Ada Bobonis’ site-specific installation entitled Stages, Mountains, Water transforms the Museum’s second floor gallery space into an invigorating chromatic environment evoking the Caribbean landscape. Geometric compositions in hues of blue and green are either painted on the wall or adhered to the glass railing façade in the form of translucent color film. Alluding to horizons and vistas, expansive bodies of land and water, the work takes its inspiration from the Panama Canal, one of the icons of 19th century aspirations for the New World.
The construction of the Panama Canal (1880 – 1914) was a historical triumph of international ambition at the turn of the century. Upon completion, the 51-mile-long ship canal connected the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean by cutting across the Isthmus of Panama, and has since become a key conduit for global maritime trade. The area’s topography is characterized by vast mountain vistas, the Gatun Lake, and the presence of the Panama Canal Locks (long vertical barriers of different sizes controlling the passage of over-sized ships), and is a spectacular fusion of the natural world and man’s interventions upon it.
Stages, Mountains, Water deftly renders the peculiar landscape of the Panama Canal in a minimal composition of color and shapes. While the color-treated glass railing façade creates an evocative aquatic effect, the “cloud of blades” overhead – clustered sculptural cutouts spanning the gallery’s ceiling – symbolizes man’s forceful intercession in the natural landscape that profoundly altered the location. The installation further brings the view of Flushing Meadows Corona Park and the Unisphere, a 140-foot-high steel representation of Earth built as an emblem for the 1964 World’s Fair, into the gallery space itself. Separated by exactly half a century, the Panama Canal and the Unisphere – both products of the state-of-the-art engineering of their time – echo each other with the timeless human aspiration for exploration they embody, whether by taming the power of the oceans or spanning the infinite reaches of outer space.
Ada Bobonis: Stages, Mountains, Water has been commissioned in conjunction with the exhibition Caribbean: Crossroads of the World.
Support for this project provided by the Lily Auchincloss Foundation.
Ada Bobonis (b. 1963, Río Piedras, Puerto Rico) received her M.F.A. and B.F.A. in Painting from the University of Barcelona, Spain (1989). She is a recipient of numerous grants including the Pollock-Krasner Foundation (2005), the Fund for Puerto Rican Cultural Activities (2007 and 2010), and Marie Walsh Sharpe Foundation’s Space Program (2010). She has exhibited extensively in Puerto Rico, Spain and the United States, and was most recently included in New York-Latin American + Spanish Artists in New York City at the Museum of the Americas in Washington, DC (2012). Bobonis currently lives and works in New York City.