The world of David Byrne, squished beneath the Highline

Yesterday afternoon I went to check out David Byrne’s latest installation, “Tight Spot,” at the Pace Gallery’s new lot beneath the Highline. Having seen preview photos of Byne’s “squished” planet Earth floating around the Internet, I assumed I’d be able to wander through Chelsea guided by the sight of a massive blue orb that would be my final destination. Alas, the work is not so immediately apparent, tucked away in a relatively small space that’s invisible to surrounding streets, and so I wandered aimlessly for twenty minutes. The take away: be ye not so stupid.

Anyway, I eventually  found it with the assistance of a stylishly-clad gllery intern (thanks!), and indeed, it’s a big blue ball smooshed beneath the Highline. Whether or not the pulsing electronic beats echoing through the street were part of the installation, I can’t say, though a custom soundtrack would certainly be consisent with Byrne’s MO. Clearly, there was some serious engineering required to make this thing work, since the balloon is far bigger than the lot can accommodate – creating the comical bulging effect – And it must have been tricky to render the continents and oceans in such a way that they didn’t just diappear into the ceiling.

It’s a bummer that you can’t walk all the way around the Earth to see its entire, squishy splendor, but I think it’s still an impactful installation. At the risk of totally overthinking it, it seems to me that “Tight Spot” is a cheeky visual representation of that hokey New York saying, “the whole world squeezed onto a tiny island.” I almost wish I hadn’t known about it so I could have stumbled on it more organically. Just like, oh yeah, hey, here’s the whole world.

“Tight Spot” is on view through October 1st at 508 West 25th Street.