A public garden & cultural center

Alan Ruiz

Call & Response | September 10–December 3, 2017

Pictured above: Western Standards 87-17, 2017, Wood, privacy scrim, dimensions variable. Courtesy of the artist and Wave Hill. Photo: Stefan Hagen. 

In a nod to the paneled scrims that Robert Irwin installed in Glyndor Gallery for his 1987 project, Door Light Window, Alan Ruiz’s screen piece bisects the center gallery space with a wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling privacy screen. Ruiz’s installations highlight Wave Hill’s social function as a public institution and as an art space, while alluding to its past as a private estate for affluent residents. He looks also to the relationship of Wave Hill to the urban fabric of New York, particularly to the increasing development of the city and the potential commoditization of natural resources and public amenities.

Against Nature
Sunroom Project Space | October 26–December 1, 2013

Against Nature (detail), 2013, steel studs, medium-density fiberboard, 10 2/3 x 17 1/2 x 16 feet. Courtesy of the artist.

Alan Ruiz restructures and intervenes in art historical, architectural and institutional spaces, treating them as sites of perception and challenging the relationship between object, context and phenomenological encounter. Ruiz is interested in using conceptual formalism to confront authoritative and normative ways of engaging with the pictorial. His work participates in systems of cultural production while simultaneously critiquing them, reversing perspectives and subjects and opening the work to multiple meanings.

Ruiz’s Sunroom Project, Against Nature, adds to an ongoing body of work that explores architectural screens as socially and politically emblematic forms. The installation, a screen system composed of three layers of alternating standardized steel studs, emphasizes the idea of the Sunroom as a container. The screen frames the perimeter of the room, articulating its envelope as the boundary between interior and exterior, public and private, bound and unbound space. The industrial steel frame occludes the large, iconic windows; this modern building material is juxtaposed with the neo-classical design of Glyndor House. Ruiz takes this material, which is typically hidden from view, and puts it on display. The studs lose their traditional function as structural support and instead are arranged as a sculptural object that regulates the light entering the room. In this project, Ruiz also imagines the potential for natural light to be acquired as a privileged material in and of itself. By obscuring the views from the windows, Against Nature creates an immersive experience that alludes to the hyper-development and privatization of our natural environment.

Against Nature, 2013, steel studs, medium-density fiberboard, 10 2/3 x 17 1/2 x 16 feet. Courtesy of the artist.

Artist website

The Arts at Wave Hill are supported by the Lily Auchincloss Foundation, Inc.; Michael J. Shannon; Milton and Sally Avery Arts Foundation; the National Endowment for the Arts; New York City Department of Cultural Affairs; New York Community Trust Edward and Sally Van Lier Fund; New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature; The Pollock-Krasner Foundation; The Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation; and by the Cathy and Stephen Weinroth Commissioning Fund for the Arts.