structure. Schwabsky, visible to visitors who walk in and look up. Schwabsky is a writer, educator, and art-world luminary whose poetry concerns the minute nuances of meaning and sensation in overlooked elements of language, balancing thoughtful detail with the intricacies of art.

THE POEM is a continuation of Cordero’s extensive use of the juxtaposition of text and abstract imagery in his practice, serving as a commentary on the distracted nature of modern life in which advances in technology have created a wealth of parallel information. reduced attention span. The artist created a special alphabet made up of nearly illegible symbols to play with the human brain and make viewers linger longer to decipher his message, emblematic of Cordero’s belief that the digital age has rewired the brain human, forcing the audience to concentrate more intently. when the mind is multitasking. With his in-game text-based cunning, Cordero also offers a natural landscape as a framing device and a temporary break from the sensory overload of Times Square. To experience THE POEM, viewers must pass beneath a 20-foot-tall cascade of mountain laurels, where their only line of sight becomes the open sky and black-light haiku above them.

“Playing on the monumental scale of Times Square, THE POEM merges poetry and the natural world to ground us physically and hold open a contemplative space in a place that fundamentally depends on our fractured attention,” said Jean Cooney, artistic director of Times Square.

Times Square is an appropriate site for the installation in that it emphasizes the influence of the “attention economy” on Cordero’s work, as the neon billboards, Busy passers-by and the sounds of the city create a cacophony of sensory overload. THE POEM is a practice of thought and care, in the hope that viewers will devote their attention to structure in order to ponder the enigma of modern life.

Cordero’s project is both inspired by and dedicated to fellow Cuban and poet Reinaldo Arenas, a Cuban government exile who battled AIDS which led to his death by suicide in 1990. Arenas wrote poems while he sat in a tree, a hobby that inspired the height and leafy feel of Cordero’s installation. Arenas spent his final years as a creative in New York City, living just two blocks from THE POEM’s location.

Along with the project, Cordero will present text-based video works on billboards and free public programming showcasing New York’s diverse poetic community on the ground. Throughout the exhibition, LaTasha Nevada Diggs, Paolo Javier, Barry Schwabsky and PEN America’s Artists at Risk Connection (ARC) with PEN International will each host an evening of poetry readings and live performances celebrating THE POEM and the community. New York poetics. Open to the public. The lineup will also run alongside his first New York solo exhibition in nearly fifteen years at the RICHARD TAITTINGER GALLERY located at 154 Ludlow Street, New York, NY. The solo exhibition HEAVEN IS A PLACE IN THE MIND, presents a collection of 24 works, including 17 paintings, 2 installations and 4 NFTs. It will be visible until April 24, 2022.

THE POEM is commissioned by Times Square Arts with the generous support of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, and in part with support from Morgan Stanley, the New York State Council on the Arts with support from Governor Kathy Hochul and the US Legislature. of New York State, and public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.


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