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Tatiana Trouvé’s installation Desire Lines is currently adding character and color to Central Park’s Doris C. Freedman Plaza. For the Public Art Fund project, Trouvé mounted 212 giant spools of rope onto three steel structures, with each rope representing one of Central Park’s winding walkways. The variety of spool sizes symbolizes the diversity of the park’s paths, but rather than simply illustrating the different routes, the installation has created a visual experience in which the length and scale of all the park’s winding passageways can be appreciated simultaneously.
After identifying the 212 major and minor paths through the park, Trouvé measured the length of each one by running a rope along it. The color of each rope was chosen arbitrarily, echoing the random nature of the choices pedestrians make while strolling through the park. Each piece of rope was then wound around a wooden spool. While a traditional map matching each rope to its corresponding route is not on view at the installation, an interactive guide is available on the project’s website.
Each spool is named after a culturally significant walk. These names allude to touchstones that are local (“Walk on the Wild Side”), national (“Selma to Montgomery March”), and global (“The Salt March”). These alternative markers can even function as directions for tourists. Trying to get from the Ramble Shed to East 79th Street? Follow the “Ministry of Silly Walks”! Visitors can connect these visualizations of the park’s paths to their own experiences of walking through Central Park. Referring to these historic walks and marches reaffirms the central role walking plays in experiencing the park and all of New York City.
Tatiana Trouvé: Desire Lines is on view at Doris C. Freedman Plaza (60th Street at Fifth Avenue, Midtown, Manhattan) through August 30.
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