New NY Public Library Installation Is Inspired by History of Writing

Home / New NY Public Library Installation Is Inspired by History of Writing

There’s a new permanent art installation on the ceiling of the New York Public Library’s largest circulating branch. Los Angeles artist Hayal Pozanti’s 85-by-17 foot puzzle-like piece “Instant Paradise” was recently unveiled at the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Library — formerly known as the Mid-Manhattan Library — following its complete redesign by Dutch architect Francine Houben of Mecanoo Architects this past June.

Hayal Pozanti, “Instant Paradise” (2019-2020) (photo by Lakshmi Amin for Hyperallergic)

The “Instant Paradise” installation is composed of 95 pieces of medium-density fiberboard that are painted and arranged into 12 clusters. Each configuration was inspired by a milestone of written communication throughout human history. From the rise of clay writing tablets in Mesopotamia in 3200 BCE to the invention of paper in China in 105 CE or the development of braille in France in 1824, Pozanti’s forms pay tribute to innovations across time and space. “I made these selections with the aim of celebrating written communication as a global phenomenon that we developed together as a species,” the artist notes in a recent email to Hyperallergic. “I was delighted to witness how naturally these inventions and systems flowed back and forth around the globe.”

Pozanti represents these momentous advances in learning and technology through her unique character system, which is also called “Instant Paradise.” Searching for a way to slow viewers down and to differentiate her work from other types of imagery, the artist created this set of 31 unique shapes years ago through a combination of intuition and research into ancient writing systems. “I needed to invent something that had never existed before but that also seemed primally familiar,” Pozanti explains by email. She uses the characters as a sort of “encryption system” in all of her work, which spans painting, sculpture, animation, and sound art. 

Hayal Pozanti, “Instant Paradise” (2019-2020) (photo by Lakshmi Amin for Hyperallergic)

There is a curious impulse when viewing “Instant Paradise” that leads us to want to not just look at it, but to decipher it. Pozanti’s latest project is dominated by black against a white surface, the typical colors of text on a page. The forms’ additional primary red, blue, and yellow hues and organic forms suggest an almost childlike playfulness, while still delicately balancing a sense of the systematic. Installed four stories up, the work hovers like a cluster of clouds or — more fittingly for a library — thought bubbles over the visitors’ heads.

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Lauren Moya Ford is a writer and artist. Her writing has appeared in Apollo, Artsy, Atlas Obscura, Flash Art, Frieze, Glasstire, Mousse Magazine, and other publications.

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