Staff Pick: Kylin OBrien – Amo Legomandala

This post has been updated to include the time-lapse video:



amo legomandala 2013 from Kylin on Vimeo.

I wish that after writing this post, I could encourage readers to head to Feature Inc. to witness Kylin O’Brien’s ethereal creation, Amo Legomandala, but alas, the experience lasted for just three days and now lives on in photo and video documentation.

Drawing upon the tradition of Tibetan sand mandalas, Kylin created a mandala entirely of LEGOs on the floor of the 131 Allen Street gallery.  The Tibetan Buddhist ritual of creating and subsequently destroying an ornate sand mandala after careful construction was playfully redone with children’s construction pieces.  Using a medicine mandala as inspiration, Kylin and her assistants (which included our fabulous intern, Jillian) mapped out the mandala over the course of several months, meticulously measuring and structuring the piece.  Finally, the LEGO mandala was constructed on the gallery floor over a three-day period.

Kylin’s mandala was unveiled at the opening reception on Friday, March 22nd, during which attendees carefully walked around the massive structure, maintaining several feet between themselves and the freely-lying blocks on the ground so as not to disturb the structure.  (When a woman walked into the gallery with a dog in her arms, Jillian and I both had momentary heart palpitations as we imagined the dog streaking through the center of the piece…a recurring nightmare of Jillian’s in the days leading up to the show!)

After a full-day viewing on Saturday, all were invited back on Sunday the 24th to transform the piece and assist in its disassembly – or reassembly, depending on how you view it.  Viewers took an active part in changing the entire structure of the piece, experiencing what Feature Inc. called an “opportunity to become aware of our contribution to collaborative change.”

Jillian commented that the finished, modified product was reminiscent of a “futuristic space station.”  The atmosphere during Sunday’s reconstruction was quiet and calm as participants fell under the spell of the thousands of colored blocks.

The full process – from the build-out of the original piece to the ultimate deconstruction – was recorded with an overhead camera in the gallery; a time-lapse video will soon be released to document the experience.

In the meantime, here is an installation shot from the calm before the storm at Friday night’s opening.  Congratulations to Kylin on a beautifully whimsical and innovative installation.

Image Kylin OBrien by Morgan Jacobs

Photograph by Morgan Jacobs

Categories: Artists, Openings, Exhibitions