Kite Runner

September 20th, 2014

Is Jacob Hashimoto’s Skyfarm Fortress at Mary Boone Gallery really a “fortress?” Consisting of fragile wafers made from paper and string, the installation seems too delicate to be a fortress. It sways and shifts whenever the gallery door opens. It seems to breathe. As a fortress, it doesn’t offer defense or even stability.

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Jacob Hashimoto, “Skyfarm Fortress” (2014), at Mary Boone Gallery

But as a commanding presence at a commanding gallery, Skyfarm Fortress conveys grace and play. Its ethereal surfaces invite exploration, like the tactile appeal of a mobile; while its permeable partitions invite immersion, like a walk among cherry blossom trees. But it discourages intrusion through its masterful and delicate grid system. As a fortress, it deters by suggestion.

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Jacob Hashimoto, “Skyfarm Fortress” (2014), at Mary Boone Gallery

Skyfarm Fortress is an intensely visual experience that bridges space, gravity, color, and craft. In this sculptural environment, arguably a landscape, thousands of handmade kites are strung together in vertical chains, some more than 30 feet long. These chains dangle from among the bow trusses overhead and still align along perfect horizontal axes. The translucent paper kites echo the translucent glass facade of the gallery, while their bold patterns thrive in the daylight that shines through the ceiling.

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Jacob Hashimoto, “Skyfarm Fortress” (2014), at Mary Boone Gallery

It is possible to fly a kite indoors, but most people associate kites with outdoor play. To fly a kite is a chance to commune with varieties of wind, and like fishing, it rewards patience and creates time for contemplation.  (Or it can be a competitive sport for adults and kids, in which the winning kite cuts the strings of the loser, which sails away.)

By using the form and language of kites, Skyfarm Fortress brings the outdoors back indoors. This greenhouse aesthetic is enhanced by installation’s response to light and draft.  The suspended matrix behemoth hovers and towers above like an 16-bit airship or abstract Tetris mosaic (or even Space Invaders in three dimensions.) It feels to me like a composed or urban-planned cloud island temporarily docked inside the gallery, soon to launch itself back to the sky. (Take me with you!)

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From Hayao Miyazaki, “Castle in the Sky” (1989)

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