Critics’ Picks

Jane Benson,
Glory F Flora (detail), 2002.

New York

“New Views”

Lower Manhattan Cultural Council
Governors Island
October 30–January 17

The Lower Manhattan Cultural Council’s World Views program, which once provided studios for artists at the World Trade Center, has found a temporary home at the World Financial Center, across the West Side Highway from the WTC site. Nine artists were offered residencies and invited to create the site-specific works now on view throughout the complex, whose reconstruction was completed this fall. With its views of the Hudson River on one side and Ground Zero on the other, its disorienting floor plan of interconnecting octagons, and its decadent-‘80s decor, the World Financial Center has a melancholy aura, and the artwork plays off this ambience. Much of the work has an under-the-radar quality: Elke Lehmann’s faux surveillance cameras, for example—made out of everything from cardboard to Gucci fabric—are mounted throughout the area, discreetly intermingled with the real thing, while Jane Benson’s modified artificial plants, their leaves cut into spiky geometric shapes or transformed into lacy fretwork, skulk beside the elevators with a comically long-suffering air as if waiting for passersby to notice their delicate weirdness. The show’s fulcrum is Charles Goldman’s archive of “borrowed memories” which takes the form of a binder containing jotted-down everyday memories, such as one woman’s recollection of the shadow cast by the streetlight outside of her childhood bedroom window. Displayed on industrial shelving nearby are 120 small clay sculptures that Goldman created in response to the memories in the binder. Whimsical and generous but infused with a sense of loss, of the passage of time and the impossibility of recreating the past, the piece is the most overt manifestation of the wistful undercurrent that runs through the show. Collectively, these works and the others on view—which include sound installations, videos, and found-object constructions by the late Curtis Cuffie—describe a sort of secret path through the World Financial Center, one that goes against the grain of its mercantile program and exposes its dream life.