Friends, countrymen, Walkers! Lend me your shoes! It’s been a long time since we strolled the sidewalks together. For this, I beg your forgiveness and come to you with a peace offering: News of avant-garde mini-golf on Governors Island.
Before I begin, let me issue a warning: If you want to go someplace in New York City that other people like to go, rest assured, they will all be there.
In this fashion, I lined up for the water taxi to the not-so-distant isle laying off the coast of Manhattan on a humid, overcast, Saturday morning with about a hundred other humans, many of which were of the toddler variety. And here I thought to myself, maybe I should go somewhere else. But by the courage of my convictions and my well known pluck, I remained long enough to board the ship. (I also made my husband hold our place in line while I went in search of a nearby coffee stand. No luck.) After a jaunty voyage of about a minute and a half, we stepped back onto dry land and made a b-line for the mini-golf run course by the arts organization, Figment. As a person who has played mini-golf in no less than 10 states and 4different countries, I can tell you, Figment’s course is unique, to say the least. Exhibit A:
What’s on the other side of this devilish mushroom cloud?
That’s right, a miniature golf hole that comments on the danger of missile defense shields when one considers they spur further nuclear proliferation. Take that classic windmill hole.
Not all the holes were as politically charged. This one:
for example, was inspired by Frank Baum’s Wizard of Oz, as one might have guessed by the title. However, when one considers that Baum was also the progenitor of the modern department store window display – true story -surely we can read this piece as a meditation on all of our tattered consumerist dreams filled with nothing more than hot air. Or not. I thought it was a reference to balloon boy. And that ladies and gentlemen, is why you should read artist statements.
But! you protest, nuclear proliferation and consumerist culture don’t compare to the havoc we’re wreaking on Mother Earth! Have no fear, my fellow tree-hugger, Figment does not disappoint.
Designed by Build it Green, this hole questions our often cartoonish and anthropromorphised vision of nature that lends itself to screwing it up completely. Side B:
But, by far my favorite was Number 9, entitled, Hotel Atlantis at Bikini Bottom. Working overtime with the pop-culture references, this hole encompasses the man-made disaster that is GM as well as Spongebob Squarepants, that most loved and loathed cartoon character. You see, in 1964 GM had a pavilion at the World’s Fair called Futurama.
In this pavilion, GM PR agents decided it would be a good idea to espouse the idea that in the future, people might be visiting underwater luxury hotels with names like Hotel Atlantis. These figures are inside the flying saucer-esque hotel.
But then something, well a lot of things happened, and the American car industry went,
And thus we end with Spongebob’s pineapple house in his home town, Bikini Bottom, that like GM, lies at the bottom of the ocean. Ouch!
Who knew mini-golf could be so provocative?
Next time: Public Art is not for the fainthearted.