Nari Ward: G.O.A.T., again @Socrates_Sculpture_Park

Reading about how the local community took the initiative to save this abandoned space, between Long Island City and Astoria, by converting it into a sculpture park – and being the first to applaud such creative initiatives, I thought I owed it to myself to take a closer look, not least because it is named after Socrates (470-399 B.C.), the great Greek philosopher, which is not surprising considering New York’s largest Greek community is in Astoria.

The exhibition on view those days was Nari Ward: G.O.A.T., again, G.O.A.T. being an acronym for Greatest of All Time, a phrase commonly used in American sports. The exhibition examined ‘how hubris creates misplaced expectations in American cultural politics. This exhibition also brought new insight into the artist’s exploration of identity, social progress, the urban environment, and group belonging.

While it was difficult for me to grasp the higher meaning behind the flock of goats carrying stuff on their backs, I found the artist’s explanation ”… articulation of social dynamics, conjuring the animal’s attributes and symbolic connotations, from an ambitious climber of great heights to an outcast” equally puzzling.

On the other hand, the Apollo/Poll sign, that read ‘APOLLO’, the letters ‘A’ and ‘O’ blinking on and off to spell out “POLL” was easier to interpret even without the help of the artist (but here it is anyway): ”… The size and font of the red LED-lit letters are inspired by those of the iconic neon beacon hanging over Harlem’s Apollo Theater, a renowned venue for African American entertainers. The word ‘POLL’ suggests not only the theater’s well-known amateur night in which the audience decides the winner, but also the democratic election process.

I wonder what would Socrates have made out of all this…

August 26th, 2017

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