Feb. 22, 2015 By Christian Murray
Long Island City residents are going to able to express their opinion on public art—when a temporary art piece goes up outside PS 1 on Jackson Avenue.
The new installation will be a 19th Century rotary phone that will go up for just two weeks starting March 29.
Residents will be able to pick up the phone and be able to express their views on public art in New York as well as Long Island City. The phone will prompt them to answer a series of questions dealing with public art.
The piece will be called ‘The Utterance Machine” and will be 8 feet tall and bolted into the ground. The artist is Rebecca Hackemann.
The responses will be recorded and all opinions kept anonymous.
“The goal is to engage the community and find out their opinion on public art,” said Jennifer Lantzas, a representative of the Parks Department, a recent community board committee meeting.
The responses will then be on posted online. However, the website and web address is still being created. Not all responses will go online.
“The ones that are thoughtful and thought-provoking will go up on the website,” Lantzas said.
The art piece is part of the city’s temporary public art program that permits artists to place their work in a park for up to a year. However, most go up for 3 to 6 months, Lantzas said
Ironically, while the utterance machine asks people for their opinion of public art—the community had little say on whether the art piece should have been placed there in the first place. This is true of many temporary art pieces—although those larger in scope typically require the approval of the community board.
The parks department is working on placing temporary art pieces in many parks throughout the city. It is currently working on a booklet where it lists parks throughout the city and determines where public art would have a positive impact.
“Technically any park can be considered,” Lantzas said.
The artwork that is selected is chosen by the parks dept based on its artistic merit. The parks department will then work with a designated park manager to determine whether it would be logistically possible. From there, the borough commissioner signs off on it.
Lisa Deller, chairwoman of the Land Use Committee, asked Lantzas what would happen if the public didn’t like the artwork.
Lantzas said that none of these pieces are permanent, noting that the Utterance piece will only be up for two weeks.
The parks department’s temporary art program is separate from Percent for Arts. That program is run by the Department of Cultural Affairs and is likely to place a pink “ Sunbather” on Jackson Avenue, by the grass median near 43rd Avenue, on a permanent basis.