When artist James Turrell brought his first Skyspace installation in the United States, titled “Meeting,” to MoMA PS1 in 1980, he likely didn’t expect that the installation—which hinges on views of unobstructed sky—would find itself in the position it’s now in. But PS1, and Turrell’s piece, are in Long Island City, the neighborhood that has given rise to the most new apartments in the country—and in New York for the most part, there’s nowhere to build but up.
Which leads to the current dilemma: Temporary building materials affixed to the neighboring development at 22-44 Jackson Avenue have encroached upon the framed view of sky that constitutes Turrell’s “Meeting,” rendering the installation compromised. Gothamist first reported the intrusion in mid-January. The installation has now been closed indefinitely by request of the artist, the New York Times reports.
The museum’s director of marketing and communications, Molly Kurzius, said the work will remain closed until the temporary construction materials at the neighboring site are removed.
Here's another photo someone dropped in our comments. I kind of love how perfectly NYC this piece is now... pic.twitter.com/AW1LfC98au— Jen Carlson (@jenist) January 17, 2019
The infringement comes from 5 Pointz; not the famed graffiti haven that was whitewashed overnight in 2013 at the behest of owner Jerry Wolkoff, but the 41- and 48-story rental towers that have been erected in its place. Wolkoff was ordered to pay out $6.7 million to 21 artists whose work was destroyed in the whitewashing in February 2018, which the developer appealed in September.
Regardless of what anyone says, Wolkoff is a patron of the arts. “I love the idea of 5Pointz being there, as you know, because I love the idea of art,” Wolkoff told Gothamist. “So we’re going to be hopefully working with [PS1] hand in hand; and hopefully we’re going to be there forever, and hopefully they’re going to be there forever. And I’m a supporter of what they do.”
Wolkoff says the hoist that’s visible in the installation’s frame will be removed in May, and that he’s aiming to finish building the rental towers in June.