Kysa Johnson’s Cosmic Bank Office at the Armory Is a Showstopper

The Armory Show seems a bit same-y this year, and fairly conservative. This atmosphere makes the booths that are truly different stand out all the more, though, and one of these is definitely to be found at Morgan Lehman‘s stand. There, Kysa Johnson has completely taken over the space with a full-scale recreation of a Bank of America waiting room, complete with chairs and the looming BoA logo, all of it composed out of black board. The furniture and walls alike are covered with ghostly chalk drawings that come together, from a certain angle, to depict a totally new image: a plunging vista of Roman ruins (inspired by Piranesi). Viewed up close, these chalk sketches are, in turn, composed of jittery clouds of symbols, the notations for various subatomic particles (a brainy device which one of this New York artist’s signature).

“You have the dissolution of matter, of institutions, and of empires all layered over each other,” Johnson explained yesterday.

In the past, Johnson’s impressively detailed drawings have been site-specific and temporary. The Armory installation, however, is executed on detachable panels, and can be had for $50,000, according to her dealer. Though both hope to find a good home for the piece, the artist professed, “It’s enjoyable to do something at an art fair that’s not totally about commerce.”

— Ben Davis