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The only thing harder to classify than this conceptual artist is his upcoming show.

Queens Museum will offer the lion’s share of “Mel Chin: All Over The Place” from Sunday, April 8, through Sunday, Aug. 12. It’s actually part of a larger exhibition which includes displays at Times Square and the Broadway-Lafayette subway station on Manhattan’s Lower East Side.

Born in Houston in 1951, Chin dabbles in sculpture, installations, drawings, paintings, collages, film, and prints, among other genres. In general, he likes to provoke social activism and he’s happy to work solo or with others and across cultures. Plus, he’ll set up shop anywhere. In a dilapidated building, a toxic landfill, a beach, a grave site. It’s all good.

His “Revival Field” consists of plants and industrial fencing on a hazardous waste landfill in Minnesota. For another piece, “Knowmad,” Chin worked with software engineers to create a video game based on rug patters of nomadic people whose culture is threatened. His “Temple of the New Gods” creation serves as the Greek Revival façade of the Nave Museum in Victoria, Texas. Consisting of steel polypropylene rope, basketball nets, basketballs, and paint, the piece includes a huge grape vine entwining columns that are loaded with oversize leaves and regulation-size fruit.

And it goes on and on.

Mel Chin: All Over the Place, which is organized conjunction with the nonprofit arts promoter No Longer Empty and Times Square Arts, contains four newly commission works and more than 70 objects and artifacts from nearly four decades of work, including drawings, paintings, sculptures, installations, videos, documentation, and public works. They are organized around some of his main themes, such as the ecology, violence, and surrealism.

The Queens Museum’s items will be unveiled during an Opening Party on April 8 from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. Activities will include a special fashion show of the artist’s rain gear and swimwear (inspired by the tainted water crisis in Flint, Michigan) near the Unishpere and the chance to meet the museum’s artists-in-residence and see their works-in-progress.

On May 13, “Signal,” an installation Chin did as part of a 1993 MTA commission, will be rededicated at the Broadway-Lafayette subway station. Working with Peter Jemison, a member of the Six Nations of the Iroquois and Seneca Tribe, this project emphasizes that Broadway was once a Native American trail.

Then on July 11, Chin’s “Unmoored” will be set loose in Times Square. To be viewed via cell phones and tablets, this piece will depict the area as it will look if sea levels rise as predicted by some climate followers. On this day, Times Square will also open “Wake,” a composite of a whale skeleton and a shipwreck with a 20-foot-tall statue of Jenny Lind, a 19th century Swedish opera singer who once toured the United States with circus promoter P.T. Barnum.

Chin will also get involved in other projects throughout the city.

Image: Queens Museum


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