Critics’ Picks

Tega Brain and Sam Lavigne, New York Apartment (detail), 2020, website.

Tega Brain and Sam Lavigne, New York Apartment (detail), 2020, website.

New York

Tega Brain and Sam Lavigne

Whitney Museum of American Art
99 Gansevoort Street
Online exhibition

“Looking for drama and a home that evokes the feel of an art gallery?” “Do you prefer simple shaker-style wood cabinets with solid surface counters or custom lacquer cabinets paired with a travertine marble?” “Did anyone say ‘development’?” If you’re sick of your own dingy, cramped walk-up and emphatically replied “yes” to any of these questions, then you might be in the market for Tega Brain and Sam Lavigne’s New York Apartment, 2020. On sale for a cool $43,869,676,331, it comes with 65,764 bedrooms and 55,588 bathrooms, and clocks in at just under forty million square feet, spread out over all five boroughs.

If this all sounds too implausible to be true, it’s because it is. New York Apartment is a web-based work that aggregates online New York City real estate listings—with all their attendant clichés, aspiration-baiting, and staged photographs—into one fictional mega-listing for the perfect pad (though this project, commissioned by the museum, proves that “perfect” can have thousands of permutations). The website is organized into several tidy and seemingly endless columns: One, for instance, has snapshots of rooms—garish, drab, luxurious—lumped together into whiplash-inducing galleries of disparate styles and housing types, while another has an alphabetized list of different “features” where you can find everything from “actual plants” and “additional children” to “meretricious tricks” and “exquisite secrets.” The listing’s no-frills typography and comically bland design lend it the air of a Hans Haacke piece à la Craigslist. Although Brain and Lavigne’s artwork plays it for laughs, the socioeconomic and environmental consequences of our domestic dreams aren’t funny: They pile up like garbage, an index of add-ons that we wanted but did not need.