Artwork: Canal Street Canal (Alexander Brodsky)

From nycsubway.org

Location: Canal Street · Installed: 1997

Temporary installation.

The following is a press release reproduced by permission.

New York, NY--New York City's Canal Street subway station will be host to an elaborate installation of a Venetian canal created by Russian artist Alexander Brodsky from December 4, through January 31, 1997. Subway riders will be able to see this theatrical display of a gondola scene, which is situated on unused tracks, as they walk along the platform to transfer between the #6 and the N/R lines.

Organized collaboratively by the Public Art Fund and MTA Arts for Transit, the installation incorporates numerous lighting and technical devices to create the astonishing illusion of a Venetian canal materializing on the tracks. Brodsky has constructed five gondolas using aluminum, wood and tin, which float in a 50 foot long and 1 foot deep vinyl-lined pool of water and which appear to bob effortlessly with the help of a wave-making pump system. A couple floats quietly enjoying their romantic voyage, while an intimate Venetian passageway, painted on a silk scrim, can be glimpsed in the distance.

"While the Canal Street complex is undergoing renovation as part of the MTA's ongoing Capital Program, the Public Art Fund has teamed up with MTA Arts for Transit to bring a delightful diversion to our customers during the holiday season," said E. Virgil Conway, MTA chairman.

Susan K. Freedman, Public Art Fund President states that "Alexander Brodsky's remarkable installation should be seen by all New Yorkers. We can't all go to Venice, but thanks to Brodsky's vision, we can experience the unforgettable transformation of this Canal Street Station passageway. Brodsky's project confirms the power of temporary public art to create magical and thought provoking moments in the most diverse public spaces."

Artist Alexander Brodsky describes the viewer's surreal experience of the installation as one walks through the subway as "one of the millions of strange things that happen to you in the city. Passing through the long space, you suddenly see across the tracks a mirage--lights, water, boats--you see a canal. It's both real and unreal at the same time. You stop briefly trying to understand why it's here and then you go on with your life, keeping the mirage in your memory. You might come back another day to check.-was it a dream or not?" He hopes the project will "evoke the memory of the real, and very important, canal that had been at this place many years ago in the very beginning of New York City, and which later gave name to the street and subway station."

Born in 1955, Brodsky was a founding member of a small but influential group of artists and architects known as the "Paper Architects," so called because during the old Soviet Regime the only outlet for their creative vision was on paper. In the late 80's he became known in the West for his beautifully executed and fantastical gallery installations. Most recently, Brodsky has focused upon proposals for public spaces. The Canal Street Subway Project is the artist's first public project to be fully realized in the U.S.

Photo Gallery

Image 38656
(99k, 1089x438)
Photo by: Andrew Moore
Location: Canal Street (Manhattan Bridge Branch)
Artwork: Canal Street Canal (Alexander Brodsky)

Image 38657
(150k, 728x900)
Photo by: Andrew Moore
Location: Canal Street (Manhattan Bridge Branch)
Artwork: Canal Street Canal (Alexander Brodsky)

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