Hedge Two-Way Mirror Walkabout is a site-specific installation by Dan Graham which was installed in April of this year. Comprising curves of steel and two-way mirrored glass set between ivy hedgerows, Graham’s structure is part garden maze, part modernist skyscraper facade. Viewers who enter the work are transformed into performers; in glimpsing their own reflections, they are also made acutely aware of the act of looking.
For the past fifty years Graham has engaged his interest in architecture and the way it structures public space through a multidisciplinary practice encompassing writing, photography, video, performance, and—beginning in the 1970s—sculptural environments of mirrored glass and metal. He calls these hybrid structures “pavilions” after the ornamental buildings that decorate seventeenth- and eighteenth-century formal gardens—architectural fantasies inspired by the ruins of classical antiquity.
Graham’s pavilions similarly invite romance or play, but their forms and materials have a more contemporary source: the gleaming glass facades of modern office towers. For the artist, the mirrored cladding of a corporate headquarters symbolizes economic power and sleek efficiency and also provides camouflage, reflecting the world around it as it shields what happens inside from prying eyes.
The artist’s pavilions likewise respond to their specific sites. The Roof Garden, where the idyllic expanse of Central Park confronts the tall buildings of midtown Manhattan, is both of the city and at a certain remove from it. The evergreen plantings that edge the parapets also remind Graham of the shrubbery that often demarcates property lines in the New Jersey suburbs of his youth.
His Hedge Two-Way Mirror Walkabout, set within a specially engineered terrain designed in collaboration with the Swiss landscape architect Günther Vogt (born 1957, Balzers, Liechtenstein), employs these multilayered references—palace gardens, public parks, contemporary corporate architecture, and the suburban lawn—as it engages the viewer in a historic and complex mirror play.
The Roof Garden Commission, Hedge Two-Way Mirror Walkabout By Dan Graham with Günther Vogt will be on Exhibit Through November 2nd, 2014. The Metropolitan Museum of Art is Located at 1000 Fifth Avenue (at 82nd Street) in NYC.