Claustrophobic Balloons and a Multilingual Parrot: A Summer of Interactive Art

08.16.18 | By
Claustrophobic Balloons and a Multilingual Parrot: A Summer of Interactive Art
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This summer, two group exhibitions in New York hide some serious surprises. The first, titled “The Party”  on the 3rd floor of Anton Kern Gallery  in Midtown includes a gifted parrot and a room full of balloons. Even more unexpected experiences await downtown in a multi-location mini-art crawl titled “ON CANAL”. Here are 7 of the most unmissable experiences from those two locations right now – on view until the end of this month.

Martin Creed, Work No. 1190: Half the air in a given space, 2011

Glass doors contain a room packed full of yellow balloons on the 3rd floor of Anton Kern Gallery.  A work by artist Martin Creed titled “Half the air in a given space” is EXACTLY as the title describes – with the balloons enclosing precisely half the air in a given room.  A version of this was on view at the Park Avenue Armory in 2016, but this new little-known showing forgoes the admission price AND wait to get in!

Martin Creed, Work No. 1190: Half the air in a given space, 2011

Martin Creed, Work No. 1190: Half the air in a given space, 2011

Martin Creed, Work No. 1190: Half the air in a given space, 2011

Maurizio Cattelan, Untitled 2018 (with finger of author)

The surprise of the summer is an avian “performance artist” named Sara. This beautiful (and very real) Jardine Parrot is performing “Untitled 2018” by artist/prankster Maurizio Cattelan in which a trained parrot produces the sounds of other domestic animals. Joined by her trainer (both of them are extraordinarily friendly), she performs ONLY Tuesdays and Fridays from 12-6pm for the first 40 minutes of each hour, for her well-being. I visited towards the end of the day and she was all too happy for the opportunity to show off. And *spoiler alert* if you’re willing, she loves to perch on your finger after the performance (that’s MY finger in the photo above to prove it).

THEN jump a train downtown to “ON CANAL”, a new “neighborhood” for art operated by Wallplay, in partnership with Vibes, which has transformed a number of previously vacant retail spaces/garages along Canal Street into surreal art experiences. The whole experience of jumping into art havens along the bustle of Canal Street is an experience in itself. Here are 5 of the most unmissable locations.


Adrian Yu installed a purposefully kitschy cross-culture room of strobe lights, yellow banners and flailing inflatable dancing tube men! Appropriately titled “Yellow” (see the link for a animated GIF of the room) it’s located at 357 Canal Street.

diMoDA 3.0 @ ON CANAL

325 Canal Street hosts “DiMoDA’s third collection of curated works”. Among the VR and projected works are these mesmerizing color-changing light polyhedrons.

Lara Atallah @ ON CANAL

Lara Atallah @ ON CANAL

At 329 Canal Street, “THRESHOLD” features Laya Atallah’s damaged polaroids of Mediterranean shorelines. Visitors are encouraged to pull the hanging light bulbs closer to examine the distorted and beautiful images.

Katsu, Drone Flowers, @ ON CANAL

Katsu’s drone-painted spray paint works were featured on Design Milk in 2015, but these newer “flowers” on view at 351 Canal were created by pre-programming drones to fly & paint without the need for a human remote controller, making the “brushstrokes” identical, but the drips and colors unique.

Frankey, Badaboom, @ ON CANAL

327 Canal Street hosts the giggle-inducing “Frankey” (aka Frank de Ruwe). Among the humorous objects is this fragile toy airplane titled “Badaboom” which reads “Enjoy it while it lasts. A glass catapult glider that probably won’t fly a second time”.

Also in the space, “Apolly” (below) is a motorized bird swing with a fake parakeet that defies gravity by swinging upside-down at random intervals. The text below it reads “A small swing for bird, a giant swing for bird kind. Once in a while Apolly swings where no birds have swung before: A full loop”.

Frankey, Apolly, @ ON CANAL

The two birds in these two group exhibitions are an amazing serendipitous link. They’ve also become the mascots of the happy absurdity of the art world in New York this summer. Whether it’s “art” to you or not, you can’t help but smile.

What: The Party, curated by Ali Subotnick
Where: Anton Kern Gallery, 16 East 55th Street (balloons and parrot are on 3rd floor)
When: July 12 – August 31, 2018.  Note: The parrot is only on view Tuesdays & Fridays from 12-6pm

Where: Various locations along Canal Street, ranging from 312 to 361 Canal Street
When: July 31 – September 1, 2018, Tues-Sat 12-7pm

“The Party” images courtesy the artists and Anton Kern Gallery, New York
“On Canal” images courtesy the artists and ON CANAL

David Behringer visits over 200 galleries every month to uncover and share the most exciting contemporary art in New York today. Subscribe to his exclusive weekly newsletter at and learn about his private gallery tours. And be sure to check out his YouTube.