Public Art, Oh My!
Apr 26, 2014 10:00 amA visit to Governors Island this summer will offer up a healthy dose of new public art! The Trust announced that works by Mark Handforth and Susan Philipsz, the two inaugural artists of the new Governors Island public art program Art CommissionsGI, will be on view to the public beginning on May 24th. Leslie Koch, President of the Trust, said of the new program, “Art CommissionsGI builds on the Island’s reputation as a place that welcomes all forms of artistic expression to be enjoyed by New Yorkers.” Art CommisionsGI, curated by Tom Eccles the Executive Director of Bard College’s Center for Curatorial Studies, aims to select artists whose work respond to the Island’s unique vantage point on the Harbor and Statue of Liberty, its landmark and newly designed landscapes, its chapters of history and its nascent democratic culture.
Mark Handforth’s playful exhibition, titled “Sidewalk Island”, beautifully situates the artists work in the landscape of Governors Island and its new park and public spaces. Handforth’s trademark manipulation and distortion of street-level and everyday items are seen in the four totem-like works he created for Governors Island. “Painted Phone,” the focal point of the exhibition, is placed at the entrance of the 30 acres of new park. A thirty feet tall bronze tree with lopped off limbs cradles a blue phone in the v-shape of its branches, as if casually holding a cigar in its fingers. The anthropomorphic phone mimics the regalness and verticality of Lady Liberty in the distance, while the vivid blue of the phone blends into the skies above.
Susan Philipsz looks to the military history of Governors Island for inspiration. Her piece titled, “Day is Done,” is a large-scale instrumental ‘call and response’ sound installation that spans the new park at Liggett Terrace and Yankee Pier. The work takes the four notes that make up the military bugle call Taps and seperates them into two groups of four speakers located in Liggett Terrace and Yankee Pier. The speakers call out to each other across the Island and become recognizable depending on where the listener stands. The work is played every day at 6pm. Setting the work against the evening is both a reminder that ‘day is done’ and that it’s time to leave, but also adds an element of melancholy to the work as it can be experienced both on the Island and from the ferry leaving the Island behind.