Art as activism is not a new idea, but the creative mind behind New York City’s newest public art installations has found the perfect mix of art and function all while communicating a message. David Byrne, lead singer of the Talking Heads and an avid bicycling enthusiast designed nine temporary bike racks to be displayed throughout the city for the next eleven months.
“It was important to me that these new racks be the same thickness and material as the existing racks—to help identify them as practical bike racks and not just modern art,” Mr. Byrne said in a New York Times Article.
The current NYC transportation commissioner, Janette Sadki-Kahn, has been seeking to promote biking through initiatives like the wildly popular Summer Streets, The Cityracks Program, and a bike rack design competition, of which Byrne was a judge.
Byrne later decided to show off his own designs to promote city cycling. The racks are silver, black, and red, and are located throughout Manhattan and in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Each rack is customized to represent a different part of the city and has a clever name to go along with it.
“By bringing attractive yet functional sculptures to our streets, we are elevating the profile of cycling, and we believe that more and more people will begin to think about cycling as a mode of transportation, and not just a mode of recreation,” Ms. Sadik-Khan said in a statement. “Regular bike riders have an eagle eye for our current bike racks but these nine installations will capture the attention of all New Yorkers.”
“The Jersey” is located near the Lincoln Tunnel on 9th Ave and 39th Street is a car.
“The Olde Times Square” depicts a lounging woman on 7th Ave and 44th Street.
“The Villager” is a dog located in on La Guardia Place between W3rd and Bleeker.
“The Chelsea” displayed in front of the PaceWildenstein Gallery, a sponsor of the project, is a man’s form.
“The MoMA” on 6th Ave and 54th Street is a piece of modern art in itself.
“The Ladies’ Mile” is a stiletto on 5th Ave and 57th Street near Manhattan’s best shopping.
“The Wall Street” is a dollar sign located in the financial district at Wall Street and Water Street.
“The Coffee Cup” is on the Upper West Side on Amsterdam between 110th and 111th Streets.
“The Hipster” is the only rack located in Brooklyn, and is a guitar on Bedford Ave and N 6th Street.
The only problem I see with these creative, cool racks is that they are temporary. Because of the city’s policy on public art, they will have to be removed. To make the message truly effective, the city needs to make them permanent, and commission more artists to design similar racks!
What do you think?