Alex Da Corte offers the city that never sleeps a 26-foot tall standing mobile in his new installation As Long as the Sun Lasts, opened at The Met rooftop in the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Roof Garden today, April 16. All who wish to see the ninth site-specific commission for the outdoor space can venture to the roof until October 31, 2021. As Long as the Sun Lasts is free with museum admission.
Da Corte began working on As Long as the Sun Lasts during the dark months of 2020. In the installation announcement, Max Hollein, Marina Kellen French Director of The Met, said the exhibit “evokes notions of uncertainty, nostalgia, sadness, and hope so inherent in our turbulent times.”
Before the release of As Long as the Sun Lasts, Da Corte only told anxious fans that the Met rooftop installation would be made of plastic, stainless steel, and aluminum. Known for creating installations that play with light, bright colors, and soft fabrics, Da Corte also used spray paint and enamel in As Long as the Sun Lasts to remain true to this characterization of his art.
Now, with its release to the public, we can see that Da Corte’s design is a modern standing mobile whose base is constructed with three striking interlocking orange pieces. Atop the base is the mobile component, adorned by a blue Big Bird sitting on a crescent moon overlooking New York City. Blue, yellow, red, black, and white circles hang opposite Big Bird’s perch.
Da Corte, who grew up for some time in Venezuela, chose to make Big Bird blue because in the Brazilian version of Sesame Street, Garibaldo, the equivalent of America’s yellow Big Bird, was blue. However, the blue laser-cut aluminum feathers that number 7,000 also signify the attitude of the installation. Throughout summer 2021, the blue Big Bird will be a melancholic, pensive figure who sways in the wind. This swaying is a reminder that “stability is an illusion and that moving forward occurs in fits and starts,” according to an explanation near the installation.
In a statement released by the Met, Max Hollein, Marina Kellen French Director of The Met, said As Long as the Sun Lasts, “oscillates between joy and melancholy, and brings a playful message of optimism and reflection. The installation, which the artist initiated just as the pandemic was taking hold, invites us to look through a familiar, popular, modern lens at our own condition in a transformed emotional landscape. As the sculpture gently rotates in the wind, it calls us in an assuring way to pause and reflect: We are reminded that stability is an illusion, but ultimately what we see is a statement of belief in the potential of transformation.”
In the past, artists such as Cornelia Park and Huma Bhabha have created installations specifically for the Met rooftop. Since exhibits are outside for an entire summer, artists must keep that in mind when choosing materials. Scaffolding that can withstand 100-mile per hour winds supported Park’s reconstruction of the house from Psycho, titled Transitional Object (PsychoBarn). Bhabha initially created her statues, resembling extraterrestrial creatures, with cork, Styrofoam, air-dried clay, and plastic, and then cast them in bronze. Da Corte’s aluminum and plastic materials will withstand the New York summer heat.
Along with a bar, the Roof Garden offers unobstructed views of Central Park perfect for tourists and native New Yorkers alike. As visitors to As Long as the Sun Lasts take in Da Corte’s installation that plays on both innocence and darkness, they can see the dichotomy between the city and nature that Central Park boasts. This dichotomy parallels the play of opposites that Da Corte explores in his exhibit.
In a statement regarding the installation, Sheena Wagstaff, Leonard A. Lauder Chairman of Modern and Contemporary Art, said, “In a play of opposites that is spirited, absurd and deadly serious, modern culture is reconfigured into unexpected orbit, evoking a utopian possibility of innocence and play in the face of these times of melancholic collapse.”
Da Corte, who grew up in New Jersey, currently works in Philadelphia. Familiar with the mediums of film, performance, painting, installation, and sculpture, the As Long as the Sun Lasts installation aligns with his interests along with the history of The Met rooftop. The title pays homage to a series of short stories by Italian author Italo Calvino. As Big Bird observes the adventures of New Yorkers from his perch on a yellow crescent moon, he honors the short stories that have an aura of adventure and exploration. For even when the sun is gone, New Yorkers never sleep.
A publication including an interview with Da Corte is available for those who want to learn more about the installation. Along with the interview, are photos giving an inside look into Da Corte’s journey of taking As Long as the Sun Lasts from inspiration to installation.
Next, check out 12 New Outdoor Art Installations in NYC, April 2021