I’m still in the process of determining my final site for my proposal for the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council public art grant. As it would follow, I’m also in the process of determining my idea. I want to get a few ideas out of my system, but will go into more detail about one site in particular.
I’ve been thinking a lot about our financial system, especially recently since an entire movement sprang up in Lower Manhattan over the past month. I think there’s some amazing things happening in Zuccotti Park, but mainly I’m happy that people are calling attention to the problems we have maintaining our capitalist democracy, and that it is a system that needs a lot more checks and balances in order to function. I’m considering the World Financial Center as a location for a piece that engages with the economic crisis, as well as the Occupy Wall Street protests. It’s closely situated to Zuccotti Park, but also Ground Zero. The physical area down there has taken on incredible symbolic meaning for New Yorkers, and people around the world. I think it’s a unique location for an intervention, and one that would probably need to confront the weightiness of its surroundings.
I’m also considering the Deutsche Bank lobby, especially since the interior decoration and palm trees are so kitschy and amazing.
Another idea I had focuses on water around New York. I am also considering the World Financial Center plaza for this since it seems to be the site most connected to the water. There is a lovely pier not far from the plaza with pistons that rise and fall with the current.
In terms of a site-driven concept, I’m really drawn to the Staten Island Ferry terminal building at White Hall (or is it South Hall). I like transit hubs in general because there are so many different kinds of people in a relatively small place who are joined by their schedule and a common destination. The White Hall terminal is very built out, and has a lot of neon, LED screens with scolling colored text, and other flashy and eye catching elements. There’s definitely the potential for something I make to be lost in the noise, but that could also work for me if I want to play a more subversive or subtle angle. I am considering an intervention into one of the many electronic displays that people watch or interact with. I’d like to play with the time-based structure of the space, either by trying to elongate that sense of time, or quicken it (by adding to the “quality” of the waiting experience).
I have another idea which might not be that realistic, but I sort of love. It’s also very “Animals, People, and those In Between.” I was really taken with the relationship between the drug sniffing dogs and their handlers. These dogs are essentially highly trained and specialized laborers, who are able to do a job that a person could not do on her own. They smell large backpacks and suitcases for bombs, or drugs, or whatever they have been trained to do. The dogs are adorable labradors, with very big puppy eyes. When I walked by one, he (could be a she) seemed pretty sad and bored, but was still obedient and did everything his handler instructed him to do. The handler is a police man in uniform, and that brings another dimension to seeing a man hold a dog on a leash. I’m thinking about building some sort of dog house or structure that calls attention to the work these dogs do, and how their life is not really about play like it is for so many other pets. And while some labs become helpers for the blind, these dogs have become police dogs, and it is their job to help keep us humans safer.
I also saw canine cops at the World Financial Center Plaza, but I’m not sure how frequently they are there.