It was just a few weeks ago that "Discovering Columbus," one of NYC's most anticipated public artworks, looked like this, but now the 6-story-high elevated room overlooking Central Park is nearly complete. Japanese artist Tatzu Nishi's vision of New Yorkers climbing up to a raised white box to "meet" the statue of Christopher Columbus is in its final stages and will open to visitors in just 2 days. We were on the scene snapping some photos of this curious installation as workers climbed inside and around it getting it ready for the big reveal. Step inside our gallery to see some preview pics of this fascinating and controversial installation.
Conceived by Tatzu Nishi and the New York Public Art Fund, “Discovering Columbus” is an entirely new way to experience the sometimes forgotten statue of Christopher Columbus that overlooks the circle named for the intrepid explorer. The 70-ft. tower will allow people to climb up to a “living room” filled with all of the things you’d find in your own home – couches, lamps and a table – but one you will not – the historic figure of Christopher Columbus. People will also be able to look out of the room’s windows and enjoy breathtaking views of Central Park.
Tatzu Nishi designed the installation as a way to reconnect the public to the statue of Columbus, which he felt could be “seen only as a distant silhouette some 70 feet overhead — a figure hiding in plain sight atop a column six stories above the ground”, but some Italian-Americans feel that it’s disrespectful. “Encasing this majestic statue in a cocoon of conceptual art demeans the community and trivializes history,” said Rosario Iaconis, chairman of the Italic Institute of America. However, Nicholas Baume, director and chief curator of the Public Art Fund, expressed his belief that even naysayers will feel differently about the piece once they see it. “What Nishi’s work is all about is drawing attention and giving access to the public to urban monuments, statues and architectural details that they wouldn’t normally have access to and to present it in a new way that gives it a contemporary relevance and opens our eyes to something that is perhaps overlooked,” he said.
What do you think about the installation? Is it a mockery of Christopher Columbus or just a new and unique way to reconnect with this great explorer?
“Discovering Columbus” is expected to open on September 20th and will remain on display until November 18th, after which it will be used by restoration workers to give the statue of Columbus a facelift.
Get your free passes to this fascinating installation here.
Photos © Yuka Yoneda