Sky Mirror

On display at Rockefeller Center through October 27.

Nearly every day for the past week, I’ve passed Sky Mirror, a gargantuan disc of stainless steel, on my way to eat lunch in Rockefeller Plaza. From what I’ve read, artist Anish Kapoor wants his sculpture to “explore the notion of void.” My first reaction, however, is an irrational fear that the twenty-three-ton behemoth, which leans backward without any visible means of support, will topple and crush the surrounding crowd.

The convex side of the mirror reflects the Fifth Avenue sidewalk below, while the concave side reflects the sky above. From the sidewalk, the installation functions as a high-end fun-house mirror, with people stopping to photograph their distorted reflections in its shiny surface. I’ve contemplated it, but I don’t achieve any insights into “presence and absence, infinity and illusion, solidity and intangibility” when viewing Sky Mirror from that angle. Rather, it feels like a monument to human narcissism.

The plaza view—the reflection of the sky—interests me more. From a distance, seen head on, the sculpture does recede, as Kapoor intends. It looks like an unworldly portal, an orb of sky brought to earth. But as you approach, the seams in the metal and the sides of the sculpture become visible. The illusion vanishes, and the portal disappears. From a distance, Sky Mirror is a window to the heavens. Up close, it’s just a shiny slab of metal.