I never thought I’d pay the price of subway fare to see ‘subway art.’ When it comes to Sol Lewitt’s Whirls Twirls (MTA), I’m willing to make the exception.
Never say never.
A few months ago I moved into a new apartment in my old neighborhood. For the most part things hadn’t changed much over the past 2 years. The most obvious change being the new building on 1e Constantijn Huygenstraat, that replaced the one previously occupied by Smart Projects.
Architecturally, I find the building unimpressive. Red brick, glass, yada, yada, yada. Other than those bold strokes, I never paid much attention to it. I’m usually more concerned with navigating safely through the maze of cyclists, cars, and pedestrians on the poorly designed bike path. I suppose this is why it took me so long to notice that there was something hanging off the roof of the building.
At first I thought it was scaffolding, but then I realized it couldn’t be. Ladders? No. Actually, yes.
But why so many? And why is there one hanging off the building?
Wait, what’s that at the top of the ladder? Ah. That’s it. Art. Public art.
Initially thinking that it was the work of an anonymous sculpture having a bad day, I discovered, thanks to a plaque on the street, that the artist was anything but anonymous. Here is the text, as it appears:
The sculpture How to meet an Angel deals about hope, support, and the gradual process towards recovery. The figure stands on the highest rung of the ladder, with baggage on his back and arms wide open, looking towards the sky. Ready to leave the clinic, embrace the city and possibly meet a guardian angel.
How to Meet an Angel is charitably designed by the renowned Russian-American artists Ilya & Emilia Kabakov, at the request of Mentrum and developed by SKOR (Foundation Art and Public Space), and has been made financially possible by SKOR, Stadsdeel Oud-West and the Amsterdams Fond voor Kunst. The work of art is specially created for this building: a clinic for psychiatric clients and people with serious psychological problems.
There’s just something about that last sentence. I don’t know. Maybe it’s just me.
What do you get when you put Vito Acconci’s, Joseph Beuys’, Dan Graham’s, Richard Serra’s, and Lawrence Weiner’s words together, to create a conversation about public art?
“It’s fascinating to think that all around us there’s an invisible world we can’t even see.”
Otto Berchem’s work explores how we live and how we communicate our lives with one another. This interest in our social codes, and how we negotiate them, has lead to work that is often created in the public space or in the non-art context. Often these works draw attention to overlooked, unnoticed, and unarticulated systems and social behaviors.
For his third solo exhibition with Ellen de Bruijne Projects, Berchem will present several projects, all connected by subtle interventions used to expose what is seen and what is not seen.
These projects include Temporary Person Passing Through, a project that employed a now defunct hieroglyphic symbols used to map the city; You Am I Am You, a project commissioned by ArtAids, where Berchem produced a special collar for Thai street dogs; and Sanctuary, an ongoing project about a young kidnapping victim.
Opening: 17/10/09 17 – 19 hrs
Exhibition: 17/10/09 – 21/11/09
Gallery hours: Tue – Fri 11 – 18 hrs | Sat 13 – 18 hrs |
1st Sun of the month 14 – 17 hrs
Ellen de Bruijne Projects
Last week I went with my brother to go see the Yankees. As we were walking out of the Metro North station, I spotted some public art. For some reason, I did not cast my usual cynical eye (as I tend to do with NYC subway art). I even said to my brother – that’s not bad. Little did i know (or perhaps i should say ‘I forgot’) that it was gem by a friend.
Ellen Harvey, The Home of the Stars.
A couple of years ago I was cycling through the south of France. I was there to make a small work, for a book, commissioned by the S.M.A.K., called Sur La Route. Somewhere, between Cahors and Périgueux, I spotted something out of the corner of my eye, sleeping peacefully on the side of the road.