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A Look at the New York City Ballet’s Psychogeographies

In an impressive bid to capture New York City’s emotional impact on its residents and visitors, Brooklyn-based artist Dustin Yellin has created the visually astounding sculpture series, Psychogeographies.

Like ballerinas suspended in panes of glass, Yellin’s 3,000 pound sculptures aim to express the frenetic, stimulating, and dynamic tension between this 300 square-mile stretch of city and the 8.5 million people (not including tourists) vying for their own, personal inch.

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Clippings from books, newspapers, magazines, trash—common urban detritus—form the various collages, layered on stacks of glass, to create the illusion of human figures leaping, dancing, and occasionally exploding.

Part of the sculpture installation stood at the New York City Ballet this past February though the exhibit seems a better fit for a contemporary art museum than a theater. The connection is explored in the video below where Yellin speaks to his work and the exhibition.

He explains, “I had a visceral experience when I saw the ballet. I was moved thinking about these young 25 year old dancers full of life. That they’re on their toes for all these hours. I’m all about interdisciplinary thought. To bring sculpture into the arena of dance. That’s very special to me.” Yellin’s eye for the human experience and the inspiration he drew from the ballet’s dancers is evident in each sculpture and the stance of the figures.

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While a broad look at the sculptures does prompt a meaningful meditation on the beauty of the human figure, a closer look brings out the psychogeography. Each one of Yellin’s three-dimensional bodies is composed of fragments, bits of paint and strips of words, essentially anything and everything that caught his eye over the course of this project, six years in the making.

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Because Yellin himself is a New Yorker, the series clearly reveals how this city has influenced his emotions, behaviors and artwork. The dancers, and the ballet, are only a microcosm of this bustling metropolis—and Yellin’s display serves as another.

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While Yellin’s sculptures are no longer on view, Psychogeographies is a memorable testament to the seemingly endless energy and wonder that sustains New York City. Sure, guests of the Refinery Hotel should check out the ballet’s upcoming performances, and can look forward to the 2016 edition of their Art Series. But looking back, there’s still something to be learned from Psychogeographies. It’s an exclamation of the beauty prevalent in this city, and it’s a message for all of our guests to discover, in one broad stroke (and in an innumerable number of tiny details) their role in this big, beautiful, complicated place.

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