AMAZE Is an Instagram-Worthy Art Labyrinth With a Surrealist Dark Side

Visionaire's latest installation at Cadillac House almost dares you not to take a selfie 

Visionaire’s partnership with The Gallery at Cadillac House has proven to be creatively fruitful, if not downright delightful, for anyone desiring a deeply immersive art experience. The publication’s latest exhibit, AMAZE—a collaborative installation involving renowned architect Rafael de Cárdenas and visual artist, composter, and vocalist Sahra Motalebi—not only builds on Visionaire’s reputation for interactive spaces, but deliberately draws guests in.

The maze within AMAZE offers quite a bit for viewers to explore. Op art designs cover the walls, colored windows shift how the lighting is interpreted, and a curtain of metal beads can be brushed aside and played with. Perhaps the most successful element is a surreal hall of mirrors with a Lynchian motel-like aesthetic that is filled with minute details that might escape those not paying close attention. A small button in the middle of the hall reveals a secret: One of the mirrors is a two-way, and when the button is pressed, a light comes on to uncover a “broom closet” that has been turned on its head. Meanwhile, the hall is flanked with daffodils in vases, which are perched near more mirrors. However, one end doesn’t have a mirror pane at all—it cuts through to another room that also has a daffodil on the other side, giving the illusion of a reflection in which the viewer is not present.

“People can go through this installation and everyone can have a slightly different experience,” Visionaire co-founder Cecilia Dean said. “Some people will see that and some people won’t. I think that’s kind of funny.”

A custom score consisting entirely of Motalebi’s voice permeates the space. Operatic wails and sounds in which she has augmented the pitch of her voice create an ominous soundtrack that is otherwise unexpected from a ’60s-like op art space. It adds a different texture—one that brings out the subtlety of just how weird it all is, especially in the aforementioned hall of mirrors, which is filled with cackling laughter.

“Rafael and I decided that it would have this absurd sort of quality,” Motalebi explained. “So I just did a single take of myself laughing, and I recorded it on my phone, and I couldn’t stop laughing. I sent it to the office and they were all laughing. It has this element of folly with the cleaning products, but then it’s also carnival-esque. And then you’re taking selfies [and] there’s this absurdity… It’s a little bit about selfie culture.”

Drawing on our collective obsession with documenting any and every experience for social media could not have been better executed—every part of AMAZE is rife with options for selfies. At the very least, it offers intriguing material for social media. That said, the installation is engaging and begs the viewer to actively explore rather than passively view. In other words, the participatory act of taking photos is part of the fun.

“We love experiences,” Dean mused of Visionaire’s penchant for interactive works. “We love the idea of going into something and affecting all of you. It’s not a one-way conversation where you’re looking at something on a wall, although that has its place and we love that, too. I think in this digital age, people just crave a physical experience in real time, in real life, that’s not virtual. It’s not in front of a laptop or your phone. But at the same time, we love making things that are great for photos that you can share with a lot of people.”

AMAZE is on view until June 10 at The Gallery at Cadillac House located at 330 Hudson Street, New York, New York, 10013. Hours are 8:00 am to 7:00 pm Monday to Friday and 10:00 am to 5:00 pm on Saturday and Sunday.

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