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As a contemporary form of commercialized nostalgia, souvenirs are the ultimate cliche in the representation of a city. Pocket-sized, acritical, and cheap, they populate tourist sites all over the world with a patina of innocence.
Producing collective imaginaries made up of lines that follow the profiles of superlative sculptures, buildings, and stories, souvenirs have become the reference points that anchor a particular culture in time, representing (consciously or not) political, cultural, and social values.
Souvenirs: New New York Icons, the second iteration of Storefront’s model show, commissions 59+ objects that redefine New York’s iconic imagery. Inspired by each of the city’s Community Districts, more than 59 artists, architects, and designers have reimagined the referential images that constitute the global perception of the city, proposing new understandings of the urban experience.
Challenging the symbols that have permeated the gift shop, Souvenirs presents critical approaches to the shifting and complex iconography of the city. The exhibition introduces new objects and, with them, new ways to relate to form, matter, affect, representation, and agency.
Visitors to the exhibition will be asked to cast a vote for the object that best represents their visions and values of the city. The top three souvenirs will be presented to the Mayor Bill de Blasio as new icons for New York City.
About the Installation
Storefront’s Iconic facade, designed by Steven Holl and Vito Acconci in 1994, has become a referent for the architectural community worldwide. The facade project, consisting of a series of pivoting panels opening the gallery walls onto the sidewalk, was built with an innovative concrete mixture, disrupting preconceived notions of heaviness attached to concrete. Taking this notion of postmateriality to its extreme, MOS Architects has produced a series of operations that open up the facade and the gallery space (through literal holes and material and textural transformations), bringing it into conversation with its urban and architectural context. With a series of transfers (material, formal, and spatial) between concrete, stone, glass, wood, plastic, and air, the installation brings the logic behind the aesthetics of recycling into a new formal language that invites us to reflect upon notions of signification and legibility in the built environment.
Exhibition Design by MOS Architects
Graphic Design by Studio Lin