Monogenis’s City Pillars will comprise seven striped rectilinear forms in varying dimensions, hovering just above the ground along the southern shoreline of Randall’s Island Prk. Five vertical structures will represent the boroughs of New York City and two horizontal forms will represent the East and Hudson Rivers. The work begins with the concept of the genius loci: originating in classical Rome, the term describes the protective spirit or divine guardian of a place. In Southeast Asia, similar shrines or “city pillars” are vertical, totemic monuments, dedicated to the specific deity of a location. Absent the idea of a spiritual guardian, today genius loci can be interpreted as how we experience and define our sense of place. By adapting the form of the totem or “city pillar” on Randall’s Island – as a central nexus for New York City, with three bridges connecting it to the boroughs beyond – Monogenis aims to create a calming space that encourages thoughtful interaction and reflection along these lines. From the Island’s southern edge, the viewer can see the city from a distance while technically still being in it, experiencing a broadcast point from which one can contemplate the city, its “sense of place,” and one’s own relationship to it.
Early this morning we headed out to Randall's Island not sure what to expect of the weather. Luckily there was no rain and the site was in good shape. We started by setting the columns in place.
The connections between the footings and the internal posts in the sculptures needed to be drilled out and bolted in place. Thankfully Deb leant us a generator to power the drill so we could get through the 1/8 inch steel tubing.
With all the columns locked in place, I started unwrapping the sculptures for the final reveal.
In trying to stay ahead of the weather, we set out to Randall's Island on Wednesday to pour the concrete footings for "City Pillars". It turned out to be an exquisite day and everything went smoothly. My long time fabricator, Sean Hart from KBC- Design/Build NYC, oversaw this very vital stage in the process.
It may have been overkill, but in the end, I decided to hire a cement truck. Initially I was nervous about this phase of the project but my fears turned out to be ill founded. The driver was super friendly, punctual and managed to drive right up to the job site without incident.
Since we had pre-leveled all the footings in place, the cement pour was very quick and efficient. With the pour completed, we double checked to make sure everything was plumb and then covered our work in expectation of the rain.
This morning I met with Debbie Unger, the Icahn Stadium Turf Manager. Using this skidsteer and auger, she made quick work of the nine holes I needed dug for my project. She has serious skills as each hole was spot on. After she finished, I dug out the holes further to prepare them for the concrete footings and posts that will come next.
Today I spent a few hours on site doing the sculptural layout and marking where the digging will be done. It's such a beautiful spot, I couldn't be happier with this location for my piece.
With the first phase of fabrication complete I have begun painting each sculpture. This is a pretty slow process as the paint needs to be built up in multiple layers. The base for each is roughly 5-8 coats of paint. The stripes are then another 5 coats. The drying time is a lot longer than I had expected. The material that the forms are made out of is a PVC plastic called AZEK and it requires much more cure time than wood. When completely dry, the combination of Acrylic paint and the PVC will make a very strong bond. This should keep the piece looking sharp in the outdoors...
Photos: Pepa Prieto