Jaume Plensa is no stranger to city parks. Or to ginormous artwork.
Annie Block -- Interior Design, 6/1/2011 5:56:00 PM
Jaume Plensa is no stranger to city parks. Or to ginormous artwork. With his Crown Fountain, for instance, video portraits of Chicago residents tower over Millennium Park. But unlike that water-emitting interactive work, Echo is an utterly tranquil invitation to introspection-to an almost haunting degree. The 44-foot-tall head and neck, commissioned by the Madison Square Park Conservancy, is also his New York public-art debut.
"When I first visited the park, it felt like a peaceful island. During installation, I would come at 7:00 AM, sit on a bench, and contemplate," Plensa recalls. Work would begin at 8:00 with the sculpture's 15 massive sections, cast from polyester resin, fiberglass, and marble dust, being hoisted by a crane and two cherry pickers, then bolted to steel scaffolding. After a three-day period of intense activity, the portrait of a 9-year-old girl emerged.
The girl is not fictitious, nor is she named Echo. She's Nuri, and she's the daughter of Plensa's friends who own a Chinese restaurant near his studio in Barcelona, Spain. "The title refers to the Greek myth-a metaphor for how we're inundated with other people's information," he explains. "Nuri herself represents today's multiculturalism." And perhaps the passage of time: She's now 13.