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The Met Museum's rooftop brings 'outer space to Earth'

Artist Alicja Kwade's installation evokes the solar system to remind us that we're all living on a "spinning rock."

Berlin-based artist Alicja Kwade's "ParaPivot I and II"

Berlin-based artist Alicja Kwade's "ParaPivot I and II" sculptures are displayed on the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Roof Garden at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The sculptures consist of nine spheres nestled in powder-coated steel frames that intersect at oblique angles. Photo Credit: Charles Eckert

The planets have aligned to bring "outer space to earth" at the Metropolitan Museum's new rooftop installation, "Parapivot."

Created by Berlin artist Alicja Kwade, Parapivot's two sculptures comprise large, steel frames that crisscross and where they intersect, they hold carved and polished stones that resemble mysterious planets — in green, blue, brown, white and red — set against the manmade backdrop of New York City.

As the seventh commissioned piece for the museum's Cantor Rooftop Garden, it follows Huma Bhabha’s "We Come in Peace" figures (2018), Cornelia Parker's "Transitional Object (PsychoBarn)" (2016), and lush patterns painted on the rooftop's floor by Imran Qureshi in 2013, among others.

Kwade's work touches on the interstellar, like Bhabha's, but it is meant to spark thought about "human achievement and desire and what you can achieve as a human being" as its metal frames mimic the grid system of Manhattan and its "planets" remind us that we're all living on a "spinning rock," she said at a preview on Monday.

The installation "connects us all to the multiverse above and around us, too," said Sheena Wagstaff, chairwoman of the department.

"Her installation also calls attention to the discoveries — scientific, philosophic and humanistic — in the galleries around us, made by multitudes of artists trying to make sense of the world in which each of them found themselves in the past five millennia," she continued.

"Parapivot" also accomplishes what the museum sets out to do with its garden commissions, Kelly Baum, the department's curator, said.

"Since 2013, we have come to expect these commissions to address the museum, the park and the city skyline," she said. "'Parapivot' does this and more. It directs our attention to the sky and what lies just beyond the sky — the vast container called outer space ... and just as 'Parapivot' pulls our eye to the sky, and just beyond it to outer space, so too does it bring outer space to Earth."

How to access the Metropolitan Museum's Cantor Rooftop Garden Bar:

Take the elevator in the European Sculpture and Decorative Arts galleries to the fifth floor, between 11 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays and from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.

The rooftop is open April 16 through some time in October.

Access is included with general admission (pay what you wish if you're a local).

'Parapivot' will be up until Oct. 27.

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