Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Butt-Fugly Public Art of the Week-- October 11th

cirque, CIRQUE by Judy Pfaff

Inside the old Reading Terminal train shed

Piss Christ, what the fuck were they thinking? Pic by fermicat.
                       This giant intestinal tapeworm really chafes my anus. It's called Percent for Art, not Percent for Shit. You're gonna take a great work of art like the Reading Terminal train shed, the last surviving one of its kind, and muddle it up with this mess? This $400,000 mess?
                       Back in 1992, the Great Wall of Pennsylvania a.k.a. the Pennsylvania Convention Center was still being planned. To satisfy its Percent for Art requirement, a search went out for artists that would enhance the super-massive interior space with public art. Instead of hitting up the 5 vigintillion great artists that already work and reside in Philadelphia, a call was put out to artists from everywhere but here, especially New York.
                      The lady in charge of finding artists liked the work of Judy Pfaff, so she specifically invited a submission from her for the largest piece of art of all, a work that would fill the 70,000 square foot Reading Terminal train shed. Pfaff was the only artist that was specifically targeted, and what a coincidence, they picked her proposal. Though it's not the first piece of art to have a stupid name, she gave it an especially disastrous one... cirque, CIRQUE. It's like someone's saying "cirque" and then yelling it at you.
                     This monstrosity was built over seven months in a barn in Putnam County, New York by Pfaff and six assistants, May-December 1994. They used/wasted 7 miles of steel and aluminum tubing, 150 gallons of auto paint, and 120 glass orbs bringing this thing to life.

Materials being wasted for the piece in 1994.
                    It was trucked in hundreds of pieces to Philadelphia just to wait in storage while the train shed was used for the movie Twelve Monkeys to stand in for the Philadelphia International Airport. Once installed in July of 1995, nobody noticed or gave a shit. The Convention Center had already been open for awhile and visitors just walked under it without a care in the world ever since.
                     A New York Times article written shortly after laments that Pfaff made "only" $40,000 on the piece and how the so-called Art World doesn't care about public art, therefore making the work was a waste of time. Elite snobs. I don't think that public art is ever a waste of time or money... many great pieces can be found in this city... I just lament this thing because it sucks.
                  Albert Paley also submitted an idea for the train shed. Anyone out there have a pic of it? I've always liked his shit... I bet it would have turned out better than this mess. Oh, and would it kill whoever plans shit like this to use a Philadelphia artist once in awhile? It's not like there's a shortage of 'em.


  1. Sad thing is, when I look at that thing, I wish it was a rolling ball sculpture that ran continuously. THAT would be sterling fuckin' gold.

  2. I'm sure it'll look better once it's finished...