Doing it Off Script
Unscripted Buries Its Head
Claire Breukel is the curator of Unscripted, Bal Harbour public art projects. Unscripted, Bal Harbour commissions a series of ambitious and site responsive contemporary art pieces throughout the public areas of Bal Harbour Village. Breukel shares her behind the scenes insights of the selection, artist installation and programming as each project progresses.
Unscripted public art project in Bal Harbour Village is launching its second public art commission following George Sanchez Calderon’s double installation “Americana” and “Levittown House” that debuted the program in November 2012. This May Unscripted is taking a daring turn, or rather turning itself upside down…
Throughout history, contemporary artists have tackled the monument as activists, provocateurs and comedians often to challenge the social, cultural and political ideologies of the monument.
In 2001, Rachel Whiteread’s ‘Untitled Monument’ created a glorious stir when she made an exact 11-ton resin replica of the base plinth on which her winning public artwork was supposed to stand in Trafalgar Square. As a reflection of the plinth below, the artwork became the ultimate anti-monument subverting attention back to the competition by comically memorializing its plinth.
Christy Gast’s winning sculptural installation, ‘Self Portrait as the Barefoot Mailman, 2013’ is a larger-than-life monument that makes reference to a folkloric barefoot mailman who once walked the beaches from Miami to Lake Worth over a six days to deliver mail to it’s residents. Using its location and Bal Harbour’s history as a source of inspiration, the installation debuts this May on the Founder’s Circle in Bal Harbour Village. However it is by no means a straightforward commemoration.
Capturing Whiteread’s witty and subversive approach to the monument, Christy Gast assumed the role of the provocateur and dressed up as the barefoot mailman character to have a professional laser scan made of herself in costume. From this she shaped a maquette, which she then expanded to create a larger-than-life faux-bronze monument of herself as the Barefoot Mailman. This is not all…
Adding an even more profound theatrical twist to this impersonation, Gast will be installing the monument the wrong way up to give the appearance that the monument has blown off the beach to land head first in Bal Harbour’s Founder’s Circle. ‘Self Portrait as the Barefoot Mailman’ is, like Whiteread’s “Untitled Monument”, the ultimate anti-monument that quite literally overturns our expectations of traditionally aggrandized and masculinized civic monuments.
In her past projects, Gast has tap danced around Lake Okeechobee and written and recorded a cappella folk ballads about women in the military. Many of these projects start with the notion of “public land,” in both a practical and romantic sense.
It is apt then that to accompany this monumental public art installation, Christy Gast has created a richly toned black and white photograph edition that captures the nostalgia of this folkloric tale. The distant figure—herself as the Barefoot Mailman— traverses the landscape recounting this character’s path. Through this image, the Barefoot Mailman is at once revived and reinvented.