The Unbearable Banishment: Public art that mocks my plight

Friday, October 30, 2009

Public art that mocks my plight

All art isn’t housed in stuffy old museums. New York is littered with public art installations.

There are two ways to get from the vile Port Authority to the Times Square subway station; you can either walk above ground down 42nd Street or you can take the underground walkway that connects the two. The tunnel is a dreary, Soviet-style passageway that’s all function and no form. It’s an avenue-long tunnel of concrete, white tile, steel I-beams and exposed florescent bulbs.

In an effort to cheer up the walk a bit, the Metropolitan Transit Authority has commissioned a series art installations (as they have in MANY subway stations throughout the city). When you walk eastward towards Seventh Avenue, as a multitude of commuters do every morning, this is the installation that greets you. It’s inspired by the classic Burma-Shave ads of the 40s where a series of sequential signs containing a word or two reveal a poem.

Remember: This is the first thing that harried commuters coming from the dark New Jersey suburbs see at 6:30 in the morning on our way to the salt mines.

I don’t know who to attribute this work to. There’s an accrediting placard on every piece of public art but I can’t find this one. On a good morning, this makes me laugh. Some mornings? Not so much.



Blogger Please Don't Eat With Your Mouth Open said...

I love that kind of stuff. Bit like when London Underground staff put nice messages to commuters, tips of the day, a poem, funny message etc on the white boards in stations instead of tube status updates. But then I'm easily amused.

October 30, 2009 at 8:15 AM  
Blogger Cat said...

PDEWYMO - I thought of the tube system as well.

TUB - I wonder how many people walk through that tunnel every day and never see the poem?

October 30, 2009 at 8:30 AM  
Anonymous daisyfae said...

kinda like this, but have to wonder what it costs...

October 30, 2009 at 9:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Reminds me of driving across South Dakota on I-90 being assailed by signs calling on me to "Visit Wall Drug".

There's something about "routine" that can turn anything into a "grind", isn't there?

October 30, 2009 at 10:31 AM  
Blogger jason quinones said...

when i first got a digital camera and started my art blog and i took pics of these signs and posted them as well!

i formatted them together so it ran like a sequential comic art page, each photo being it's own panel. i might have deleted it form my blog but i'll double check as i posted it early on.

being an nyc/queens resident my whole damned life i am very familiar with this tunnel as it leads to the queens bound 7 train. i too have always wondered who did this as it doesn't really seem like your typical mta sanctioned public art piece. i always assumed it was some renegade artist who just got a step ladder and bolted the things in him/herself! wouldn't surprise me. seeing it always make me either chuckle or feel introspective.

October 30, 2009 at 11:24 AM  
Blogger jason quinones said...

yeah, it's gone from my blog. i saved it on my hard drive somewhere. if you want or care i'll email it to you.

the best thing about it is i made the first panel a metrocard but it said ratrace on it instead of metrocard.

October 30, 2009 at 11:30 AM  
Blogger Leah said...

Well, first of all, the title of this post in my blog feed made me laugh outright.

I've been admiring/laughing at/reviling that particular piece for quite some time now.

Great post.

October 30, 2009 at 12:04 PM  
Anonymous popomatic jeff said...

Leave it to the MTA to find a way to make a depressing hall way even more sad.

October 30, 2009 at 2:13 PM  
Blogger Jimmy Bastard said...

Excellent post as ever. I liked the irony a little too much.

October 30, 2009 at 2:41 PM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

Jo: It's not a matter of being easily amused! That stuff is important and breaks the monotony of a commute.

Cat: I'll bet a lot of people see them. They're hard to miss, actually.

Daisy: The cost doesn't bother me so much, even though I paid for them (indirectly).

Rob: The art breaks the routing. Or, that's the intent.

Jason: ABSOLUTELY send me a copy! Actually, it did cross my mind that this could be subversive.

Leah: I felt the world should know that I'm being made fun of.

Jeff: It only makes me sad on certain mornings. Sometimes, I get a chuckle out of it.

Jimmy: Hearing a compliment never gets old. Thank you.

October 30, 2009 at 4:51 PM  
Blogger Ellie said...

Love the title of your post. I think it would make me chuckle to myself most mornings; maybe make me want to cry on others. x, e

October 31, 2009 at 9:05 AM  
Blogger ~E said...

I think it's funny. But you know me and art...I think the dogs playing poker velvet hanging is cute.

November 1, 2009 at 4:22 AM  
Blogger Florida Girl In Sydney said...

I love it, a daily dose of reality. And I love when cities support support stuff like that... Sydney is one of those cities.

November 1, 2009 at 5:42 AM  

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