Héctor Zamora creates visual metaphors with vernacular elements on the Met’s roof

As part of a series of the Roof Garden Commission series by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Zamora’s installation in Manhattan questions a commonplace element - the wall.

by STIRworld Published on : Oct 20, 2020

A new edition of the Roof Garden Commission series by the Met’s Department of Modern and Contemporary Art is featuring a site-specific work by Mexican artist, Héctor Zamora. The Roof Garden terrace, seizing the view of the encompassing Manhattan skyline, has been transformed with a defining symbol of our time - the wall. Opened to the public on August 29, 2020, the work entitled Lattice Detour 'rearticulates public spaces and the built environment’.

The wall serves as a visual barrier, beckoning visitors to gaze out into the dominant Manhattan skyline | Lattice Detour | Héctor Zamora | STIRworld
The wall serves as a visual barrier, beckoning visitors to gaze out into the dominant Manhattan skyline Image: Courtesy of Héctor Zamora

A metaphoric lattice wall composed of Mexican earth-made bricks critiques the social, political, and economic factors essential in its creation. Built with traditional methods and by local labour, the sensitive work urges viewers to rethink the picturesque view of the bustling city and the implications of obstruction and permeability within a social space. Lattice Detour questions expectations of the Cantor Roof Garden as a social space, inviting the visitor to navigate a barrier to the panoramic view beyond.

The lattice wall is composed of Mexican earth-made bricks | Lattice Detour | Héctor Zamora | STIRworld
The lattice wall is composed of Mexican earth-made bricks Image: Courtesy of Héctor Zamora

The work exemplifies the dictatorial sensibilities of the wall, guiding movement and discovery while screening views of Central Park and the Manhattan skyline. The response evoked from viewers demonstrates the impact of barriers - impeding access to expansive outlooks on the world.

Lattice Detour remembers the celosía walls of vernacular structures | Lattice Detour | Héctor Zamora | STIRworld
Lattice Detour remembers the celosía walls of vernacular structures Image: Courtesy of Héctor Zamora

An ode to the celosía walls of vernacular structures in the Middle East, Africa, Iberia, and Latin America, the wall serves as a harbinger of shade and ventilation. The ancient terracotta bricks made of Mexican earth associate the work more closely with the natural environment of the park than to the steel skyscrapers that mark the horizon.

Along the wall’s gentle arc, the tactility of the rustic materiality becomes apparent | Lattice Detour | Héctor Zamora | STIRworld
Along the wall’s gentle arc, the tactility of the rustic materiality becomes apparent Image: Courtesy of Héctor Zamora

Along the wall’s gentle arc, the tactility of the rustic materiality becomes apparent. The bricks are stacked on their side to furnish an 11-foot high wall, showing their perforations and artistically permitting light and air to flow through. The geometric patterns and shadows shaped by the grid of openings turn the massive wall into a sensual mesh, summoning the viewer to look through to the far side.

Resultant shadows turn the massive wall into a sensual mesh | Lattice Detour | Héctor Zamora | STIRworld
Resultant shadows turn the massive wall into a sensual mesh Image: Courtesy of Héctor Zamora

Max Hollein, Director of Metropolitan Museum of Art, says, “Using modest material, Hector Zamora’s Lattice Detour interrupts and refocuses how visitors interact with this beloved space, situated atop The Met and surrounded by the Manhattan skyline, creating a meditation on movement, transparency, and interference. Manifesting itself as a protective wall, curved artwork, and permeable screen, Lattice Detour is a transformative, charged, and timely intervention”.  

The bricks are stacked on their side to furnish an 11-foot high wall | Lattice Detour | Héctor Zamora | STIRworld
The bricks are stacked on their side to furnish an 11-foot high wall Image: Courtesy of Héctor Zamora

A publication accompanies the commission, featuring an essay by Iria Candela and an interview with the artist by Paola Santoscoy, Director of the Museo Experimental El Eco (National Autonomous University of Mexico, UNAM) in Mexico City. The issue will be published by The Metropolitan Museum of Art and distributed by Yale University Press and is the eighth in a series of books that document The Met’s annual Cantor Roof Garden commissions. The catalogue is made possible by the Mary C and James W Fosburgh Publications Fund.

The earth bricks associate the work more closely to the natural environment of the park | Lattice Detour | Héctor Zamora | STIRworld
The earth bricks associate the work more closely to the natural environment of the park Image: Courtesy of Héctor Zamora

Lattice Detour was conceptualised along with Sheena Wagstaff; Leonard A Lauder, Chairman of Modern and Contemporary Art, and Iria Candela, Estrellita B Brodsky, Curator of Latin American Art, both of The Met’s Department of Modern and Contemporary Art. The commission is supported by Cynthia Hazen Polsky, Leon B Polsky, and Bloomberg Philanthropies.

Lattice Detour, on view till December 7, 2020, will be one among the series of commissions for the outdoor space, the ritual established in 2013 by the Met’s Iris and B Gerald Cantor Roof Garden.

(Text by Ankitha Gattupalli, intern at stirworld.com)

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