What the People of New York Are Looking at Today
by Jen Graves
on Thu, Sep 20, 2012 at 11:16 AM
Photo by Tom Powel, Courtesy Public Art Fund, NY
My, that's a big sculpture you have.
Japanese artist Tatzu Nishi is known for surrounding monumental sculptures with rooms.
As in: He built a living room around the 1892 statue of Christopher Columbus that already exists in Columbus Circle in New York. That's what you're looking at in the photograph above. The statue is 13 feet tall, but he stands on a 75-foot-tall granite pedestal extending all the way down to the street (and in fact, he is the central location from which all distances to New York are measured). You visit this new and temporary work of art by traversing six stories up (by stairs or lift), to arrive at the living room in the sky.
The installation is called Discovering Columbus, and it opens today. After the exhibition finishes, the room will remain as a staging area for conservation of the statue. That's kind of my favorite part. (The interior design of the room itself, and the conversation around it, doesn't feel terribly interesting.)
Discovering Columbus is presented by Public Art Fund. (The Fund also is currently presenting People, a project by Northwest-born Oscar Tuazon.) It's Exhibit Z in the Public Art Does Not Need To Be A Statue Or Something Made of An Indestructible Material That Will Last Forever and Ever case, still being prosecuted in Seattle, where public art projects are still often forced into materially (and conceptually) limiting foreverness.
Instead of a statue, art can be the space around one. How else to ever breathe this guy's air?