Hayal Pozanti’s Very Own Alphabet Blankets the Renovated New York Public Library Ceiling
Vermont-based artist Hayal Pozanti speaks two languages: Turkish, her mother tongue, and English, which she learned growing up. The artist, however, is fluent in another alphabet, one that she has crafted throughout her decade-long practice. Pozanti’s Instant Paradise consists of 31 shapes, each corresponding to a letter from the English alphabet or Arabic numerals. The artist builds her abstract paintings, sculptures, and even sound installations, based on this very personal yet intriguing logic. The greatest canvas for her alphabet so far is also the most recent one: the 85-by-17-foot ceiling in New York Public Library’s recently-renovated Stavros Niarchos Foundation Library.
The hovering constellation of 95 medium density fiberboards is a colorful potpourri of vibrant shapes, both kinetic and serene. Bulbous and geometric, Pozanti’s motifs coalesce in various combinations to mysteriously convey her research on the evolution of written language. “Libraries as we know would not exist without written language, and comparing language to code or to passwords is very apt especially given our current migration to a digital form of libraries,” Pozanti tells Interior Design. The wave of shapes in bold blue, red, black and yellow silently represent twelve turning points in humanity’s relationship with writing, from the clay tablets of the ancient Mesopotamia to the electronic ink.
Besides the undeniable poignancy of installing the work inside a library, Pozanti is personally fascinated about the permanent commission. “Books have given me solace, an escape and access to information I did not know I craved,” she says. Magnifying her alphabet to monumental scale was a rewarding challenge for the artist who previously experimented with installing large scale works for the Cleveland Clinic. A number of collaborators eased the intricacy of placing art inside a building in the midst of a gut renovation. “As the project progressed, I found myself coordinating with engineers, designers, fabricators, installers and even insurance agents,” she explains.
Pozanti had to parallel her artistry with the engineering demands of mounting an immense weight onto a ceiling at four stories height. “All of a sudden the weight of the objects becomes more important than if it were just on a wall and the formal aspect of the work has to be modified accordingly,” the artist remembers. The rare thrill of encountering Instant Paradise amidst the library’s binder-lined shelves, however, compensates the laborious process. “The rewards are a vantage point that few artists ever get afforded, as well as the opportunity for people to gaze at my work like clouds,” she muses and adds: “My hope with the language I’ve created is that the more time one is exposed to it the more the message will become apparent.”
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