Nancy Rubins: Big Pleasure Point

About the Exhibition

Nancy Rubins (b.1952, Naples, Texas) has been creating visually stunning sculptures out of salvaged industrial and consumer goods including mattresses, trailers, hot water heaters, airplanes and small appliances since the late 1970s. In her hands, such everyday objects become unfamiliar and astonishing, as they are trussed and finessed into heroic forms that defy both gravity and our expectations for how these things should behave. The sculptures may appear precarious but are, in fact, delicately balanced and precisely engineered. While her works are often read as social commentary on consumer society and technological obsolescence, Rubins is most interested in the formal properties, availability, and utilitarian beauty of the particular items with which she works. As she explains, “When I first starting collecting objects after graduate school, it was the quantity and variety that attracted me–and the idea that I could go to Goodwill and pay fifty cents for a whole carload of televisions with marvelous plastic consoles, antennas, and wiring. They had both an amazing appeal and an inherent sadness to them.”

With Big Pleasure Point, Rubin’s new commission by the Public Art Fund and her first outdoor sculpture in New York, she turns her attention to nautical cast-offs, an unexpected but perhaps appropriate medium given Manhattan’s island geography. “Boats are ancient,” says Rubins. “They have been with us throughout all of history and they have a very simple structure and functionality.” At once exuberant and commanding, Big Pleasure Point comprises more than sixty rowboats, kayaks, canoes, small sailboats, surfboards, wind-surf boards, jet skis, paddle boats, catamarans and other small river and ocean vessels, joined together and cantilevered over Lincoln Center’s Josie Robertson Plaza. The sculpture, created on site in the week leading up to the exhibition, takes shape as the boats are added one by one. Connected by welds and wire, they are held in place by tension so that they form a dynamic, colorful cluster high above viewers’ heads.

The sculpture’s title is inspired by the words stenciled on a cache of boats that come from the idyllically named Pleasure Point Marina, located on a resort lake in Southern California. It is only the second work Rubins has made using boats; in early 2006 she completed Pleasure Point, a permanent installation for the Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego, located in La Jolla, California.



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