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Private Views: A High-Rise Panorama of Manhattan

An exhibition by Andi Schmied

Opening: 09. 12. 2021 6 pm

On view until: 31. 01. 2022

All of us want to see Manhattan from high above, but very few can do it from their own window. Trapéz is proud to present the first exhibition in Budapest of Andi Schmied’s project, “Private Views: A High-Rise Panorama of Manhattan. This exhibition is designed to satisfy our incessant curiosity about a hidden elite world that we can only observe from a distance.

While posing as an apartment-hunting Hungarian billionaire, Andi Schmied accessed and documented the views of Manhattan’s most exclusive high-rise properties. For the duration of her adventure, she took on a fictional persona: Gabriella, a mother of a young child whose husband is an important antique dealer. Dressing as Gabriella and acting as Gabriella, she prepared for the family’s upcoming move to Manhattan.

The exhibition guides the audience through the adventures of the viewings and the absurdity of real estate pitches while presenting the problematic nature of ultra-luxury real estate.

The video work in the entrance area touches upon several important topics: such as the underlying gender-bias of ultra-luxury real estate, the fetishism toward designers and materials, or the air-rights, as an example of legislative loopholes that allowed this mode of development to exist.

In the main space there are twelve photographs that showcase the views of the ultra-rich, going from south to north in Manhattan: views that are inaccessible by any common citizen or tourist. One of the themes on the photographs is the free-standing soaking tub along the floor-to-ceiling glass window, which became the symbol of luxury. On the photographs taken from the towers near Billionaires’ Row, we can see a view of Central Park from high-above that only is visible from newly built ultra-luxury residential skyscrapers. And while on the marketing brochures these spaces are portrayed in a constant sunny summer afternoon, on Schmied’s photographs — just like in reality —the upper floor apartments often are right inside a cloud.

The woolen carpet, portraying the silhouettes of the eight tallest residential towers of Manhattan, made up of exotic animal patterns, with a Calacatta Tucci marble background, and a baby zebra rug motif. These exotic animals and exclusive materials are part of the world of luxury: prepared animals, fur rugs or marble sculptures in the apartments are quite telling about the relationship of dominance of the nature in this milieu. For example, during construction, most of the materials are being brought from far away locations — even those that are otherwise available in the U.S. The bottles of Perrier, on which the carpet is standing, is also a symbol of privilege that agents proudly offer to potential buyers on the viewings.

But the main purpose of the newly built ultra-luxury tower is to put the surplus capital of the buyers in a safe place: Roughly 70% of the already sold properties are standing empty. On top of the table, which is made up of construction materials and marble, are marketing brochures and original floor plans from Schmied’s collection, that portray these “mass-produced” apartments as unique, even “hand-crafted” residences.

The exbition is supported by the National Cultural Fund, Moholy-Nagy University of Art and Design and Brno University of Technology Faculty of Architecture.