2. Canal Street Subway Project

Canal street subway project
Alexander Brodsky, Canal Street Subway Project, 1996 Mixed Media Installation 10/4/1996 – 1/31/1997 Photo by: Andrew Moore / D. James Dee

An abandoned track at the Canal Street station on the J/Z line was transformed into a Venetian canal by the work of Russian-born artist Alexander Brodsky in 1996. Brodsky created gondola and people-shaped shadow puppets out of tin and wooden cutouts. Lights, soft music, and the sound of lapping water all enhanced the illusion as the cutouts bobbed up and down in shallow tanks of water.

Behind the cutouts, a perspective drawing of an ancient Venetian street further added to the effect. Brodsky described his piece as “one of the millions of strange things that happen to you in this city.” The art installation brought some life into an otherwise dead area of the subway station that riders had to pass through. “You stop for a few minutes trying to understand what it is and why it is here and then you go on with your life, keeping the mirage in your memory, said Brodsky, “You might come back another day to check—was it a dream or not?”