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SculptureCenter presents Liz Glynn's first solo museum project in New York
Installation view, Liz Glynn: RANSOM ROOM, SculptureCenter, 2014. Photo: Jason Mandella.

NEW YORK, NY.- SculptureCenter presents RANSOM ROOM, Liz Glynn’s first solo project in a New York museum. RANSOM ROOM is taking place June 2 – July 28, 2014.

RANSOM ROOM is a continually evolving installation exploring the ramifications of cultural destruction. Liz Glynn’s work has frequently referenced historic objects and artifacts to trace shifts in political, cultural and economic value over time. In this new project for SculptureCenter, Glynn focuses on a moment of total loss – the melting down of a large cache of precious metal artifacts during the Spanish conquest of the Incan empire.

For RANSOM ROOM, Glynn works from the scant and conflicting historical narratives of the Spanish conquest. In 1532, Inca emperor Atahualpa was seized and held as a prisoner by the Spanish conquistadors, led by Francisco Pizarro. In an attempt to buy his freedom, the emperor offered to fill a 17 x 22 foot room, up to the height of his outstretched arm, with gold, and then twice over with silver. The Inca valued precious metals for their ritual and ceremonial usage; for the Spanish, these objects represented the potential to pay off their debt to the Crown. Thousands of individual objects were carried long distances and gathered in the room. In spite of the delivery of the ransom, Atahualpa was executed on the pretext of seditious intentions, and the Inca Empire rapidly unraveled. The artifacts were subsequently melted down into ingots to maximize space on the ships returning to Spain.

For RANSOM ROOM, Glynn translates this mass of precious metal into red sculpture wax, traditionally used in lost-wax casting of bronze, by creating wax surrogates for the lost gold objects. When the show opens on June 1, visitors will find SculptureCenter’s ground floor rear gallery re-sized to a 17 x 22 foot stucco room staged as a storied palace in Cuzco with a replica of a fountain, cement corn stalks punctuated with golden maize, and the walls lined with wax panels. Over several weeks, wax objects– vessels, cups, plates–will accumulate, having been cast and hand carried from various studio locations in New York until the room is filled. During the final week of the exhibition, the collected objects will then be melted down into ingots and eventually displayed on pallets. A written record will document the objects that have been removed from the room.

Glynn’s work is engaged with the relationship between objects and narratives and how those narratives reflect politics and power dynamics. She studies the material cultures of the past to consider the ways in which objects embody, preserve, or challenge values and social systems of the past and of the future. By recreating objects that have been lost to us, Glynn connects the rapacious destruction of material objects and the obliteration of an entire culture.

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