PHYLLIS ODESSEY

The Elephant in the room

Tatzu Nishi
DISCOVERING COLUMBUS


What to do on your birthday?  
Walk down to Columbus Circle, stand in line, climb 6 flights of stairs, enter Tatzu Nishi’s installation.  

That is exactly what I did on November 17th.

I have walked by the statue of Christopher Columbus at 59 St. maybe 5,000 times.  The statue is located at the crossroads of Broadway, Central Park South, 7th Avenue and Central Park West.  It  rises 75 atop a granite column and was designed by Italian sculptor Gaetano Russo.  Unveiled in 1892, it commemorates the 400th anniversary of Columbus’s first voyage to the Americas.

In 2006, a pedestrian pathway, fountains and seating area were added to the base of the statue.  Now, you can hang out in the center, but Columbus still only gets a nod.  Tatzu Nishi changed all that.

For the first time and probably the only time, you can sit in a furnished living room with all the comforts of home:  sofas, lamps, carpets, pictures, a working TV, custom wallpaper and get intimately acquainted with Columbus.  

Six flights up in this constructed living room, you view Columbus in an alien context.  It’s comfortable and strange, all at the same time.  New Yorkers are not easily wowed.  It’s not cool.  After the misery and hardship of Sandy, this room, 6 flights up remained in tact. To me, the installation felt celebratory. 

Mickey Mouse
Michael Jackson
Marilyn Monroe
 
and the iconic NY Hot Dog were all there.
NYC is preparing for a new voyage…trying to figure out how survive the effects of climate change, living in this city surrounded by rising water.  As it turns out, Nishi gave the city a gift of stability and humor in hard times.

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