PICTURE THIS: The intentionally Instagrammable installation by Natalia Stuyk at the Melissa Galeria in SoHo isn’t just for the masses, it’s also a career first for the artist.
In keeping with its practice of tapping little-known talent and giving them maximum exposure, the retailer had the video artist also imagine something more concrete. As part of “Paraiso,” the British-based Stuyk also designed the digital art that is splashed on the big screens near the entrance to the lower-Broadway store. There are also thousands of starlike translucent pieces that are suspended from the ceiling and shimmer in the light. Stuyk had quite a retail canvas to start with, since the store’s interior and furniture was designed by Muti Randolph, who started out beaming lighting and lasers in nightclubs and was one of the early advocates of the now ubiquitous experiential retail.
After Melissa identified a few of her videos that seemed to suit the brand, she was asked to bring them to life in a way that was captivating and beautiful, she said. All the glistening colors and the way they reflect light are meant to be reminiscent of the ocean. She said, “I just wanted to instill this sense of of escapsim and awe that you get from watching something digital, where you’re kind of removed from what you’re watching. But at the same time, creating the sensation that comes from interacting with art. It was mostly this theme of escapism and leaving your general routine behind.”
Under the direction of SOFTlab’s Michael Szivos, the installation was set up in about two days. The effect has prompted some to compare it to a mini-version of the Infinity Room that Yayoi Kusama created, according to Lorenzo Martone, cofounder of The Creative, which works with Melissa. “The girls are going crazy,” he said.
Stuyk is already at work on two more projects for Melissa to stage in London this year. The fact that her first installation was made possible by a retailer as opposed to a gallery doesn’t really faze her. “It’s very difficult now to just be a fine artist. It’s obviously a dream for a lot of people to be this incredible artist who has exhibitions and galleries all over the world. That is quite difficult and out-of-reach, especially for digital artists. I feel the value given to digital art is not the same as the value given to physical art. In that sense, working with a brand and creating something that is essentially a brand experience still gives me a platform to express myself creatively.” she said. “It depends what your priorities are. I just got to make a physical manifestation of one of my videos, which was one of the dreamiest thing to see. It feels good that so many people will get to see it and interact with it. It’s not limited to an art crowd either.”
In keeping with its practice of supporting emerging talent, Melissa has a smattering of offerings for a limited time from Me and You silkscreened sweaters and underwear, Art Baby Girl clothing, Object Of jewelry, BFGF pillows and throws, Brian Giniewski ceramics and Earwack. Shoppers will also find Melissa’s signature footwear, as well as collaborations with Jason Wu and Vivienne Westwood. But the coterie of little-known brands, like the art installation, will only be on view for a limited time until the store is reimagined once again.