If you happen to be strolling through New York’s City Hall Park this summer you may want to keep your eyes out for Paul McCarthy’s giant inflatable Ketchup bottle titled “Daddies Ketchup” (2001).
This piece, among nine others, comprises Common Ground, an outdoor exhibition of sculpture and performance, bringing together the work of ten international artists.
The concept is multi-faceted; Common Ground explores the historic representation of art and opens a dialogue about the traditional sources of inspiration, culture, beliefs and values, versus the expression of unique individual creation.
The exhibition also juxtaposes the transience of life with the timelessness of art. Moreover Common Ground looks at common space, how we interact with one another, with art and with the greater environment.
“Together, all of the very different works in Common Ground remind us that contemporary art offers us both opportunities for personal reflection and shared moments of collective expression,” says Nicholas Baume, Director & Chief Curator, Public Art Fund.
The Public Art Fund organized the exhibition on a site known in the 17th century as the Commons, which functioned as a communal pasture for livestock. Today it is home to the mayor’s headquarters.
The artists exhibiting are Ian Hamilton Finlay, Paul McCarthy, Elmgreen & Dragset, Amalia Pica, Jenny Holzer, Roger Hiorns, Matthew Day Jackson, Christian Jankowski, Justin Matherly and Thomas Schutte.
Themes of free speech and diversity echo in many of the pieces including the work of Elmgreen & Dragset.
Their piece is a marriage of sculpture and performance whereby a young man approaches a glass case, housing an aluminum bullhorn. He then unlocks the case, removes the horn and proceeds to shout into it, “It’s never too late to say sorry.”
Amalia Pica’s installation “Now, Speak!” (2011), also plays off of free speech. The “cast concrete podium … pays homage to the Speakers’ Corners in London parks that provide spaces for debate and discussion,” explains New York Times’ Martha Schwendener.
Furthermore, Jenny Holzer’s piece is made up of four benches, two of which are made of marble and two are made of sandstone. The benches are inscribed with sobre statements such as; “Words tend to be inadequate” and “Humanism is obsolete.”
Paul McCarthy’s sculpture hails a political message. Although seemingly innocent to initially gaze upon, the giant inflatable ketchup bottle has tones of mockery and pop-culture emancipation.
Common Ground opened to the public May 24th and will continue through to Nov. 30, 2012 at City Hall Park, Park Row and Chambers Street.
“Public Art Fund is a non-profit art organization supported by generous contributions from individuals, foundations, and corporations, and with funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council,” publicartfund.org.
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