Bold patterns, mirrors and secret doors trick visitors to maze installation in New York

By Eleanor Gibson

Sixties-style graphics, mirrored hallways and hysterical laughter are intended to confuse those navigating their way through this labyrinthine installation, which designer Rafael de Cárdenas has built inside car brand Cadillac’s Lower Manhattan gallery.

The Amaze installation is located in Cadillac House – a venue where the luxury company hosts public activities beyond the automotive industry – and was organised in collaboration with New York arts publications Visionaire.

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Locally based Rafael de Cárdenas designed the set as four rooms, with each using different methods to dazzle and disorientate like a house of horrors. Artist, composer and vocalist Sahra Motablebi has composed an accompanying sound score of voices to suit the different spaces.

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“Amaze bridges the otherworldly and the mundane, the drab and the hyper-chromatic,” said the team. “Each room of the labyrinthine installation stirs with life, woven with uncanny echoes, shifting perceptions, and hidden doorways that subtly scramble the coordinates of space and time.”

First up, a low-pitched sound plays in a cylindrical volume surrounded by a metal chain curtain at the maze’s entrance.

The next space is a bright yellow hall lined with mirrors, which make it appear to be much larger than it is and suggest spaces that don’t exist. British set designer Es Devlin and American artist John Miller have similarly used mirrors to further disorientate visitors to their mazes.

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In Rafael de Cárdenas’s design, sounds of laughter accompany the walk towards the the far end of the corridor, featuring a turquoise podium topped with a daffodil and a pill packet.

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A disguised doorway opens onto a room covered in black-and-white artwork, comprising patterns, lines and swirls the create optical illusions. Motablebi composed shrieking noises to play at different pitches and speeds in response to the illusionary graphics, while whispers sound out in the final room suggesting that there people are left behind.

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Amaze is the first in a series of immersive installations that Visionaire, co-founded by Cecilia Dean and James Kaliardos, will produce for the Cadillac House’s programme of free public events.

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The installation opened to public on 10 April 2018 and will run until 10 June 2018 in the gallery at 330 Hudson Street, which also includes a retail space, cafe, and exhibition area for the brand’s vehicles.

Photography is by Plamen Petkov.

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