When I first walked into Arnold Hall on 55 West 13th St, one of the first things that caught my eye was the fluid motion of black and white shapes on the wall near the staircase. Upon closer inspection, I immediately recognized these forms as animated figures falling down a long tunnel. A site-specific creation, Kara Walker’s Event Horizon was her first public art installation commissioned by The New School as part of a commitment to create new art within its public spaces in 2005. It is a piece that takes up the left and right walls of the staircase entirely and provides visual movement as the viewer walks up and down.
As I walk up the staircase, the white negative space of a tunnel shaped by black hills leads my eyes upward. A silhouette of a young girl sits at the outer edge of the tunnel far above my head, her hand stretched outward. A man wearing what appears to be a straw hat and rolled up pants walks barefoot upwards–seemingly bearing the weight of the tunnel on his shoulders. A woman, possibly pregnant, falls down head first towards the bottom, hands reaching for a baby who is tumbling down ahead of her. The woman’s hands, feminine and elegant, are tied. People sit in holes dug out of the tunnel, waiting, or possibly hiding, as the chaotic scene occurs outside.