The International Center of Photography (ICP) will partner with MTA Arts & Design to present site-specific artwork by artist Paul Pfeiffer in the cultural corridor of Grand Central Madison, a new 700,000-square-foot Long Island Rail Road terminal below Grand Central along Madison Avenue between 43rd and 48th Streets in Manhattan, due to open in December 2022. Pfeiffer’s work, Still Life, pays homage to the iconic New York City street performer “Da Gold Man” with large-scale photographs installed in double-sided light boxes. It will be the first in a series of site-specific contemporary photography exhibitions by ICP to be featured in the south concourse of the new Grand Central Madison terminal.
“Arts & Design is pleased to be collaborating with ICP as we expand our photography program in the new Grand Central Madison,” said Sandra Bloodworth, Director, MTA Arts & Design. “In this inaugural exhibition, the performance of the iconic Da Gold Man is brought to life through Pfeiffer’s perceptive lens. We are very excited to share this body of work in the new large-scale lightboxes, steps from permanent works by Kiki Smith and Yayoi Kusama, which together form a rich cultural corridor for the new Long Island Rail Road terminal.”
“ICP is thrilled to partner with MTA Arts & Design to present contemporary art and photography for this new, state of the art transit center in Midtown Manhattan. Photography is a democratic art form found everywhere, so this partnership with MTA’s art team is an ideal way to bring art to daily commuters. For nearly 50 years, ICP has presented socially engaged images as an important part of our shared cultural experience. Paul Pfeiffer’s installation continues this conversation with this new public art project that explores the power of images to alter our awareness of the everyday world,” said David E. Little, executive director of ICP.
Pfeiffer’s Still Life celebrates Da Gold Man, who has appeared as a living statue on the sidewalks of Times Square for more than 17 years, covered in gold and standing motionless on a common milk crate. Da Gold Man fascinates and enthralls passersby with his uncanny, statue-like presence. When amazed audiences drop money in his tip box, he moves as a sign of appreciation.
Still Life features 10 large-scale photographs of Da Gold Man, measuring approximately 75 inches tall and 100 inches wide, printed on backlit film and displayed in five custom-made, double-sided light boxes. The images on view remove Da Gold Man from his usual spot on the corner of Broadway and 43rd Street and install him within the infinite white space of a seamless backdrop typically used to photograph high-end luxury products. The pictures resulting from this unlikely mixture blur the line between studio portraiture and product photography.
“Presenting Still Life in the new transit terminal is an opportunity to consider both the language of advertising that saturates Midtown Manhattan and the everyday rhythms of people moving through the city’s public transit hubs: some as commuters who will see the art repeatedly over time and some visitors who will walk by only once,” said artist Paul Pfeiffer. “Either way, the images are made to be seen in passing and in a distracted state, in the periphery of people’s awareness. This is similar to how people come across Da Gold Man as a living statue when he’s working in his native environment of Times Square. Creating this series of photographs was a unique opportunity that came together with the help of ICP, the MTA, and also the collaboration of Da Gold Man who agreed to become a part of this project, trusting me to explore the relationship of photography and performance with all of the texture and history that Da Gold Man already embodies.”
About Paul Pfeiffer
Born in Honolulu in 1966, Paul Pfeiffer grew up between Hawaii and the Philippines before moving to New York in 1990 to attend Hunter College and the Whitney Independent Study Program. Pfeiffer is known for his highly sophisticated use of digital technologies and new media, and has created celebrated works of video, photography, installation, and sculpture since the late 1990s. Using digital erasure, magnification, and repetition, Pfeiffer samples and retouches images or video footage from sporting events, concerts, game shows, and Hollywood films to enhance their psychological effects. By drawing attention to certain aspects of visual culture and concealing others, he underlines the spectacular nature of contemporary media and its consumption.
New Works by Paul Pfeiffer is the first in a series of art installations commissioned and curated by ICP for New York City’s Major New Grand Central Madison Project. The installation will be on view from December 2022 to May 2023 at Grand Central Terminal, Madison Avenue, concourse level at 43rd Street, NYC. The specific date of unveiling is to be announced shortly. Stay tuned.
Read about additional artworks commissioned for the new Grand Central Madison with Yayoi Kusama & Kiki Smith.