This Saturday morning I awoke to find a press release from Creative Time in my inbox. CT is an organization behind some of the most innovative Public Art projects in NYC but I was particularly impressed by their latest offering: artist Paul Ramírez Jonas’ interactive project, Key to the City. Although it seems a somewhat antiquated tradition, every now and again you’ll here about so and so or “hero x” being awarded the Key to the City. What does this mean, anyway? Is it a purely symbolic gesture or is the recipient given a physical key that actually unlocks secret doors which remain closed to most of the city’s inhabitants?
In Ramírez Jonas’ piece, it’s the latter, although this time, it’s the everyday citizens that are gifted the keys. And not by some high ranking government official but by a colleague, friend or lover. It’s a key gifted to an everyday citizen by an everyday citizen who wants to honor whatever it is that he or she feels makes the recipient worthy of such an accolade. Want the “Press” present for the ceremony? Bring your friends with their point and shoots and iPhones…And now, from Creative Time:
What if a government ceremony, like the bestowal of the key to the city, suddenly became a civic artwork? And rather than a formality between Mayor and visiting dignitary, you personally could award this key to anyone of your choosing. The Key to the City, by artist Paul Ramírez Jonas, invites New Yorkers and visitors to our City to recognize each other with a key that will lead them on a citywide scavenger hunt of backdoors, front gates, community gardens, and cemeteries that suggests the simple question: how public is public space?
…Members of the public will award thousands of these custom-made keys to each other in one-to-one ceremonies. The keys will be distributed from a kiosk in Times Square, open daily from June 3 to 27.
What’s most exciting for me about this project is the fact that whatever happens during each ceremony and the subsequent adventure throughout the city itself becomes “art.” And then there are the interesting questions it raises about the nature of private and public space. Fascinating stuff.
I know I’ll be there in June to bestow a key or two upon the people in my life for whom I want to show my appreciation (and share in the resulting excursion). Will you? Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a comment on the blog about your experience taking part in this revolutionary project.
For more information visit www.creativetime.org.