Stepping into the Perry Rubenstein Gallery in New York City is a little like stumbling upon a musical shipwreck. Diana Al-Hadid has used plaster, fiberglass, wood, polystyrene, and cardboard to create a romantically ramshackled and dilapidated sculpture, “Record of a Mortal Universe,” which is based on the phenomenon of a hero’s collapse. Sourcing religion, architecture, and physics, Al-Hadid’s pointed and varied references unfold within the work, from a grand staircase that leads to a decomposing Greek temple to an upside-down vaulted arch and melted pipe-organ pedals. A gramophone extends through a ring of decrepit temple columns and crumbling gothic buttresses, making the sculpture seem as though it has appeared, tattered and torn, from the background of a painting by Hieronymus Bosch.
“Record of a Mortal Universe” also explores gravitational collapse, or the phenomenon of a massive body collapsing under its own weight. The sculpture sets up an engaging dichotomy in that the foundation’s materials, cardboard and melting resin, seem tenuous and unable to support such a gigantic mass. Yet the reference to Greek architecture and ruins suggest that this is somehow a solid structure that has been around for an untold number of years.
Diana Al-Hadid is a Brooklyn-based, Syrian-born artist who graduated from the Virginia Commonwealth University in 2005. She participated in the Skowhegan residency this past summer, and her work will be at the Perry Rubenstein Gallery until the 24th of November.