The New York City Ballet has lined up the Finnish artist Santtu Mustonen to create a large-scale video installation for the promenade at the David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center.
With a Brooklyn studio, Mustonen has been crossing the East River regularly for Lincoln Center where his project will consist of a series of original, digitally altered paintings produced especially for New York City Ballet. The artist joins the ranks of JR, FAILE, Dustin Yellin and Marcel Dzama by participating in the NYC Ballet’s Art Series and creating a large-scale video installation that combines paintings, visual imagery and digital tools to alter the space and sense of motion. His work is a mash-up of abstract, handcrafted visual imagery with new technology.
In an NYCB video about the project, Mustonen said, “The most inspiring time is when I’m extremely bored. I’m starting to look at a mechanical object and I am dismantling it in my brain. All these pieces come together and then they fall apart again and that’s the beauty of the process.”
Prone to creating art that is a surreal version of his observations from everyday life, the artist mentioned that since childhood he has had Alice in Wonderland Syndrome, a neurological condition that affects perception. Mustonen said, “If I close my eyes, I feel I’m too big for a room or too small, and if I’m looking somewhere only one detail is sharp, everything else is blurred.”
Just as NYCB has a lot of abstract work that doesn’t have a straight story in it, Mustonen said his animation of paintings “is sort of the same vision. I just want people building an infinite amount of paintings in their head so they can have the wonder, the sense of a-ha.”
The setting for his installation has a long history rooted in the arts dating back to the opening of the New York State Theater in 1964. At that time architect Philip Johnson and NYCB founder Lincoln Kirstein curated a permanent collection with works from Jasper Johns, Lee Bontecou and Elie Nadelman for what has become one of New York City’s landmarks. And for the past 30-plus years, ballet master in chief Peter Martins has recruited leading and emerging artists — Keith Haring, Julian Schnabel and Santiago Calatrava among them — to join forces with the company on and off the stage.