‘Reality Hacking No. 240,’ carved marble at Dominique Lévy Gallery
Only a few months after his human-sized unmeltable ‘Snow Monsters’ hit Flatiron Plaza this past winter, urban artist Peter Regli returned to Dominique Lévy Gallery on East 73rd Street with One Sun – One Moon, a multi-part exhibit featuring more pieces from his overarching project, ‘Reality Hacking, which he has continued in four continents after initiating it in the 1990s.
‘Reality Hacking‘ as a body of work is hard to categorize succinctly. Rather, it is meant to transcend forms of categorization by means of its enormous scale, almost 300 separate projects exhibiting characteristics of Surrealism, land art, installation, and conceptual art, spanning every conceivable medium and style. As the Lévy Gallery states in the official press release for One Sun- One Moon, “Regli explores the poetics of banality and the sublimity of quotidian objects and remote or abandoned places.”
The first floor of the Lévy Gallery is devoted to No. 240 in the ‘Reality Hacking’ project, a grouping of “sacred and totemic personages situated in animated pairs and groups.” The figures range from western folkloric characters to small Buddhas and everything in between. In a way, they represent universality in the mashing together of so many cultures and independent figures, all rendered in the same white marble and grouped in loosely-fitted, haphazard formations so that any one figure is not much different from its peers. The installation, which takes up an entire room, is deceiving at first. No sign awaits visitors informing them that walking amongst the statues is prohibited, but there are spaces, upon further notice, between the statues to do so.
The second floor of the gallery includes photographs taken by Regli on his travels and chronicling past ‘Reality Hacking’ projects. Departing from the very large-scale ‘Snow Monsters’ that caused a social media blitz when they were noticed by New Yorkers, these photographs are often the only documentation of some of Regli’s other ‘hacks.’
Some frames show a collection of puddles on a busy sidewalk, or a simple bridge over a river. Many subjects of Regli’s photos are entirely ordinary, though the gallery insists that in each one the artist has made a “subtle, even imperceptible” change to the landscape, some that might have been completely overlooked were it not the feature of one of Regli’s photographs. It supports what we can guess is the artist’s objective, that art is short-lived in the place or the medium that houses it, that even the gigantic ‘Snow Monsters’ or the room filled with marble statuettes will eventually disappear, with only a photograph or a few words remaining to document it.
One Sun – One Moon will remain open throughout the summer until August 15.