There’s something definitely unusual going on with the landmark statue of Civil War Admiral David Glasgow Farragut located in Madison Square Park. Each evening, the sculpture seems to uncannily flicker to life, thanks to a new outdoor art project by the artist Krzysztof Wodiczko.
Monument, as the Park’s latest site-specific piece is called, features looping video images of individuals whose bodies are being projected onto Farragut’s figure in matching proportions. Each of Wodiczko’s subjects is a different resettled refugee who recently escaped from a conflict embroiling their home country. You can hear them relate stories of their displacement and the turmoil it created in their lives. According to the artist, the work illuminates “how war, conflict and political fallout impact individuals globally,” and as a military hero, Farragut serves as the perfect foil for Wodiczko’s critique. (Fun fact: the phrase “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead,” originated with the Admiral during the Battle of Mobile Bay in August of 1864.)
Immigration has been a hot-button issue in both America and Europe as fighting in Central America and the Middle East has pushed waves of asylum seekers west into Germany, Italy and France, and north towards the U.S.–Mexican border—creating a crisis, which, in turn, has sparked a nationalist backlash here and in Europe.
Wodiczko is particularly sensitive to this issue as he is an émigré himself: Born in Poland in 1943 during the Warsaw Ghetto uprising, he grew up under Soviet occupation during the height of the Cold War.
You can check out Monument from Monday through Saturday between the hours of 5pm and 8pm. The piece will be on view through May 10.