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Nick Mauss’s installation, an intervention into the Biennial, confronts visitors when they arrive on the third floor with two white doors and a painting by Marsden Hartley. On the other side of those doors, the artist has reconstructed in velvet and appliqué, an antechamber in cosmetics company Guerlain’s first Institut de Beauté spa in Paris, designed by artist, stage designer, and fashion illustrator Christian Bérard and built in 1939. It is Mauss’s intention that this dislocated manifestation from another time, place, and context disrupt the expected experience of a contemporary art exhibition and initiate a spatial, temporal, and psychological shift for viewers.
Adjacent to the antechamber, as well as within it, Mauss has installed a constellation of objects mostly drawn from the Whitney’s collection. These artworks are recontextualized by this unexpected setting, allowing novel and surprising juxtapositions to form among them. Art historical genealogies are derailed and new associations are invented. Embedded into the wall, a small screen shows reverse-projected slides of photographs of the artist’s studio and other spaces, colored abstractions, textual excerpts, and a variety of banal details. Together, the combination of objects and the space that Mauss has created for them form a sort of stage set, casting the viewer as an actor within the exhibition narrative.
Nick Mauss’s work is on view in the Museum’s third floor galleries.