Harumi Ori: "I am Here"

May 23 – June 30, 2024

Opening Reception: Thursday, May 23, 6-8pm

There’s a sort of tyranny of the white wall in much of the art world. Whether it be inside the most radical young gallery or the most solemnly respected museum, art (in the sense of the rarefied air of the global art market) most often waits indoors to greet us from its gilded cage. And if these art institutions can be seen as zoos for art rather than for animals, then perhaps we could also say that we need to consider engendering the equivalent of safaris for art. To continue– to possibly belabor – the metaphor: Imagine a lion caged in its enclosure at the zoo, where his human visitors can set the terms of the closeness, duration, and intensity of their encounter with the animal. Next, imagine the same lion walking down 5th Avenue at noon. People on the street, ineluctably drawn into the lion’s story by simple circumstance, must reckon with the reality of a wild, dangerous, and magical twist in their accepted narrative of the day-to-day world.

Harumi Ori’s public sculptures, which are most often seen – whether by chance or intentionally – on the streets of cities all over the globe, are at their most alive when met with the random encounter any of us might have with them while we walk blithely along. This is art that intervenes, gently but insistently, in people’s lives; it compels citizens with a binary choice: to engage with the work or to ignore it (though both routes are equally valid channels for criticism).

And, yes, you are here and now witnessing Ori’s art in the context of a gallery. But this is just a layover between its bold, befuddling performance out there in society. Please simply consider the pieces here, in this white-walled space today, as mutable living things receiving a temporary respite from their usual job of facing down – and then conversing with – the public.