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34th Street-Penn Station

Diana Al-Hadid

The Arches of Old Penn Station; The Arc of Gradiva, 2018

Glass mosaic

The glass mosaic artworks installed at 34th Street-Penn Station on the 7 Av Line are meditations on the unique history of Penn Station and a reflection of its transient atmosphere as one of New York City’s immense transportation hubs. Resurrected in shimmering glass mosaic of pearls, aquas, and gold, the works are both historic and contemporary, static and fluid, figural and architectural. In The Arc of Gradiva on the sixty-foot long south wall, an image of Gradiva, the mythological female character from Wilhelm Jensen’s novella who “walks through walls” and roams the ancient ruins of Pompeii, appears as a ghostly apparition, with the flowing fabric of her garment stretching the length of the wall. Her footsteps mirror those of the crowds in the station. The Arches of Old Penn Station on the west wall holds a painterly image of the original 1910 Beaux-Arts Penn Station grand interior, dripping and obscured, suggestive of an image slipping off the surface, but also tied and held to the grid of the surrounding tilework. Both images originate from life-size line drawings on mylar. The gestural lines create ghosted images of the past, coming in and out of focus through the station’s walls. When considered together, one might imagine that Gradiva has come to claim both the original Penn Station in its former glory, as well as stake her presence in the newly improved subway station.

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