In his first large-scale solo exhibition, John Schlesinger has taken over Cherry Street Pier with demolition debris dripping with cables, neon tubing, steel rebar and scrims of black-and-white photography prints.
The site-specific series of works, After the Fall, is a cluttered show by a mind in love with raw materials trying to physically twist them into shapes that tell a story.
“I’m a counterpuncher,” said Schlesinger, using a boxing term. “If I have a completely clean white room, I’m paralyzed. I need something with problems.”
Schlesinger — a two-time NEA fellow whose work has been collected by New York MOMA and the Walker Art Center, among others — had his work cut out for him: Cherry Street Pier is a challenging space to fill with art. The former industrial pier has 50-foot ceilings and is partially open to the elements. Large grates open like garage doors to the river and sky. There are few walls to hang gallery-style artwork.
Neon lights, construction debris, photographs and found objects are incorporated into John Schlesinger’s installations at the Cherry Street Pier. (Emma Lee/WHYY)
In one corner of the pier is a cluster of photo prints lying horizontally on tiers of stacked wooden shipping pallets, lit from underneath by bars of neon. In another is an arrangement of 100-year-old chicken wire windows that were installed when the pier was used by the United Fruit Company to receive shipments of bananas. Now they are…