LIVING WITH COLUMBUS

When he set foot on what he first believed to be the Indian subcontinent, he probably never thought that one day his statue would be rising above one of the greatest cities in the world. Let alone they would build a house for him! Around him!

It has been announced for some months now and finally Christopher Columbus got his very own apartment. On the square that has been named after him! On the corner of Central Park! Fortunately he doesn’t have to pay the killer rent that comes with such views.

The discovery of America is a much disputed topic. But let’s give it to the man: he undertook some heroic voyages. And although America got named after Amerigo Vespucio, it’s Columbus who will be forever associated with that epic story of the first sighting of land. It ‘s also in his honor that every self respecting town or village in the Americas has erected a statue.
So what better way to celebrate Columbus Day than to go and pay the sailor a visit in his own apartment.

For the last century, Columbus has been standing on his marble pillar, 75 feet high above the bustling traffic. He marks the official center point of New York, from where all distances are measured.

Japanese artist Tatzu Nishi has built a scaffolding from street level up to the statue. There, a prefab construction has been put around the figure of Columbus. It has turned out a generic living room: a bookcase, a flatscreen on the wall, floor to ceiling curtains, some framed art and boutique style furniture. Nothing out of this (new) world. If it weren’t for the center piece on the low coffee table: 13 foot tall Christopher! His head almost touching the ceiling he looks like a 15th century giant, trapped in a 21th century design apartment.

Tatzu Nishi has done similar interventions on landmark sites in different parts of the world. Instead of pulling objects out of their context and placing them in less expected environments -which would be the more practical way of doing- , the artist takes a usual environment and brings it to the unusual object.

By tricking one’s sense of scale, the artist is trying to make this visit a sort of confusing and desorientating experience. But not very convincingly. A large scale statue in a living space is nothing extraordinary.
The novelty of this event is that you get to climb a number of stairs, sit down on a couch and see Columbus from up close. Yes, there’s also the views from the living room. But the views from the restaurant at the Museum for Art and Design are better.

If they were to bring the statue to my own living room! Now, thát would be a different story. The prefabricated apartment on Columbus circle is supposed to recreate a familiar environment and the statue would be the intruder. I think my living room would be a better place to make me sense the experience as it was intended.

Custom made pinkish wallpaper shows images of (only North) American icons: Marilyn Monroe, Monument Valley, Michael Jackson, hot dogs, Coca Cola, MacDonalds, baseball, Elvis Presley, Mickey Mouse, the Empire State Building,…
In a certain way, Christopher Columbus was the first and last to see and know how America was before white men discovered it, a tad over 500 years ago. The “star spangled” wallpaper represents what has become of it.

[Visiting Columbus is free. But, like all famous people, the man is extremely busy. So you have to make an appointment online. You can visit Columbus till November 18. Then he will be closing down for some major renovations/restoration]

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2 thoughts on “LIVING WITH COLUMBUS

  1. marc says:

    by “hiding” the statue, the artist lets Newyorkers rediscover their statue…I am sure many of them hardly noticed – before it was turned into a exhbition – the statue was there, or never had a good look at it

  2. This is the very best kind of a “private viewing”! I wonder if he can do this with our Berlin based “Goldelse” (the golden angel on top of the Siegessäule)?! Would love to see….

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