Some of us are really excited about the Public Art Fund’s upcoming project Discovering Columbus, for which Japanese artist Tatzu Nishi will construct a living room around the statue of Christopher Columbus in Columbus Circle. A living room six stories above the street, mind you, bringing visitors nose-to-nose with the Italian explorer himself (or at least, his likeness).
But some Italian Americans are less than thrilled about it; in fact, they’re pissed. “This is sort of the beating heart of New York City, both for Italians and for all immigrants who came to this country,” a man named Frank Vernuccio told CBS local news. “I feel it is very much a desecration.”
He did modify that, however: “I don’t think it’s necessarily anti-Italian, I think it’s anti-good taste.”
The Italic Institute of America issued a statement that picked up on the crappy art theme, saying: “We are against it because it is bad art and it is disrespectful to the Italian-American community.”
If only we could get them to issue statements against all the bad art in the world! We’d have more declarations than we could handle.
All of this is slightly confusing, since the plans for the project also call for a conservation of the monument in cooperation with the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation, Art & Antiquities. And Discovering Columbus will be free. But on the question of timing, they have a point: Nishi’s project will keep the Columbus statue hidden from view during the annual Columbus Day Parade, happening this year on October 8.
Then again, the parade marches up Fifth Avenue, not through Columbus Circle. On top of which, many people aren’t so keen on Columbus and his day anymore, what with the slaughter of the Native Americans that followed and everything. But if we’re stuck with the public art we have, we may as well engage with it creatively.
Discovering Columbus will be on view September 20 through November 18 at New York’s Columbus Circle.