If you were passing through Times Square last night and saw a strange humanoid wearing a space suit and white orb helmet, riding a live horse (with similar helmet), don’t be too alarmed. The creature inhabiting this mysterious cloak was none other than Ati Maier, a Brooklyn-based artist, and she was shooting her latest art film these last few days. Titled The Placeless Place it is Maier’s second live-action video featuring the Space Rider and horse.

The first was titled The Map Is Not the Territory and it debuted at The Boiler Gallery in Williamsburg in 2013, replete with rock-salt covering the floor, shaped like the lunar surface. The Map was filmed by Maier and crew in the Wyoming desert, and it showed her plodding on horseback, following a comet shooting across an ominous night sky, while finally planting her own personal flag into the rocky ground. For her newest video Maier has filmed in Times Square (Manhattan), beneath the Williamsburg Bridge (Brooklyn), and at Corona Park (Queens), home of the 1964-65 World’s Fair (recently seen in the Disney film Tomorrowland).

According to the artist her Space Rider character first developed in an early psychedelic landscape painting, where Maier’s loping, zig-zagging lines exploded with a sense of the universe’s unseen power. She has since developed the character as a cinematic alter-ego who searches for habitable territories in which to investigate and possibly even conquer.

Yet where The Map Is Not the Territory felt like the artist’s search for signs of life (and ultimately meaning itself), the Placeless Place, at least as far as last night’s shoot was concernedshifted the focus back to community.

Though Maier had permits to shoot in these iconic locations (and producers to help execute her vision), once she mounted the horse and began riding through Times Square, the production took on an improvisatory aspect. Onlookers snapped selfies, stood in front of the animal asking questions like, “Did she really come from outer space?” or “Is this for Lady Gaga’s new video?” The mix of reactions went from stunned to sublimely anoetic. People smiled, stared, one young girl cried; ads for Coca Cola, the Lion King, and Target beamed down from above.

It dawned on me after a few hours of watching this that the biggest question of Maier’s new work may not be, ‘What are we doing here?,’ but rather, ‘What are we doing now that we are here?’ One would like say: ‘Helping each other'; but in the final analysis the answer seems as ambiguous as the artist’s paradoxical imagery. (Brian Chidester)

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