Josiah McElheny (born 1966 in Boston, USA; lives and works in New York City, USA).

Participatory performance organized in Brooklyn and San Francisco by the Public Art Fund and Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, respectively.

Josiah McElheny’s The Metal Party is a re-creation of a party organized in 1929 by students of the Bauhaus in Dessau, Germany. Taking the original ‘Party’ as a point of departure, McElheny produced a hyper-reflective environment of metallic surfaces complete with mirrored and clear glass spheres that alternated on the ceiling above an aluminum floor. Each viewer, upon entry to The Metal Party is encouraged to see themselves as part of this installation and requested to put on a silver Mylar costume, specially designed by McElheny. Viewers also are encouraged to document their experience with a Polaroid self portrait, many of which are also incorporated into the installation. A sound composition produced by electronic media artists Beth Coleman and Howard Goldkrand of Soundlab Cultural Alchemy fill The Metal Party with an infusion of period jazz music, Bauhaus-inspired experimental instrumentation, and contemporary dance rhythms.”
—”Josiah McElheny: The Metal Party,” Public Art Fund.

“Notorious parties take on looming mythic status, especially ones that we weren’t invited to. So there’s something quite palpable about Josiah McElheny’s fascination with the 1929 ‘Metal Party’ thrown at the Bauhaus, a legendary staff-and-student soirée in which guests had to don reflective wear to enter. A footnote in the art history books, the shiny shindig apparently blossomed in Josiah McElheny’s head: He’s mounted a bicoastal re-creation of the event. The San Francisco portion (the other is at 126A, a space in Brooklyn, through January 13) was activated by an opening night party. A gallery decorated with hundreds of elegant silvery orbs became a disco where party guests fitted in reflective Mylar vests danced with abandon. The event was both nerdier and more fun than you would expect. The morning after, the party/gallery space became a surprisingly compelling visual memory, a space strewn with crumpled, evacuated party wear and the echoing sounds of the evening’s dance mix. McElheny’s gesture is conceptually poignant and visually appealing in its attempt to capture the ephemeral allure of social gatherings past, as well as similar hopes for all tomorrow’s parties.”
—Glen Helfand, review of “The Metal Party by Josiah McElheny,” Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco, Artforum, 2001.

Leave a Reply

Skip to toolbar