BY PATRICIA MORA
PHOTOGRAPHY BY KEVIN TODORA
Iván Navarro channels Woodie Guthrie’s famous folk song for a
socially relevant installation on display at NorthPark Center.
eave it to NorthPark Center to install internationally lauded
art in a space adjacent to Neiman Marcus, Gucci, and Versace.
After all, it is known for two things: Achingly elegant
shopping and making public art widely accessible to the public.
Since its inception, Ray Nasher and his wife, Patsy, sought to make
the Center—one of the most stylish havens on our spinning blue
globe—a place that made cultural events and museum-quality art
part of the daily life of North Texans. Thus, their daughter and her
husband, Nancy Nasher and David J. Haemisegger, are continuing
a family legacy by bringing new work to Dallas’s most engaging and
widely appreciated shopping mecca. This means that area residents
who find museum hopping intimidating can now leave behind any
hints of stuffiness and see great art in a thoroughly relaxed setting.
The newest piece installed in the Center is work by Iván
Navarro, a Chilean sculptor who now resides in Brooklyn. He is
internationally known for a mash-up of neon, fluorescent, and
incandescent light and, in 2009, his work was installed in what
is widely considered the top slot in the artistic scene, the Venice
Biennale. One of his pieces, This Land is Your Land, has recently
been transported from Manhattan, where it was on view at Madison
Square Park adjacent to the Flatiron Building, and installed indoors
near the plush Nespresso coffee bar on the ground-floor level of
NorthPark. Thus, you can grab a caffeinated jolt before taking in
Navarro’s sculpture—a piece that pays homage to immigrants, their
quest for freedom, and, of course, the eponymous lyrics of Woody
Guthrie’s 1940’s folk song. The artist merges multiple themes, all
of which call to mind the allure of American democracy and the
attendant dreams to which millions of people aspire.
This Land is Your Land consists of three water tower structures
A public art exhibition of Brooklyn-based Chilean artist Iván Navarro’s work, This Land Is Your Land, is on view at NorthPark Center for one year.
that rapidly morph into something far more complex when viewed
from below. They are constructed such that neon verbiage and
shapes appear to drift into infinity. “Me/We,” “BED,” and an
image of a ladder appear under each structure; together, they offer a
means of contemplating how migrating individuals and populations
coalesce while simultaneously giving a nod to their need to thrive
and “ascend” in new and oftentimes harsh environments. The
work is thought provoking and inspirational; however, its ability to
deftly throw viewers into another dimension via the use of one-way
mirrors and reflective surfaces also makes the process fun. It’s an
aesthetic bit of legerdemain that is used to good effect by virtue of
drawing viewers into a state of contemplative engagement with a
serious subject matter.
Navarro has also stated that he likes “the idea of a reservoir of
water.... We must guarantee our water in order to survive. In that
sense, the water tanks are containers of primordial knowledge.”
Thus, the already complex subject of shifting populations, social
constructs, and aspiration are commingled with the artist’s sense of
ancient concerns that transcend any particular cultural context. In a
word, This Land is Your Land is timeless.
NorthPark, then, remains a game changer in a city where lavish
shopping reigns supreme. The Center’s collection features major
works by: Andy Warhol, Frank Stella, Mark di Suvero, Joel Shapiro,
Jim Dine, James Rosenquist, and others. Thankfully, this important
legacy is still thriving with Iván Navarro, whose work will be on
view until May of 2015. And, of course, it is free to the public. This
is your white-hot chance to be nearly scandalously idle, get your
Ferragamo fix, and concurrently ramp up your aesthetic IQ. P