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Echo

August 31, 2011
by

I was over in Madison Square Park last night and lo and behold I came across a giant head.  Someone has installed a big white bust of a girl right in the middle of a lawn there.  It’s apparently been there for months, but they’re taking it away next week.

Oblivious fool that I am, I just noticed it, but it’s pretty impressive and cool, unlike the idiotic Jeff Koons nonsense (and derivatives) that gets installed and gets all the hype.  The other sight of note yesterday evening was a passel of Falun Gong weirdos doing weird things in the middle of the park. To each his own.

Anyhow, here’s the story:

This year’s prize for size should go to Jaume Plensa’s “Echo,” a gigantic, ghostly, white head of a girl in Madison Square Park. Towering 44 feet, it is made of molded fiberglass resin parts fitted together so the seams show. It looks as if it had been carved from a huge, laminated block of marble, and the girl’s features are rendered smoothly as if they had been eroded by the elements over the years. The head is also oddly distorted — flattened in such a way that it resembles a digitally manipulated three-dimensional photograph or a hologram. Viewed from a distance at night, when it is bathed in the bright light of lamps around its base, it seems to glow, a silently plaintive specter conjured, maybe, by the guilty conscience of a rapacious modernity.

Rapacious modernity. Sure, that’s exactly what I was thinking (actually, I was thinking that the New York Times is full of poseur assholes, but that’s neither here nor there).

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