New Public Art in Shadow of 4 World Trade CenterSep 13, 2011
Art lovers can now “walk” to “work” in Lower Manhattan. Only a few blocks from the international installation Walking Men 99 TM is the newest outdoor public art installation, Men At Work, wrapping the base of Silverstein Properties’ fast-rising 4 World Trade Center.
Men At Work, which depicts nearly 150 iconic figures from street signs across the globe, was installed along 1,000 feet of construction parapets on the south and north sides of Liberty Street, between Greenwich and Church streets, stretching along the southern edge of the World Trade Center construction site.
Men At Work is the 28th art installation unveiled under the wildly popular Re:Construction program, which adorns construction sites in Lower Manhattan with whimsical, thoughtful and engaging pieces of art.
Launched in 2007, Re:Construction is produced by the Downtown Alliance, and funded by a $1.5 million grant from the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation.
“Re:Construction is an ongoing opportunity for government, artists, curators, property owners and business people to work together to make something beautiful,” said Elizabeth H. Berger, President of the Downtown Alliance. “And what’s a better example than Men At Work. I encourage anyone who lives in, works in or visits Lower Manhattan to stop for just a moment and explore these wonderful pieces of art.” Men At Work , created by Maya Barkai, features figures from 148 cities, and is the second project in New York City from the Walking Men Worldwide Initiative TM.
The installation offers a new look into the cultural presence of “Working Men”; these signs typically prevent passersby from entering active construction sites, thus becoming symbols of an environment being transformed and serving as a constant reminder of the never-ending process of urban renewal.
“Maya’s work captures the spirit of Lower Manhattan and New Yorkers’ enthusiasm for rebuilding the World Trade Center,” said Larry A. Silverstein, President & CEO of Silverstein Properties, Inc. “It also pays tribute to the thousands of men and women involved in this historic effort.” The installation is several blocks away from the most celebrated piece within the Re:Construction collection, Barkai’s Walking Men 99 TM.
Debuted in 2010, it is a site-specific installation that joins together 99 iconic pedestrian traffic light figures from cities around the world, a photographic collage stretching along 500 feet of plywood walls that form three street façades facing Church and Barclay streets and Park Place.
“To me, Walking Men WorldwideTM is an ongoing investigation into the fundamental components that together form our urban landscape as it evolves and changes over time,” Barkai said. “Acknowledging the distinct silhouette of the „Working Man,? graphically coherent yet surprisingly versatile, is key to understanding its critical role in the creation of a safe, humanely oriented, modern environment.
Taking the icons out of context of the local traffic sign and into a collage of unique cultural representations, leaves us to reveal their differences, and provokes the viewer to wonder about the way societies choose to embrace their visual graphic heritage.” The project was conceived as a collaborative effort of international photographers, each contributing a piece to the collage using an interactive platform created by Barkai. Learn more at www.walking-men.com.
Men At Work and Walking Men 99 TM were curated by Ayelet Danielle Aldouby and Elinor Milchan from Artea Projects. You can learn more about Artea Projects at www.arteaprojects.com.
Born in Jerusalem, Israel, Maya Barkai is a graduate of the School of Visual Arts’ Photography Department. Her photographs have been exhibited worldwide, and she is the recipient of the National Press Photographers Foundation Grant (2005), W Magazine’s Next Fashion Photographer’ showcase, as well as Penguin, Nerve, and Foam Magazine among other publications. Her most recent projects include Walking Men 99 in New York, Walking Men PERMM, a public art installation in collaboration with the PERMM Museum of Contemporary Art in Russia, and Men At Work as part of the Bat Yam International Biennale for Landscape Urbanism in Israel. Learn more at www.mayabarkai.com.