Selected works by Diana Al-Hadid

Diana Al-Hadid
The Tower of Infinite Problems


Polymer gypsum, steel, plaster, fibreglass, wood, polystyrene, cardboard, wax and paint

241.3 x 442 x 251.5 cm
Diana Al-Hadid is a Syrian-American artist who lives and works in New York. Her sculptures take ‘towers’ as their central theme, drawing together a wide variety of associations: power, wealth, technological and urban development, ideas of progress and globalism. They are also – both in legends such as the Tower of Babel, and reality, such as the horrors of the World Trade Centre attacks – symbols of the problems of cultural difference and conflict. Al-Hadid’s Tower of Infinite Problems poses as a toppled skyscraper. Made from crude materials such as plaster, Styrofoam, wax, and cardboard, her structure is a monument to human fallibility. Sprawling on the floor like an imaginary archaeological find, the sculpture places the viewer in a fictional role as futuristic observer, mourning the tragic follies of a past (our current) civilization. If viewed from the end, the two parts of the structure converge in an optical illusion, creating a spiral vortex suggesting a cyclical repetition of history.
Diana Al-Hadid
Self Melt (and 6 details)


Polymer gypsum, steel, polystyrene, cardboard, wax and paint

147.3 x 142.3 x 190.5 cm
Al–Hadid’s geometric forms attempt to bridge mystical and scientific understandings of the world. As intensely patterned and detailed structures, her works draw from the traditions of Islamic art, where abstract motifs are used to encourage contemplation of God’s infinite wisdom. An ‘infinite wisdom’ that is also the focus of the particle physics research being done at the Large Hadron Collider – a 17 mile tunnel beneath the Swiss-French border – where scientists are attempting to locate the “God Particle” by reproducing the Big Bang. In Self Melt the top section of the sculpture is based on Pieter Bruegel the Elder’s 1556 painting The Tower of Babel. Presented upside down, the ziggurat becomes an inverted form, like an hourglass turning back time, suggesting a reversal of cultural diaspora. Through its rough hewn and barbaric appearance – reminiscent of a geological formation or frozen asteroid - Self Melt points to a mythological point of origin, where diversity and itsconsequences are supernaturally preordained.
Diana Al-Hadid
All The Stops (and 2 details)


Cardboard, wood, metal, plastic & paint

264.2 x 172.7 x 142.2 cm

Al-Hadid has described her work as "impossible architecture". All The Stops envisions a palatial structure, utilising stylistic elements from a variety of incongruous periods from medieval churches to futuristic stadiums. Shaping her work like an upturned trumpet, musical references are found throughout the piece: broken onceglorious columns are made from plastic recorders, decorative tiers are shingled with tiny piano keys. The spindly architecture suggests
the evasive quality of sound, with each level contributing to a sense of harmonic rhythm. The building however, is presented as a ruin, empty and desolate, its decrepit power culminating in an eerily silent crescendo.


"The Labyrinth in the Tower: A Conversation with Diana Al-Hadid."

Link to article on Diana Al-Hadid in Sculpture Magazine, March 2009 by Robin Reisenfeld

Read the entire article here

Frozen Instants of Failure

By David Cohen | September 18, 2008

Diana Al-Hadid's menacing, heavily worked, baroque structures take arrested hubris as their theme. In three large sculptures, powerful in impact and ambition alike, a wall installation, and supporting drawings, once-soaring, elaborately engineered towers are rendered as ruins, whether slowly decaying in fragments or caught in a moment of catastrophic meltdown. Her evocations of destruction and decomposition generate rich surfaces as well as unsettling contemplations of the demise of powerful systems.

The artist has been hooked on towers for several years now, involved in what can be taken as a reverse Watts Towers syndrome - instead of transforming found, non-art materials into aspirational edifices, Ms. Al-Hadid deploys considerable artistry to depict with a literalist intensity state-of-the-art, fabricated structures in a frozen instant of failure.
The formal and intellectual sources for these intriguing, ambitious objects lie in medieval architecture, the Bible, and astro- and nuclear physics. The labyrinth on the floor of Chartres Cathedral and Breughel's Tower of Babel are cited, along with the research project to find "the god particle" in the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland, which gives the show its scientific title.

Viewing toppled towers at this time of the year, however, raises the specter of September 11, 2001, as an assault on Western notions of strength and progress. As a young Arab-American (she was born in Aleppo, Syria, in 1981, and raised in Cleveland, Ohio), Ms. Al-Hadid inescapably folds her own identity into such a reading of her work.
Of the four sculptures (all 2008), the simplest is possibly the most affecting: "The Tower of Infinite Problems," filling Perry Rubenstein's project space on West 24th Street with claustrophobic effect, is a fractured spire lain on its side. The intestines of the tower show that it is structured around a polygon and fabricated from honeycomb-like mesh, itself one of nature's most complex labyrinths. What should be guarantors of strength have unraveled with the tower. Partial retention of its ordering shape is rendered all the more pathetic once supine.

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ART REVIEW; For Hopeful Artists, the Search to Be Just Themselves

By Benjamin Genocchio
Published: April 9, 2006

''Artist in the Marketplace,'' known as AIM, was founded in 1980 as an intensive finishing school for emerging artists. In addition to getting career-management advice, the artists in the program collaborate on an annual exhibition of their work. Its 26th installment is now on display at the Bronx Museum of the Arts, which is home to the program.

The exhibition features the work of 36 artists from the 2005-6 program, much of it paintings, drawings and related works on paper. Photography is rather surprisingly sparse, as are video, sound and installation artworks. Does that mean emerging artists are returning to more traditional art?

The short answer is no, for while painting and drawing dominate AIM this year, the types of painting and drawing on display are so varied and experimental that it would be unwise to equate the medium with the message. Dizzy chaos rules, with most artists paying the proprieties of tradition little more than an air kiss of acknowledgment.

This year's crop of hopeful artists includes a handful born and raised in Islamic countries - a fact that is not always apparent in viewing their work. The exception: super-strong paintings by Tazeen Ahmed, incorporating news images and memories of a childhood in Pakistan that tell stories about the social vulnerability of young girls. Some works depict scenes of violation.
Equally thoughtful are J. C. Lenochan's charcoal and watercolor paintings of found photographs of current events and personal snapshots, many of them tough images of emotion, terrorism, violence and exploitation. I see them as subtle reveries on human nature, or at least some of the worst aspects of it. And yet they equally confront and delight, given the ethereal elegance with which the imagery is conveyed.

Read the entire article here