At this point a dozen or so critics have detailed the architectural infelicities of the billionaire food court that is Hudson Yards, so I’m not going to join the pile-on with something about the “climbable version of an MC Escher drawing” at its center. I instead approached Hudson Yards as a philologist, and I discovered on the ground floor of the “vertical retail space” some labyrinthine syntax that cannot be matched even by the trickiest pages of Thucydides:
HYxOffTheWall is a highly visible and compelling platform on which the work of 13 significant artists an be experienced within the vibrant fabric of New York City. The title, HYxOffTheWall, is inspired by two connected ideas; the artworks are physical extensions of the vibrancy within the walls of Hudson Yards, and the definition of this phrase signals what might be expected: the unusual, remarkable, and curious, that often incorporates a unique sense of humor. With the specific location of Hudson Yards in mind, all artworks relate back to the site’s past, present or future. The large scale pieces welcome interaction, and visitors who engage with the art simultaneously become their activators. By standing in an installation tableau, participating in interactive works, taking photos and sharing individual points of view, people of all ages and backgrounds organically build a HYxOffTheWall community album.
What are these “two connected ideas,” really? How can a phrase signal something “expected” and also “unusual”? Does the inconsistency of serial commas suggest that the “present or future” is paradoxically in apposition to the “past”? Even in my best attempts as an engaging activator, I can’t quite tell what any of this means.
I’m not sure how many millions Hudson Yards paid Culture Corps to provide us this master class in inscrutable Gorgianic irony, but maybe that hefty sum was worth it: here I am, organically building the community album, too.