Monday, October 8, 2012

Columbus on the Coffee Table: A sculpture by Tatzu Nishi

CLICK ON PICTURES FOR A BIGGER VIEW
A sweep around Columbus' temporary living room courtesy of the free Photosynth iPhone app
There's nothing like visual juxtaposition to tickle the human psyche ... witness he of the giant soft hamburger, fan and wall sockets fame - Claes Oldenburg (yes if you scroll down, that link does show a piece by Claes Oldenburg).

The latest art stunt in New York City is Japanese artist Tatzu Nishi's Columbus on the Coffee Table, smack bang on a traffic island in Columbus Circle.

OK, that's not the title of the work. It's actually called Discovering Columbus, playing on the fact that the man - actually a scoundrel and a butcher - discovered America. I like my title better.


I must be the zillionth person to pose like this in front of the statue
 The entrance was free, and ticket holders who booked online patiently waited to climb size flights of scaffolded stairs to get to the mock "living room." Naturally, there was an elevator for the otherly-abled, out-of-shape or lazy.

The view from behind, with New York party guests 
 Inside, visitors sprawled on the furniture and thumbed magazines, looking out of the windows to 360-degree views of the whirling traffic in the streetscape below. I sat in a window and was shooed away by a security guard. I think the window should have had cushions there to sit in, because that's what Columbus would do if he wasn't made of marble!

The view to the north, towards Central Park 
The view to the east, up 59th Street
The only thing that was missing were some rice crackers and drinks to complete the homey scene. One thing you realized is that this is the closest you'll even get to being eye to eye with the statue. When the show is over, the scaffolding will be used to scrub and touch up the statue, then it will be dismantled. You'll never get this close again, unless you're a rogue abseiler.

The wallpaper featuring icons of American pop culture
Apparently some people were annoyed to have the streetscape marred by the scaffolding required to create this spectacle - especially on Columbus Day. To ameliorate this external eyesore, the scaffolding could have been covered with a banner mimicking the base of the statue, right? Then again, they never build a monument to a critic ...

The view from the street, an annoyance to some fans of Columbus. Circle 
The Japanese are usually fanatics of making things really tiny. In fact, I wrote about the Japanese obsession with miniaturization on my Upover blog. When I visited there in 2009, I noticed that even their garbage trucks were smallish, quiet and polite. Tatzu really knocked himself out with this one.
Another project by the mischievous Tatzu Nishi 
Tatzu Nishi  website

Design Boom has some nice pictures shot with a fancier camera than my iPhone

Google "Tatzu Nishi Columbus" and every man and his arty dog has written about this - including yours truly!


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