Oh the places we will go. Oh the things we will see. Oh the realization that so much of our modern world is a mechanized reality. Inundated by objects of popular culture, we look to our screens—iPhone, tablet, and MacBook—for the newest fad. Temporarily holding our attention by appealing to our sense of inclusion, the newest fad, a virtual reality comprised of manicured images of people and places, subsumes our physical reality. It takes a lived experience with inanimate objects to shock us into an activated reality in which we wonder, puzzle, and conjecture over the processes that bring about an artwork’s creation. The Whitney’s most recent exhibition, Calder: Hypermobility, catalyzes conversation about the things we are seeing—the mobiles, stabiles, and kinetic objects that defy our initial understanding.
Visitors circulate through the Whitney’s seventh floor, gradually nearing Calder’s creations, squatting to investigate up close the mechanics of a miniature mobile then backpedaling to gain a more complete perspective. The visitors dance, mimicking that of the mobiles. They give into the act of investigating an artwork and then retreat to ponder over the very process of its activation. After completing the single circuit—the analysis of one artwork—the visitor seamlessly repeats the preceding circuit, advancing to and backing away from the next object of his or her attention. Dancing in tandem, the visitors and artworks exalt the Calderian concept of unceasing motion. Filtering into the seventh floor stage, new visitors replace those exiting, thus maintaining the fluid equilibrium of the room.
While phone screens captured the unfolding rhythmic interplay of Calder’s creations, many visitors wholly entrusted analysis to their eyes, taking in the spectacle of each exhibited object. Affected by the idiosyncratic motions, visitors were drawn from their isolated mechanized realities to collectively appreciate the nuanced, choreographed motions. Sparsely decorated, Calder: Hypermobility, a platform for introspection, harnessed the performativity of Calder’s creations to subtly underscore the static nature of modern existence.
Untitled, 1947. Sheet metal, wire, and paint, 27 1/2 × 27 1/2 × 9 in. (69.9 × 69.9 × 22.9 cm). Calder Foundation, New York. © 2017 Calder Foundation, New York / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York