The Great White Way is about to become the Shimmer.
If you’ve seen Annihilation, you’ll recall the electromagnetic field that causes humans to merge with nature in a most disturbing way: Legs morph into tree limbs, flowers grow out of chest cavities. That’s what the at once unsettling and enchanting sculptures of Kathy Ruttenberg evoke, and they’ll be on public display all along Broadway, from 64th Street to 157th Street, starting April 27.
Ruttenberg emerged from the ’80s East Village scene but moved upstate in the late ’90s. Inspired by the menagerie of animals she lived with, she “began constructing a wonder world in which species merge and figures serve as landscapes,” according to a Times review of a 2013 show in Chelsea. Her pieces are like a wardrobe into Narnia, with its mermen, centaurs, and– most of all– its “tree people” and dryads, those tree nymphs capable of taking on human as well as tree-like forms. Works like Ms. Mighty Mouse— a sculpture of cast silicone bronze that will be positioned at 72nd Street, showing a mouse head atop a human body– remind one of the anthropomorphic figures of Wes Anderson’s Fantastic Mr. Fox. Kathy Ruttenberg on Broadway: in dreams awake, as the public exhibition is titled, will place six of her pieces–some nearly 16-feet tall– on the Broadway Mall. The locations along the greenway in the middle of the street were strategically chosen by the artist herself; All the World’s a Stage, an LED-lit sculpture in which a tree person sings atop a pedestal, will appropriately be positioned across from Lincoln Center, in Dante Park, at 64th Street. It’ll be on view through November, and the rest of the pieces will stay up through February.