Return to Sperone Westwater


I returned to Sperone Westwater on Friday. I wanted to check out the building designed by Foster & Partners. Bruce Nauman is currently on exhibit.

Many of you may have read about this project in various architecture magazine highlighting the giant elevator, which you can see move up and down between floors. The elevator is so big, it is considered “a room”, and may be used as such to create an extension of one of the gallery floors. “…one of features of the project is a 12 by 20 foot moving gallery, which connects the upper four exhibition floors and allows visitors to move gradually between levels… At any given floor, the exhibition space can be extended by parking the moving room as required, with an additional elevator and stairs providing alternative access.”

Upon entering Sperone Westwater, you quickly see the two pistons that lift and lower the giant elevator and realize the gallery reception is the elevator pit! Sometimes you will enter the reception with a high ceiling and at other times the reception almost feels a bit claustrophobic. I was able to get a video of the ceiling lowering upon us in the reception.


Beyond the reception is a double height gallery space where you see the current Bruce Nauman video installation of two pairs of stubby hands responding to the commands you hear from an older gentleman with a rough voice. There’s an elevator at the other end of the gallery, or stairs to go to the upper floors. The gallery is only on the third, second, and main floors. I took a ride to the third floor in the elevator.


Stepping off the elevator onto the third floor, there is a view of the rear of the building, a park, and below I could see a terrace with an art installation. The same rough voice was uttering something. I was fixated on the opposite end of the gallery. There was a man at the other end standing at the entrance of a what I thought was a gallery room. I could see a black stool. I crossed what seemed to be an empty white box but the voice overhead was becoming more audible. And then I noticed a pair of framed hand sketches with the phrase “for the children”, which was what was being uttered by that rough voice.

When I came up to the entrance of the gallery “room”, I realized it was the elevator that you could see from the outside. It was a giant white box with three black stools that allowed the sitter to rock and twirl around. The attendant I had noticed when I first stepped onto the 3rd floor is the elevator operator. The ride down to the 2nd floor was slow and steady; more or less 60 seconds. You barely feel the elevator move. 

The second floor gains access to the terrace exhibition space and view of the rear of the building. The terrace offers a very nice view of a neighborhood park but not a place that compels you to hang out there much longer than necessary. 


And I had to wait roughly 4 minutes in the middle of busy Bowery Street to record this the elevator 

The concept of the moveable room extension is interesting however, I did not think the current extension took full advantage of it. I’m curious to see how future artists may take advantage of the moving gallery room extension. Stay tuned for future updates.

For more information about Bruce Nauman, click here.







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