As if on cue, The Flatiron/23rd Street Partnership and the New York City Department of Transportation Art Program presents their latest art installment: Peter Regli’s Snow Monsters. For the next few days of course, the Snow Monsters will blend in with the winter wonderland but those that go up close will discover that they’re made of hardier materials than they look.
This timely installation, presented by the Dominique Levy Gallery, is part of an ongoing series of interventions in public spaces that began in 1996. The artist, Peter Regli, named the series of interventions Reality Hacking, and they are meant to “interrupt the routine of the commuter and provide a humorous diversion within the wintry New York landscape.”
The twelve snowmen were fabricated in Vietnam by the Hanh family who specialize in traditional marble statues for Buddhist temples. Reglie chose the snowman for this project because in his words, they have a Buddha-like nature, appearing briefly in the world, bringing joy and evoking memories of childhood, then disappear again, melting away without complaint. It is more than likely that those fabricating the snowmen probably have never seen one in real-life. This is Regli’s first large-scale installation in New York,
Originally from Switzerland, Peter Regli has produced more than three hundred works on four continents as part of his Reality Hacking series. On a previous Reality Hacking project, he installed 180 Buddhas and 180 snowmen in Vietnam. In downtown Zurich, his installation was a large red illuminated clock on the facade of the Cantonal Financial Department building that was set to blink at the rate of a human heartbeat. Another intervention consisted of five giant, smiling white marble Buddhas that looked like mass-produced plastic statues, installed in the courtyard of the PricewaterhouseCoopers office building in Zurich. Each of those figures contained a hidden loudspeaker set on a random timer producing laughter for two uninterrupted minutes.
The Snow Monsters were created to show various stages of melting and set up on the Plaza in what Regli calls “the wrong place” facing the Flatiron Building. Madison Square Park to the east, with the trees now striped of their leaves, lends a perfect wintery feel as a backdrop.
The installation appears to be quite a big hit, attracting adults and children alike, who are drawn to these figures as if they are a familiar friend. Locals and tourists all whipping out their cell phones, not being able to resist that selfie with a Snow Monster. They are sat upon, leaned against and drawing people across the street who just want to touch them.
While there are those who in their hurried fashion dash across the Plaza, they are as Regli intended, caught off guard in their “regular rush from point A to point B.”. His intention is to awaken us to our surroundings and as we notice the smiles on those rushed faces, we know he’s made his point. We suggest you get out in the snow and visit the Flatiron Plaza. Snow Monsters will be on view through March 13.
Read about the history of snow removal in NYC from snow shoes to snow plows. Get in touch with the author at AFineLyne.