Analogia is a 60 foot free standing structure of two towers, measuring 15’ x 15’ each, surrounding a ziggurat (pyramid) frame comprised of 1.5 miles of bamboo with 32,000 pounds of steel. The structure will hold 7 layers of 14 fresco paintings by New York native artist Ben Tritt on 600 yards of burlap with 200 gallons of enamel and tar of images inspired by western and non-western sculptures from The Metropolitan Museum of Art Collection. The installation is being produced by award-winning producer Jodi Kaplan and will include dance performance, music, and soundscape.
With the generous support of Bryant Park, the one-of-a-kind site-specific trans-disciplinary painting/sculpture/ architecture/performance installation explores cultural images and archetypes throughout world history in a modern-day interpretation. Motifs of power (masculine and feminine), innocence, love, desire, metamorphosis, transcendence, and freedom are explored through the pairings of fresco paintings.
A Babel-like allegorical structure, the museum comes to the park, offering the 25,000 daily Bryant Park visitors and 250,000 daily passerby a living museum within the landmark majesty of Bryant Park. Opening day is Saturday, March 8 with press review, performance, and art history tour in conjunction with The Armory Show.
We spoke with the artist Ben Tritt and Jodi Kaplan about this incredible work of art:
Q: What is the overall vision of this project, do you see it as some sort of catalyst? Ben: The net, the web, the global village, etc., are the new “territories” that govern our lives. These ‘places’ can only thrive on interrelationship and interdependence. My work is an expression of this reality, as depicted by the mingling of Eastern and Western symbology. Both the form and content of the installation at Bryant Park represent the ever-increasing levels of mutual connection between East and West. The structure unites two iconic architectural forms, the rectangular or perpendicular (Greece, Rome) vs.the triangular (Egyptian, Hindu, Mayan).
Q: Seeing that you have had a long history in gallery and institutions, why the shift to public art? Ben: I look at museums as models for cities. And my installation is essentially a museum turned inside out. By bringing the “museum” outside into the public arena, we are ostensibly breaking down the barriers of art. Not only are the paintings adorning the outside of the structure but the artwork and the architecture become one object. The modern museum is the ultimate symbol and sanctuary to the breadth of shared creative history. The museum, like the modern metropolis, is an invention, an experiment in diversity, juxtaposition and multiple meanings. Despite the obvious challenges, their existence testifies to the unity of all creative expression. In my structure, the works of art and their ‘house’ have become one; the structure and varied art forms momentarily crystallize into a single unified whole.
Q: What attracted you to the project, how did the collaboration come about? Jodi: My background in film also connects within the art world – as my films have screened at museums worldwide including the MET, the Brooklyn Museum of Art, the Smithsonian Hirshhorn, the Tate Modern, and at MoMA, (where they are in MoMA’s collection) as well as the Perth Contemporary Museum of Art in Australia and throughout India and Russia in the art world. A few years ago, I also started painting. So when I walked into Ben’s studio 9 months ago, I knew that my world had changed forever. I fell immediately in love with his work on a visceral level. We have a magnetic and kindred artistic connection. I am always ready and open for “the next step” and this is it.
After producing dance festivals at both the Beijing 2008 and London 2012 Olympics as well as doing high end design projects, I was looking to bridge all my worlds on the next level. My experience in producing annual summer dance festivals at Bryant Park as well as dance festivals at Jazz at Lincoln Center and Edinburgh, Scotland; my connection artistically with the museum world; and my love of painting. Ben’s transdisciplinary approach resonates with me deeply.
Q: Would you say that your history of producing outdoor dance festivals at Bryant Park is parallel to the recent wave of public arts? Jodi: I do think that the performing arts are a strong parallel catalyst for the public art wave. The past 5 years in partnering with Bryant Park on a dance festival summer performance series, I have seen a stronger audience interest in craving outdoor experiences.
Q: What experience about making the structure and its components resonates with you the most? Ben: All of the paintings on the installation are based on the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I selected iconic sculptures comprising every culture represented under their roof. Yet the project is really also about NYC. The MET and NYC are pure symbols of living diversity. Keeping differences while not nullifying traditions. Maintaining individual cultures while creating something entirely new. A melting pot. A level playing field. A conscious effort of the non-hierarchical. An inclusion of every culture known to humankind. NYC and the MET are about the future. Sitting side by side with a constant dynamic interplay of cultures. The Metropolitan Museum is itself a perfect metaphor for New York City, perhaps the quintessential ‘melting pot’ of world culture.
DATES Opening Day Press Review: Saturday, March 8, 4:00 p.m. Dance Performance and Art-History Tour: Saturday, March 8, 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. Additional Dance/Music Performance and Second Art-History Tour: Sunday, March 16, 2014, 3:00 – 5:00 p.m. Closing: Tuesday, March 18 at sundown.
LOCATION: Fountain Terrace of Bryant Park: West 41st/Avenue of the Americas entrance