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Anti-Bike Rack Protesters Crash Tracey Emin Sculpture Unveiling in Petrosino Square

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This morning Tracey Emin’s diminutive sculpture “Roman Standard” (2013) was unveiled in Soho’s tiny Petrosino Square park, with the artist and other attendees enjoying breakfast inside the triangular plaza, while nearby local residents from the group Friends of Petrosino Square (FoPS) demonstrated against the recent installation of the a Citi Bike bike rack in the space typically reserved for public art installations. Emin’s tall, tiny work (pictured below) was installed behind the park fence, rather than in the large pedestrian area at the corner of Cleveland Place, Lafayette Street, and Spring Street — like Carole Feuerman’s sculpture last summer.


“When the park was renovated this area was designated for public art,” a member of FoPS told ARTINFO while a man nearby dressed as Uncle Sam posed in front of the offending bike rack. “We’re petitioning the city’s Department of Transportation and Department of Parks to move the racks across the street. The DOT’s original Citi Bike map has this rack on the other side of Cleveland Place, but they moved it onto the square in the middle of the night because of concerns about traffic.”

The Citibank-branded racks for the citywide bike rental system, which is due to launch on May 27, take up a large section of the small park and, once stocked with bikes, will turn a pedestrian area formerly used for temporary public art exhibitions into a bicycle parking lot. The majority of the Citi Bike racks are installed on the street in former parking spaces, rather than on sidewalks, as they are in Petrosino Square. “This is about art and public space,” the FoPS member added.

Attendees of Emin’s unveiling seemed generally supportive of the group’s plight, and several of them signed the petition. There’s no doubt that her sculpture, were it installed in the space occupied by the bike rack, would be much harder to miss.

Emin’s “Roman Standard,” which is being presented by the Art Production Fund with an assist from her U.K. and U.S. galleries — White Cube and Lehmann Maupin — will be on view in Petrosino Square through September 9.


— Benjamin Sutton

(Photos by the author.)

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  1. Why? Why do “we” supposedly Need art? Well, WE do, but this isn’t about the universal and a joined humanity, it’s about artistes vanity and desire for self exhibitionism. WE have done quite well without art for our entire history, its public art that defines who WE are, explores OUR world, and seeks that sense of common purpose and meaning n life that WE call God that is art.

    The materialist careerism and now psychological weakness on display are but recent developments, and restricted to a very tiny minority of human beings. Games toys and therapy are NOT art.
    So again, Why?

  2. Why is DOT hell-bent on removing a public art space?

    This is a terrible idea.

  3. I am the woman seated in the photo and I support the idea of bike riding. When my children were young I rode bikes as vehicles in St Louis in the streets as we were required to do, often with a child in a seat behind me. Now that I am older I fear bikes on sidewalks. The bike racks in the park invite riders to mount and ride off or to ride hurriedly mounted to return bikes. I cross the streets with great care. But my overwhelming desire is to maintain anything that is left of the fabulous contributions to art made in the last part of the 20th century by SoHo artists who are now dead or dying or who have moved away. The designated space is a monument to the Fluxus period of art in SoHo.I will be sitting out there every day from 1:30 to 4:00 pm. Come visit and talk with me. BTW DOT has no legal right to that space. WE at FofPS have many proofs. Thank you for your fair article.


    The DOT bullies knew more than a year ago, through its much-touted “community outreach” program, that a placement in Petrosino Square would not be welcome in a community that has always been bike friendly. (Note in the photo above the series of bike racks on the side of the park, which Friends of Petrosino Square had designed into the Square at the same time they designed the space for public sculpture installations.) The DOT knew 2 months before the installation that the community favored placing the bike share station just feet away, along Lafayette Street north of Spring Street and was extremely distressed by the placement in its tiny park. They received letters from residents, electeds, Parks, and the FDNY relating to the Petrosino Square bike share station all before its installation. At one point, they tried moving it to in front of the home of the President of FofPS, in a no parking zone, only to be told by the FDNY that that would be totally dangerous. But they still would not consider moving it to the best spot. Is this payback for Friends of Petrosino Square advocating other traffic calming measures, such as getting through trucks off of Kenmare Street and no parking/standing signs around the Square?

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