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.)