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Teresita Fernández's urban monument
The Financial Times

By Ariella Budick

 

For the most satisfying mix of the cerebral and the natural, head to Madison Square Park, where Teresita Fernández has created “Fata Morgana”, a temporary urban monument that is at once spectacular and self-effacing. A canopy of shiny golden discs, perforated and patterned, hovers above the walkways like mirrored clouds. The title refers to an atmospheric phenomenon, a brilliant mirage just above the horizon, named for the Arthurian sorceress Morgan le Fay. Only a magical female could whip up fairy castles in the air — edifices that, at their most powerful, lured sailors to their deaths.

 

Fernández’s work, commissioned by the park’s Mad. Sq. Art programme, alarmed neighbours who watched it take shape and at first saw only a clunky scaffolding throw a public space into shadow. The finished product, though, appears to be made entirely of light, a 500-ft trail shimmering overhead. It’s a gloriously disorienting piece of camouflage that dissolves into the vegetation and reconstitutes a moment later.

 

Unsuspecting passers-by can glance up and spy their reflection lurking among layers of real and reflected foliage, as if they were tiptoeing through the trees. Unlike Huyghe’s earthbound rooftop, “Fata Morgana” is literally art that goes over people’s heads. And yet there’s something powerfully intuitive, even sublime, in the way it prompts us to raise our eyes. Tourists in New York crane to get a sense of their own miniaturisation in a city of behemoths. We look to the stars to feel the shiver of our own insignificance. We gaze heavenwards to plot our courses or indulge in reverie. Here, in the middle of the noisy city, when we least expect it, we see ourselves, foreshortened, topsy-turvy and out of place. We have become characters in a dream.