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Blinded by the Whitney’s Light

Revved up on Madison.


With his solo show at the Whitney, Terence Koh might be one of the bright lights of contemporary art, but some neighbors wish he would turn it down. His piece consists of a 4,000-watt film lamp that beams through the lobby—and the museum’s Madison Avenue windows. Signs urge visitors not to look directly at it. But what if you work across the street? “It’s so upsetting, this lamp,” says an employee at Shi Cashmere. “It’s like an eclipse.” “I hate it—it’s been bugging me all day,” agrees Delphine Borredon, who works next door at Morgenthal Frederics Opticians. “He didn’t think about us.” Whitney spokesperson Janet Rothschild says the museum put a coating on its windows to reduce the light’s power and is working to keep the beam out of stores. She also insists it’s safe: “We did consult an ophthalmologist.” A sliver of Koh-light was visible at Jo Malone last week. Store employees, perhaps anticipating that the squint-inducer would increase sales of their Green Tea and Honey Eye Cream ($50), wouldn’t comment.

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