Italian-born, Alaska-based installation artist Paola Pivi's newest work features a twin engine Piper Seneca suspended in air by its wing tips.
The plane, held horizontal by parallel steel columns, isn't motionless. It quietly rotates forward, tail over nose, 306 degrees at a slow crawl as mystified onlookers stand below. The sight is curiously unsettling. Aircraft are so seldom represented in this way it leads the observer to ask (either aloud or to herself): "Why would she do that?"
The answer is perception.
The artist's transformation allows this Piper Seneca to be seen in an entirely new way. Airborne but flightless, its steady circular movement is mesmerizing. The shift of context from airport runway to New York City plaza is equally dramatic. It creates the striking and surreal experience of a familiar object seen in an unexpected place doing a very unfamiliar thing. Like a child's dream come to life…
For years Pivi has been seeking the remote places of the human mind through her work with the absurd. Her tendency toward the improbable is well developed and elegantly played out, often through physics-defying combinations. In a 2006 instillation Pivi placed an upside down Wessex 558 (helicopter) in the middle of an Austrian square and titled it simply, "A helicopter upside down in a public square." The piece was meant as a tribute to the Austrian composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, yet many viewers overlooked the connection.
"How I Roll" was placed in New York's Central Park for June 20 to July 18 of 2012. It was funded in part by the New York Public Art Fund and supported by Adam Lindemann and Amalia Dayan.
Contact Katie Medred at katie(at)alaskadispatch.com