new-york

Julianne Swartz

Josée Bienvenu Gallery

PVC is one of those wonder materials, a plastic widely used in the building trade (though outlawed in New York State, perhaps because of its toxicity, its vulnerability to rats, or a union issue that rewards the Steam Pipe Fitters). It has also increasingly begun to appear in sculpture. Anish Kapoor’s Marsyas installation in the Turbine Hall at Tate Modern in 2002 used a giant PVC membrane, but emerging artists tend to employ it raw, with the manufacturer’s markings still visible.

One of the most celebrated recent examples of this was Somewhere Harmony, 2003–2004, Julianne Swartz’s work in the 2004 Whitney Biennial, a rambling epic of clear plastic tubes installed in the six-story-high stairwell and connected to speakers located in a crawl space between the third and fourth floors, which transmitted spoken and sung versions of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” Turning Marcel Breuer’s clean,

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