Public Art Fund

Without context, this is one heckuva scary photo.

Without context, that is one heckuva scary photo. It would appear this smiling group of friends is milliseconds away from fiery oblivion as a free-falling airplane explodes right behind them.

That's not the intent of the artist who erected this piece last week in Central Park, however. The six-seated Piper Seneca, which has been modified so that it slowly somersaults on its wingtips, celebrates artist Paola Pivi's "fascination with industrial machines that are also capable of unexpected transformation into captivating, artistic objects," according to the organization backing the sculpture, the Public Art Fund. (It also unwittingly celebrates the feeling of nausea for anyone who's been in bad turbulence.)

New Yorkers strolling past the corner of 60th Street and Fifth Avenue can now witness this odd aeronautic spectacle until August 26, when it comes down and perhaps rejoins it squadron. Seemingly locked in a perpetual tumble, the artwork breathes out menace while simultaneously sucking in pedestrians with its surreal placement. This is a metro region, after all, that doesn't have a great recent history with private planes.

Public Art Fund director Nicholas Baume has said the piece, titled "How I Roll," reminds him of a "famous anecdote about the birth of modernism":

“Constantin Brancusi, Marcel Duchamp, and Fernand Léger are said to have visited the 1912 Paris Air Show together. Upon observing a propeller, Brancusi exclaimed, ‘Now that is what I call sculpture!’. Paola’s work suggests that this love affair between modernist artists and industrial design is still able to generate remarkable visual poetry.”

The Anchorage-based Pivi is seemingly obsessed with turning large vehicles upside down or on their sides, like a toddler playing god with Matchbox cars. In 1997, she tipped over a semi truck in the name of art. Two years later it was a military fighter that wound up on its back at the Venice Biennale. More recently, in 2006 she balanced a helicopter on its rotors in a public square in Austria, an interesting process you can read about here.

The lesson: Unless you have an ironclad insurance policy, don't ever let Paola Pivi fly or drive your vehicle.

Photos courtesy of the Public Art Fund's Facebook page.

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. Bicycle riders on a package-blocked bicycle lane
    Perspective

    Why Do Micromobility Advocates Have Tiny-Demand Syndrome?

    In the 1930s big auto dreamed up freeways and demanded massive car infrastructure. Micromobility needs its own Futurama—one where cars are marginalized.

  2. a photo of a WeWork office building
    Life

    What WeWork’s Demise Could Do to NYC Real Estate

    The troubled coworking company is the largest office tenant in New York City. What happens to the city’s commercial real estate market if it goes under?

  3. A photo of a police officer in El Paso, Texas.
    Equity

    What New Research Says About Race and Police Shootings

    Two new studies have revived the long-running debate over how police respond to white criminal suspects versus African Americans.

  4. Life

    Why Do Instagram Playgrounds Keep Calling Themselves Museums?

    The bustling industry of immersive, Instagram-friendly experiences has put a new spin on the word museum.

  5. a photo of Uber CEO Travis Kalanick in 2016.
    Transportation

    What Uber Did

    In his new book on the “Battle for Uber,” Mike Isaac chronicles the ruthless rise of the ride-hailing company and its founding CEO, Travis Kalanick.

×