Here is the latest update on forces affecting the market -
Will the House and Senate pass President Obama’s economic recovery plan?
Will the banks be nationalized?
Will the markets recover?
& what about the Big Three?
Or supporting the arts?
& What about tax policy?
Will they extend Bush’s tax cuts or let them expire?
We’ve heard so much from Wall Street, the banks, and government officials, but hardly anything from Main Street.
Here are some people who visited us at Foley Square on October 29, 2008 and their reactions to what was happening.
Tomorrow, the U.S. inaugurates its 44th President, Barack Hussein Obama. There is much to be hopeful.
A new administration, a new direction for the country, a new calling for the role of America in the world.
Those of us, who are progressives have a lot of work to do, to insure that the Obama administration follows our lead.
We are responsible for charting and redirecting the course of this great country - let’s work toward a more just economy, and social system, innovative techonologies and industry, a commitment to leaving the world safer and healthier, to alleviating injustice, poverty, and misery, to restoring justice.
Let’s bid farewell to the leadership of the past eight years that has left us so in need of renewal.
On the one hand, you couldn’t have asked for a worse day to set up an ice sculpture, freezing rain, snow, overcast skies.
We kept looking at the weather reports, in the lead up to the event, and began to interpret “30% chance of precipitation” as “70% chance of no precipitation…”
Then again, a day like this - metaphorically - made sense, a perfect storm galvanizing in the week leading to the elections, an economy in the throes of a deep freeze.
Shintaro and Takeo Okomato arrived early in the morning to set up the ice sculpture.
Our team of assistants helped us set up the plinth, and cameras. Nick Normal worked closely with both of us and supervised the other assistants. Our good friend Vin Buchan came down to give moral support, not to mention, an armful of umbrellas.
And we were set to begin the day’s event.
For Main Street Meltdown, we worked with Takeo Okamoto and his son Shintaro. In 2006, we had worked with them on The State of Things in the garden of Jim Kempner Fine Art in Chelsea, when we set up the word Democracy carved in ice.
The project starts out with scale drawings of the sculpture, which we do on the computer.
We use a san serif typeface, it has a contemporary look and suggests strength and power.
Takeo is a master ice sculptor and works out of his giant, refrigerated studio, in Long Island City, close to where Isamu Noguchi worked and where his museum is located.
We were able to visit him while he was still carving the letters for the sculpture, we caught him giving “O” its finishing touches.
It takes a day to carve each letter. The Okamotos have several studio assistants that help them with their work.
This is the story of “C” from start to finish. Takeo sculpts it using chisels, chain saws, and ice picks.
We arrived at Foley Square at 6 AM - meeting with Nick Normal, our site manager, on a surprisingly early winter day - blustery winds, freezing temperatures. The worst kind of weather imaginable to melt an ice sculpture, but a fitting day for a temporary monument dedicated to the memory of a once solid and prosperous economy.
Nora and Nick assembled the plinth while Marshall set up the generator, and laid out electrical cables battling the elements, as it began to sleet and hail - despite these conditions, Nora and her assistants were able to establish a solid base for the economy - and the fundamentals almost looked good.
At 8 AM, the ice sculptors Shintaro and Takeo Okamoto and their crew arrived with the ice pieces, the letters of Economy bundled for protection in ice blue movers’ blankets.
After a brief repose, they fitted the light boxes onto the plinth, filled them with ice bases and began arranging the letters.
At 9 AM, the weather teased us, seeming to break, and we were ready for the launch - cameras were rolling wrapped in plastic to protect them from the weather.
The morning rush hour flooded the area, as passersby stopped, seemingly in awe, at the spectacle of the economy melting down before their eyes.
Throughout the day, the weather played with us, like a chameleon changing colors, the skies growing dark, then lifting; the clouds clearing, blue Aegean skies emerging from gray, tufted clouds - was the weather following the apprehensions of the market?
The Main Street in the global economy stretches throughout the world - tourists visiting New York understood the impact of this work and appreciated its message, whether they were from Brazil, France, China, or the U.S.
Throughout the day, visitors came to the site, the sculpture inspired them to talk about how the crisis is affecting their lives and aspirations for the future.
As the day turned to dusk, the letters of the sculpture started to glow, people stopped to admire its diamondlike appearance, marveling at the sculpture’s random facets and fragile reflections.
With nightfall, the ambient light cast a shadow from behind Economy.
The city awakened to nocturnal rhythms and with the continuing descent of night, people started waking up to the impact of the economic crisis - with the broken word spelling out new meanings, “Oh, No, my life’s savings…, my 401K…”
As the Federal Reserve lowered interest rates on this 79th anniversary of Black Tuesday, viewers of the sculpture could fully understand the real meaning of the banker’s actions in the wake of the letters left standing in the word, “ECONOMY.”
On October 29, 2008, the 79th anniversary of Black Tuesday, the stock market crash that caused the Great Depression in 1929, artists Ligorano/Reese will meltdown the “Economy.”
In a new, time-based event, called Main Street Meltdown the artists will install the word “Economy,” carved in ice, in Foley Square, using the New York Supreme Court as a back drop.
The event begins on Wednesday, October 29th at 9 AM and will last 24 hours.
The artists chose Foley Square, close to the heart of Wall Street, as the site to focus on the timeliness of the financial crisis in the final week of the presidential campaign. The artists refer to Main Street Meltdown as a “temporary monument.”
The monument measures 15 feet long, 5 feet tall, and weighs almost 1,500 pounds. It is the fourth in a series of ice sculptures by the artists that deal with important political issues. Earlier this year, Ligorano/Reese staged ice sculptures of the word “Democracy” during the Democratic and Republican Conventions in Denver and St. Paul.
“What we like about these sculptures,” Reese says, “is that they are very popular in the best sense of the word, people love to touch them, but in the shape of a word, to see them meltdown and vanish, they take on a completely different meaning.”
“With the recent turmoil in the financial markets,” Ligorano adds, “the anxiety creeping through the country from Main Street to Wall Street… this sculpture metaphorically captures the results of unregulated markets on the U.S. economy. To see the word “economy” melting down is representational of an extreme time.”
It can take Ligorano/Reese’s sculptures anywhere from 10 to 24 hours to meltdown. The artists photograph and videotape the event to create timelapse photographs and films, posting the results in realtime on a special internet blog.
How long will it take for “Economy” to meltdown, no one knows.
This project is supported by BrushFire, the Provisions Library public art project, and the CrossCurrents Foundation.
For more information contact:
Claudia Gunter, firstname.lastname@example.org, (212) 584-5000 x226