On October 29, 2008, the 79th anniversary of Black Tuesday, the stock market crash that caused the Great Depression in 1929, artists Ligorano/Reese will meltdown the “Economy.”
In a new, time-based event, called Main Street Meltdown the artists will install the word “Economy,” carved in ice, in Foley Square, using the New York Supreme Court as a back drop.
The event begins on Wednesday, October 29th at 9 AM and will last 24 hours.
The artists chose Foley Square, close to the heart of Wall Street, as the site to focus on the timeliness of the financial crisis in the final week of the presidential campaign. The artists refer to Main Street Meltdown as a “temporary monument.”
The monument measures 15 feet long, 5 feet tall, and weighs almost 1,500 pounds. It is the fourth in a series of ice sculptures by the artists that deal with important political issues. Earlier this year, Ligorano/Reese staged ice sculptures of the word “Democracy” during the Democratic and Republican Conventions in Denver and St. Paul.
“What we like about these sculptures,” Reese says, “is that they are very popular in the best sense of the word, people love to touch them, but in the shape of a word, to see them meltdown and vanish, they take on a completely different meaning.”
“With the recent turmoil in the financial markets,” Ligorano adds, “the anxiety creeping through the country from Main Street to Wall Street… this sculpture metaphorically captures the results of unregulated markets on the U.S. economy. To see the word “economy” melting down is representational of an extreme time.”
It can take Ligorano/Reese’s sculptures anywhere from 10 to 24 hours to meltdown. The artists photograph and videotape the event to create timelapse photographs and films, posting the results in realtime on a special internet blog.
How long will it take for “Economy” to meltdown, no one knows.
This project is supported by BrushFire, the Provisions Library public art project, and the CrossCurrents Foundation.
For more information contact: Claudia Gunter, firstname.lastname@example.org, (212) 584-5000 x226
This is what Lynn Sures wrote us in an email about seeing the videos -
“Watching time-lapse video of the melting in Denver, how amazing. First thing that chilled me was when the M fell, leaving DEOCRACY (I was thinking Deo as God and thoughts fell to Palin’s and Bush’s views) then as other letters fell and people interacted with it I went back to thinking about Democracy, then was again arrested as it finally read ORA which is “Now” in Italian and felt like a hopeful sign. Weird having a conversation with an ice word.
All the videos are so compelling for those of us who weren’t there. I knew about Amy Goodman being arrested but watching the video of the house arrest still made me want to scream.”
From September 13th to October 26, we’re in a show called Close Encounters:
Facing the Future at the American University Museum in the Katzen Art Center in Washington, DC. Provisions Library, which commissioned us to do The State of Things in the convention cities, organized this exhibit.
Don Russell and Niels van Tomme are the curators; CrossCurrents Foundation
provided major funding. The exhibit includes artists like Leon Golub, Adrian Piper
and Nancy Spero; Daniel Hayman, Wayne Gonzalez, and Taryn Simon. What we appreciate
about Russell’s and van Tomme’s approach to this exhibit is that they involved artists from the ground up by commissioning several public works to address actual issues. Some of these works were at the conventions (like ours) and some in other places around the country. All focused on key policies and used different media: hand drawn banners, video, internet, performance and public intervention.
Since we only had a week to organize our work from Denver and St Paul, we worked like
crazy on our return to New York, editing the time lapse videos you see here and a set of photo prints spelling out the word “Democracy” from both locations. The arrangement filled an entire
wall and the word was “bookended” by two flat screens showing the time lapse videos.
Since St Paul, we’ve been in for quite a ride. The Obama and McCain campaigns are locked into a fight for the bitter end.
McCain is a politician waging a guerilla war against Obama. It’s almost as if - this is what he internalized from his years at the Hanoi Hilton. His choice of Palin to try to shift the field from the catharsis of the Democratic Convention. At a time, when American politics seemed to reach a new level of oratory, imagery, even pagentry - the Republicans played the cards of identity politics they know so well.
Everybody started to call McCain’s choice the equivalent of a Hail Mary pass, but sports are the wrong analogy here. It was a wierd mirror - like the killer robot in Terminator2 that morphs into different bodies and forms - Palin and the attempt to cancel the debate is more akin to asymetrical warfare and much less to football, could this be an admission of how dire the McCain leadership feels?
Riffing off Naomi Klein’s book Disaster Capitalism - the conclusion of the conventions highlights the fact that we’ve entered a new era - the age of Disaster Politics.
Dissent is quashed because protests and protesters may harbor terrorists; when in fact police have infiltrated these same protest groups and share intelligence between police departments across the country - isn’t this what COINTELPRO was in the early seventies?
But somehow it’s different -
Journalists are arrested because they don’t follow orders to disperse; focusing instead on their jobs to report what’s happening on the streets. And the list goes on.
But the biggest evidence of Disaster Politics was McCain’s decision to cancel the first day of the Republican Convention, to visit Louisiana on the eve of Gustav’s arrival.
Just when you thought hope could be alive, the Republicans roll out Culture War v. 2.
The seeds of our destruction -
John Bolton by Teresa Anderson, 2005 11″ x 14″
4th place, Minnesota State Fair
30 percent painted category, Amateur division
Seeds used: black beans, crown vetch, hulled barley, millet,
poppy seeds, red beans, timothy, wild rice
see more crop art at www.cropart.com
So, St Paul.
The ice sculptors always say, “Oh, with the heat, the sun, the humidity, it’ll take 8-10 hours…” Well, they’re almost never right - NYC: 26 hours; Denver: 22 hours.
As we were setting up in St Paul, a guy came by and said, “Six and a half hours.” He should know, he’s an amateur ice carver. Maurie Pearson, the ice sculptor we worked with said, “Seven and a quarter.” Nora and I were flabbergasted.
“What? Oh no, man, at least 20…” We stood around, took bets for beer; as we went over the wagers, we recapitulated and changed our bet to 10 to 12 hours. Maurie and the other guy weren’t buying it - “No way.” We were secretly hoping for 10 - still being wasted from Denver which took over 24 hours long and had us sleeping on a roof overlooking the museum during the night.
The news from St Paul is not good - with mass police arrests, hassling of journalists, use of pepper spray, tear gas; the throngs of people surrounding the statue in St Paul were clearly starving for Democracy.
They yearned so much for a sense of freedom that hundreds caressed and embraced “Democracy.”
They broke the letters down, stripping the ice from the base to quench the rasping parchness in their throats the authorities caused.
“Democracy” in St Paul couldn’t withstand the harsh climate - the heat, the Ramsey County Police.
In the short span of 4 and one half hours in this drastic political climate: at 3:25 PM, it was gone.
Let’s hope that by November - it returns.
Welcome to St Paul
Here, at the headwaters of the mighty Mississippi - we don’t suppose that the Republicans suspect their convention opening tomorrow on Labor Day, to be the psychic maelstrom behind the class 5 hurricane heading for New Orleans.
Could it be that the amalgam of delegates, politicians and lobbyists are creating a political black hole to finally sink us along with the crescent city, finishing the work started by President Bush and Brownie Brown? The Republican candidates whizzing off to the mouth of the Mississippi are the epitome of disaster politics.
But, Labor Day, any other year, in the Twin Cities is a festive time - it marks the closing of the magnificent State Fair - the beginning of the school year, the fruits of the summer bounty, but this year, it is a bitter harvest of massive police crackdowns, armed agents entering the homes of innocent citizens, housing guest journalists, seizing equipment, computers, cameras… arresting independent journalists including Amy Goodman and two reporters from Democracy Now.
Laura Flanders invited us to be part of her show about Art-ivism while we were in Denver.
The final letter cracked at 9:11 AM, 19 hours after it was unveiled.
Of the nine letters making up the word “Democracy,” at least half met their demise at the
hands of bystanders, crashing to the ground after being swatted or pushed from their base;
the rest disappeared due to the weather.
Does this bode well for the state of things?
Denver was raucous, jubilant, excited. Obama’s speech and its setting placed him in the context of contemporary American life, spilling politics into the more conventional, safe settings of professional sports, spectacle, and Disney.
The closing night of the convention was perfect television, brilliantly executed that only slightly
hinted at more disonant overtones that reminded one of The Triumph of the Will.
The closing was a visual display seeking to harmonize Obama’s aspiration for the Presidency
within the American psyche. It embedded his story with that of Dr. King’s, timed on the
anniversary of the Reverend’s Washington Mall speech; they both became more of the American grain.
Democracy lasted the night - visited by New York state delegates to the convention.
Numerous party goers, posing next to its letters; touching it, kissing it. Clearly cherished