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Paul McCarthy overtakes Park Avenue Armory's immense Drill Hall with his largest installation to date
Paul McCarthy, WS. Photo: Park Avenue Armory installation photo by James Ewing.
NEW YORK, NY.- Park Avenue Armory unveils a new large-scale installation and video project by artist Paul McCarthy, considered among the most provocative and influential voices in the international art world today. Drawing inspiration from the 19th-century German fairytale Snow White and McCarthy’s ongoing exploration of American myths and icons, WS takes over the Armory’s Wade Thompson Drill Hall from June 19 through August 4, 2013, and marks the Armory’s seventh major visual art installation to date. The monumental installation weaves together a fantastical forest and a three-quarter-scale house modeled after McCarthy’s own childhood home with multi-channel video projections to immerse visitors in a world of fantasy and depravity.

WS is the first visual art project presented under the Armory’s new Artistic Director Alex Poots and curator Hans-Ulrich Obrist in association with Tom Eccles. WS was created in collaboration with the artist’s son, Damon McCarthy, and is a work in progress that will continue to evolve following the installation at the Armory. The exhibition includes explicit imagery and mature content that some visitors may find disturbing. Admission will be restricted to audiences over 17.

“Since we first began challenging visual artists to create and present epic work in our historic spaces, the Wade Thompson Drill Hall has become a fertile site for the genesis of thought-provoking and immersive artistic experiences that can only be done at the Armory,” said Rebecca Robertson, President and Executive Producer of Park Avenue Armory. “We are committed to providing a platform for artists to create outside-the-box work, whether exploring concepts of play and collective identity as with our recent Ann Hamilton installation, or probing the darker side of fairytales and American icons in Paul McCarthy’s monumental new work.”

Said Alex Poots, Artistic Director of the Armory, “WS is a true Gesamtkunstwerk. It is an overwhelming creation born out of the original Brothers Grimm fairytale and the subsequent popular interpretations that became iconic American symbols in the 20th century. Going far beyond the confines of the story, it explores the vast and at times distressingly dark corners of the human psyche.” He added, “WS is the second production in this year’s Armory season, which is commissioning and reimagining works from across the spectrum of the arts.”

Co-curator Hans-Ulrich Obrist added, “Like the superstrings of particle physics, McCarthy’s monumental new work gathers together the many dimensions of his singular practice, amplifying them in a complex dialogue with the architecture of the Park Avenue Armory. WS brilliantly excavates the cultural ups and downs of the American psyche to create a complete and intricate installation, combining his visionary sculptures, performances, drawings, writings, videos, pop up architectures, and readymades.”

Integrating sculpture, sets, sound and video into a “total artwork,” WS is an evolving work-in-progress built upon key themes and practices recurrent in McCarthy’s career and is his largest and most ambitious project to date. It features a massive forest, at once enchanted and menacing, filled with towering 30-foot tall trees and colorful, oversized flowers that extend across a raised lush landscape. A yellow ranch-style house, a three-quarter-scale exact replica of McCarthy’s childhood home, sits at the center of the installation. This 8,800-square foot sculpture and house—complete with open sets of a bedroom, kitchen, basement and hallways—served as the setting for the project’s video performances. The installation is littered with the detritus of the filming process, evidence of the performative nature of the work.

Surrounding the installation, large-scale video projections feature scenes from a subversive and explicit alternative fairytale in which the character Walt Paul—played by McCarthy as an amalgam of himself and the archetypes of a movie producer, artist, father and other roles—cavorts with a cast of characters including White Snow, a figure who represents both the archetypal virgin and vixen, a daughter as well as a fairytale princess. Dwarves, the Prince, and doubles for Walt Paul and White Snow are part of the action. Drawing loosely upon the classic story and interweaving references to the history of art, the performance becomes a bacchanal.





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June 19, 2013

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