Move over Tao - Brooklyn now has a giant Buddha statue of its own and it's made entirely of recycled materials. Created by Polish artist Pawel Althamer, "Queen Mother of Reality" is a massive, mixed media deity that popped up this week at the Williamsburg waterfront's East River State Park as part of the Performa 13 arts festival. The temporary sculpture was built to raise awareness for New York mothers facing eviction, and is a collage of every day items like hats, lamps and umbrellas.
“Queen Mother of Reality” is a 50-foot-long form that at first glance resembles a reclining deity like one you might see in Asia. Take a closer look though and you’ll find that the Buddha-like figure has an umbrella for an elbow, gold electronics for a necklace and a nipple made out of a bushel. The enormous statue was also designed with an open back that acts as an inner room symbolizing a temporary shelter for the evicted mothers of New York. Althamer modeled the piece after Queen Mother Dr. Delois Blakely, an influential figure in Harlem who has been recognized for her social justice work in the community.
Unfortunately, the Queen Mother may not be around for much longer since the Parks Department ordered its removal last night, stating that it was not a properly permitted work. Performa, however, argued that it was granted permission to erect the artwork by Biba, the waterfront bar directly adjacent to the site where the statue sits. The Queen Mother was still there last night when we visited but had been surrounded by yellow tape.
Photos ©Yuka Yoneda