Massive Art Installations Stimulate Conversation in New York City

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Bamboo Cloud. Photos courtesy of NYCxDESIGN


October 11, 2023

Although a hub for artists, designers, and makers, New York’s creative scene is often something you have to seek out intentionally. But, from October 12-18, NYCxDESIGN presents the Design Pavilion, consisting of three public art activations and talks to engage and inspire New Yorkers.

This year’s Design Pavilion features two installations, Bamboo Cloud and Public Display, at the Meatpacking BID’s Gansevoort Plaza, and I Was Here, a digital art projection on the World Trade Center Podium.

The Ancestor Spirit Portraits of I Was Here projected at One World Trade Center Plaza

I Was Here is a series of public art installations that began in 2016 in Lexington, Kentucky to acknowledge this country’s history of enslavement and heal sites significant to its legacy. At the World Trade Center Podium, I Was Here acknowledges both the recent history of the location as well as its past as the second largest auction site for enslaved Africans in the country.

“Like the Statue of Liberty, the Ancestor Spirit Portraits of the I Was Here project are iconic—their presence allowing our city, our country, and our world to see through their sacred, ancient eyes,” said Marjorie Guyon, artist and founder of I Was Here. The video and animation is co-created by Marc Aptakin, Roy Husdell, and Yoel Meneses of Yes We Are Mad.

Across Manhattan in the Meatpacking District, Bamboo Cloud is envisioned as an “urban oasis,” a space for gathering and reflection designed by the Shanghai-based architecture studio LLLab. The studio explores bamboo as a sustainable building material, creating a basket-like woven shape where the internal force of interlaced bamboo strips stabilizes the hollow, structurally sound form suspended overhead. Architectural lighting design firm L’Observatoire International and high efficiency lighting suppliers Nanometer Lighting Color Kinetics join the project to illuminate the cloud from below, giving it an enigmatic depth and beauty.

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Rendering of Public Display

Also at Gansevoort Plaza, Public Display by Studio-Kër explores the innate qualities of cross-laminated timber, using its mass to express tension, connection, and balance. The installation is “a tribute to our environment, with a commitment to sustainability and an artistic presentation. Plus, the space offers a series of community conversations. To listen is to love, so we create sacred space to listen,” said Michael Bennett, founding principal and creative director of the studio (and former Super Bowl Champion and NFL defensive end).

Public Display is also the site for this year’s edition of Design Talks, curated by Stockholm-based industrial design studio Form Us with Love with a focus on sustainability and eliminating waste.

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Last year’s Design Pavilion in Times Square. Photo by Andres Orozco

The Design Pavilion coincides with Archtober, New York’s month-long celebration of architecture. “As we kickstart the months of preparation that lead up to the NYCxDESIGN Festival in May 2024, we’re excited to partner with AIA New York and The Center for Architecture in celebration of Archtober, by offering the public a vision of stellar sustainable and ethical practices through the lens of design,” said Ilene Shaw, NYCxDESIGN’s executive director and Design Pavilion founder.