Sunday, March 01, 2009

"What Was": across from Ward Bakery site, scavenged metal reborn as art

Across from the Ward Bakery site within the Atlantic Yards footprint, the Soapbox Gallery on Dean Street for two weeks offers artist Guy Ambrosino's installation "What Was."

Here's the artist's description:
For this installation I used steel from the Atlantic Yards site directly across the street. The steel was part of the Pechters building that was torn down. It was in the concrete floors of the building. As they demolished the building and broke up the concrete the steel bent into these wonderful lines and arcs. The elegance and natural flow of the heavy rigid steel seemed an appropriate metaphor for the tension created by the Atlantic Yards Project. (The struggle between creating a wonderful project that is relevant and meaningful to community in Brooklyn against the demands of big development.)

(Photo courtesy of the artist)

Memory and place are two major themes that run through much of the work I do. Memory and place give us a context to who we are as a person and as a community. They help us locate ourselves in the bigger picture. With this we create and build. With this I approach the work I do.

Though the installation will be presented for only two weeks, it's visible from the street so there's no need to time a visit. Ambrosino told me that after several requests, he finally got cooperation from a Forest City Ratner subcontractor and the developer itself; he was given brief access to a small amount of building debris.

Reading meanings

I agree that a viewer can read tension into the work, and that the steel does appear as "wonderful lines and arcs."

But my main response was something different: the Ward Bakery was so big, its debris could have been repurposed for countless installations.

Or it could have been preserved and renovated. After all, "the greenest building is one that's already built."

(Photo by Tracy Collins, who has a whole set of Ward Bakery photos.)

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