Banks aren't typically places that you look forward to visiting (this is why we can now scan checks on our phone). The bland stillness inside makes you want to get in and out as quickly as possible. But now artist Urs Fischer is using a gutted Chase bank on Delancey Street in New York City (leftover signage hanging feebly from the ceiling and all) as a gallery space.
The facade is covered with graffiti and looks completely dilapidated, which is actually quite fitting considering the nature of Fischer’s work and the sculptures in the current show.
You might recognize many of the works from his large show at MOCA, entitled "YES," where 1,500 participants created clay sculptures on-site, ranging from cats to crazy monsters. Fischer then selected a batch of these to be cast in bronze. The MOCA show was about the energy that's sustained within the creative process, as well as the fast pace of working with clay. It holds a similar energy drawing or writing in a sketch book. Fischer wanted to capture that feeling and then solidify it, which he does here, too.
These sculptures are spread throughout the bank—literally every corner of the bank is accessible—from the vault to the the tellers’ desks. There are many surprises found in locations not normally accessible to customers. In the vault at the very back of the building, I found a large, body builder torso wearing a baseball cap, aptly named "bro w/ hat." Held atop a squished clay-like cast bronze base, it was both bewildering and confrontational. The scale and placement of the sculpture worked gave me a feeling of discomfort. Even though the security cameras were no longer running, I felt like I was doing something wrong.
Other pieces included a one-legged boy in an armchair, a gigantic foot, a fireplace, some columns, a bust of Napoleon, a Louis XIV chair, a mermaid (conceived as a functional fountain), a depiction of sleep, a man copulating with a pig, a man and woman embracing, a hat on rocks, a man in a boat, a faceless cat, a pile, a Pièta and a lion in chains. Though constructed in cast bronze, some of which are silver- and gold-plated, they still retain their essence of the decrepit, expressionistic tone in many of Fischers pieces.
The banal nature of the bank only heightens the surreal representation of these sculptures; their construction and dilapidated nature mirror the dilapidated bank to retain a sense of "banal shittines." As Fischer says, they're a "chaotic little non-family of things," brought together in an unexpected and "convulsive" context, which was key in heightening my experience.
For further reading, I recommend his book, Urs Fischer.