The Roof Garden Commission 2016: Cornelia Parker

This spring, British artist Cornelia Parker will create a site-specific installation atop The Met's Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Roof Garden. The installation will be the fourth in a series of commissions created specifically for the outdoor space.

Cornelia Parker: Well, when I was offered to make something for this great spot on the roof, I was very daunted because the skyline is so amazing. So I thought I wanted to put something architectural on the roof—a kind of incongruous, you know, domestic house. Originally it was going to be a red barn, but then I realized quite quickly that red barns were far too big to go on the roof. And then I was looking at Hopper, Edward Hopper paintings, and he painted a house called the House by the Railroad, and reading about it, I realized that Hitchcock had based his Psycho house on this painting, and I really love that. Hopper also painted lots of red barns, and so my red barn came back into play again and I thought, well, why don't I make the house out of the red barn?

I collaborated with a restoration company, who go around America and they take down old barns. So the roof of this house is made from the corrugated metal from the barn roof. The siding is made obviously from the siding of the barn. So this is the barn, reconfigured.

So I quite like the idea of the barn being this quite wholesome thing, this, you know, lovely thing about the landscape and the countryside, and politicians like standing in front of red barns because it typifies wholesomeness. And then the Psycho house is the opposite. It's just all the dark psychological stuff you don't really want to look at.

I was very excited to find the original set from Psycho was only two flats, all propped up from behind, like a stage set would be. And it was filmed from a particular angle. So you only saw the house, side on. I've built the house in the same angle. I've tipped it into the corner, and then if you go around the back, you can see it's all propped up and you realize it's a facade. But I wanted it to be believable from this angle. So the roof garden becomes the garden of this house. So I like the idea of the private hedge around The Met roof. And then hunkering in the corner is this sinister house.

So I like the idea that you take things that perhaps seem clichéd, but they're clichéd for a reason—they resonate with a huge amount of people, and that's why they're the most visited spots. And I somehow think the inverse of the cliché is the most unknown place.

Director: Christopher Noey
Producer: Kate Farrell
Camera: Sarah Cowan, Dia Felix
Time Lapse Photography: Thomas Ling
Editor: Dia Felix
Graphics: Natasha Mileshina
Production Assistants: Karlie Efinger, Lisa Rifkind
Additional Photography: Hyla Skopitz, Alex Fradkin, Don Polaski / Antique Barn Company

Edward Hopper, House by the Railroad
Digital Image © The Museum of Modern Art/Licensed by SCALA / Art Resource, NY

Edward Hopper, (Cobb's Barns, South Truro)
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, New York
© Heirs of Josephine N. Hopper, licensed by Whitney Museum, New York

Psycho Film Stills
© Universal Studios Licensing LLC

Psycho Set Photo
Marc Wanamaker / Bison Archives

Special Thanks:
Showman Fabricators
Antique Barn Company

© 2016 The Metropolitan Museum of Art

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