This from an e-mail he sent:
....the night before at the nominee party, Tia Carrere asks me: "What category are you nominated in?"
"We are up in the most significant and glorious category of them all: Packaging!"
"Oh, you are wrong dear, wrong. 'Best album notes' do KICK YOUR ASS."
In other news today, the NYC Design Commission met—that’s the committee that “reviews permanent works of art, architecture and landscape architecture proposed on or over City-owned property” and determines what sort of public art can become permanent additions to New York’s landscape. Part of their agenda was deciding issues involving my bike racks. I didn’t go. The upshot is they decided that the ones that are already up could stay, but that, for example, the one I designed and that was approved by the New Museum, can’t go up.
It’s a pretty tame design—basically a standard staple shape, like regular bike racks, but slightly larger and with indentations in the outline of their unique building:
The other one I offered them—in the shape of a bottle of Thunderbird—was deemed to be in bad taste by the museum (this one didn't go to the Design Commission for approval, just the building-shaped one):
According to someone who was there it seemed like it was mostly a political decision and not an artistic (or even practical) one, though who knows? The DOT, who put up my bike racks, is by law allowed to erect things and make changes here and there without the Design Commission’s approval, with the provision that they are not permanent additions to the city landscape. Such as placing a geodesic dome (on loan from a gallery) on city property on the occasion of an exhibit celebrating Fuller’s design work, or bringing in a muralist to paint over an ugly and temporary wall. (See DOT’s Urban Art Program for more examples.) These things go away after a while, and my bike racks were no exception. They were legally allowed to be up for 364 days, but if they stayed up one day longer—if they crossed that line—their continued presence would have to be voted on by this committee of experts on cultural matters.
So, between my office, the New Museum and the DOT the requisite applications were filled out and filed in the fall and then the wait began—months later the day of reckoning arrived (that would be today) and the cultural gatekeepers who would decide the matter were, it seems, mightily pissed off. They were annoyed that the DOT had—in some of their eyes—encroached onto their territory, and this effrontery would not stand. As a compromise they would allow the existing—and can I say well-received?—bike racks to stay, but as retribution for not going through said gatekeepers the DOT (and the rest of us) would be punished by no more additional bike racks being allowed. Well, not funny designed ones at least.
It was suggested by the gatekeepers that more artists and Parsons and SVA students etc. etc. who had ideas for city projects should come to them—maybe via Creative Time or other organizations (with whom I have collaborated more than once)…I wonder how many emerging artists would have the patience for the form-filling, waiting, and political stupidity that is involved in going via the gatekeepers—not many, I would think.
The DOT did in fact obey the rules, but in putting up something a little artier than bollards or such they were perceived as making cultural decisions and incursions—and that—in the view of the gatekeepers—was intolerable, even if the work was practical and popular! So, no more bike racks from me for NYC—unless a building or institution wants them on their own and not on city property. Sorry folks, sometimes stupidity wins the day. (But at least the ones that are up can stay.)