4.11.2011

Negotiating a Walk Through Steinunn Thórarinsdóttir’s BORDERS at Dag Hammarskjöld Plaza

A Sunday walk to the United Nations complex turned up a lot of revelations, but near the top would certainly be the surprising encounter with several statutes stationed along Dag Hammarskjöld Plaza (consult for place and map). Presented by the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation, BORDERS by Icelandic sculptor Steinunn Thórarinsdóttir (b. 1955) consists of twenty-six life-size figures, half in aluminum and half in cast iron, created specifically for the urban park. It's the largest exhibition to date at Dag Hammarskjöld Plaza.

Steinunn Thorarinsdottir’s BORDERS at Dag Hammarskjöld Plaza


Steinunn Thorarinsdottir’s BORDERS at Dag Hammarskjöld Plaza



In their gestures, some sitting and others standing, some inner-directed and others more outwardly social, the figures mirror one another on opposite sides of an implicit border. Those who stroll among them will find many choices - walking your own border between the figures, taking a seat among them, or avoiding the scene altogether. The latter option would be unfortunate, because the issues raised with these silent figures demands our fullest attention. There's a reason they are near the United Nations, an entity that deals constantly with the political friction of ethnic and national borders. In walking among the silent figures and ascertaining their stances and relationships, the viewer assumes the role of diplomat.


Steinunn Thorarinsdottir’s BORDERS at Dag Hammarskjöld Plaza



Steinunn Thorarinsdottir’s BORDERS at Dag Hammarskjöld Plaza



Steinunn Thorarinsdottir’s BORDERS at Dag Hammarskjöld Plaza


For those who recall Antony Gormley's EVENT HORIZON in the Madison Square and Flatiron areas last April, these figures look similar on the surface. But on closer inspection, these figures are androgynous, drawing our attention to universal poses and commonalities within the context of diversity. Unlike Gormley's scattered figures, most of which appeared on high and appeared as sentinels of surveillance, these are down to earth entities that share and shape a defined space. There are many borders here. It's how you define and cross them that matters.

BORDERS is on view through September 30, 2011.


For a self-guided architecture walk of this general area, read the related post, A Walk for the Optimistic Modernist: From MoMA to the United Nations.



Images by Walking Off the Big Apple from April 10, 2011.

1 comment:

john Knowles said...

If you have yet to see this installation in person, check out our documentation and investigation with Steinunn...

http://bit.ly/eOTKuA
Great art coverage! Love the pictures!