The Sixth Borough
Amelia Biewald’s artwork is influenced by fables, art histories and theories directed towards themes of allure and supernatural beauty. She is driven by the inherent visual possibilities of the supernatural where the line between what is artificial and what is natural with regards to our physicality becomes blurred. She creates painterly drawings on vellum, leather, and upholstered velvets, inhabited by unique, complex characters. In a mix between drawing and sculpture, she mixes fact with fiction to re-create fables or intrigues.
When approaching her installation for Governors Island, she was immediately struck by “a weird displacement of time when on Governors Island – it’s New York, but it isn’t. In a city where space is at a premium, huge rooms and living areas sit empty and for the most part, unkept. Dust, plaster and paint chips now decorate the spaces, occasionally being rearranged by a spider or two.” In the installations in these rooms, Biewald has chosen to focus on the fireplace, “a total luxury in today’s real NYC.” Without fire, wood, and upkeep a fireplace feels somewhat ominous, dark and cold. Biewald’s intention is to give it back life through a host.
Using a technique of drawing on fabric with bleach and then upholstering the fabric over a wooden and cast foam structure, Biewald has created a three-dimensional fantastical landscape which “blooms,” mushroom-like, in the empty fireplaces and spreads across the floors. The Mutualism of the work’s title refers to the “living together” of unlike species for their mutual benefit; in this installation Biewald considers the slow deterioration of the interiors of the homes on Colonels’ Row and government regulations which keep the island unpopulated as an environment for some other form of beings. As visitors we feel that we might be trespassing through another’s space. There is also a sense that the sculptural forms are able to somehow predict their interior surroundings and color; similar to the way a chameleon can change its color depending on where he rests. The velvet here, through the bleaching technique, seems to have taken on the color of the fireplaces and floors while also alluding to the plaster and paint chips that flake to the floor around the house.
Courtesy of Artist and Magnan Metz Gallery.